By Julia Baratta, Freelance Writer
Holiday cooking is at the top of many people’s lists whether to share with those around them or for immediate family to enjoy. Unfortunately, Christmas foods have a bad reputation for being unhealthy and lacking in nutrition. On the other hand, some cooks have discovered ways to appreciate Advent dishes with quality nutritional value and tastes delicious too.
Laura Kurella of Sturgis, MI is known in the area for her weekly column, ‘Vitality Cuisine’, which focuses on healthy eating with recipes and nutritional information. She began her writing as a response to her father’s untimely death and the desire to help people avoid the pain she and her family had to deal with.
Recently, she shared some of her tips and tricks for healthy holiday cooking at her ‘Happy Holidays Cooking Show with Laura Kurella’ with an audience of interested cooks and foodies. Each recipe she presented was preceded by an explanation about the nutritional values of one of the main ingredients. Small packages of samples made from the recipes were thrown to the crowd along with donations from her sponsors. All the attendees received numerous gifts and ideas for better cooking and eating during the holidays.
Kurella invited audience members to join her on the stage to create one of the four recipes for the afternoon. She made a Basic Muffin with flour being the presented ingredient, Crisp ‘n Salty Swift Toffee with salt as the feature, Custom Made Cookies showcasing vanilla, and Super-Nutritious Southwest Dip presented a nutritional counterpart to healthy tortilla chips.
A few years ago, she learned that her own grandchildren did not understand why nutrition is important so she decided to do something about that. Kurella did some research and found a quote from The New England Journal of Medicine (A Potential Decline in Life Expectancy in the U.S. in the 21st Century; 2005: 352: 1138-45) that suggested the children of today will not live as long as their parents. This concerned her a great deal so she embarked on a journey into children’s books by writing one.
“A Delicious Day at Mrs. K’s” is based on actual events and is to be used as a tool to introduce children to good food that is delicious and beneficial for them. She self-published the book in order to sell them at cost, hoping to spread the word to more people. More information can be found at her website, www.laurakurella.com.
Holiday get-togethers are a great time to introduce quality dishes that reinforce healthy eating but also adds to the enjoyment of the meals. While sweets are a traditional treat, substituting fruits in recipes can create new favorites. Fresh herbs can replace salt and other seasonings that may be causing health problems. Introducing your family and guests to ‘new’ ways to serve vegetables can broaden their food horizon and keep them healthier. These are just a few ways to make your holiday a little jollier and healthier at the dining room table and throughout the year.