Holiday Eating: Cast Away the Guilt, Keep the Taste
As a nutritionist, I surprise people with my motto: if you’re going to indulge, then do it right (have the full-fat version) and really enjoy it! I believe healthy eating includes food high in cream, butter, sugar or salt….just not every day and not every meal. It gets a little trickier during the holiday season with parties, potlucks and bakeoffs going on for a month or longer.
One solution is to nip and tuck your favorite dishes to increase health value, decrease the guilt factor, and still maintain taste.
The basics for modifying holiday recipes are quite simple and can be applied to food preparation year-round. Reduce, replace, substitute, experiment and use a smidgen when the recipe calls for a dollop. Don’t expect to cut back every time and decide what your priorities are. Two good questions you can ask yourself about any recipe are: Do all the extras need to be there? Can I leave some of it out?
Easy year-round tips
- Use 1% milk instead of cream in cream-based soups, sauces and gravies.
- Grate cheeses well and sprinkle into recipes.
- Use low-fat mayonnaise and sour cream for dips, dressings and spreads.
- Sautee with defatted broth, wine or tomato puree.
- Season with minced tangy vegetables like onion, garlic, parsnip and parsley.
- Start off using 1/4 of the fat and sugar the recipe calls for and adjust for taste.
- When baking, substitute some butter or oil with pureed fruit like applesauce or pureed pears, using equal volumes fruit for fat.
- Add only half the extras the recipe calls for, like chocolate chips, candy pieces or coconut.
- Toast nuts and spices to enhance flavor. Chop finely and distribute evenly.
Special holiday tips
- Offer an assortment of colorful roasted fresh vegetables; we eat with our eyes first!
- Serve hot baked breads stuffed with artichokes, sun-dried tomatoes and feta cheese. Stuffed breads make fabulous lower-fat appetizers.
- Season mashed potatoes with plenty of garlic and herbs instead of butter. Roast garlic cloves in the oven; remove from skins and puree. Fold in mashed potatoes and low fat milk.
- Try “creamed” pearl onions for a leaner, tasty white sauce. Whisk up low-fat milk, flour, salt, pepper and a pinch of grated, dry jack cheese. Add peeled onions and bake at 350°F until tender.
- Top desserts with fat-free frozen yogurt or whipped evaporated skim milk.