Take Your Christmas Celebrations from “Ho Hum” to Happy and Healthy

Take Your Christmas Celebrations from “Ho Hum” to Happy and Healthy

This holiday season, spice up your parties, gatherings and get-togethers with a few delicious recipes from acclaimed chef, Huda Mu’min. Video Courtesy of Roland S. Martin


For many, the holiday season comes with family, friends and lots of food. As part of the Healthy for Life 20 by 20 initiative, to improve the health of Americans, Aramark and the American Heart Association tapped into their experts to assemble a list of healthy tips and tricks to help navigate the holiday season, without sacrificing the flavor or fun of celebrating.

Aramark, the largest food service provider in the United States and one of the largest employers of registered dietitians in the world, and the American Heart Association, the leading voluntary health organization devoted to a world of longer, healthier lives, have teamed up to empower and inspire individuals and families to make better food choices every day, including the holiday season.

Whether it’s cooking for a crowd, or making smart kitchen swaps, Aramark and the American Heart Association will help you put together a winning holiday game plan.

COOKING FOR A CROWD

Aramark chefs serve two billion meals a year, so they’re used to cooking for a crowd every day of the week. Whether for a cocktail party, weekend brunch or holiday dinner, these easy tips will make cooking for a crowd a lot less daunting.

  • Ask around. Before you get too far with your planning, note anyone who has a food preference, allergy, intolerance, or any other dietary needs or restrictions. While some guests may follow a vegetarian or vegan diet, plenty of people are thinking more plant-forward in general. Come up with a mix of meat, poultry, seafood, and plant-forward offerings so every guest has a selection of dishes to enjoy. It’s a good idea to have at least one meatless main dish for guests who follow a vegan or vegetarian diet.
  • Plan ahead. Think about what you can take care of in the days leading up to your event. Shopping is a no-brainer. Review all your recipes and check your pantry to compile one master shopping list before you even set foot in the grocery store. Again, buying in-season produce will help you save money, as will buying in bulk, which large parties often require anyway. Once home, take stock of your cookware and serving dishes, laying them out with sticky notes so you know which food will go in which dish.
  • Welcome helping hands (big and small). If someone offers to help in the kitchen or contribute something, take them up on it! Even kids can get in on the game: Let them toss a salad, set the table, or handle washing the pots and pans. It’s one less thing for you to do as the host, and one more way to inspire their love of healthy home cooking.

SMART KITCHEN SWAPS

There are plenty of healthy baking swaps to lighten up your favorite Holiday treats. Considering swapping out some of the items high in calories, sodium or saturated fat, for a healthier alternative.

  • One cup of unsweetened apple sauce can be swapped out for one cup of sugar
  • One cup of mashed bananas can be used to replace one cup of melted butter or oil
  • Greek yogurt can be used to swap out for different ingredients such as sour cream, butter, oil and heavy cream, but the ratios can vary
  • Instead of a fruit pie try making a fruit crisp for the holidays, it has fewer calories
  • Try replacing cream in recipes with regular or low-fat milk
  • Use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves, to flavor dishes, instead of salt or butter

EAT WELL, BE WELL TIPS

You can eat well and be well this holiday season, with these tasty treats, party tricks and simple strategies from the experts at the American Heart Association.

  • Include lots of seasonal, colorful fruits and vegetables. Do you decorate for the holidays with a lot of color? Treat your plate the same way. Fruits and vegetables will add flavor, color and nutrients to holiday favorites. And they help you feel fuller longer so you can avoid the temptation to overeat.
  • Navigate holiday parties like a boss. From the obligatory workplace parties to family get-togethers, your calendar may be bursting with opportunities to eat and drink outside of your regular routine. Make a plan that will help you resist plowing through the buffet table, like having a healthy snack beforehand.
  • Sprinkle in opportunities to be active. Keep the inevitable indulgences in check by staying active. Enjoy some winter sports, for a change of pace, or schedule in a quick walk or workout before you head to the next party. Remember, every little bit helps you get closer to the recommended amount of physical activity.

HOLIDAY HEALTH AND SAFETY

These tips from Aramark’s safety experts will keep safety top of mind when preparing a holiday feast.

  • Wash your hands. Hands must be washed AFTER using the restroom, coughing, sneezing and handling raw foods and garbage. Always wash your hands BEFORE starting to prepare food and in between tasks. Handwashing is critical to preparing safe food.
  • Thaw frozen food properly. It is recommended that a refrigerator is used to thaw frozen food, so plan ahead. For every 5 pounds (2kg 270g) of large frozen food, allow 24 hours of refrigerator thawing time. Place the food in a tray or container deep enough to collect any draining fluids to prevent contamination of other foods in the refrigerator.
  • Use proper cooking temperatures. Cook raw meat products to the minimum internal temperatures as stated on the product packaging. Insert a thermometer (digital is preferred) at several spots including the thickest part of the meat. Achieving the proper internal minimum cooking temperature is critical to preparing safe food.
  • Store and reheat leftovers safely. Leftovers must be cooled to below 70°F (21°C) within 2 hours, and then to 41°F (5°C) or below within 4 hours. Large items should be broken down into smaller items by either physically breaking items apart or placing the item in multiple small shallow containers. Keep refrigerated leftovers for 3 days from initial cooking or freeze for longer storage and reheat leftover food once to 165°F (74°C) for 15 seconds.

HEALTHY MENU IDEAS

It’s possible to eat healthy during the holidays without FOMO, or a lot of effort. Here are some favorite recipes from Aramark and the American Heart Association that will bring new flavors and twists on holiday favorites to your table.

Visit www.fyp365.com for more holiday tips and healthy recipes.

Convenience Store Charitable Giving Tops $1 Billion

Convenience Store Charitable Giving Tops $1 Billion

Convenience stores contribute or collect more than $1 billion to charities annually, according to a national survey of retailers released last week by the National Association of Convenience Stores (NACS).

Overall, 95% of convenience stores support charitable causes, with 66% of these stores supporting five or more charitable causes. Nearly all companies support local charities (91%) such as church groups, shelters, food banks and other non-sports groups. And approximately half of all retailers (47%) also support national charities. Also, more than three in four retailers (76%) contribute to youth sports groups and more than two-thirds (69%) contribute to local schools via PTAs and other fundraising activities.

In addition, convenience stores also contribute to local charities during specific times of need. Four in five convenience store companies (75%) say they’ve made donations when there was a specific emergency or crisis in the community.

The median charitable contribution per store is $3,925 in direct contributions and $3,054 in donations collected. Cumulatively, the nearly 155,000 convenience stores in the United States contribute or collect $1.03 billion a year to benefit charitable groups.

“We often say in our industry that ‘c-store’ doesn’t just stand for convenience store; it stands for community store and these results clearly demonstrate the commitment our industry has to the communities they serve,” said Jeff Lenard, NACS vice president of strategic industry initiatives.

Convenience retailers noted that their locations in communities also make them convenient places for groups to hold events: 61% allow their property to be used by local groups for fundraising events, whether car washes, cookie sales or direct fundraising.

More than three in four (76%) retailers also say they make local product/food donations to food banks and other groups to support those in need; of this group, 67% donate food and 76% donate beverages.

“Being a small, local chain, we like to keep our charitable giving to local organizations, where our customers know the people it is benefiting and can see their donations at work,” said Dennis McCartney with Landhope Farms (Kennett Square, PA).

A total of 90 NACS retail member companies participated in the association’s Q4 2018 Retailer Sentiment Survey that featured questions about charitable giving.

NACS advances the role of convenience stores as positive economic, social and philanthropic contributors to the communities they serve. The U.S. convenience store industry, with more than 154,000 stores nationwide selling fuel, food and merchandise, serves 165 million customers daily—half of the U.S. population—and has sales that are 10.8% of total U.S. retail and foodservice sales. NACS has 2,100 retailer and 1,750 supplier member companies from more than 50 countries.