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5 good health practices to 'survive' Christmas feasts

Saturday, Dec 21, 2013
Philippine Daily Inquirer/Asia News Network
By Tessa R. Salazar

Some time ago, Inquirer Science/Health interviewed nutritionists for tips on how to stay healthy even when surrounded by the Christmas buffet table. Their advice is still worth mentioning today.

Here are the five must-do practices for a tragedy-free Christmas.

1. Potluck tasty but healthy food. Nutritionist Blecenda M. Varona advises party-goers to contribute healthy dishes to a party if possible. Make sure they look and taste good, however.

These healthy recipes include vegetarian kaldereta, a mix of tomato sauce, coconut milk and fried or baked tofu, as prepared by vegan lifestyle advocate Nona Andaya Castillo; tofu stroganoff, which consists of tofu, shiitake mushroom (dried or fresh) and dairy-free cream sauce-cashew nut with blended tofu; meatless embutido made from mushroom whole-wheat veggie meat, veggie smoked sausage, vegetables and whole-wheat vegan carrot cake with dairy-free butter sauce; and Susan Voisin's easy vegan spinach and mushroom lasagna (check out http://blog.fatfreevegan.com/2006/03/my-favourite-lasagna.html).

Taiwan-made smoked veggie meats sold at the Daily Veggies store in Quezon City not only taste like the real thing but have the ISO 9001 quality assurance stamp. Try tofu sisig or shiitake mushroom sisig at Blissful Belly at Llanar Building, Xavierville Avenue, Quezon City (look for Valme Calzado); vegan burgers at Corner Tree Café at Jupiter Street, Makati, or at Agico restaurant (Araullo Street, San Juan); log on to www.happycow.net and type your location (anywhere in the world).

2. If you're hosting the party, you should encourage guests to take home the leftovers so you're not tempted to overindulge the following day. This was suggested by Victor J. Alfonso Jr. of the Food and Nutrition Research Institute.

3. Eat a high-fiber snack before you go to the event. Varona suggests that you choose vegetables, fruits, vegetable salads and healthy desserts; choose pasta and nonmeat entrees; avoid dips, gravies, dressings and sauces as much as possible (or bring your own dairy-free dressings like mango vinaigrette, which Chimara's at Greenbelt 3 Makati uses).

4. Have a healthy snack before you go to a party or function. "Filling foods such as sandwiches or a bowl of cereal are a good idea," said Alfonso.

5. Visualize a healthy meal. Before going to a friend's noche buena party, Varona said you should already decide and imagine yourself making food choices.

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