Rich and Healthy Foods for a Traditional German Holiday

Bratwurst is rich in choline, which helps build cells in the brain and heart. But, don't over-do it.
Bratwurst is rich in choline, which helps build cells in the brain and heart. But, don't over-do it.

Most of us grew up with the age-old German tale of Hansel and Gretel. If we don't remember the specifics, we can at least recall that the witch's house they discover in the woods isn't made of spinach, rice cakes or wheat grass. That wouldn't do in a German fairy tale. While it would be grim, it wouldn't be Grimm. No, what they find is a home built from pastries and desserts -- now that's enticing.

Such is the case with traditional German holiday fare. Creams, pastries, meats and potatoes bring the word "indulgent" to mind, but not "healthy." And it's true, German food, particularly on special occasions, tends to focus on taste and large portions rather than waistline concerns. But the fairytale can be reconstructed with a healthier bent if it focuses on the right dishes and if it tweaks others.


Doubtful? Consider the decadent dessert marzipan. The sweet, almond candy with chocolate accents doesn't have to be discarded from the healthy man or woman's festivities if sugar substitutes are used to keep calories low [source: Sukrin]. Blend egg whites (eliminating the yoke) with almond flour and then drizzle -- don't smother -- with chocolate. At approximately 30 calories per candy, you can enjoy a few of these dessert items without feeling guilty.

Dessert is, of course, out of the question if the main courses and side dishes have already overloaded your mid-section and sent your cholesterol soaring. Bratwurst, you would think, would certainly fit that description. But that's not necessarily true. Click ahead to learn more.


From Brats to Strudel

Bratwurst is a favorite at ballparks, barbecues and traditional German festivities. The key to enjoying this sausage is to limit your intake and understand what it contains. On the plus side, brats are rich in choline, which helps build cells in the brain and heart [source: McPhail]. And while it is fatty, it contains far less fat than an equal amount of eggs. Plus, the fats contained in bratwurst are not of the trans-fat variety [source: McPhail]. Rationalization? Perhaps, but if you don't go back for seconds, thirds and fourths, you'll be fine.

German potato salad and sauerkraut are perfect compliments to bratwurst and other main dishes. Low-fat mayonnaise, celery, onions and red potatoes won't harm your heart (or your hips). You can even add bacon to the potato salad mix -- just substitute turkey bacon for the fatty stuff [source: Laa Loosh]. Not all sauerkrauts are created equal, either. Trade the processed, store-bought kind for homemade. Slice straight-from-the-garden cabbage into a sauerkraut crock, add water, light salt and slow cook [source: Weil]. You'll soon have a low calorie, sour delight.


Seafood fans will also be glad to know that fish is a German favorite -- blue trout, in particular. This dish gets its color from simmering in vinegar. White wine, carrots, leeks and onion give it a variety of flavors and textures to please the palate [source: German Originality]. Complete the holiday meal by adding a little sweet to counteract the sour, in the form of apple strudel. So how can you possibly enjoy strudel without overindulging on sugar? A batch using only 2 tablespoons (29.6 milliliters) of sugar will be every bit as decadent-tasting with apple juice, apples, walnuts and a touch of cinnamon [source: Shape].

German holiday traditions can be kept and fully enjoyed while still maintaining a healthy lifestyle. Just remember what to look for, make recipe adjustments where necessary and eat in moderation.


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  • German Originality. "Blue Trout." (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • The Local. "Germany's holiday food favourites." Dec. 23, 2010. (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • McPhail, Christopher. "Is bratwurst healthy for you?" (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • Shape. "Apple Strudel With Walnuts." (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • Sukrin. "Healthy Marzipan." (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • Weil, Andrew, M.D. "Dr. Weil's Homemade Sauerkraut." (Sept. 30, 2012)
  • Ziztman, Wendy. "Healthy German Potato Salad." Laa Loosh. (Sept. 30, 2012)