Friday, December 13, 2013

Nutrition Specialists Offers Examples of Low Cost Holiday Recipes and Steps to Make Meals Festive on a Budget

Contact: Cammie Younger, nutrition and health specialist
Headquartered in Texas County
Tel: (417) 967-4545

HOUSTON, Mo. -- The holidays are here and budgets are starting to feel stretched with the added expenses of gifts, taxes and food for celebrations with family, coworkers and friends.

“Nutrition and flavor do not have to be sacrificed with tight budgets,” said Cammie Younger, a nutrition and health education specialist with the University of Missouri Extension.

Some tips for stretching food dollars at this time of year include watching for in store sales and plan menus accordingly.  Turkey and ham seem to be the typical choices for the holidays. But Younger says families can enjoy many other nutrient filled dishes that can be as satisfying in taste and celebration at lower costs.

“It isn’t what is served but rather, how it is served that can make the meal special and festive,” said Younger.
For example, pinto beans or great northern beans flavored with onion and a small amount of ham served with piping hot corn bread and a spinach salad is an excellent low cost meal and very nutrient dense.  Younger says this common low cost meal can be made special by having the children in the family draw and color place mats for the table or perhaps there is a special table cloth that could be used.

Another idea might be for the family to go outside and gather things like pine cones, colorful berries and ever green twigs to create a beautiful center piece for the table.

“This is a great way to be physically active,” said Younger.  “It could be like a treasure hunt as the family takes a hike through the woods looking for interesting things to be included in the center piece. A pretty festive table setting that the whole family was involved in creating is a great way to make special memories at the holidays and does not have to be expensive.”

Sweet potatoes and cranberries are very economical, nutritious food items found at special sale prices this time of year.  However, many folks do not know how to prepare them.

“Sweet potatoes can be prepared in many ways, mashed, fried, baked, or roasted,” said Younger. “Cranberries can be served as a sauce, a relish, a salad, or even in desserts.”

Here are recipes for two low cost nutritious dishes to be served at your family celebrations this holiday season: one for sweet potatoes and another for cranberries.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes 
Serves 4 – approximate cost is just over $2
4 small sweet potatoes (about 1.5 pounds.), rinsed, peeled and cut into wedges or slices
2 tablespoons olive oil
Dried basil, oregano, garlic powder, ground ginger and ground cinnamon (optional)
Preheat oven to 450 degrees.   Arrange sweet potato wedges in a single layer on a baking sheet.  Drizzle with olive oil.  Sprinkle with optional seasonings, if desired.  Roast about 40 minutes, turning potatoes until they are cooked and crisp.

Cranberry Sauce 
Serving size approximately one-quarter cup – serves 16 – approximate cost just under $4.00
1.5 cups (about half lb.) Granny Smith apples, peeled and chopped
1 cup brown sugar, packed
½ cup white grape juice
1 teaspoon ground ginger
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 12 oz. package fresh cranberries
Rinse fresh cranberries under running water.  Combine and stir all ingredients in a small saucepan.  Bring to boil, then reduce heat and simmer until thick (about 15 minutes), stirring occasionally.  (Caution:  cranberries will pop and explode when they reach boiling, so cover the saucepan while heating.)  Cool completely before serving.

For more information on nutrition contact one of the following nutrition specialists: Dr. Lydia Kaume in Barton County, (417) 682-3579; Dr. Pam Duitsman, in Greene County, (417) 881-8909; or Cammie Younger in Texas County, (417) 967-4545. Information is also available online


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