Health and Fitness Information for Mature Adults 

December 18, 2009

Table of Contents:

  • Holiday Gifts from Us to You (Ho-ho-ho!)
  • A Sleigh Full of Savings (Stuff your stocking)
  • Festive Mini-Tomato Hors d'oeuvres (Get the celebration started)
  • Jolly Island Temptations (Always leave them wanting more!)
  • Red, Green & Gold Fruit Appetizers (Additional teasers before the main event)
  • 'Tis-the-Season Garden Salad (A gala way to serve fresh carbs)
  • Santa's Main Dish (Protein for extra holiday energy)
  • The Potato Dilemma Solved (Cut out excess fat and calories)
  • Green Pea Splendor (Turn traditional into unforgettable)
  • Colorful Hot Veggie Delight (Fiber-Fa-la-la)
  • North Pole Pasta (Talk about comfort food!)
  • Desserts to Ring Your Jingle Bells (One red, the other gold)
  • A Golden Toast to Good Friends (Getting into the spirits)
  • Don't Eat This One! (Set the mood with a spicy scent)
  • Wintry Inspirations (Savory food-for-thought at year's end)

Holiday Gifts from Us to You

Season's Greetings from all of us at the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). For our Experience! readers this year, we have a two-fold surprise:

  • Today's newsletter is an extra-length, special holiday issue full of healthy holiday recipes and tips we hope you'll enjoy using and sharing with your senior fitness clients.
  • We're also offering sugar-plum savings -- and terms! -- on award-winning SFA professional education programs.
  • The recipes in this issue are lighter than most this time of year -- a little less fatty, sugary and salty. Food ideas were contributed by SFA staffers and, when known, credit is given to the recipe's source or even the inspiration for it. The theme for our menu is holiday colors: red, green and gold. There's even a non-edible recipe to keep your home merrily fragrant!

    Our last article contains ten joyful quotations reflecting insights timely to the season. Please pass your favorites along to clients, family and friends!

    A Sleigh Full of Savings

    This year the SFA reindeer are delivering truly magical discounts on senior fitness professional education, but only for a short time! Click here* for details. These savings also apply to our new layaway plan! Layaway orders must be placed by telephone. For more information, call toll-free (888) 689-6791, weekdays, 10 am to 5 pm Eastern.

    * If this is your first time visiting our new order site, please  re-register to receive your special member discounts.

    Festive Mini-Tomato Hors d'oeuvres

    Before your holiday meal, serve some irresistible munchies.

  • 1 quart cherry tomatoes
  • 1/4 pound smoked salmon, minced
  • 1 onion, minced
  • 1 green pepper, minced
  • Cut off and discard the tops of the tomatoes. Using a small pointed spoon, scoop out the seeds and pulp. Thoroughly mix together the pulp, salmon, onion and green pepper. Then refill tomatoes with the salmon mixture. Refrigerate to chill before serving. Makes two to three dozen hors d'oeuvres.

    This recipe, as well as the "Jolly Island" and "Golden Toast" entries below, originated from an early edition (1972!) of the Southern Living Party Cookbook.

    Jolly Island Temptations

  • 2 to 3 pounds raw shrimp
  • 2 lemons (unpeeled), sliced paper thin
  • 1 large onion, also sliced paper thin
  • 1-1/3 cups olive oil
  • 2/3 cup tarragon vinegar
  • The juice of the 2 lemons
  • 2 teaspoons salt, or salt substitute
  • Black pepper to taste (freshly ground is best)
  • Boil and devein the shrimp (if desired, also slice them). Place them in a bowl with the lemon and onion slices. Place all the other ingredients in a jar with a tight-fitting lid and shake vigorously. Pour this mixture over the shrimp. Cover and refrigerate overnight. Serve the chilled shrimp in their marinade, and provide wooden picks for spearing. Makes 8 to 10 servings.

    Holiday tip: Serve this appetizer in a bright red or green container on a colorfully decorated table. To freshen previously used holiday candles included in your display, wipe them with rubbing alcohol. This method will also refresh artificial flowers and greenery.

    Red, Green & Gold Fruit Appetizers

    For the next two recipes, purchase ingredients in amounts depending upon the number of guests you wish to serve.

  • Red apples, cut into wedges
  • Green grapes, seedless
  • Pineapple chunks (canned in juice-only), drained
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Drizzle lemon juice over your apple wedges to help preserve their color. Using fancy party-toothpicks, make each individual appetizer by spearing through 1 pineapple chunk, 1 grape, and 1 apple slice, in that order. Arrange on a platter, cover and chill.

  • Red or green apples, cut into chunks
  • Red or green grapes, seedless
  • Golden raisins
  • Pecan halves
  • Juice of 1 lemon
  • Drizzle citrus juice over apple chunks to preserve color. In a bowl, mix ingredients together in amounts to suit your taste. Cover and chill.

    'Tis-the-Season Garden Salad

  • 1 head lettuce, dark green, leafy (such as Romaine)
  • 10 to 20 cherry tomatoes
  • 1 cucumber (unpeeled), sliced into medallions
  • 1 yellow squash (unpeeled), sliced into medallions
  • From the supermarket's baking section, buy an aluminum container shaped like a Christmas tree. Fill it with dark green leafy lettuce. On top of lettuce, arrange the small tomatoes, cucumber medallions and squash medallions so that they appear to be the ornaments on a Christmas tree. Provide low-calorie fat-free salad dressings.

    Santa's Main Dish

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 to 4 pounds
  • 1-2 onions, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-3 carrots, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 2-3 celery stalks, roughly chopped into 1-inch pieces
  • 1/2 lemon
  • 2 cloves garlic, peeled
  • Salt, or salt substitute, to taste
  • Black pepper to taste (freshly ground is best)
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, or 1/4 teaspoon dried
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme
  • 1 bay leaf
  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Rinse chicken in cold water, pat dry, and then season it inside and out with salt and pepper. Stuff cavity with the garlic, rosemary, thyme and bay leaf, as well as with several of the onion, carrot and celery pieces. Place the remaining vegetables in the bottom of your roasting pan, then put the chicken on top. Squeeze lemon juice over entire chicken, then place the lemon half in the cavity. Place chicken in oven, cook for 15 minutes, then reduce heat to 350 degrees. Continue cooking till crisp and golden brown, and till juices run clear when thigh is pierced with a knife. This may take 45 minutes to an hour, or slightly longer. Remove chicken to serving platter and let set for approximately 10 minutes. Because it has been so well-seasoned while roasting, you may remove and discard the skin without forfeiting tastiness. Carve serving-sized pieces. Remove the lemon, seeds (if present), bay leaf, and any garlic pieces deemed too large. Enjoy the bird and vegetables!

    This entree derives from An Original FoodFit Recipe, "Herb Roasted Chicken," which is provided on

    The Potato Dilemma Solved

    The problem with potatoes isn't potatoes -- it's butter, margarine, sour cream, bacon bits, high-calorie cheeses, salt and other suspect ingredients that may be added in immoderate amounts. Below are some quick tips to help keep holiday potatoes healthier:

  • Top baked potatoes with flavorful alternatives such as finely sliced scallions, sunflower seeds, plain fat-free yogurt, paprika, salt-free seasoning blends like Mrs. Dash, white pepper, coarsely ground black pepper, turkey bits in place of bacon bits, sodium-free salsa, hot pepper sauce, or low-calorie fat-free Ranch salad dressing.
  • Prepare mashed potatoes using low- or no-fat buttermilk and garlic, which will boost flavor, thereby reducing the tendency to add excess salt, butter or margarine.
  • Make an easy potato casserole: You'll need 4 cups of cooked and cubed potatoes, 1 cup plain fat-free yogurt, 1 cup low- or no-fat cottage cheese, 1/4 cup chopped chives, 1 teaspoon salt or salt substitute, and a dash of garlic powder. In a nonstick 9-inch square baking pan, combine all ingredients. Bake at 350 degrees F for 30 minutes or till hot and bubbly. Makes 8 servings.
  • Green Pea Splendor

    Jazz up conventional green peas with one of these speedy flavor enhancements:

  • Add chopped mint to peas while cooking.
  • Mix nutmeg and chopped pickled onions into hot cooked peas just before serving.
  • Stir in savory or thyme while cooking.
  • These hints come from a very old recipe book named Shortcut Cooking, which was published by the Meredith Corporation back in 1969!

    Colorful Hot Veggie Delight

    Instead of the usual green bean side-dish this year, serve something more interesting and nutritious. Simmer together: cooked green beans, cooked yellow wax beans and sautéed button mushrooms along with pungent seasonings such as garlic. For a touch of red, add a few small-cut pimiento pieces (jarred, drained). Serve hot.


    North Pole Pasta

  • 8 plum tomatoes, diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, chopped
  • 8 leaves fresh basil, chopped
  • Pinch of fresh oregano, finely chopped, or dried oregano
  • 1/4 cup olive oil
  • 1/4 cup water
  • 1 package angel hair pasta
  • Salt, or salt substitute, to taste
  • Black pepper, to taste
  • Prepare pasta according to package directions. Separately, simmer garlic in olive oil till tender. Add tomatoes and simmer till tender (about 15 minutes). Add basil, oregano, salt, pepper and water, then simmer for 2 more minutes. Fold tomato mixture into pasta and serve hot. Makes 8 servings.

    This recipe was based on a "Family Favorite" posted by

    Desserts to Ring Your Jingle Bells

    Here are two simple-to-make sweet treats, the first featuring the holiday red of strawberries and the second the holiday gold of pineapple:

  • 1 pint fresh strawberries, the leaves on top sliced off
  • 5 servings sugar-free vanilla pudding, prepared
  • Optional: 1/2 cup bran cereal, small-nugget
  • You can make your pudding with an instant powder mix or buy it ready-made. Cut any large strawberries in half. Reserve several of the small, whole berries to use for garnish later. Place the remaining fruit on 5 individual dessert dishes. Spoon pudding over. Top with whole berries. If desired, sprinkle lightly with dry cereal nuggets. Makes 5 servings (recipe is easy to double or even triple.)

  • 1 regular-size low-fat graham cracker pie shell
  • 1 (5-serving) package sugar-free instant vanilla pudding mix
  • 1 (16-ounce) container fat-free sour cream
  • 1 (20-ounce) can crushed pineapple (canned in juice-only)
  • Optional: 1 small can fat-free whipped cream
  • Don't follow the pudding mix package instructions. Instead, stir together the pudding powder and the sour cream. Add the pineapple, including all its juice. Blend thoroughly. Pour into pie shell and refrigerate to chill. If desired, top each individual serving with a small dollop of fat-free whipped cream. Makes 8 servings.

    A Golden Toast to Good Friends

    Oranges are popular this time of year, so incorporate them into your festivities!

  • 1 bottle champagne (4/5 quart), chilled
  • 4 cups fresh orange juice, chilled
  • Immediately before serving, combine the chilled liquids. Serve in champagne glasses. Makes 12 five-ounce servings. Have on hand additional orange juice for guests who prefer to toast alcohol-free.

    Don't Eat This One!

    While not for eating -- or drinking! -- the following recipe will lend a delicious holiday fragrance to your home:

  • 5 small cinnamon sticks
  • 2 tablespoons whole cloves
  • 2 cups water
  • Combine ingredients in a pot and place on stovetop. Bring to a boil, then turn to lowest setting. Simmer all day, as necessary adding more water and spices.

    Wintry Inspirations

    "Yuletide excitement is a potent caffeine, no matter your age."

    -- Carrie Latet

    "Winter is the time for comfort, for good food and warmth, for the touch of a friendly hand and for a talk beside the fire: it is the time for home."

    -- Edith Sitwell

    "Blessed is the season which puts the whole world in a conspiracy of love!"

    -- Hamilton Wright Mabie

    "Let there be peace on earth,

    And let it begin with me."

    -- Seymour Miller and Jill Jackson

    "Let us love the world to peace."

    -- Quoted by Eileen Elias Freeman in The Angel's Little Instruction Book

    "A snowflake is one of God's most fragile creations, but look what they can do when they stick together!"

    -- Author Unknown

    "In seed time learn, in harvest teach, in winter enjoy."

    -- William Blake

    "A hug is a great gift -- one size fits all, and it's easy to exchange."

    -- Author Unknown

    "Each day comes bearing its own gifts. Untie the ribbons."

    -- Ruth Ann Schabacker

    "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. And today? Today is a gift. That's why we call it the present."

    -- Babatunde Olatunji

    Experience! readers: Thank you for your interest and questions. Due to the high volume of contacts SFA receives, we cannot respond to individual queries or comments. However, the newsletter does address frequently asked questions and topics of vital interest to our members.

    Free SFA basic membership: If you aren't already a member of the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA), just sign up online at There are no fees or membership dues. And, we don't give out our members' personal information to others! When you join SFA, you'll receive our e-newsletter "Experience!" which will bring you older adult fitness news, research, and wellness tips.

    Fitness and health professionals: You may distribute copies of Experience! to your exercise clients and patients as a free newsletter service. Copies of Experience! or excerpts therefrom must always ascribe credit to the American Senior Fitness Association (SFA). To fulfill that requirement, include the complete banner (title information at the top of each newsletter) as well as all post-newsletter notes, messages, copyright information, and the SFA logo.
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