Sugar and salts it’s all your fault, fat and carbs be gone!

Does your waist line scream something similar at you after the holiday season? You can beat the guilt by making your Holiday meals healthier. Studies show that the average American gains 1 to 2 pounds during the holiday season and these pounds often build up over the years! Making your Holiday meals a little healthier is great for the whole family, and you don’t even have to tell them you’re making the changes because the food will still taste GREAT!

Tip # 1: Reduce the amount of fat, sugar and salt.

  • Fat. For baked goods, use half the butter, shortening or oil and replace the other half with unsweetened applesauce, mashed banana or prune puree. You can also use prepared fruit-based fat replacers found in the baking aisle of most grocery stores. Making your own fruit purees for an even healthier alternative leaves you able to choose the specific flavors and fruits you like best. Learn how to make a homemade fruit puree:
  • Sugar. Reduce the amount of sugar by one-third to one-half. Add spices such as cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla extract or almond flavoring to boost sweetness without the calories.
  • Salt. Reduce salt by one-half in baked goods that don’t require yeast. For most main dishes, salads, soups and other foods, you can reduce the salt by one-half or eliminate it completely. Also, use unsalted butter this way you know exactly how much salt you are really adding to the meal. For foods that require yeast, don’t reduce the amount of salt, which is necessary for leavening. Without salt, such foods may become dense and flat.[1]

Tip # 2: Make substitutions that can boost the nutritional content.

  • Pasta. Use whole-wheat pasta instead of white enriched pasta. You’ll triple the fiber and reduce the number of calories; adding fiber also helps to fill you up and may help you eat less. You can also try other pasta alternatives like brown rice and artichoke.
  • Milk. Substitute fat-free milk instead of whole milk to save 66 calories and almost 8 grams of fat per cup.
  • Meat. When making casseroles, scale back on meat, poultry or fish and increase the amount of vegetables. You’ll save on calories and fat while gaining more vitamins, minerals and fiber.

Tip # 3:In some recipes, you can eliminate an ingredient altogether or scale back the amount you use.

  • Toppings. Eliminate items generally add out of habit or for appearance, such as frosting, shredded coconut or whipped cream toppings, which are all high in fat and calories.
  • Condiments. Cut condiments, such as pickles, olives, butter, mayonnaise, syrup, jelly and mustard, which can have large amounts of salt, sugar, fat and calories. Use less soy sauce than a recipe calls for to decrease the amount of salt.
  • Cheese. If a recipe calls for 1 cup of shredded cheddar cheese, use 1/2 cup instead.[2]

Overall Healthier Choices

We gave you some great tips for replacing traditional ingredients with healthy alternatives, making all together healthier choices for your appetizers, dinner and desserts can make all the difference. Only offering healthier choices takes away the temptation to indulge!

Tip #1: Start the Party LIGHT

Many holiday and party dips are based in heavy creams and condiments. Offering light and satisfying appetizers that are full of taste will keep you satisfied until dinner. For delicious, yet healthy appetizers, offer shrimp cocktails, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, vegetables with a low-fat yogurt dip, or fresh fruit skewers.

Tip # 2: Add More Vegetables

Add more simple vegetable and fruit dishes to your menu to add more healthy fiber with less calories instead of heavy dishes with. Try simple spinach, peas and corn instead of the creamed versions. Skip the green bean casserole, try green bean almandine with a squeeze of lemon. If you must have the casserole be sure to use low-fat soup, increase the vegetables and top it with a crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.

Tip # 3:  Roast or Grill Your Meat and Sides

Forget about frying and battering, roasting or grilling meat, seafood, vegetables, and potatoes, is a simple, low-calorie cooking style that brings out the natural sweetness and flavor in foods.

Try These:

  • Roasted sweet potatoes with a sprinkle of cinnamon sugar and a spritz of butter spray are delicious substitutes for the traditional calorie-laden casserole.
  • Grilled pork chops served with a mango salsa are great to replace pork chops slathered in mushroom cream.

Tip # 4:  Serve Healthier Desserts

It’s a great time to share your love of fruit! Fruits are packed with vitamins, nutrients and antioxidants and many also have fiber. Eating fruit is a great way to stay hydrated as well. Fruit skewers or fun fruit salads are great deserts! Your guests can indulge on a heart healthy snack with dark chocolate covered strawberries. If you want to offer pie, choose a healthy, pumpkin pie made with non-fat evaporated milk and top it with fat-free whipped cream.  You can also use the baking substitutions below for healthier versions of your favorite Holiday deserts.


Healthy Cooking Substitutions for Baking

Original Ingredient

Healthy Substitution

(1) Cup Sugar or Brown Sugar (1/2) Cup Sugar or Brown Sugar -AND- Add Spices For Flavor: Cinnamon, Cloves, Allspice, Ginger, Cardamon, Anise and Fennel.
(1) Cup Butter (1/2) Cup Butter + (1/2) Cup of: Applesauce, Pureed Pumpkin, Prune or Sweet Potato, Mashed Bananas -OR- (1/4) Cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
(1) Cup Oil (1/2) Cup Butter + (1/2) Cup of: Applesauce, Pureed Pumpkin, Prune or Sweet Potato, Mashed Bananas -OR- (3/4) Cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt
(1) Cup White Flour (1/2) Cup White Flour + (1/2) Cup Whole Wheat Flour -OR- (1) Cup Whole Wheat Pastry Flour
(1) Cup Chocolate Chips (1/2) Cup DARK Chocolate Chips
(1) Cup Heavy Cream (1/2) Cup Heavy Cream + (1/2) Cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt -OR- (1) Cup Evaporated Skin Milk
(1) Cup Whole Milk (1) Cup Skim, 1% or 2% Milk

Healthy Cooking Substitutions for Cooking

Original Ingredient

Healthy Substitute

Chicken Broth Fat Free Chicken Broth
Mayonnaise (in tuna, chicken or egg salad) 2 Parts Nonfat Plain Yogurt + 1 Part Dijon Mustard
White Rice Brown Rice
White Pasta Whole Wheat Pasta (overcook by 1 minute for a softer texture)
(1) Cup Sour Cream, Mayonnaise or Cream Cheese (1) Cup Nonfat Plain Yogurt (try Greek yogurt for a thicker texture)
(1) Cup Cheddar Cheese (1/2) Cup Sharp Cheddar Cheese
Salt Omit! -AND- Add Spices for Flavor: Black pepper, Garlic Powder or Curry Powder. If you are making a tomato dish, use tarragon or oregano instead of salt.



Happy Holidays (and waist line) to All!







[1] Web MD: Nutrition and healthy eating “Recipe makeovers: 5 ways to create healthy recipes” –Mayo Clinic Staff

[2] Web MD: Nutrition and healthy eating “Recipe makeovers: 5 ways to create healthy recipes” –Mayo Clinic Staff

[3] “How to Make a Recipe Healthier” fANNEtastic “Healthy Cooking Substitution”