Once holiday entertaining has begun, the fight against extra fat and calories intensifies. Waistline watchers engage in countless battles against the likes of cookies, pies, candies, plum puddings and fruitcakes, not to mention fancy entrees and all the rich, creamy accouterments.
Standing rib roast, rack of lamb or succulent baked ham are all among the delicious possibilities for Christmas dinner menus. Unfortunately, the amount of fat in the average portion of any one of these meats can add up quickly when gravies and side dishes are included.
There's no reason to feel punished during the holiday season. Although this part of the year is regarded as a time of carefree indulgence, when even the most strict calorie counter is likely to abandon healthy eating habits so painstakingly adhered to during the year, it is still possible to enjoy the day guiltlessly.
The following menu has been designed for just such occasions. It is a healthy alternative to traditional holiday bills of fare--offering the taste and textures that satisfy the need to be festive, without causing pangs of guilt.
This Christmas dinner--three ounces of tender, flavorful Poached Beef Tenderloin Dijon, one half cup of Steamed Winter Vegetables, one half cup Tomato Salad With Vinaigrette and one half cup Cranberry-Orange Sorbet, contains a mere 513 calories, allowing plenty of calories for a small cup of eggnog or other favored holiday treat.
Light olive oil and a bit of blue cheese for texture and taste in the tomato salad are a lively accompaniment to the meat. Instead of traditional mashed potatoes and gravy and butter-laden vegetables of the season, this menu suggests baby carrots, new potatoes and Brussels sprouts tossed with a light lemon-butter sauce that has only a fraction of the fat found in traditional butter-cream sauces.
Serving a light sauce, made by reducing the cooking liquid from a lean, tenderloin of beef roast, and thickening with cornstarch instead of flour, also conserves calories.
For other suggestions on how to enjoy the holidays, the California Dietetic Assn., Los Angeles District, has developed the Holiday Survival Guide, available by sending a self-addressed, stamped, legal-size envelope to CDA/LAD, P.O. Box 3506, Santa Monica 90403.
This brochure offers suggestions on how to budget calories and recommendations on how to cut back on alcohol consumption during the festivities; it lists a variety of alternatives to traditional foods such as dressing, chips and dips, deep-fried appetizers, cream sauces for buttered vegetables, chocolates and breads. Recipes for another holiday menu and an exercise chart are also provided.
The association also provides a 24-hour hot line, staffed by professional dietitians and nutritionists who can answer any food- or nutrition-related questions. Call (213) 459-9343.
POACHED BEEF TENDERLOIN DIJON
1 1/2 teaspoons salt
3/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 (2-pound) beef tenderloin roast, tied at 2-inch intervals
2 tablespoons olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
4 cups water
2 (10 3/4-ounce) cans condensed beef broth
1 bay leaf
1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
2 whole cloves
1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
1 tablespoon cornstarch
Combine 1 teaspoon salt and 1/2 teaspoon pepper and rub over surface of roast. Heat oil in Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add roast and garlic and cook until browned, about 6 minutes.
Remove roast from pan and pour off drippings. Add water, broth, bay leaf, thyme and cloves and bring to boil. Return meat to pan and reduce heat to medium-low. Cover and simmer 20 minutes or until meat thermometer inserted into center of roast registers 130 degrees for rare. Remove roast to serving platter, tent with plastic or foil and let stand 10 minutes in warm place before carving. (Roast will rise 10 degrees in temperature.)
Strain cooking liquid and reserve 2 cups. Remove Dutch oven from heat and combine mustard and cornstarch to form thick paste. Gradually add reserved cooking liquid, stirring constantly. Place Dutch oven over medium heat, add remaining salt and pepper and cook until slightly thickened, about 7 minutes. Remove strings from roast and carve into thin slices. Serve beef with sauce. Makes 4 servings.
TOMATO SALAD WITH VINAIGRETTE
1/4 cup light olive oil
3 tablespoons white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon chopped parsley
1/2 teaspoon dried basil leaves
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
4 large tomatoes, cut into 16 1/2-inch thick slices
1 quart shredded iceberg lettuce
1 ounce crumbled blue cheese
Combine oil, vinegar, parsley, basil, salt and pepper and mix well. For each serving, arrange 2 tomato slices over 1/2 cup shredded lettuce. Top each with equal amount of crumbled cheese and 1 tablespoon vinaigrette. Makes 8 servings.
STEAMED WINTER VEGETABLES
3/4 pound baby carrots, peeled
4 medium new potatoes, quartered
6 Brussels sprouts, halved
2 tablespoons butter or margarine
1 tablespoon lemon juice
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon black pepper
Place carrots and potatoes in steamer over boiling water. Cover and steam 6 minutes. Add sprouts and continue steaming 5 to 7 minutes or until vegetables are tender. Combine butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper. Toss with steamed vegetables. Makes 8 servings.
1 envelope unflavored gelatin
3/4 cup orange juice
4 cups frozen whole cranberries
3/4 cup sugar
2 tablespoons orange-flavored liqueur
Soften gelatin in orange juice in small saucepan. Stir over low heat until dissolved. Place cranberries in food processor fitted with steel blade. Process 2 to 3 minutes or until pureed, scraping bowl as needed. Add gelatin mixture, sugar and liqueur. Process 2 to 3 minutes or until very light and foamy. Spoon mixture into 8-inch square baking pan. Cover tightly and freeze 5 hours or overnight. Makes 8 servings.