Health Ministry
You will find many tips and recipes for healthy treats on this page.

Tasty Bites   -   Appetizers
The Christmas season brings an endless array of food that tantalizes our taste buds.  Parties offer dips, sausage balls,
cheese and crackers, snack mixes and holiday specialties.  Eating healthy is a challenge when presented with so many
yummy options.  Here are some tips to navigate the party table:
  • Never go hungry to a party.  Try to have a snack that includes protein about an hour or two before the event.
  • If asked to bring something to eat, make it healthy (see ideas below).
  • Choose foods that you can only get at holidays or special events.
  • Stay out of the room where the food is located after filling your plate.
  • Alternate between alcoholic and non-alcoholic drinks.
  • Choose vegetables instead of crackers for dips, cheese balls, etc 
    Dip & Chip Ideas:
  • Use the low-fat or fat-free versions of sour cream, cream cheese and mayonnaise.  No one will know the difference.
  • Try fat-free plain or Greek yogurt in place of sour cream or mayonnaise
  • Try turkey bacon or decrease bacon amount in recipe by half.
  • Consider serving the dip with a variety of vegetables instead of chips or try making your own chips. 
    Homemade Tortilla Chips
    1 package 6” tortillas
    Preheat oven to 400 degrees.  Spray 2 cookie sheets with non-stick spray.  Stack the tortillas and cut the stack
    into six wedges.  Place the tortillas on the prepared cookie sheets in a single layer.  Lightly spray with non-stick
    spray.  If desired, lightly sprinkle with salt.  Bake for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned and crisp. 
    Variations= Use flavored tortillas like spinach or tomato.  Sprinkle with garlic powder, onion powder,
    Mrs. Dash or other preferred seasonings.
    Spinach Dip
    1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach
    ¼ cup finely chopped onion
    ¼ cup chopped green pepper
    ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
    1 cup plain low-fat yogurt
    1 cup small curd cottage cheese or 8-ounce package light cream cheese
    1 8-ounce can sliced water chestnuts, drained
    Thaw and drain spinach well. Combine spinach, onion, green pepper, garlic powder, yogurt, cottage cheese
    or cream cheese and water chestnuts.  Mix well and chill.  Serve with a variety of vegetables or baked chips.
    Source:  Cooking A La Heart by the Mankato Heart Health Program
Drink Healthier Beverages

Try These combinations
We need just as much water in the winter as in the summer.  Liven up your water by adding fruits, herbs and vegetables. 
Make infused water by placing ingredients in a 32 oz. mason jar or pitcher and fill with 22 ounces of filterd or sparking water. 
Stir gently, cover and refrigerater at least 1 hour (longer for more intense flavors).  Store in refrigerator up to 3 days.
  •  Orange + Grape = Basil = 4 orange slices + 10 grapes, halved + 4 fresh basil sprigs
  • Apple + Ginger + Lemongrass = 8 Granny Smith apple slices + 5 fresh ginger slices + 2 (1-inch) lemongrass sticks
  • Cucumber + Thyme + Tangerine =  4 cucumber slices + 2 thyme sprigs + 4 tangerine slices
  • Pear + Cinnamon + Vanilla Bean = 8 pear slices + 1 cinnamon stick + 1/2 vanilla bean
  • Green Tea + Mint + Pomegranate = 1 gree tea bag + 2 fresh mint sprigs + 2- pomegranate arils, crushed
Cheese & Cracker Ideas:
  • Use a more flavorful cheese which allows you to cut smaller pieces.
  • Try mini rice cakes instead of crackers. 
  • Top rice cakes with: 
    • plain Greek yogurt, green onions and turkey bacon
    • avocado, salsa and cilantro
    • salmon spread or smoked salmon
    • pimento cheese
    • pears, spinach, bleu cheese
    • crab, avocado, grated carrot, a few drops of sirracha sauce
    • fat-free cream cheese, dried cranberries, dark chocolate chips
    • fat-free cream cheese, pear slices, walnuts, honey 

      Snack Mix Ideas:
    • -Use multi-grain or whole wheat versions of cereal.
    • -Replace peanuts with healthier nuts such as soynuts, walnuts or almonds, and decrease the recipe amount by half. 
      -consider a seasoned popcorn instead of the snack mix, such as:
      Smokey Barbecue Popcorn
      6 Tbsp butter
      1 tsp Worcestershire sauce
      1Tbsp sugar
      2 tsp smoked paprika
      2 tsp chili powder
      2 tsp garlic powder
      2 tsp kosher salt
      15 cups popped popcorn (from about ¾ cup kernels)
      Melt butter in a small saucepan over medium heat.  Remove from heat, and stir in Worcestershire sauce.  Stir together sugar and next 4 ingredients in a small bowl. Slowly drizzle butter mixture over popcorn, gently stirring as you drizzle.  Sprinkle with spice mixture, gently stirring to coat. 
      Source:  Southern Living Magazine, Oct 2015
      Or make an appetizer that adds lots of vegetables, such as:
      Chipotle-Lime Crab Crisps
      48 baked tortilla chips
      ½ cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
      1 teaspoon chopped canned chipotle chile in adobo sauce
      1 Tablespoon fresh lime juice
      ¾ pound lump crabmeat, shell pieces removed
      ¼ cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese
      2 Tablespoons finely chopped peeled jicama
      2 Tablespoons thinly sliced green onions
      2 Tablespoons finely chopped red bell pepper
      2 Tablespoons finely chopped fresh cilantro
      1 teaspoon finely chopped celery
      1 medium avocado, peeled and diced
      Preheat oven to 350 degrees.  Arrange tortilla chips in a single layer on 2 baking sheets.  Combine mayonnaise, chile and juice, stirring with a whisk.  Combine crab and next 6 ingredients (through celery) in a medium bowl.  Add mayonnaise mixture, stirring until well combined. Spoon about 1 tablespoon crab mixture onto each chip.  Bake for 5 minutes or until thoroughly heated; top the chips evenly with avocado. 
      Serving size:  3 crisps; 85 calories/serving, 3.3 grams fat, 9.1 grams carb
    Tasty Bites - Main Dishes
    The Holidays are filled with traditions, including the foods we eat for Christmas dinner. Changing those traditions
    could put you on Santa's naughty list, but there are ways to rethink some of the main dishes served during the
    Holidays and still make Santa smile. 

    Sweet Potato Casserole
    Sweet potato casserole is a staple on many Christmas tables.  A one cup serving of the traditional casserole
    can contain 558 calories, 78 grams of sugar and 20 grams of fat.  Keep the flavor and reduce calories and
    sugar by trying

    Simple Sweet Potato Casserole
    • 4 pounds sweet potatoes (about 4-5 large)                 2 teaspoons vanilla extract
      2 tablespoons butter, divided                                    2 teaspoons ground cinnamon, divided
      1 tablespoon honey                                                  ¼ teaspoon salt
      ¼ cup 1 % milk                                                         1 ¼ cups old-fashioned oats
      3 large eggs                                                            ¾ cup chopped pecans

      Preheat oven to 375 degree F. Bake sweet potatoes on a foil-lined baking sheet for 1 hour or until tender.  
      Let stand until cool enough to handle.  Peel sweet potatoes and mash in a large bowl.  Stir in milk,
      eggs, vanilla, 1 teaspoon cinnamon and salt.  Spoon into a lightly greased 11-by-7-inch baking dish.
      Melt butter in a medium glass bowl.  Stir in 1 tablespoon honey, oats, pecans and remaining
      1 teaspoon cinnamon.  Sprinkle over casserole.  Bake for 30 minutes, until golden brown and
      heated through.  
      Per 1 cup serving: 394 calories, 14 grams sugar, 14 grams fat

      Lettuce Salad
    • Change things up by trying a slaw using white or purple cabbage; fruits like apples, pears, dried apricots
      or dried cranberries; vegetables like carrots, green onions, jicama or red onion and making your own
      dressing such as:
      Pear Slaw
      4 cups cabbage, thinly shredded                               Dressing:  ¼ cup olive oil
      1 carrot, shredded                                                       2 teaspoons Dijon mustard
      3 green onions, sliced thin                                          1 tablespoon honey
      1 firm pear, cut into thinly sliced matchsticks             juice of 1 lime
      ¼ cup dried cranberries                                              2 tablespoons minced cilantro
    • Mix cabbage, carrot, green onions and pear in a bowl.  Whisk together dressing ingredients and toss
    • with coleslaw.  Sprinkle with cranberries.  Makes 4 servings.
      Recipe by:  Amy Medling 
      Macaroni and Cheese
      This comfort food staple at many holiday tables can be tweaked by using butternut squash and flavorful
      cheeses.  Calories decrease from 908 in a serving of traditional Macaroni and Cheese to 309 calories. 
      Creamy, Light Macaroni and Cheese
      3 cups cubed peeled butternut squash (about 1 lb of squash)                     
      1 cup (4 oz) grated Pecorino Romano cheese                                                                                               
      ¼ cup (1 oz) finely granted Parmigiana-Reggiano cheese, divided
      1 ¼ cups fat-free, low-sodium chicken broth                       
      1 ½ cups fat-free milk
      1 pound uncooked cavatappi pasta
      2 garlic cloves, peeled                                                  
      cooking spray
      2 tablespoons plain fat-free Greek yogurt                  
      1 teaspoon olive oil
      1 teaspoon kosher salt                                                 
      ½ cup Panko (Japanese breadcrumbs)
      ½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper                    
      2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
      1 ¼ cups (5 oz) shredded Gruyere cheese
    • Preheat oven to 375 degrees F.  Combine squash, broth, milk and garlic in a medium saucepan;
      bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce heat to medium, and simmer until squash is tender when
      pierced with a fork, about 25 minutes.  Remove from heat. 
    • Place the hot squash mixture in a blender. Add salt, pepper and Greek yogurt.  Remove the center piece
      of blender lid (to allow steam to escape); secure blender lid on blender.  Place a clean towel over opening
      in blender lid (to avoid splatters).  Blend until smooth.  Place blended squash mixture in a bowl; stir in
      Gruyere, pecorino Romano, and 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano.  Stir until combined. 
    • Cook pasta according to package directions; omitting salt and fat; drain well.  Add pasta to squash mixture,
      and stir until combined.  Spread mixture evenly into a 13 x 9-inch glass or ceramic baking dish coated with
      cooking spray. 
    • Heat oil in a medium skillet over medium heat. Add panko and cook for 2 minutes or until golden brown. 
      Remove from heat; stir in remaining 2 tablespoons Parmigiano-Reggiano cheese. 
      Sprinkle evenly over the hot pasta mixture.  Lightly coat topping with cooking spray.
    • Bake for 25 minutes or until bubbly.  Sprinkle with parsley and serve immediately.               
      (source: Cooking Light, September 2011)

      Vegetables can shine all by themselves without fancy sauces and rich mix-ins.  Green Bean Casserole
      can become fresh green beans cooked with onions and turkey bacon.  Vegetable flavors can be enhanced
      by cooking in low-fat/low-sodium chicken broth and adding fresh herbs like dill, basil, oregano, thyme,
      chives, lemon grass or rosemary. Finish with a squeeze of fresh lemon or a drizzle of extra-virgin olive oil.