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Have Yourself a Healthy Little Christmas

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Manage your diabetes during the holidays.

HealthyHolidayDec2015The holidays are a time of celebration, thanksgiving, reflection … and eating. For many, a little bit of overindulgence here and there won’t hurt, but, for those with diabetes, bad eating habits can lead to longterm damage — such as high blood sugars and weight gain.

Valerie Burton, RN, program coordinator at the Touro Diabetes Center, has a few tips for controlling diabetes, and yourself, when your social calendar is full.

Eat Before You Eat!
“Many people think that — to budget calories — they will skip a meal before a party, but that’s a bad idea,” Burton says. “Stick to your regularly planned, healthy, balanced meals and snacks before you head to a party. This will help keep blood sugar levels in check and prevent you from overeating.”

Change Your Chip
Instead of plain potato chips, conserve your calories by serving sliced vegetables with favorite party dips.

Sub it Out
Opt for healthier substitutes when cooking or baking, like whole grain pastas instead of enriched pastas, evaporated skim milk or fat free half and half instead of heavy cream, or Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips. (See sidebar for Burton’s favorite sweet potato soufflé recipe, which she loves for its natural sweetness.)

Take a Walk
Don’t forget your normal exercise routine. It’s important to make time and stay active. Work exercise into a busy schedule by making it a social event. Go for a walk to see the lights after dinner, or take a stroll with a friend instead of meeting for coffee or cocktails.

Order Wisely
“Most popular restaurants will have a low-carb or low-calorie menu, and they are often able to accommodate special diets if you just ask nicely,” Burton says. Substituting sides, like asking for a baked potato, or fresh, steamed or stir-fried veggies instead of mashed potatoes, is another way to cut calories when dining out.

Moderation is Key
Drink alcohol in moderation, and remember to eat a little something whenever you drink. Daily recommendations for alcohol for those with diabetes are no more than one drink for women and no more than two drinks for men.

Remember the Reason for the Season
The holidays are a time to appreciate being with family and friends, not just a time for endless buffets! Focus on spending time with loved ones, and slow down at each meal, making sure to savor each bite of those special, seasonal treats.

Baked Sweet Potato Soufflé

Ingredients:
3 lbs. whole sweet potatoes, washed and dried
1/4 cup, plus 2 Tbsp. brown sugar
1/2 tsp. salt (optional)
1/2 cup pecans
2 Tbsp. butter or butter spread
6 egg whites
1/4 tsp. cream of tartar
Cinnamon, to taste
Nutmeg, to taste

Instructions:
1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat a deep 8-inch round or square casserole dish with non-stick cooking spray. Set aside.
2. Coat a baking sheet with non-stick cooking spray. Arrange the washed and dried, whole sweet potatoes (with the skins on) on the sheet. Bake for 50 to 60 minutes, or until tender.
3. Remove sweet potatoes from the oven, and peel the skin. In a large bowl, whisk the roasted sweet potatoes with 1/4 cup brown sugar and salt. Set aside to cool.
4. Using a food processor or chopper, grind the pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon and nutmeg together until the mixture is the consistency of wet sand. Add the butter or spread to the mixture in the food processor, and pulse to incorporate, being careful not to over-mix. Set aside.
5. Combine egg whites and cream of tartar in a large glass or metal bowl, and beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until egg whites form soft peaks with tips that curl over when the beaters are lifted.
6. Working in batches, incorporate one-third of the egg whites into the sweet potato mixture using a large flat rubber spatula and gently folding them in until combined. Repeat the process two more times until all of the egg whites are incorporated into the sweet potatoes.
7. Pour sweet potato soufflé mixture into the prepared casserole dish and top with the pecan mixture. Place the soufflé into the oven and bake at 400 F for 20 minutes, then turn the oven down to 350 F and continue to bake for 15 more minutes. Serve hot.

Makes 12 servings

Note: Do not open the oven during baking so the soufflé can rise. The soufflé is best served immediately.