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December 15, 2010

Lighten Up! How to Make Healthier Holiday Foods

The Hood Answer Mom, Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D.

During the holiday season, it's easy to eat more than you should. When you overdo it on foods rich in fat and sugar, the calories add up fast. Most of us are given to overindulging from Thanksgiving to New Year's Day, so it's a good idea to do what you can to minimize the damage to your waistline.

Saving calories here and there can keep holiday weight gain at bay. For example, shaving 200 calories a day from your typical holiday splurging for six weeks saves 8,400 calories, the equivalent of nearly two and a half pounds of body fat.

Of course, there's no need to make over every holiday food, and it's not always possible to slash sugar and substitute fat-free ingredients with good results, anyway.
If you want to prepare your favorite dip with Hood Sour Cream or insist on sipping Hood Golden EggNog, go right ahead. When it comes to weight control, it's not what you eat, it's how much.

Here's how to lighten up some seasonal favorites:

Meal Starters

• Serve Cream of Butternut Squash and Sweet Potato Soup  made with Hood Fat Free Half & Half . Nobody will suspect that this creamy, fiber-filled vegetable soup is nearly fat free.
• For a quick and healthy dip, mix together 2 cups Hood Low Fat or Fat Free Cottage Cheese ; serve with homemade whole-wheat pita chips or cut-up vegetables.
• Mix up a festive wine spritzer by combining a splash of wine, sparkling water and ½ cup pomegranate or cranberry juice. You'll save calories and work in half a fruit serving. 

The Main Event

• Mash white potatoes with low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth instead of milk, butter, and salt. Intensify flavor by adding cloves of peeled, sliced garlic as the potatoes cook; mash garlic with potatoes.
• Skip the boxed stuffing in favor of recipes using whole grain bread, fat-free chicken broth, and lots of fruits and veggies, such as apples, dried cranberries, celery, and onion instead of the traditional sausage. Or, use half the sausage and double the vegetables.
• Use a gravy separator to skim the fat when making gravy.
• Consider lean pork tenderloin for holiday meals instead of fattier cuts of pork and beef.
• Roast vegetables, like sweet potatoes, green beans, squash, and carrots to bring out their natural flavors. Vegetables are so delicious when roasted that they don't need butter, margarine, or cheese sauce to improve their flavor.
• Mash marshmallow-topped cooked sweet potatoes with orange juice instead of butter.

Desserts

• Make EggNog Quick Bread with Hood Light EggNog , and add raisins or dried fruit for more fiber. (This quick bread makes a great gift, by the way!)
• Prepare pies with one crust instead of two, or make a fruit crisp instead.
• Wow the crowd with Cheesy Cheesecake , which tastes just as good when prepared with Hood Low Fat Cottage Cheese
 • Substitute heart-healthy canola oil and olive oil for butter and stick margarine, and use less fat in recipes. For example, most regular quick breads and muffins come out just fine using ½ to ¾ of the vegetable or canola oil they call for. 
 • Instead of pie and cookies, serve small clusters of fruit, such as California raisins, and nuts, covered with melted dark chocolate instead of pie and cookies. 


Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward

Elizabeth M. Ward, M.S., R.D., is a writer, nutrition consultant, and mother of three. She is the author of several books, including MyPlate for Moms, How to Feed Yourself & Your Family Better and Expect the Best, Your Guide to Healthy Eating Before, During, & After Pregnancy . Ward is also a contributing writer for Muscle & Fitness Hers and Men's Fitness magazines.

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