Instead of serving holiday party foods that are laden with fat and calories, opt for some healthier choices.
Stacy Kennedy, a nutritionist at Dana-Farber Cancer Institute in Boston, offers six party foods that won't add inches to your guests' waistlines at your Christmas and New Year's celebrations.
■ Serve hummus made with pine nuts and chickpeas. Pine nuts are rich in protein, zinc, copper and manganese, which are important for a healthy immune system. Legumes, like chickpeas, are a great source of protein and dietary fiber, which can help reduce the risk of cancer and help lower cholesterol.
■ Dust off that family nutcracker. Recent research finds that walnuts may help prevent kidney and colon cancers. In addition, the study suggests that walnuts are a rich source of antioxidants that may help protect cells from oxidative damage. Walnuts contain essential fatty acids, or the so-called "good fats," which are known to help reduce blood pressure and boost the immune system.
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■ Mangoes are naturally sweet and rich in a variety of antioxidants. One of them, lupeol, is thought to rid the body of harmful molecules known as free radicals, which can damage a cell's DNA, triggering some forms of cancer and other diseases. Studies have indicated that mango pulp may lower the risk of prostate cancer, inflammation, arthritis, and diabetes.
■ Pomegranates have definitely moved to the top of many people's "nice list." They are now found in everything from drinks to desserts and for good reason. Recent research suggests that drinking pomegranate juice may be a delicious way to help prevent prostate cancer, as well as prevent the metastasis and spread of prostate cancer cells.
■ Pumpkin can spice up many recipes, from muffins to ravioli. Pumpkins are packed with nutrients called carotenoids, which have been linked to the prevention of colon, prostate, breast, and lung cancer. It's actually the bright orange color that makes pumpkin rich in nutrients.
■ Winter squash is a good source of carotenoids. They act to clean out the dangerous free radicals that enter your body from stress or the environment.
Nutritious cancer-fighting recipes for holiday dishes are at dana-farber.org/nutrition. Dana-Farber Cancer Institute is a teaching affiliate of the Harvard Medical School.
After the holidays are over and we settle back into our routines, we'll need some new recipes for our slow cookers.
The editors at Gooseberry Patch have hand-picked a year-round collection of slow-simmered dishes that save time in the kitchen. Seasonal chapters include "Warming Winter Dishes," "Simply Speedy Springtime," "Slow & Easy Summer," and Hearty Harvest Favorites. Slow Cooking All Year 'Round, at $16.95, will be released Jan. 1. Go to Gooseberrypatch.com. Here's a recipe from the book.
Hot turkey & stuffing sandwiches
2 to 3 boneless, skinless turkey thighs, cubed
1 onion, chopped
1 stalk celery, chopped
1 carrot, peeled and chopped
1 package (14 ounces) stuffing mix
2 cups chicken broth
12 sandwich buns, split
Add all ingredients except buns to a 3 ½ to 4-quart slow cooker; stir well. Cover and cook on low setting for 8 to 9 hours. To serve, scoop about ½ cup turkey mixture onto each bun. Makes 12 servings.