Selft-Control for the Holiday Season

Healthy Fit Magazine December 2007:

…You have to believe me that when the month of July roles around – our son begins his countdown for decorating our house with Christmas lights.  On the hottest of days he scurries down the basement and digs out multiple boxes of lights and tests them all.  He then makes diagram after diagram – plans, elevations, and 3-D sketches of the house and front/side yards scheming up new ideas that will WOW the passerby.  ‘Self-control’ I try to stress when he goes off the deep end with some farfetched idea that requires the use of a cherry picker from the neighborhood rental store or an additional electric meter to help sustain the power usage.  It takes all my energy to reel him in sometimes.

Our daughter, of course, is less interested in the outdoor wiring diagrams and more interested in re-decorating our house.  To her, Christmas decorating is an invitation to glitz the indoors to the max.  She takes out every thread of decoration that finds a home in the nine holiday storage bins for 11 months.  On Thanksgiving weekend she quickly takes inventory of the holiday storage boxes and prances around the house for 3 days draping every lamp, table, chair, doorway, and doorknob with ornaments, wreaths, garland, figurines, angels, village displays, and ribbon.  ‘Self-control’ I stress when she asks to decorate the furnace room in the basement.

I must confess being preached to by my own husband, many times, to practice more ‘self-control’ when it comes to planning the holiday meals.  My past menus listed enough dishes to feed an army; heavy on the starch and fat, light on the veggies and nutrition.  Over the years I have been ‘trained’ (through the watchful eyes of my husband) to cut back on the quantity of food and balance my menu with healthier nutritious choices without taking away the fun of creating a wonderful Christmas or New Years feast.

It is actually easier than I thought and everyone still leaves the table full and satisfied…even having leftovers for a few days…not months.  Over the years I have recorded and saved many holiday menus.  Listing all the facts about the recipe/cookbook/page number helps in organizing the meal and is a great reference in the future.  Below are a few menu ideas and recipes from my files that will help you create balanced, healthy, filling meals in celebration.  Enjoy your holiday with your family – Kathleen

Kathleen C. Hanna’s easy-to-follow book, “The Good-to-Go Cookbook” is available nationwide or on-line


Christmas Eve Dinner:

Goat Cheese spread (see recipe below)

Lettuce leaves stuffed with shrimp salad

Marinated Mediterranean olives

Caesar salad

Linguine with clam sauce

Crusty bread

Christmas cookies


Christmas Morning Breakfast:

Organic granola – Trader Joe’s makes a fabulous praline-pecan flavor

Vanilla yogurt – store bought

Sliced grapefruit halves

Fresh bakery muffins with honey butter


New Years Day Brunch:

Baked French toast soufflé (see recipe below)

Turkey sausage or bacon

Fresh fruit salad with yogurt dipping sauce


Baked French Toast Soufflé

1 (16 oz.) loaf whole-grain baguette

8 eggs

3 cups milk

2 tablespoons sugar

1 teaspoon vanilla

¼ teaspoon salt

½ teaspoon cinnamon

¼ teaspoon nutmeg


1 cup brown sugar

1 cup chopped pecans

½ cup butter, softened

2 tablespoons light corn syrup

½ teaspoon each cinnamon and nutmeg

1.      Preheat oven 350 degrees.

2.      Coat 10×15” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray.

3.      Cut bread into 20 equal slices; arrange in one layer, overlapping if necessary.

4.      Combine eggs, milk, sugar, vanilla, salt, cinnamon, and nutmeg, whisk.  Pour over bread; cover and chill 1 hour or overnight.

5.      Combine topping ingredients with fork.  Crumble/spread over bread.

6.      Bake 35-40 minutes or until browned.  Slice and serve.


Goat Cheese Spread

8 oz. fresh goat cheese

4 oz. low-fat cream cheese

6 tablespoons minced fresh chives or parsley

1 garlic clove, crushed

1 French bread baguette, sliced

1.      Bring ingredients to room temperature.  Combine (except bread); mix well with fork.  Shape into square and refrigerate overnight.  Can be made up to 2 days in advance, keep refrigerated.  Serve with bread slices.




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