New year — new foods?

We have another holiday season past us and a new year to look forward to. Often that means making resolutions and many times that involves resolutions to improve our eating habits. It is interesting that the practice of making New Year’s resolutions comes so closely on the heels of a holiday season so entrenched with traditional and rich foods. It does seem prudent after indulging in all the holiday foods, to get back on track again.

There are many different things we can focus on to get back on track. Often our resolution is to “eat better” or “lose weight,” but without some more specific tactics, it’s hard to measure and sustain a goal like that. For example, what are you going to do to eat better? How much weight do you want to lose and how are you going to do that?

The Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics had some suggestions on their website for potential healthy food, nutrition and physical activity tips that you could consider. Here are 10 tips they suggested:

1. Eat breakfast

2. Make half your plate fruits and vegetables

3. Watch portion sizes

4. Fix healthy snacks

5. Get to know food labels

6. Follow food safety guidelines

7. Drink more water

8. Enact family meal time

9. Explore new foods and flavors

10. Cut back on added sugars

I think that the tip from this list that I am going to work on this year is to explore new foods and flavors. Our holiday meals tend to be pretty traditional and we seem to eat the same items at our holiday meals year after year. This year during our traditional Black Friday shopping excursion with my mom and sisters, my 12-year-old niece was along. We were discussing the menus for the holiday meals and she remarked that she wished we could have some other meat besides turkey. Turkey or Swedish Meatballs seem to be the staple meats that we work the rest of the side dishes around. She wasn’t crazy about the meatballs menu item either and so when I asked her what she would like to have, she recommended shrimp. That was new for us on our Christmas Eve menu this year. (It didn’t replace the turkey, it was just an add-on!)

My daughter, Sarah, was also involved in the menu planning when she and her husband were home. That brought a few new items to the table, which tended to be along the dessert line. One of the things she has been working on mastering this year were French Macarons, and they were delightful! I’m not sure I would have the patience to putter in the kitchen making them, but I did enjoy eating them!

My sister also brought a new food that she was experimenting with making- homemade Scandinavian Kransekake. For those not familiar with this Scandinavian cake, it is made with tiers of almond rings that get smaller as they get to the top and is traditionally served at weddings, banquets and holidays. My son and his new wife, who were married in September, came home to Minnesota for the holidays and so my sister thought this was the perfect occasion to try out this cake (holiday and recent wedding).

Alas, many of these new foods that I ate over the holidays were mostly in the dessert line. Hence the reason for taking my own advice and setting a more specific resolution/goal of trying new foods that are also healthy options; namely ones that are lower in fat and sodium and more nutrient dense than desserts tend to be!

Here’s to healthy eating in 2019!

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center.