DR CLAUDETTE MITCHELL
You might agree that preparing for the holidays can be very exciting. Perhaps some people are making plans to travel and celebrate the holidays with family members and friends, while others are busy doing household chores, painting, planning the menus for home and parties. Some are even shopping for decorations, draperies, appliances and furniture.
Whatever the case, getting the job done calls for planning, organisation and time management. It is always best to involve all members of the household in the decision making, and incorporate their ideas. Similarly, when planning office parties, community events, or church pot luck a collaborative approach should be used. Though teamwork might not always be easy, utilising the skills of team members and delegation of tasks can help in achieving the goal. Today’s article will focus on planning the holiday menu.
When planning the menus and snack plates the meal managers, chefs or caterers should aim to include choices from the various Caribbean Food Groups. Limit foods rich in fat, concentrated sweets, and salty snacks. The aim here is to provide nutritious foods to maintain health throughout the life cycle. Considered these guidelines:
Adequacy – the meal should be adequate in nutrients. Be sure to include good sources of carbohydrates, proteins, fats, vitamins, minerals and water.
Balanced – be it breakfast, lunch or supper it should comprised of foods from different groups to maintain and/or improve health; also, watch the portions consumed. Balance calories to manage weight.
Nutritious – choose foods that are nutrient dense (the most nutrients for the fewest calories) example select staples, peas and beans, foods from animals, fruits and vegetables, and healthy fats. Omit processed foods. Overall, select foods of good nutritional quality, rich in nutrients, moderate to high in dietary fibre, and containing antioxidants and phytochemicals.
Moderation – consume cakes, cookies, candies, ice cream and pastries in small portions sparingly; limit sugary beverages, drink water; select foods that are lightly salted or low in salt.
Variety – usually variety is the spice of life; eat a variety of fruits and veggies daily with meals, or as snacks. Simply add colour to your plate and when fixing it, divide into two, with one half consisting of more vegetables than fruits, and divide the other half into two with one-quarter for starchy dish such as rice or provision, and the other quarter for the protein dish.
Building a healthy eating pattern is essential. Here are some ideas for your menu plan –
breakfast – seasonal fruit, hot cereal or ready-to-eat cereal with milk, bread, protein food (strips of lean meat, omelette, veggie patty) and vegetables and a beverage (optional);
lunch – main entrée as good source of proteins – lean meats, fish, chicken, turkey, legumes, a starchy dish such as a staple – rice, provision, pasta or whole grains; vegetables – dark green leafy vegetables, pumpkin, carrots, lettuce, cucumber; fruit –fruit juice, chopped or whole fruit and dessert –West Indian Black Cake;
supper – starchy dish, protein food, vegetables, fresh fruit pieces and yoghurt.
When putting the menu plan into action, first review the recipes, note the ingredients and small equipment needed, and check the pantry. Next make a shopping list of the food items you should purchase; for fruits and vegetables – choose fresh produce of good quality, firm, free from blemishes, cuts and bruises and not wilted;. Meats and fish should be fresh and flesh firm, have a good smell and not spoiled. Dried peas and beans should be without weevils, stones, pieces of bottle or glass. When buying packaged or canned goods take some time to read the food label, ingredients list, and check for the expiry date or sell by date.
Claudette Mitchell, PhD, RD is an Assistant Professor, University of the Southern Caribbean, School of Science, Technology, and Allied Health