By Katherine Zeratsky, R.D., L.D.
Are dreams of sugarplums dancing in your head? What about other decadent holiday favorites? You know the ones that are loaded with sugar, salt and fat — cheese platters, bacon-wrapped appetizers, creamy eggnogs, spiked punches, cookies and rich desserts.
It can be a challenging time of year to make healthy choices. But healthy holiday eating is possible.
Here are some tips for making favorite recipes healthier:
- More than just sweet. When making desserts or eggnog, reduce the amount of sugar by half and enhance “sweetness” by adding a bit of citrus, more vanilla, nutmeg or cinnamon. Try turbinado sugar, honey or molasses — their flavor means you can use less. If recipes call for sugary toppings like frosting, jams and syrup, use fresh or unsweetened frozen fruit instead.
- Shake the salt out. You can reduce salt by half in most recipes too. Also go easy on salty condiments, such as pickles, catsup, mustard and soy sauce. Or try lower-sodium versions of packaged foods when available. Include crunchy, raw veggies on the relish tray such as cucumber slices and jicama sticks among the carrots and celery. Try a new homemade dip, such as hummus and salsa. In soup and entree recipes, substitute fresh herbs and flavored vinegars for salt.
- Trim the fat. In baked goods you can cut the fat by about half and replace it with unsweetened applesauce, prune puree or mashed banana. Instead of full-fat condensed milk, use condensed skim in drinks, desserts and, yes, even in fudge. For gravy, heat fat-free, low-sodium broth (or drippings with the fat removed); mix flour into cold skim milk and pour slowly into broth, stir until thickened and season to your liking.
Do you have tips for healthy holiday eating? How about suggestions for healthy hors d’oeuvres, sides and entrees?
Share your ideas for transforming traditional holiday recipes into fresher, healthier ones.