Holiday Defensive Dining, Part 2

In an earlier blog, I talked about some strategies and tactical approaches that you can use to save yourself a whole world of calories when you’re attending holiday parties. In this entry, I want to focus on how to economize on calories while maximizing flavor and nutrition in your own kitchen.

Creative cookery. Lighten up on the holiday meal ingredients by following some of these simple cooking suggestions:

  • Gravies. Refrigerate gravies beforehand to harden the fat in them, and then skim off the solid fat, thus reducing calorie content by about 500 calories per cup. Instead of a roux made with meat drippings, you can make a base for your gravies with pureed roasted carrots or a small amount of tomato paste.
  • Stuffing. Use a little less bread and add a bit more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables. Moisten or flavor this dish with a low-fat, low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth. And, for an interesting twist of flavor, or as another moisture enhancer, add some 100 percent fruit juice or applesauce.
  • Turkey. Do not eat the skin! By enjoying a delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin, you’ll be saving 11 grams of saturated fat with each 3-ounce serving.
  • Green bean casserole. Cook fresh green beans with chunks of potato instead of with some kind of cream soup. Top with slivered almonds in lieu of the fried onion rings.
  • Opt for squash instead of sweet potatoes. Substitute whipped winter squash for whipped sweet potatoes. And, in place of roasted yams, incorporate whole acorn or butternut squash in your recipes, for a calorie savings of 40 percent!
  • Mashed potatoes. Try mashing up some stemmed cauliflower as an inventive potato substitute. Or, if you can’t bear to forego the spuds, boil your potatoes in their jackets—to preserve some nutrients and add some fiber. And toss in a few garlic cloves for extra zing. Finally, use evaporated skim milk and Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.
  • Baking. Substitute 2 egg whites for each whole egg in baking recipes. Substitute applesauce or prune butter for some of the sugar. In cheesecakes, replace some of the cream cheese and sour cream with Greek yogurt. Instead of topping cakes with whipped cream, try garnishing with fresh fruit, fruit compote, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar.

And finally…

If you stray from your nutrition game plan at a special holiday meal, remember to get back on track at the next meal. Give yourself credit for the good food habits you’ve established and keep your focus on the long-term goal of healthy eating.

Yours in good health and (delicious) eating…. Rosanna

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