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Posts Tagged ‘Christmas’

Eating is a major focus during the busy holiday season. Many people add a few pounds to their weight from the festivities centered around food. This isn’t the time to diet, but with a few simple changes, we can spare ourselves from gaining additional pounds.

    1. Choose smaller portions. Not easy, but many times we not only add extra calories but become uncomfortably full from excess food. Gauge those portions sizes and feel better afterward.
    2. See what calorie-laden foods you can skip or resolve to eat less. Gravies and creamed dishes add lots of calories. Select unsweetened beverages. Choose red sauces over white ones for fewer calories.
    3. Choose desserts with less calories. Double crusted pies and those with whipped cream or topping have more calories. If you must have a piece of that traditional coconut cake, make it a smaller portion.
    4. Watch out for snacks of candies, nuts, party mixes and yellow cheeses. Look for veggie or fruit trays and skip the dip.

A few simple changes can keep away those dreaded extra pounds. Make the holidays a time of love and joy without those rich, fattening foods. Have a Merry Christmas and a blessed New Year.

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I never understood the meaning of sugar plums. I associated the term with the sugar-plum fairy in Tchaikovshy’s The Nutcracker or the noted verse “visions of sugar plums danced in their heads” from Clement C. Moore’s A Visit from St. Nicholas. Sugar plums are much more.

The term initially applied to small candies, usually round, made from dried fruits and nuts. The trend began in the 1600s. In earlier years, the word “plum” referred to any dried fruit. Maybe it’s time to return to the nostalgia of earlier years and move away from sugary treats. Along with the mystical memories of fairies and dancing, they deserve a place of prominence for a healthy, less sweet treat.

Although sugar plums of yesteryear weren’t necessarily made from plums, some recent versions do use dried plums (prunes). Traditional recipes combine almonds, dried plums, figs, apricots, powdered sugar, seasonings of toasted anise, fennel, and caraway seeds and ground cardamom. Ingredients often are moistened with honey, formed into balls, and rolled in sugar.

A simple version combines eggs and sugar with almonds, coconut, dates, plus almond and vanilla extracts. The mixture is rolled into balls and baked like cookies. Other varieties combine dried dates, apricots, cherries, raisins, white chocolate chips, and chopped nuts moistened with fruit juice and rolled in turbinado sugar (regular sugar will do). More modern types of sugar plums may use red gelatin with sweetened condensed milk. Other recipes add cocoa or for a different flavor try varied types of nuts.

Most of these recipes are simple and take little time to prepare. Serve these tasty rounds piled high on a decorative plate and listen to the oohs and ahs. For a last-minute treat that will delight the family and provide a more nourishing fare, try one of these recipes on Christmas Eve.

To all my readers, a Merry Christmas.

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