Brookhaven First learns how to eat smart during holidays


By Woody Woodrick
Advocate Editor

BROOKHAVEN — Celeste Lowery is not a big fan of covered-dish dinners, a staple of churches. 

Actually, it’s not so much the dinners themselves that concern Lowery, a registered nurse, but the manner in which the food is prepared. 

“We keep having covered-dish dinners after covered-dish dinner and we’re the fattest nation in the world,” Lowery said. “The church has the responsibility to set a good example.” 

So Lowery and fellow RN Tracey Barnett are doing just that. On Nov. 1, the pair hosted a cooking demonstration at Brookhaven First United Methodist Church geared toward the Thanksgiving and Christmas holidays; times when Americans tend to overeat. 

The demonstration showed creative ways to prepare foods that reduce calories, fats and sugar while keeping their flavor. 

Lowery said Americans need to change how the view food. “People relate fun, love and fellowship with huge meals, “she said. 

“These foods provide comfort when it’s cold outside,” Barnett added. 

Barnett suggested eating smaller portions and using smaller plates to reduce the impact of heavy meals. “Super-sizing gives us the false idea of what meals need to be,” she said. 

At the demonstration, the women prepared spinach quesadillas, a salad and bread pudding. The quesadillas featured low-fat tortillas, spinach and cheese. The salad demonstrated a good use for leftover turkey with a low-fat, homemade dressing. The pudding recipe used low-fat substitute ingredients that made it healthier. About 20 people attended the demonstration and all seemed to enjoy the food. 

Lowery, who chairs the church health and wellness committee, offered suggestions for dealing with holiday eating. “Start with a salad,” she said. That way you will have something in your stomach before the big stuff.” 

She also recommended planning light meals the day after the big feast. Barnett suggested not sitting around watching TV following a big meal. Rather, she said, folks should take a walk or do some kind of physical activity. 

Both women urged folks to eat things they enjoy during the holidays. One of the pitfalls of many diets, they said, is making folks think they must deprive themselves. “Let yourself have a piece of pie,” Barnett said. 

However, she also warned against over-eating. “As long as you don’t over do it, you can eat what you want,” Barnett said. 

“There are no evil foods. Food is not good or bad,” Lowery said. 

For cooks trying to provide healthier foods but encounter resistance, the women offered help — don’t tell ‘em. “A lot of people are tired of being preached at about healthy food,” Lowery said. “Just put out something that tastes good, and tell them it’s healthy (later).”