4 Easy Ways to Lighten Up Your Holiday Recipes

By: Franciscan Health Last Updated: November 15, 2012

Christmas-DinnerSubmitted by Lori Granich, RD, Clinical Dietitian at the Midwest Bariatric Institute

We all have our favorite holiday foods. This year, with a few substitutions, we can still enjoy our favorite treats without the post-holiday guilt.

Go half! - Replacing half of an ingredient will decrease calories and fat without sacrificing taste. For example, you can replace half the whole milk or cream with nonfat milk. You can also use low fat cheese in the same way. Use half oil/half low sodium broth for stir fries or replace half the butter in baked goods with fruit puree.

Spice it up! - Adding fat is not the only way to add flavor. Use your herbs and spices to add flavor without all the calories. Add basil to tomatoes and pasta; use rosemary on poultry, meats, roasted potatoes and stuffing; and use dill with rice, fish, eggs, cucumbers, green beans and potatoes.

Cook it Right - Always choose to grill, broil, bake or roast instead of deep frying. Cooking sprays are also low calorie and can be substituted instead of butter and oil.

Bake Better - Use whole wheat flour and oats in cookies, muffins or bread recipes. To avoid changing your product too much, use the “half” method mentioned above. For example, replace ½ of the white flour with whole wheat flour. The fiber will help you feel fuller longer.

A few changes here and there will make a big difference. Look at how these holiday favorites size up:

  • Pecan Pie (1/8 pie) (470 calories) vs. Pumpkin Pie w/ 2 tbsp whipped topping (260 calories)
  • Roasted extra-lean ham (150 calories) vs. Turkey wing with skin (185 calories)
  • Egg Nog (350 calories) vs. Apple Cider (125 calories)
  • Dinner Roll (170 calories) vs. Green Bean Casserole (1/2 cup) 80 calories
  • Dinner A. Roasted turkey back without skin (3 oz), Homemade mashed potatoes (1/2 cup), 1 slice pumpkin pie topped with whipped topping (2 Tbsp), Thin homemade gravy (1/4 cup), Green bean casserole. Total: 536 calories, 27 grams fat vs. Dinner B: Roasted ham with fat trimmed (3 oz), Homemade mashed sweet potatoes (1/2 cup), 1 slice reduced-calorie pumpkin pie with reduced fat ice cream (1/2 cup), Cranberry sauce (1/4 cup), Dinner roll. Total: 945 calories, 26.5 grams fat.