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Every Bite Counts


And so begins the season of overindulging. Yet how do we not fall in love with all of the season’s bounty? The food is incredible! Heck, isn’t that why we celebrate Thanksgiving—to express gratitude for the harvest?

For too many years I tried to “eat today” and pay tomorrow. Here’s what I’ve learned: It doesn’t work. I can’t have cheat days. I can’t eat it now and tell myself I’ll exercise it off later, because life happens and I often can’t squeeze in the extra 30 minutes in the pool I told myself would neutralize the extra indulgence. So, I tend look at every bite as if it were the very nuts and bolts that hold my frame together.

Winter red beets are glorious and so good for you. That is if we don’t muck them up with toppings. The trick is getting the kids to eat them, too. On any given weekend from three to seven young people, ages 3 to 28 years old, visit my house. My tried-and-true way to get the kids to eat what I’m serving is let them help me make it. My grandkids will get so excited about what they’ve made, when their parents walk in the door they’ll run over and beg them to taste.

If that doesn’t work, you can tap into the “gross factor.” When we made beet chips, they loved the red stain on their hands. Loved the color as they baked. Loved the idea they were making chips. But then when I asked them to taste they held back. Until I told them if they ate enough beets, it would turn their pee red. Now the race was on! I don’t even want to tell you the reports back the following morning. They were hooked. The next time we went to the market, they asked if we could buy more beets. Don’t you just love that! (Not everyone sees the red-pee effect, but that seems to entice the kids more.)

Beets contain incredible antioxidants. And the betalains, which give beets their color, combine with manganese and vitamin C to assist our eye health in ways carrots only dream of. Adding a beet to your diet each week will support not only eye health but could lessen inflammation that contributes to heart disease, vascular disease and other conditions.

Bottom line: The whole family can benefit from nibbling on some beet chips. And for a protein boost, dip your chip in a nut or seed butter. Protein coupled with the nutrients and fiber in this winter vegetable makes for a power-packed snack.

A couple of other thoughts:

• If you’re looking for a little more to help you eat less during the holidays, wear fitted pants. Seriously. If you wear a fitted waistline, you’ll be less likely to eat more as you’re more conscious of your size as you nibble.

• Take that leftover Halloween candy into work. Pass it off onto others who haven’t read my column and aren’t quite as snack savvy as you are!

Beet Chips

3 beets, scrubbed, with peel left intact

Olive oil

Sea salt

Cracked black pepper

Heat the oven to 375 degrees.

Using a mandoline or V-slicer, slice the beets into uniform slices 1/16 inch thick or thinner. Place into a glass or metal bowl. Drizzle on enough olive oil to lightly coat. Toss, and place the slices in a single layer on a rimmed baking sheet lined with parchment paper, a silicone mat or foil. (You’ll need to do two sheets, or two batches.)

Season evenly and lightly with salt (and pepper, if you’d like). Bake for 15 to 20 minutes and then check closely. Rotate the pans and then watch for an additional 10 or 20 minutes more. The difference between burned chips and crisp chips can change in an instant. Pull the chips out when the ends start to curl and look dry. The chips will become crisper as they cool.


• Don’t overlap these chips or they won’t become crisp.

• If you don’t have a V-slicer, splurge on one. Slicers can be found with prices from $5 to $25.


Chris Xaver, Ph.D., is a local TV and radio personality with three children and five grandchildren.

© Family Times: The Parenting Guide of Central New York