With Halloween, Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Year's on the way, so too are candy, pies, cookies and eggnog, but an upcoming series of nutritional classes may offer some still sweet, but healthier alternatives to eat during the holiday season.
The 8-week series of free classes, begins Oct. 31, from 10:30 to 11:30 a.m. at the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank, and will be taught by Colleen Sonnevil, nutritional educator for the University of Alaska's Cooperative Extension Office in Soldotna.
"She's been doing classes here for the last three and a half years and they help the general public and food bank clients eat more nutritious meals and lead healthier lives," said Linda Swarner, Executive Director of the food bank.
Sonnevil said she will be introducing some novel ideas for ingredients that are typically staples during the holidays, such as pumpkin, which will be discussed during the first class.
"Everyone knows how to make pumpkin pie, so I'll be showing people how to make pumpkin soup, pumpkin bagels, and all kinds of other things," she said.
Sonnevil said after October the classes will then begin to focus on the Thanksgiving holiday foods.
"I'll focus on turkey of course, but I'll give them the basics and then focus more on what they can do with leftovers. We'll also talk about different stuffing ideas, cranberry sauce recipes ad salad ideas besides the same old things people are used to," she said.
Closer to Christmas, when winter weather is at it's coolest, Sonnevil said she will be discussing ways to warm up.
"I'll go over how Russian teas, hot mochas, and other hot beverages and things they can make for themselves," she said.
Sonnevil said a lot of the classes will explore healthy alternative recipes for traditional holiday favorites, as well, and she'll be emphasizing recipes for those with special eating considerations.
"For example, making a pumpkin pie with Splenda, instead of sugar, and I always include recipes for diabetics because it can be hard for them to find the time to try new recipes during the holidays. I'll also have some gluten-free recipes because more and more people are starting to have food related allergies," she said.
Sonnevil said the classes will not only focus on eating better, but also on shopping to eat more wisely.
"I stress not buying whole jars of spice for things that will only be used once during the holidays. Most spices are expensive and only stay good on the shelf for about six months, so I remind people they can go to the bulk spice isle to buy what they need and save money," she said.
Sonnevil said by the end of the 8-week course, she hopes more people will be eating affordable, healthy, well-balanced diets and in the proper proportions.
"The holidays can be tough because they're filled with all the wrong things, but I try to emphasize eating choices that are good and good to eat," she said.
Fore more information on the upcoming holiday nutrition classes, call the Kenai Peninsula Food Bank at 262-3111.
Joseph Robertia can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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