Blueprint for a Healthier Holiday

Nutrition Advice from Your Pawling Hannaford Dietitian

The early signs of the holidays are here with peppermint and mocha pushing out the perfect pumpkin flavors we’ve been loving since the first sign of fall. While it’s hard not to love holidays filled with good cheer, we must admit that all that good cheer can be hard to keep up with. Before the winter holidays, let’s take a moment to write a blueprint for hanging onto healthy habits this holiday season.

Don’t Let Go of the Gym Routine

That’s right, the food person just started by not talking about food. When life gets busy, the first things to go are the activities we view as less important and not obligatory. For some people, their gym routine is just that. But this is the very last thing we should give up. Moderate intensity exercise burns calories, reduces stress, and gives us a moment of self-care. I promise you that there is always time for exercise when you make it a priority.

Organize Your Kitchen

If you are hosting a gathering or planning to turn your kitchen into a holiday baking headquarters, begin with a thorough kitchen clean out. Not only will you save money when you see what you have and need – as well as which foods you should consume before they’re wasted – it will prepare you for the many foods and leftovers that come with being the holiday host.

Keep Family Meals Simple

In the coming weeks, you may have a calendar filled with parties, concerts, and more that have you out at night and scrambling to prepare for the next day. When life gets busy, it’s easy to pass on your usual visit to the supermarket and pick up pizza or fast food instead. Just like you aren’t letting your gym routine go this holiday season, you can also hang onto healthy meal planning when you keep meals simple – and always start with a big plate of veggies!

Half Scratch Your Holiday

Let healthfully prepared convenience items be your kitchen partner. You can find packaged foods done the way you would if you had the time (or weren’t busy preparing several other dishes). From a holiday meal to a simple family dinner, well done “half scratch” cooking saves you time without compromising the quality or nutrition of your meal – but is guaranteed to save you time and effort!

Keep a Food Log for All the Special Stuff

The candy bowl that your co-worker has on their desk, the cookies your neighbor kindly gives you, and the desserts you encounter at each holiday gathering, add up to a pattern of facing foods we should only eat sometimes, not every day. Control your intake of these special foods by keeping a detailed food log with every little thing you eat throughout the day. Without a food log you may enjoy that evening cake without recalling that you also indulged in an afternoon brownie (or two).

As your local Hannaford Dietitian, I’m pleased to be sharing my advice and simple tips. Please visit for my in-store schedule of classes, demonstrations, and store tours, or call (845) 855-0553 for more information.


Southern Cornbread (1 Guiding Star)

The key to making this unsweetened, skillet cornbread is to use just enough butter in a hot skillet to crisp the edges. Eat this fresh, and warm or use it as the base for cornbread stuffing. For more holiday recipes and information on the Guiding Stars guidance program, visit online.


3 c. stone-ground cornmeal

1 t. salt

6 t. baking powder

3/4 t. baking soda

2 1/2 c. skim milk

2 T. lemon juice

3 eggs

1/2 c. olive oil

1/4 c. unsalted butter, melted


Place a 12-inch cast iron skillet on the center rack of the oven and preheat to 375°F.

Combine milk and lemon juice and let sit for 5 minutes.

In a large bowl, whisk together cornmeal, salt, baking powder, and baking soda.

Whisk eggs into soured milk. Drizzle in oil and all but 1 tablespoon of the melted butter.

Whisk wet ingredients into dry ingredients until well mixed but slightly lumpy.

Pour remaining butter into hot skillet and swirl to coat bottom and sides. Pour batter into prepared skillet. Bake until cornbread is lightly browned on top and a toothpick inserted into the middle comes out clean (about 45 minutes).