5 Tips for Welcoming Herbivores to the Holiday Feast

From vegetarians to vegans and pescatarians to gluten-free, throwing a holiday feast can be quite challenging. If you are planning to host a dinner party this holiday season, rest assured, entertaining guests with multiple food sensitivities does not mean you need to toss out traditional or favorite Holiday foods. With a few modifications, many foods can be easily modified.  What should you do when welcoming herbivores to your holiday feast? We’re dishing out 5 tips you need to do and know before you start cooking this holiday season.

1. Confirm Your Guests’ Dietary Restrictions – First things first, before you start purchasing any ingredients find our what type of food preferences your guests have and if they have any allergies. Keep in mind that not everyone has the same food preferences. Some people will eat dairy but not eggs and vice versa. Knowing your guests’ food styles won’t just help you plan out what dishes you can serve, but it will ensure there is something at the table for everyone.

2. Always Serve A Main Vegetarian Dish – If you pass on confirming your guests’ dietary preferences, steer on the safe side by preparing a main vegetarian dish. This way, anyone who passes up the turkey or other main meat dish will still have something just as delicious and satiating as the latter. For large crowds, a dish like vegetarian lasagna can be appetizing for both non-meat and meat eaters alike.

3.  Make Your Side Dishes Veggie-Friendly – Make sure there are side dishes that everyone can enjoy. While you don’t have to dish out a whole chicken, turkey fish or tofurkey to meet all of your guests’ dietary preferences, side dishes are where you can make something suitable for everyone’s palates and preferences. To do this, keep an open mind by serving dishes other than a simple salad. Some side dishes can include sliced fresh fruits, cheeses, crackers, bruschetta, Brussels sprouts, cranberry sauce, deviled eggs, potato salad, roasted cauliflower, chickpeas, lentils, latkes, corn on the cob, cornbread, stuffed mushrooms, quinoa salad, garlicky kale or spinach.

4. Encourage Your Guests to Bring a Dish – After you letting your guests know in advance that you will be preparing vegetarian/vegan dishes, offer to let them bring a couple of dishes that they enjoy too. If you feel like you’re scrambling to find enough vegetarian/vegan dishes, allow your guests to bring dishes to share with everyone.

Photo Credit: Sugar Daze via Compfight cc

5. Prepare Two Dessert Options – When dishing out dessert, consider eggs and dairy products. If possible, it’s best to prepare one non-dairy dessert option. If you plan to make the dessert yourself, there are a ton of substitutions on the market that add flavor and moisture to your baked goods. For egg substitutes, you can try applesauce, chia seeds in gel form, or EnerG Egg Replacer, which can be found at a health foods store or Whole Foods Market. To substitute cow’s milk, you can use soy, almond or hemp milk and vegetable margarine in many baked goods. For those who are new to creating sweet concoctions without dairy and eggs, know that it is possible to serve a scrumptious vegan dessert!

 

Have you ever hosted a vegetarian or vegan dinner? What tips would you give to new hosts?

Apple Cinnamon Coffee Cake

Fall is the season for apples but sometimes apple pie gets too boring! This is a great breakfast item or dessert that will feel fresh yet familiar on a cold day!

Photo Courtesy of Cooking Light

Ingredients

Cake

  • 1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 1 cup granulated sugar
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 3/4 cup 1% low-fat milk
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 large egg, lightly beaten
  • 1 cup peeled, diced Granny Smith apple (about 1 apple)
  • Cooking spray

Streusel Topping

  • 1/4 cup packed brown sugar
  • 2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 2 tablespoons chilled butter, cut into pieces

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 350°.
2. To prepare cake, lightly spoon 1 1/2 cups flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour and next 4 ingredients (through salt) in a large bowl, stirring with a whisk. Make a well in center of mixture. Combine milk, melted butter, vanilla, and egg, stirring with a whisk; add to flour mixture, stirring just until moist. Fold in apple. Pour batter into an 8-inch square baking pan coated with cooking spray.
3. To prepare streusel, combine brown sugar, 2 tablespoons flour, and 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon; cut in butter with a pastry blender or 2 knives until mixture resembles coarse meal. Sprinkle streusel evenly over batter. Bake at 350° for 45 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pan 10 minutes on a wire rack before serving. Serve warm.

To Freeze:

To prepare ahead, cool completely, wrap (still in the pan) in foil, and leave out at room temperature for up to one day, or freeze for up to three months. To reheat thawed cake, unwrap and bake at 250° for 15 to 20 minutes.

The recipe and photo featured in this post were provided by Cooking Light. To read the original recipe please click here.

Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins

Even though Halloween has passed, we are still enjoying pumpkin! Take a peek at this delicious recipe from our contributor Christie Caggiani!

Pumpkin-Applesauce Muffins
From the kitchen of Christie Caggiani, RDN, LDN, CEDRD

Prep time: 20 minutes
Cook time: 15 minutes
Servings: 12

 

Serve with a glass of milk or Greek yogurt, and banana or other fruit for a quick breakfast or snack!  These are even better the next day, and they’re a super way to jazz up your kids’ palate when you mix-in some fruits and veggies.

 

INGREDIENTS:

  • 2 cups whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
  • ¼ teaspoon baking soda
  • 2/3 cup brown sugar, firmly packed
  • ½ cup canola oil
  • 1/3 cup buttermilk
  • ¼ cup applesauce
  • 2 eggs, slightly beaten
  • ½ cup canned pumpkin
  • ¼ cup chopped raisins (optional)
  • ¼ cup chopped nuts (optional)

DIRECTIONS:

  1. Preheat an oven to 400 degrees F.  Grease 12 muffin cups, or line the cups with paper muffin liners.
  2. Whisk together the flour, baking powder, baking soda, salt, and pumpkin pie spice; set aside.  Combine the brown sugar, oil, applesauce, pumpkin, buttermilk, and beaten eggs and mix until well blended.  Pour the pumpkin mixture into the dry ingredients and stir until combined.  Fold in the raisins and nuts, if desired.
  3. Divide the batter evenly in the prepared muffin pans.  Bake in the preheated oven until the tops spring back when lightly pressed, 15 to 20 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in the center comes out clean.  Cool the muffin pan on a wire rack for 5 minutes before removing the muffins from the pan.

 

Other mix-in options: dried cranberries, granola, apple pieces, chocolate chips, pumpkin or sesame seeds, shredded carrots or zucchini, peanut butter….or get creative and try something new!

The Tricks about Treats

This post was originally published on The Feed Blog, to see the entire article please click here.

By Justine Roth, MS, RD, CDN

Photo Credit: Dave Malkoff via Compfight cc

Children require guidance in all areas of their lives— how to tie their shoes, when to speak in a quiet voice, and, of course, when, what and how to eat. As a parent, I know it is my job to think carefully about the messages I send to my child regarding food to start her on the path towards healthy self-regulation. But even as a dietitian who counsels others on developing a balanced relationship with food, I struggle to navigate this with my toddler.

My daughter loves food. Meal times are not stressful, and in fact are usually very enjoyable.  She usually finishes everything I give her (and that she often picks out) without an issue. If she doesn’t finish a meal, I just assume she wasn’t that hungry to start. But, it is a different story when we are around others. She often asks for food just because she sees friends or family eating it and, unlike most kids who do this but lose interest in the food once they get it, she will usually finish whatever she is given. Sometimes this results in her not feeling well. This is where it gets tricky. Do I give her food every time she asks, so as not to “restrict her,” or do I try to limit excess snacks and food outside of meal times to help her learn to identify her hunger and fullness cues?

Some parents may think I am too strict with my daughter.  The parent of a picky eater, for example, is likely to have different struggles than me – and to arrive at different solutions. Parenting is hard enough without us judging one another. Instead, perhaps we can learn from one another. Because although young, our children are certainly capable of starting to learn about their body and to establish healthy habits, and we must lead the way.

To continue reading, please click here.

Dessert as a Reward?

By Stacey Antine, MS, RD

 

If most of my child’s diet is well rounded, does it matter that he has a rewarding dessert here and there? After all, he’s a kid!

Dessert is A-OK, but rewarding kids with food is not. For something sweet, try fresh summer berries!

I’m all about dessert, especially homemade sweets, but not with the “reward” word attached to it. Rewards for good behavior, school grades, etc. should not be linked to food, but rather to a new book or a privilege at home, like extra playtime. There is a growing body of evidence that links food rewards to obesity because the type of foods given as rewards are usually high sugar, high fat, low nutritional value items. I’ve never seen a child receive an apple as a food reward. So, we are associating unhealthy foods with great behavior that we want to see more of… a recipe for disaster down the road.

After dinner, for a little something sweet, a square of dark chocolate and fresh fruit or berries or frozen yogurt with fruit toppings get thumbs up from kids and parents at HealthBarn USA!

 

– Stacey Antine, MS, RD, author, Appetite for Life, founder, HealthBarn USA, co-host, Family Food Expert Internet Radio Show, and recognized as top 10 dietitians nationally by Today’s Dietitian magazine for her work with HealthBarn USA.

How We Do Dessert

“What’s For Dessert?”
By Adina Pearson, RDN of Healthy Little Eaters

Photo Credit: Alexis Fam Photography via Compfight cc

Why I Serve Dessert With The Meal

In most households, dessert is served at the end of the meal.  When everyone has gotten their fill of the main course and sides and is patting their full tummy in satisfaction, the hostess clears the table, vanishes into the kitchen, and then reappears flashing a proud smile as she presents…DESSERT:  The decadent reward for getting full on nutrition!  The hard work is done, you may now enjoy a moment of pleasure.

^Not teaching that lesson is one reason why we now serve dessert with the meal in our house.  I don’t want to teach the unintended lesson that dessert is for full bellies.  I want my children to stay tuned in to their signals of fullness and satisfaction.  Sweets are desirable enough to children that they can learn to override their fullness if they have to do it to get cookies–especially if cookies are scarce.  A small study in Appetite demonstrated that kids will eat more calories in order to squeeze in dessert if it was served at the end of the meal.   The study authors interpreted the results as a way to help kids eat fewer calories.  But that’s not really what I take from this.  I’m not into micromanaging calories because I think kids do an adequate job of regulating themselves when they get reliable meals and snacks.  What I take from this is that the way we feed our kids can either support their natural self-regulation and ability to respect their fullness or it can teach them to overeat to get what they really want.  My personal experience is that if they know it’s coming, they’ll just get antsy at the table or become preoccupied enough with the-sweet-thing-to-come that they won’t stop to eat the main meal.  It certainly was the case with my 4 year old before we made the switch.  But each child is different and older kids may be more willing to do the required ‘eat your veggies first’ work in order to win pie at the end.

That’s something else I don’t want to teach.  I don’t want the meal to be considered ‘work’ while the dessert is elevated to a higher status.  When it comes to picky eaters it is all too easy to slip into the dessert-for-broccoli power struggle: Okay, darling, eat another bite of your chicken and two more bites of your broccoli and then you can have dessert.  I see this happen in the families who come to me for nutrition counseling.  I see it happen with picky eaters whose parents are worried because of their low weight and with picky eaters whose parents are concerned because of their higher weight.  It’s not working for either group.  Broccoli is wonderful!  Chicken is wonderful!  Dessert is wonderful!  Yet we certainly make a big deal out of sweets.  When dessert is a reward it takes on more power.  Kids are already naturally drawn to strong sweet flavors, we don’t need to make those sweet flavors into a bigger deal.  Plus bribery & coercion as well as other types of pressuring kids to eat typically makes them eat worse, not better.

What If That’s All They Eat?

You might now be wondering, what if that’s all they eat?  How can it be okay for kids to survive off of cake and cookies until their tastes mature?  Well, for one thing, I don’t serve dessert at every meal or every day.  How often you serve dessert is entirely up to you.  And portion size matters because, it’s true, dessert may very well interfere with the nutrition of the meal if it is served ad libitum.

It’s Okay to Limit Dessert Served with a Meal

At meals we only serve one portion to each person at the table.  And kids get a ‘child-size’ portion rather than a full adult portion (translate that to suit your preferences).  It’s treated very much like a scarce food item (filet mignon, $9-a-pint raspberries, etc) and there are no seconds.

Some examples of portions I’ve served: 1 square of chocolate, a lollipop, small slice of pie/cake, 1 coconut macaroon, small brownie, 2-3 tiny candy pieces, teacup full of pudding, teacup full of yogurt mixed with fruit, 1/2 to 1 cupcake (depending on size).

If my kids want to start with their cookie, fine.  I know it’s not all they will eat.  And even if my kids gobble up their dessert and consequently decide they are done eating for the meal, they  probably weren’t terribly hungry to begin with.  If that is the case, without that dessert at the table, they would not have eaten much of anything anyway.  The dessert didn’t ruin any appetites, it just masked their lack of appetite.

With my kids, it seems the presence of dessert actually warms them up to the idea of coming to the table and relaxes them immediately, improving their attitude about the meal overall.  They don’t eat any worse, and possibly better with such a sweet ‘appetizer’ on the table.  I love when I catch my oldest going back and forth between bites of dessert and bites of the meal.

Unlimited Portions as Snack

Any food that is scarce, especially one as desirable as sweets, can create a strong preoccupation in a child.  For some kids with a strong sweet tooth, that desire or preoccupation can lead them to overeat the desired food when they get the chance.   Serving only a small child-size portion of dessert creates a kind of scarcity.  To mitigate this scarcity and to allow my kids a chance to regulate their own portion size of dessert, I will, occasionally, serve an unlimited portion of sweets at snack time.  If snack time is appropriately timed (so it’s not too close to the next meal) it won’t interfere with meal food.  Serve the dessert with a glass of milk (for example) and you’ve got a balanced snack.

I have to admit, the first candy experiment left me practically biting my fingernails as I waited for my daughter to complete her snack.  But with each ‘ad lib sweet snack’ I’ve served, I’ve never ever been disappointed in my kids’ ability to stop.  They have never eaten a whole cake, half a cake, or even a quarter of a cake.  And I’m confident that my trusting them teaches them to trust themselves around sweets.  After all we have serious structure in place.  Eating happens seated at the table, not running around.  Eating happens at set meal and snack times, there’s no all-day grazing.   And I get to choose how often I serve various foods.  But within that structure, the freedom of the Division of Responsibility, teaches some important lessons that I don’t think I could teach if I micromanaged every bite.

Photo Credit: chotda via Compfight cc

How Often Should Dessert Be Served?
Honestly, I think only you can answer this question for yourself and your family.  I love desserts and baked goods.  I love chocolate.  I could live without them, but I sure prefer not to.   For me I serve dessert often enough for us.  I know I’ve gone perhaps too long when my kids start begging for dessert–or if I’m longing for it.  And if I serve something sweet just to keep them from feeling too deprived, it doesn’t take much to accomplish my task.

 

Adina Pearson, RDN has been a registered dietitian for 12 years. Before having children of her own, she had no interest in pediatric nutrition. Kids change things! She’s now most thrilled when she sees a child patient on her schedule. Her new passion for helping parents feed their kids well inspired her to start a facebook page and blog. More recently, she has started an online toddler feeding course in collaboration with another dietitian.  Adina lives in southeastern Washington with her husband, two kids, and two labradoodles. To read more on Adina head to her website: www.HealthyLittleEaters.com

Rice Pudding

If you and your family like rice pudding, then we highly suggest trying out this recipe. Get your little chefs ready to help you make this tasty dessert!

Photo Credit: arsheffield via Compfight cc

Ingredients:

  • 2 quart 1% or 2% milk
  • ¾ cup white rice
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • ½ cup sugar
  • 1 egg, beaten
  • Pinch of salt
  • Pinch of cinnamon
  • ¼ cup raisins
  • Optional toppings: almonds, pumpkin seeds, fresh blueberries, fresh strawberries

 

Method:

  1. Put milk, rice, vanilla, sugar, salt, and raisins into an enamel stockpot.
  2. Cook stockpot over medium flame, stirring constantly.
  3. When mixture thickens (approximately 45 minutes), mix in beaten egg.
  4. Pour mixture into serving dish and chill in refrigerator.
  5. Sprinkle cinnamon over top and serve.

 

Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs

Happy 4th of July! To celebrate this summer holiday we wanted to share a quick, easy, and fun dessert. These red, white, and blue kabobs are both festive and delicious, plus they make a great activity for the family. We hope you enjoy!

Photo Credit: R.Duran via Compfight cc

Fourth of July Fruit Kabobs
Makes 10 skewers

Ingredients

  • 1 pint strawberries, rinsed and stems removed
  • 1 pint blueberries, rinsed
  • 3-4 bananas, cut into 1 inch-wide slices
  • 10 skewers
  • Other Options: marshmallows, watermelon, white cake cut into cubes

Method

  1. Place each fruit into their own bowls.
  2. Have your kids add fruits and other items as they wish.
  3. They can be stored in the fridge until ready to eat.
  4. Tips: make it a learning activity and have your kids make patterns with the kabobs.

 

Take a page from The Kitchn’s book and make a flag to serve on a platter for dessert!