Mrs. Claus is asking children to scour their cabinets to find nutritious snacks with less saturated fat and calories to leave for Santa, instead of the traditional cookies and whole milk.
Halt the Christmas baking! Santa is boycotting cookies this year!
According to Mrs. Claus, she and Mr. Claus (and the elves, of course) are changing their eating habits and wanted to let the children know.
Mrs. Claus is aiming to reduce Santa’s risk of diet-related disease, such as heart disease, osteoporosis, cancer and diabetes. Children can help Santa be healthier and learn good eating habits by leaving him a nutritious snack on Christmas Eve.
“If we appeal to the kids for help, it is bound to be a win-win situation,” said Mrs. Claus.
No one knows better than Santa how difficult it is to have excess weight on the body. Just getting in and out of the sleigh can be a drag. And speaking of drag, last year Santa had to throw a few toys out of his pack to avoid a reindeer strike. That was the last straw.
He, like many others around the world, decided to make a commitment to himself (and the reindeer, and Mrs. Claus, and the good little boys and girls, of course) to slim down. He started an exercise program and began eating healthier.
The exercise was hard at first but now Santa reports “it is fun.” Rudolph is especially proud of Santa. “He walks to the toy shop now instead of automatically going for the sleigh.”
But Mrs. Claus believes he still has a way to go with his eating habits and needs help. “If only the children could show Santa how much they care, it would make a big difference, because you know how much Santa loves children.”
According to Bureau of Census data, there are 25 million households with young children. If each family left two average-size chocolate chip cookies for Santa, it would amount to more than 500 million grams of fat and more than seven billion calories. No wonder why Santa needs our help!
Those two chocolate chip cookies can pack an average 300 calories and 20 grams of fat, mostly the heart clogging saturated fat. That’s why Mrs. Claus is asking children to scour their cabinets to find nutritious snacks with less saturated fat and calories. She knows it’s a tall order but “she has faith the children won’t let Santa down.”
Nutritious snacks for Santa:
1. Warm Santa up with a hot cup of cocoa made with skim milk and one tablespoon of Hershey’s syrup (50 calories) or a packet of dry cocoa mix (approximately 70 calories). Santa will receive a good dose of calcium and protein for strong bones and muscles – a must for hauling billions of toys.
2. Keep the mood festive by leaving a red or green apple. Santa will be glad to have some potassium for his heart, phytonutrients known to fight disease, and fiber to keep him “regular” (and I don’t mean in the delivery of presents). With an average 80 calories and zero fat grams, apples would save Santa more than 200 calories and 20 grams of fat per household.
3. If you prefer a group gift, a colorful vegetable platter with low fat dipping sauce is perfect for both Santa and the reindeer. (A reliable source says Rudolph prefers Hidden Valley Light Ranch Dressing, which has only 40 calories and 3.5 grams of “good” fat per tablespoon.) Packed with nutrients, a serving of this healthy snack would be less than 100 calories.
4. Fresh baked fruit and nut breads will provide energy and nutrients for someone struggling down chimneys and driving a sleigh. Try substituting healthy vegetable oils, like canola oil, in place of butter to reduce saturated fat; in this recipe from 39 grams to 6 grams. The half-and-half provides only 2 grams of saturated fat and gives it a creamy taste.
This moist, yummy banana bread is a favorite with “picky” elves:
Banana Nut Bread
1 3/4 cups flour
1 1/4 teaspoons baking powder
1/2 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
2/3 cup sugar
1/3 cup vegetable oil (such as Canola)
2 tablespoons half-and-half
1 cup mashed, ripe banana
1/4 cup chopped nuts
Sift together first four ingredients in a small bowl and set aside. In a large bowl beat sugar and oil with electric mixer. Add eggs, one at a time, and the half-and-half, beating until smooth. Add flour mixture and banana alternately to creamed mixture, beating until smooth after each addition. Fold in nuts.
Pour into lightly greased loaf pan and bake at 350 degrees for 60 to 65 minutes. Cool in pan 10 minutes.
This column has been reprinted as a Christmas tradition since 2000.
Joan Endyke is a registered dietitian with a master’s degree in nutrition and food science, and also a certified personal trainer. She is the nutrition director at Fitness Unlimited in Milton.
The Patriot Ledger