Holiday Meal Makeovers


How to healthfully navigate your way around the table this holiday season.
By Amy Paturel

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Oh, the temptations of the holidays. Great food in great abundance can easily persuade us to overindulge. Who can resist that sugary-sweet pecan pie? Or deep-fried turkey? It's that one time of the year when we give ourselves permission to eat to excess. But then, the guilt, and maybe a few extra pounds, kicks in.

So this year, why not resolve to approach the holiday feast with a game plan that allows you to both enjoy the foods you love, but also stay within your personal goals for eating more healthily? It's easier than you think. Here are a few tips:

*Fill up before you go
Instead of saving up your appetite for the main meal, which can lead to overindulging, eat a smaller meal before you go. Choose something healthy and filling such as a salad, some fruit or healthy crackers. By the time you arrive, you won't be so hungry that you overeat.

*Watch your portions
The larger the plate, the more tempted you'll be to pile it high with food. Instead choose a smaller plate and keep the portions small, about the size of a fist. You can always go back and get another (small) serving of this and that. But chances are, you won't really want to. 

A Different Point of View

In every household, meals are often designed around meat. The average family serves meat at least once a day. This is not surprising because meat and deli-meat provide important nutrients. Among the different types of meat, veal holds a special place. Veal is a delicacy with a fine structure.

Veal is tender, lean, mellow in taste and contains important minerals and vitamins. In addition to its aesthetic appeal, veal is important because of its high nutritional value, easy digestibility and a good alternative when keeping an eye on calories.

Good Nutrition is Important

The composition of our food is very important because many bodily functions are influenced by what we eat. Therefore, eating a variety of foods is the key. By varying the choice of our food, the body receives all the nutrients it needs. These nutrients are proteins, fats, carbohydrates, and, we can find them in cereals, fruits and vegetables, dairy products and….veal.

Proteins are Indispensable

The human body consists of 10-15% protein. They form the building blocks for our body. Proteins are important for the building and maintenance of the condition of our skin, muscles, heart, organs and bones. For instance, children in their growing years need proteins for building strong bones. Pregnant women and mothers who are breastfeeding also require extra proteins.

Our body needs proteins to produce antibodies to defend us against viruses and bacteria. Therefore, sick people require more protein.

Body proteins break down after awhile, so it is essential to provide a new daily supply. This is possible to achieve from the food we consume. In a varied diet, veal is an excellent choice because it supplies an important high-quality protein. The proteins in veal look qua structure a lot like human proteins. That is why the human body easily absorbs the proteins from veal. The proteins in veal are also the reason why veal is so tender.

When cooking veal, proteins decrease their water-holding capacity producing a desirable juiciness. On heating, meat generally turns brown due to the formation of an oxidized pigment, present in meat proteins. In addition, there are further changes in proteins and amino acids with production of some volatile breakdown products that contribute to the flavour and odor of cooked veal.

Amino Acids

Proteins are made up of different amino acids. They all form different patterns that are different with each food item. In some foods, certain amino acids appear in abundance while in others, they are very low. Foods with a balanced amino acid profile contain what we call “proteins of a high quality” and are the most similar like human proteins. Therefore, these foods are the most desirable to cover the protein requirements of the consumer. Veal is One of These!

Veal is Lean

Our body needs fat, but we have to be critical of the quantity that we consume. Fats mainly supply lots of energy (calories).

The body will increase in weight if these fats are not sufficiently burned off. Research has shown that too much of a fatty diet will increase the chance of heart and coronary diseases. Not only the amount of fat that we eat plays a role but also the kinds of fats that we consume.

Saturated fats are the biggest culprits. Veal contains very little fat, not more than 10 grams of fat per 100 grams, many of them unsaturated fats and because of this, veal is considered very lean.

Fatty Acids

Fats are made up of fatty acids. There are different types that are categorized based on their chemical differences: saturated, monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fatty acids. Because of these differences in composition, they do not react in the same way in the body. The saturated fatty acids increase the serum cholesterol content.

This is an important risk factor for heart and coronary diseases. In contrast, polyunsaturated fatty acids decrease the serum cholesterol content. After a recent investigation, monounsaturated fatty acids were also credited with this reaction.

The advice from experts are: “Of your total dietary fat intake, increase the unsaturated fats and decrease the saturated”


Proteins and fats are considered macronutrients. Carbohydrates also belong to this nutrient group and are a collective noun for starches and sugars – the energy suppliers. They specially appear in all grains, vegetables, fruits and other plant parts eaten by humans.

Meat and veal contain small amounts of carbohydrates.

Nevertheless, the small amount of carbohydrates that is present in veal has an important function. It ensures that when cooking veal it gets a nice brown colour. In addition, when carbohydrates are heated it creates an aromatic vapour that gives veal its nice smell and flavour.

Besides macronutrients, there are also micronutrients that we need; these are . Vitamins are chemical compounds that we find in food. There are thirteen vitamins, four are soluble in fat (vitamins A, D, E and K) and nine are soluble in water (B-complex vitamins and vitamin C). Each vitamin has its own task; for instance, they play a role in the development, restoration and the total functioning of the body.

Veal is an important source of B-complex vitamins. Veal has the advantage that in comparison little of the vitamins are lost during preparation (cooking).

Meat comparison Chart

100g portion, cooked, lean




Fat Iron Zinc Vit B12




grams mg mg mcg
Veal cutlet 183 37 0 1.9 4.6 4.6 3.3
Veal blade steak 193 34 0 5.1 3.7 9.8 3.1
188 31 0 6.3 2.3 4.8 2.6
Veal shoulder roast 170 31 0 3.9 2.5 7.3 3.6

Chicken breast

159 33 0 2.1 0.6 1.0 0.3

Beef sirloin steak

186 29 0 6.7 3.1 5.7 2.9
Pork leg, butt end 207 31 0 8.0 1.1 3.1 1.2
Halibut, Atlantic & Pacific 140 26 0 3.1 1.0 0.5 0.08



Minerals are important for body growth, in the composition of the blood and the proper condition of bone structure. At the cell level, they are an indispensable ingredient for all tissues and influence the reflexes of our muscles as well as keeping our body running like a well-oiled machine.

A major concern with our diets is the consumption of iron, calcium, sodium, potassium, phosphorus, fluorine and zinc.

Veal is a good source of these different minerals. Often by consuming 100 grams of veal, a good foundation is laid for the recommended daily nutrient intake of minerals that we need.

Veal and Diets

For many reasons, diets must be adjusted for special needs. Some diets need to be restricted in energy, sodium, and fat; others are specifically used in cases of diabetes mellitus or digestive problems. In the case of energy restricted and diabetes mellitus diets, it is important not to use an excessive amount of fat. Veal is lean and does not add extra calories. In addition, its content in sodium is low, being an excellent source for sodium restricted diets.

A Tickling for the Tongue

Veal has many advantages. It is a valuable source of nutrients, it is tender, lean and digested easily. But above all, veal is just delicious.

The and Italians use veal extensively because of its gastronomic qualities. You can use many methods to prepare veal such as grilling, frying, roasting or stir-fry.

Veal works very well with sauces or herbs, also with red, white or rose wines. In short, veal is a (healthy) tickling for the tongue.

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Holiday Survival Guide

Worried that holiday parties and a busy schedule might pack on the pounds? Find out how to get through the feasting season without derailing your diet.

Rancher's Eggs and Potatoes

Prep: 1 minute    Cook:  16 minutes

1 (14.5-ounce) can diced tomatoes with green pepper, celery, and onions

2 cups diced potatoes with onion (such as Simply Potatoes)

1/2 cup vegetable broth

1 tablespoon tomato paste

1 teaspoon chili powder

1/2 teaspoon ground cumin

1/4 teaspoon salt

1/8 teaspoon coarsely ground black pepper

4 large eggs

1/2 cup (2 ounces) shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese/Swiss

3 teaspoons finely chopped fresh cilantro

Cooking Instructions:

Combine first 8 ingredients in a large non-stick skillet; stirring gently.  Bring ingredients to a boil; cover, reduce heat, and simmer for 5 minutes.

Break 1 egg and put into potato mixture.  Repeat with remaining eggs, spacing them evenly apart.  Cover and simmer 4 to 5 minutes or until eggs are done.  Sprinkle eggs with cheese; cover and cook 15 to 20 seconds or until cheese melts.  Use a spatula and place onto plates, and sprinkle with cilantro.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size: 1egg and about 1 cup potato mixture).





Dietary exchanges

1 Starch

1 Vegetable

1 High-Fat Meat




Quick Side Dishes
Cilantro Zucchini and Corn

Total time:  15 minutes   

1 teaspoon olive oil

3 (1 pound) zucchini, cut and cubed

1 (15.25-ounce) can whole kernel corn, no salt added

1 tablespoon chopped fresh cilantro

1 teaspoon fresh lime juice

1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Cooking Instructions:

In a large nonstick skillet, heat oil over medium-high heat.  Add zucchini and corn, stirring occasionally.  Cook for 8 minutes or until zucchini is crisp and tender.  Stir in cilantro and remaining ingredients for 1 minute.  Remove from heat and serve.

Yield:  4 servings (serving size:  3/4 cup).



Dietary exchanges

1/2 Starch

1 Vegetable



Do you have a great recipe to share with the Health Lift team? Let us know and send us an email!


Spice Up Your Diet

Need some ideas for spicing up your diet? Check out these surefire ways to turn up the heat.


Tuna Primavera

Total time:  12 minutes

8 ounces bow tie pasta, uncooked

1 pound fresh asparagus

1 cup frozen English peas

1/4 cup sliced green onions

1/4 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons olive oil

1 cup seeded, chopped tomato

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 (6-ounce) cans low-sodium white tuna packed in water, drained and coarsely flaked

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

Cooking Instructions:

Cook pasta according to package directions, omitting salt and fat; reserve 3 tablespoons of pasta water when draining pasta.

While pasta is cooking, cut off tough ends of asparagus.  Remove scales from stalks, if desired and cut asparagus into 1-inch pieces.

Add asparagus and peas into a steamer basket over boiling water.  Cover and steam 3 to 4 minutes or until asparagus is crisp and tender.  Drain.

Combine steamed vegetables, green onions, salt, and olive oil in a large bowl.  Add pasta, reserved pasta water, tomato, lemon juice, and tuna; tossing well.  Sprinkle with freshly ground pepper.

Yield:  6 servings.



Dietary exchanges

1 Starch

1 Vegetable

1 LeanMeat


Black Models Still Not Treated Equally,

Says Naomi Campbell

A year ago, Vogue Italia made history with its July issue, which featured an all-black cast of models. That issue wasn't created in a vacuum. Editors at the magazine made their gutsy (but ultimately lucrative) decision after critics, noting the absence of models of color on the runway and in magazines, began calling attention to the racial disparities in the world of high fashion. Vogue Italia was supposed to herald the beginning of a new era, one in which black models are just as in demand as white ones.

But one of the most famous black models in the world, Naomi Campbell, says there's at least one facet of the industry that's just as bad as it ever was when it comes to black models: fashion advertising. And the recession is making it worse.

"[Italian Vogue] made some noise, but, unfortunately, we are the same as before," she said. "People, in the panic of the recession, don't dare to put a girl of color in their campaign, full stop. Nor of any other race. It's a shame. It's very sad." {C} END KE KIT -->

Bethann Hardison, a legendary former model and modeling agent who has made diversity in fashion her mission, told Black Voices that Naomi is "absolutely right" about the advertising campaigns. But diversity on the runway, she said, has gotten better since she started hosting forums on the topic back in September of 2007.

"As far as designers saying things like 'no ethnics and no blacks' when it comes to casting? They don't say that anymore," she said. "A designer who may have had one girl of color in a show three or four years ago now has maybe two or three or five. It keeps growing -- you can see it. Some designers still haven't gotten past one or two. But before that they didn't have any."

Hardison made sure to add that just because things are better doesn't mean they're equal. In anticipation of New York Fashion Week, which starts Sept. 10, she and model Tyson Beckford recently hosted a mixer for casting agents and models of color. The point was to try to increase opportunities for non-white models who are still underrepresented in fashion shows. Hardison says she's thinking about throwing these mixers before every New York Fashion Week, because she still sees a need.

"I don't expect it to happen before I die," she said, "but I hope that the objective at some point is to never talk about diversity, because it's no longer an issue."
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 Tina Thompson helps launch Men's Movement


Celebrity Diet Secrets

What are the Diva's doing to keep their lovely figures?
Inquiring minds and Diva's want to know! 

How did Janet Jackson lose weight and get her six pack abs



No flab: Janet's abs take best washboard award

By Kelly Carter, USA TODAY


LOS ANGELES — It's crunch time for Janet Jackson and envy time for the rest of us.

On Grammy night last week, the Staples Center crowd buzzed about the singer's amazing six-pack abs when she stepped on stage wearing low-cut jeans and a long-sleeve pink crop top.

The next day Jackson's taut midsection was discussed on the Today show. Weatherman Al Roker said he thought he'd seen her on the cover of Men's Health, a magazine known for men with muscular abs.

"I think she's the fittest female celebrity around," says her trainer, Tony Martinez, who began working with the singer five years ago. "People can do their laundry on her stomach."

According to Shape's Winter 2001 issue, Jackson, 35, began seeing nutritionist Tony Perrone in December 2000 and eventually dropped four sizes, to a size 0. The formerly chubby singer started getting buff about a decade ago.

"I'm still really insecure about my body," she told Shape. You'd never know from her Grammy outfit.

"She's just so shy about that," Martinez says. "Her body is tremendous. She puts a lot of hard work into that. She's a very humble person."

He laments how Jackson's abs get all the attention, when he says her arms, back and legs are incredibly shaped as well. He works with her one to two hours a day, five or six days a week, and accompanies her on tour. She works her abs only 10 to 15 minutes a day, three times a week.

"Whenever you do any kind of exercise you're always contracting your stomach," Martinez says.

Her favorite ab exercise? Hanging upside down from a bar and lifting her body from her midsection. He mixes up her workouts with boxing, basketball, tennis, snowboarding and hitting balls in a batting cage.

See Janet live here.