Here are some tips for healthier celebrations

Published on Friday, 20 October 2017 11:34 - Written by PATRICE DUNAGIN, Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service

Celebrations are exciting and memorable times filled with food, family and friends. Sometimes the food is rich and calorie laden. Whether it’s a birthday or holiday celebration, you can nourish your body with healthier choices.

You will want to incorporate three or more food groups into the celebration foods. Five food groups (grains, vegetables, fruits, protein and dairy) are included in the MyPlate nutrition guidelines from the USDA. When deciding on the menu, think about how you can incorporate at least three of these food groups.

When including dairy, choose nonfat or low-fat options.

Select lean proteins:

- Include fruits and vegetables to add color, flavor, texture and nutrients.

- Choose whole grains for at least half of the grain foods on the menu.

- Exchange ingredients to boost nutrition. Trim calories and/or add fiber, vitamins and minerals with these more healthful choices.

- Use 1 cup nonfat yogurt instead of 1 cup sour cream.

- Use 1 cup nonfat yogurt instead of 1 cup mayonnaise.

- Use 1/2 cup flour plus 1/2 cup whole-wheat flour instead of 1 cup all-purpose flour.

- Use 1/4 cup oil plus 1/4 cup applesauce instead of 1/2 cup oil.

Kids are more likely to eat healthful foods when they are involved in the preparation. Provide healthful foods for kids to use in creating an edible work of art.

For example, give kids celery, pretzels, peanut butter, mini chocolate chips, craisins and apple slices to create their own edible critters. You also can give them bananas, sliced kiwi and clementine oranges to create a delicious work of art.

For more information, contact Patrice Dunagin, Smith County FCH agent for Texas A&M AgriLife Extension Service, at 903-590-2980.