Eat smart, avoid Santa's pants

2013-12-08T00:00:00Z 2014-05-21T13:36:53Z Eat smart, avoid Santa's pantsBy Johanna Willett Arizona Daily Star Arizona Daily Star

With holiday cookies and party appetizers calling your name, it’s not too hard to imagine stepping into the new year with a waistline reminiscent of Santa himself.

Making it past Dec. 25 without asking for a bigger pair of pants doesn’t mean shunning all things tasty, but some extra effort is required.

Make a swap

Try experimenting with healthier alternatives in your baking. Alaine Shrewsbury specializes in whipping up vegan and gluten-free goodies for her online business Green Heart Bakery. She suggests Earth Balance baking sticks for butter or maybe applesauce or bananas, depending on the recipe. Rather than using white flour, Shrewsbury likes to swap in oat or spelt flours. These have more nutrients and a nuttier flavor. For the super-ambitious, silken tofu can replace eggs and milk in recipes such as chocolate mousse or pumpkin pies.

Make minis

Seasonal snacks mean a chance to enjoy your favorites, so feast — but do it in moderation. At the vegetarian restaurant, The Tasteful Kitchen, 722 N. Stone Ave., chef and co-owner Sigret Thompson knows the lure of traditional treats.

“You know the holidays are upon us when my mother brings me the cranberry-orange-walnut bread,” Thompson says. “I don’t just get a piece. I get a whole loaf.”

So Thompson shares, slicing the bread for friends. Not a vegan herself, Thompson admits that battling a sweet tooth or other personal weaknesses — cheese for her — can get trickier during the holidays. She recommends samplers such as a mini cheesecake, truffle or parfait. You savor a bite of each without overdoing it.

The same trick works for appetizers. Thompson likes crispy polenta bites, stuffed mushrooms and black bean and brown rice croquettes.

Make it pretty

Just because you’re opting for healthier choices, doesn’t mean your food should look like mowed grass. Thompson suggests using fresh ingredients and garnishing with herbs, chopped nuts and pomegranate seeds.

Copyright 2014 Arizona Daily Star. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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