Share the gift of health this holiday season

By Pamela Redwine Nutrition & Food Safety Area Agent MSU Extension Service

Don’t let holiday gift shopping get you down. Remember to set your priorities and your limits — both time and money. So, while you’re trying to control your holiday indulgences to stay healthy why not give gifts that promote healthy eating and year-round healthy lifestyles to your friends and family. Here’s a list of ideas to get you started — check it twice:

• Fill a pretty basket with a variety of fresh fruit. Oranges, apples, bananas, kiwi, grapes, grapefruit, pineapple and pears are good choices. Line the basket with a colorful kitchen towel. Maybe add a small cutting board and knife. • Find a festive tin and fill it with flavored popcorn and a gift certificate for a movie rental. • Fill a new salad bowl with lowfat salad dressings and flavored vinegars. Add your favorite salad recipes. •Make a homemade salt-free seasoning mix and place it in antique or decorative jars. •Load up a colander with a variety of packaged pastas, toss in a pasta cookbook and a package of red, checked napkins. • Wrap up a heart-healthy cookbook. •Fill a straw hat with packets of herb seeds, a pair of garden gloves and a book on cooking with herbs. • Combine varieties of dry beans and lentils such as pinto, northern, fava, navy, black-eyed peas and soybeans. Repackage them in pretty glass jars. Add a wooden spoon or ladle as well as dried herbs and seasonings. •Pack a gym bag with exercise gear such as hand weights, a sweatband, a pedometer, and an exercise video or a jump rope. Maybe add a gift certificate to a store that sells athletic clothing. •Fill a basket with cans of fat free refried beans, whole-wheat tortillas, baked tortilla chips and a jar of salsa. Add a recipe for a healthy Mexican dish. • Bake a batch of lowfat muffins or a miniloaf of bread and give them in an antique mixing bowl with a container of lowfat flavored cream cheese. •Make a hot chocolate mix and place in a basket with two holiday mugs. •Place assorted herbal teas in a basket. Include a special teacup and tea infuser.

Recipe of the Week By Pamela Redwine Sweet Potato Cakes 4 cups shredded peeled sweet potato 1/4 cup all-purpose flour 1 teaspoon instant minced onion 1/8 teaspoon salt 1/8 teaspoon pepper Dash of ground nutmeg 1 large egg, lightly beaten Cooking Spray

Combine first 7 ingredients. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray. For each cake, spoon 1⁄4 cup mixture into pan; flatten with a spatula. Cook 4 minutes on each side or until golden. Yield 12 cakes Per Cake: Calories 85 Fat 0.6g Protein 2.0 Carbohydrate 18.3g Fiber 2.1g cholesterol 18mg Sodium 36mg. Exchanges: 1 starch Recipe Source: “Delicious Ways to Control Diabetes: Down Home Diabetic Recipes”