• Print    Email
  • Decrease (-) Restore Default Increase (+)
  • Bookmark and Share

8 Simple Steps to Healthy Holiday Eating

This holiday season will be different. In fact, with our help, you'll enjoy the goodies and the parties, yet you won't feel bloated and worried about the toll on your heart. It's still early in the season, and you've got time to plan. Strategy–not utter denial–is the key to success. So let's get started.

1. Take stock. Begin with Thanksgiving and work your way through January 1. What do the "holidays" mean to you and your family? Grandma's peanut butter cookies, Mom's potato pancakes with sour cream, Aunt Gloria's meatballs? Write it all down.

2. Look for the stars. Review your list and highlight what's naturally healthy. Be thankful for Thanksgiving, for example. Turkey topped with gravy but minus the skin is an American Heart Association-approved entree. Is fish part of your holiday tradition? Indulge!

3. Skinny it down. Transform sweet-potato pie into a side dish of freshly baked sweet potatoes with a touch of cinnamon. Replace the beef in Uncle Joe's New Year's Day chili with ground turkey and red beans. Study cookbooks and magazines that have a health conscience and learn some culinary tricks. You'll be surprised at how much old-fashioned flavor is retained by making clever substitutions.

4. Create new favorites. If your table groans under the weight of buttered rolls and creamed onions, replace one of those heavy hitters with a platter of roasted winter vegetables. Exchange a dozen cookies for low-fat meringues flecked with chocolate chips. Look to the season's harvest of cranberries, apples, pears, brussels sprouts, pumpkin and squash for inspiration.

5. Practice portion control. If you can't eliminate it or make it more healthful, limit it. Put a dollop of Grandma's must-have giblet gravy on the side of the plate and dip your turkey in it for taste. Enjoy half a cup of eggnog, but just on Christmas Eve, when it means the most to you.

6. Keep the rest lean and green. Don't squander precious calories on a stale, store-bought cookie during a Wednesday coffee break. Follow proper dietary guidelines amid the festivities and you'll buy yourself the flexibility for special indulgences.

7. Party on. Be a good guest and offer to prepare a dish for the next event. Whip up a low-fat yogurt dip and cut up some crunchy crudités, or prepare an angel food cake and a winter fruit compote. Don't be shy-ask about the menu ahead of time so you can plan your choices.

8. Eat out with savvy. Favor restaurants that offer whole-grain breads, salads and seafood. Portions are often gigantic in restaurants, so split an entree with a friend or order an appetizer-size plate of pasta as your main meal.


Lighten Up Your Food Preparation Methods

Baked Turkey - Choose a plan bird over a self-basting bird to lower the sodium content. To ensure a moist bird, leave the skin on while roasting, don't over bake the bird, and pour gravy on the meat after carving. Remember, the breast without skin is lowest is fat and calories (18% calories from fat) followed by the drumstick (39% calories from fat). The wing is highest in fat (43% calories from fat.)

Gravy - Use a fat-skimmer cup or refrigerate the juices overnight so that you can remove the fat that hardens on top. Save around 56 grams of fat per cup!

Dressing/Stuffing - Use a low-sodium, boxed stuffing mix and add sautéed onions, celery, apples and cooked rice. Add a little more broth and bake for ½ hour.

Candied Yams - Sweeten with apple or orange juice and add ground cinnamon. Limit the margarine or butter and use fewer or no marshmallows.

Green Bean Casserole - Cook fresh green beans with chunks of potatoes and fat-free half-n-half instead of cream soup. Top with almonds instead of fried onion rings.

Mashed Potatoes - Use skim milk, garlic powder and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter. Or, use low-cal margarine instead of butter. Jazz up the flavor by using low-cal/high-flavor additions like roasted garlic cloves or horseradish.

Pie - Choose pumpkin pie over pecan pie and save yourself almost 200 calories per slice! Plus pumpkin is rich in vitamin A. Make a "crustless" pie and save even more calories and fat.

Cranberry Sauce - Fresh cranberry sauce has ½ the calories of the canned version. Plus, it's easy and fun to make!


Instead of... Choose...

You don't have to cut out your favorite holiday recipes and dishes. Just use this helpful replacement guide to find great substitutions to lighten up your food preparation methods.

Instead Of Choose
1 Whole Egg 1/4 cup egg substitute, or 2 egg whites
½ cup Fat used in Baked Goods (Butter, Margarine or Oil) 1/2 cup pureed prunes, or
1/2 cup sweetened applesauce, or
1/2 cup strained plain yogurt
1 Cup Butter 1 cup margarine (does not reduce fat, only cholesterol)
1 Cup Vegetable Shortening 3/4 cup vegetable oil
1 Cup Whole Milk 1 cup skim milk
1 Cup Light Cream 1 cup evaporated skim milk, or
1/2 cup skim milk + 1/2 cup evaporated skim milk, or
3 Tbsp vegetable oil and skim milk to equal 1 cup
1 Cup Heavy Cream 1 cup skim evaporated milk
1 Ounce Regular Cheese 1 ounce low-calorie or skim milk cheese, or 1 oz (2 Tbsp) dry curd low-fat cottage cheese
1 Ounce Cheddar Cheese 1 oz part-skim cheddar cheese
Sugar Use 1/4 to 1/3 less than the amount stated in the recipe
1 cup Chocolate Chips ½ cup Mini Chocolate Chips
1 Ounce Baking Chocolate 3 Tbsp powdered cocoa plus 1 Tbsp vegetable oil
8 Ounces Cream Cheese Reduced-fat, light or non-fat cream cheese
Sour Cream Plain nonfat yogurt
Half & Half Evaporated skim milk
Whipped Cream In mixer, combine 1 packet non-fat dry milk (about 1 cup) with 1 cup ice water, beat until peaks form. Add 3 Tbsp sugar, 1 tsp vanilla, beat until stiff
Heavy Cream Light cream or Half  & Half
1 Cup Mayonnaise 1/2 cup light mayonnaise + 1/2 cup plain low-fat yogurt


Looking for more advice?

Check out one of the Rex Wellness Centers and set up an appointment with a registered dietitian. They can help you achieve your health and fitness goals on a personal level.


Source: Dowden Custom Media. Published with permission.