The real secret of healthy holiday meals

Posted by Janet Nezon on April 17, 2011

This is a busy time of year for so many of us.  Passover begins tomorrow evening, and Easter arrives on Friday.  Like most holidays, food plays a central role in both of these celebrations.  In case you haven’t noticed, grocery store ads, magazines, tv shows and popular websites have been focused on what to cook, how to serve it, and how to set the perfect holiday table since Valentine’s Day ended back in February!

If you’re not careful, you can find yourself caught up in trying to become the next Martha Stewart; attempting to execute insanely complicated recipes with beautiful, but unrealistic details. (Crepe paper flowers and a bird’s nest on a cake – really??) Remember, she has a staff of thousands!

While you might have expected that this post was going to include some specific holiday recipes (and I might get around to doing that after I finish making my matzah balls and macaroons!), instead I’m going to tell you about the most important ingredient that makes any family holiday meal healthy:  family!

We have the best intentions as we work to produce the perfect holiday meal. Culture, family traditions, popular trends and nutrition all drive our menu choices and cooking styles.  But remember that, in the end, it’s the sharing of that meal with loved ones that is most important.  Your kids won’t remember if the lamb was overdone, or the sponge cake fell.  What they will remember is the warmth, the hugs, the laughter and the stories that accompanied the meal.

We still laugh about what happened when my cousin ate a huge spoonful of horseradish at a passover seder 40 years back, and I have vivid memories of the warmth and happiness at a seder in my grandmother’s tiny apartment long ago.  I don’t remember what she served (except for her trademark fried matzah appetizer!), but I do remember that the evening was wonderful.

Life is hectic, so do what works for you at the holidays, and relax! Your family’s healthiest memories will come from the experience of being together, not the food or table decorations.  You might even be wise enough to let someone else cater the meal, or you might eat what you cook on paper plates.  Don’t worry.  Sitting around the table with family and friends is what truly matters most.

Now that’s what I call healthy eating!

Wishing you and your loved ones happiness and good health during this festive season!

Janet

 

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