Holiday Foods You Can Eat to Your Heart’s Content

REDBOOK ONLINE, Dec. 17, 2013.

I sat down with Redbook Online to dish about terrific holiday foods that are delicious AND good for you, including sweet potatoes, oysters and shrimp. There are amazing foods you can eat during the holidays that will help rev up your metabolism, start burning fat, and help you feel amazing during this sometimes stressful time of year. Good news, all of these foods are on my shopping lists in The Fast Metabolism Diet.


The Holiday Foods You Can Eat to Your Heart's Content

Sweet potatoes
These naturally-sweet tubers don't need much besides a few minutes in the microwave or on the stove to taste delicious, and if you eat them pretty plain--whether mashed or baked--keep on munching. Rich in metabolism-stimulating phytonutrients, copper, iron, and foliate, and higher in potassium than bananas, they're also full of antioxidants, which help fight inflammation. Unlike many carbs, sweet potatoes have a low glycemic index, meaning they help stabilize your blood sugar to prevent cravings, says nutritionist and author of The Fast Metabolism Diet Cookbook Haylie Pomroy. "Just don't mistake them for yams, which have a lot of added sugar," says Rocco DiSpirito, author of The Pound a Day Diet. "Sweet potatoes have points on either side, unlike yams, which have one pointed side and one flat side."

If you've ever slurped down these shellfish, you know it's easy to eat a dozen and hardly notice. But continue right along, then grab a few more from the appetizer tray. "Oysters are high in zinc and selenium, so they support your thyroid, your body's metabolism superstar," says Pomroy. Simply drizzle with lemon juice, lime juice, vinegar, or Dijon mustard, and eat up.

"Shrimp, like most shellfish, are a nutrient-dense, high-quality protein," says Jonathan Bailor, author of The Calorie Myth and a big advocate of shrimp cocktail. Pomroy agrees: "The protein in shrimp is hard to digest, so it immediately gets your system working." Keep popping them in your mouth, but steer clear of high-sugar, store-bought cocktail sauce and make your own by grating fresh tomatoes and horseradish.


Continue roasting this super-nut on an open fire right until the weather warms up. While it's incredibly easy to eat an entire bag of almonds or pistachios and hardly notice, water-filled, high-fiber chestnuts have almost no fat, and are super-filling. And with about 37 calories per ounce, they have almost two-thirds fewer calories than walnuts or pecans. "They're the outlier of the nut category, are in season, and are easy to find locally," says DiSpirito.

Citrus fruits
"The highest-quality fruits are the ones that provide you with the most nutrients and the least sugar," says Bailor. "Citrus fruits, like clementines, grapefruits, and persimmons, are way more beneficial than grapes, bananas, or apples." Load up your fruit plate with them, as they won't elevate the sugar in your body too quickly thanks to an ideal ratio of fiber to sugar.

Beef tenderloin
Eighty-six- to 90-percent lean, beef tenderloin's not something you need to eat a four-ounce serving of and call it a hungry rest of the day, says DiSpirito. While a typical meat is about 60-percent lean, beef tenderloin has half the calories of a rib roast, does not leave you wanting, and is almost 100-percent pure protein. "Think about steakhouses where they offer your meal for free if you finish, say, 60 ounces of meat," says Bailor. "They would never do that with a dessert buffet, but steak is self-limiting in terms of how much you eat. You don't have to watch it in a conscious sense."

Vegetable soup
If you're looking for a pureed one that will keep you full, go for pumpkin or butternut squash. "You don't need any cream because these vegetables are so naturally rich, but a little low-fat milk helps release the flavors," says DiSpirito. Plus, that bit of fat will help keep you full in the long-term, whereas that I-just-ate-so-much feeling that comes from soup's high volume tends to be a fleeting one. "You need that fat, and especially the protein, to stay full," says Bailor.

Non-starchy vegetables

Sticking to raw veggies is enough to make any cocktail partygoer frown, but instead of eating only those, look for vegetables that you could eat uncooked if you so desired, like broccoli, carrot sticks, spinach, cauliflower, and baby tomatoes. "Non-starchy vegetables are high in water and fiber, which is what physically fills you up," says Bailor. But feeling full is different than feeling satisfied, which is why it's totally fine to eat veggies prepared as a gratin, or with some cream. "These healthy fats affect your brain and your hormones," adds Bailor.

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Holiday Foods You Can Eat to Your Heart’s Content