Feasting with some moderation

Today seems to be a bad time to be talking about food no-no’s in regards to dealing with diabetes, high blood pressure or whether your body is apple or pear-shaped.

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving – the big day for devouring between 1,000 and 1,300 calories at one meal.

But lowering the calorie count with half a plate of nutritious vegetables, less protein and a small helping or two of a starch can be done. And you will feel better about yourself in the morning if you do.

I picked up much of the information below from a magazine regarding diabetes and other health issues at the pharmacy at Walgreens.

The right nutrition, enough exercise and plenty of sleep are prerequisites for diabetes, high blood pressure and heart problems, it was noted in the magazine.

The most important feature of good health needs to be eating a healthy breakfast, with whole grain cereal, steel-cut oatmeal or bread. Fruit can be added to the cereal, such as strawberries, raspberries or peaches. You might add some toasted flax seeds or pumpkin seeds to your morning cereal as well.

For lunch and dinner and snacks, too, eat a diet rich in high-fiber and low-sodium foods such as vegetables, fruits and unprocessed grains. Eat less saturated fat, those coming from fatty meats, and add more heart-healthy fats, such as avocados, unsalted almonds and walnuts. To top the nut category you might add them to broiled salmon or sprinkle them on vegetables, such as carrots and broccoli or sweet potatoes.

Make sure to get plenty of Vitamin D by taking a 10-minute walk in the sunshine, without sunscreen, to activate the Vitamin D in the skin and make sure to get your vitamin D level checked yearly. If it is low, you might be told to take a vitamin D supplement. Adding dried shiitake mushrooms to fresh salmon for a vitamin D-rich dinner is another way. Have some Greek yogurt or cottage cheese to boost the vitamin D intake or enjoy a cold glass of low-fat milk fortified with vitamin D.

The Walgreens magazine suggests its readers determine whether they are Teflon or velcro. The Teflon people let their problems slide right off without getting upset. Velcro people hold on to their stress and stay upset.

Being stressed does not cause problems, but it is the result of that situation that is at issue, it was explained.

People who dwell on their problems are likely to suffer from chronic health problems years later, especially pain and heart disease.

When stressed, the body releases hormones to help deal with it. These same hormones raise blood glucose levels. Some people eat more or sleep more when stressed. Eating more can lead to higher blood glucose readings. Others might eat less or toss and turn at night. Exercise is a way to cope with stress, as it releases endorphins, those feel-good hormones that counteract the effects of stress hormones.

Ideas suggested for finding your inner Teflon are:

Find a support group or a good listener. Pray, meditate or practice your religion.

Don’t do more than you can do in a day. Learn to say “no” to people or events that will raise stress.

Plan your day and set goals you can meet. Make time for yourself and your health.

Take a stress management class or practice relaxation exercises.

Avoid stressful situations when possible.

Express your feelings.

Use your energy in a positive way with hobbies, things you enjoy or spending time with people you like and feel happy to be with.

Experts have thought that apple-shaped people had greater worries about their health and that fat storing in the stomach area puts them at a higher health risk for diabetes and heart disease. The belief was that pear-shaped folks, who store fat in the buttocks, thighs and hips, were protected from these health issues.

Now studies show that pear-shaped people may not be as immune as thought. Both have an increased risk of metabolic syndrome, a group of risk factors including high fasting blood glucose, high blood pressure and lower HDL, the good cholesterol, that can lead to type 2 diabetes and heart disease.

Some foods that are plentiful now and are healthy as well are:

Apples: Less than 100 calories for a medium one, with a healthy dose of vitamin C. They can be added to chicken or turkey salad, green salads, whole-grained stuffing and oatmeal.

Cranberries: These are a Thanksgiving favorite but should be used in dishes year around. They contain flavonols, anthocyanins and proanthocyanidins. They can be mixed with fruits such as apples and oranges for creative salsas and salads. Toss fresh or dried cranberries into pancake and muffin batter or oatmeal.

Winter squash: Butternut or acorn squash will be in the grocery store now and are packed with vitamin C, potassium and carotenoids that protect the eyes from ultraviolet damage. The cavities of halved acorn squash can be filled with chopped apples, raisins and cinnamon and put into the oven at 400 degrees for an hour. Cubed squash can be seasoned with Italian herbs, paprika or cinnamon, coated with olive oil and roasted.


Here is a recipe for Black Friday, or the day after Thanksgiving as I knew it for many years. It contains the leftover turkey or if you have cooked chicken on hand. This is from the Healthy Exchanges Newsletter.

Turkey or Chicken Salad

1 1/2 cups diced, left-over turkey or cooked chicken

1/2 cup chopped celery

8-ounce can pineapple tidbits, packed in fruit juice, drained

2-ounce jar chopped pimento, drained

1/4 cup fat-free French dressing

2 tablespoons sweet pickle relish

1 hard cooked egg, chopped

2 cups finely shredded lettuce

In a large bowl, combine turkey or chicken, celery, pineapple and pimento. Add dressing and pickle relish. Mix gently to combine. Fold in chopped egg. Cover and refrigerate for at least 15 minutes. For each serving, place 1/2 cup lettuce on a plate and spoon about 3/4 cup salad evenly over top. Makes four servings at 187 calories.


Here is a salad that can still be made for Thanksgiving as most cupboards have canned corn, and although black beans are stressed, kidney beans will go as well. It is from the Cancer Research Newsletter.

Colorful Southwestern Corn and Bean Salad

15-ounce can no-salt-added black or kidney beans

8-ounce can no-salt-added corn kernels

1 cup chopped green, red or yellow bell pepper

1 cup shredded or finely chopped carrots

3/4 cup mild tomato salsa

1 tablespoon olive oil

Open can of beans and can of corn. Empty both cans in a strainer and rinse well. Let water drain from strainer. Put beans and corn into large salad bowl. Add chopped pepper, carrots, salsa and olive oil. Mix together with large spoon and serve. Makes six servings at 125 calories per serving.


Here is another salad that uses beets as one of the ingredients, with pitted Kalamata olives and a red wine vinegar. It serves four. This recipe is from Good Housekeeping magazine.

Greek Salad

8 cups chopped romaine lettuce

1/2 cup pitted Kalamata olives

3 tablespoons red wine vinegar

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Can of small, whole, peeled red beets, with the drained beets weighing about 8 or 9 ounces

1/2 cup crumbled feta cheese

Toss chopped romaine lettuce, olives, red wine vinegar and pepper together in a large bowl. Top the lettuce with the beets, cut in wedges and sprinkle with crumbled feta cheese.

Note: The wine dressing may be a bit tart, so a sprinkle of Splenda can be added to taste.


Fresh blueberries are so very healthy, and they combine well with sugar-free canned peaches in this dessert that is 152 calories. It is much better than pecan or double-crust apple pie for a coffee and dessert time later in the evening.

Peach-Blueberry Crisp

1 1/2 cups fresh blueberries

2 cups sliced, canned peaches that have been well drained.

1 tablespoon cornstarch

3/4 cup Splenda granular, the kind that comes in a square, yellow box with a spout

1/2 cup flour

1/2 cup quick oats

1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

1/4 cup light margarine

In a microwave-safe, 8-by-8-inch baking dish, combine blueberries, peaches, cornstarch and 1/4 cup Splenda. Microwave on high, 100 percent power, for 5 minutes or until mixture thickens, stirring after 3 minutes. In a small bowl, combine flour, oats, remaining 1/2 cup Splenda and nutmeg. Add margarine. Mix well, using a pastry blender or two forks, until mixture becomes crumbly. Evenly sprinkle crumb mixture over fruit mixture. Continue to microwave on high for another 4 minutes. Let set for about 3 minutes before dividing into six servings.

(McCoy can be contacted at emccoy@heraldstaronline.com.)