December 2003

Christmas Season is here. My heart is full of good cheer, and my mind is full of wonderful ideas to make this holiday season the best. Often, I find myself just a little depressed in January, because many of my ideas never became a reality. God is beginning to teach me that the most simple act is far better than extravagant plans that are never carried out. I have vowed to apply that philosophy to this Christmas season.

At our family Christmas gathering one year, three young children in our family acted out the “Christmas Story.”   It was very simple, unrehearsed, but never forgotten. They simply acted out the words of a Christmas song.

I have chosen three simple recipes from our New First Place Favorites recipe book to prepare and give as Christmas presents. Health issues are all around us and I have found many who treasure a delicious gift that is also good for them. I will bake small Banana Bread loaves and Cranberry Muffins. I also plan to make the Cheddar Cheese Soup and put it in canning jars decorated with a red ribbon. I have found some great new recipes in this book to enhance my Christmas Dinner.

I found some great simple tips in the UC Berkeley Wellness Letter, to cut fat without cutting flavor out of your holiday dinner.

  • Instead of basting the turkey with fat, start by rubbing the bird with a little canola or olive oil; then baste with de-fatted chicken stock or chicken stock combined with apple juice.
  • Instead of making gravy with hot pan drippings, scrape out the pan and put the drippings in the freezer for a quick chill and discard the fat that rises to the top. When you reheat it, use cake flour or other fine-milled flour to thicken, shaking it into the liquid through a fine sieve. Stir constantly with a whisk.
  • When the recipe calls for cream or whole milk, substitute nonfat milk or evaporated skim milk. You won’t know the difference in pumpkin pie or mashed potatoes. Nonfat sour cream and nonfat ricotta are also good cream substitutes.
  • Serve sweet potatoes plain, in their skins. Or, if you want them mashed, use orange slices, grated orange peel and cinnamon instead of a marshmallow topping.
  • Try pumpkin pudding instead of pie. Cook the pumpkin filling in individual baking dishes or in small pumpkin shells.
  • Instead of adding fat to the stuffing, moisten it with stock. Add herbs, onions, celery and other savory ingredients.
  • Move vegetables and salads to center stage in your menu, rather than emphasizing meats, sausage and sweets. Fresh fruits on the Christmas dessert table will be both welcome and decorative.
  • If you are eating, but not cooking, just keep portions reasonable and avoid turkey skin. If you want to sample desserts, go ahead, but make the portion size very small. Prepare one of our great First Place desserts for everyone to enjoy.
  • Try to fit in a walk or other physical activity before or after the meal. Pray for God to help you take the focus off food and place it on quality time with friends and family.

May God Bless You and Your Family this Christmas Season!

Kay Smith
First Place Associate Director

Kay is the associate national director of First Place and has been on the First Place staff since 1987.

Kay is a popular speaker at retreats, seminars, Conferences, FOCUS Weeks and Workshops across the country. Kay is the First Place food exchange expert and writes a monthly article in the First Place E-Newsletter on nutrition. She also was a contributing writer to the Today Is the First Day devotional book. Her delightful personality and love for people endears her to everyone she meets, and they quickly become her new best friend.

Kay and her husband, Joe, live in Roscoe, TX. They have two children and five grandchildren. Two of the young grandchildren are making a name for themselves on the golf circuit. Two of the young grandchildren are making a name for themselves on the golf circuit, and the three oldest grandsons are all involved in numerous sporting events, which Kay and Joe attend as often as possible.

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