Reducing calories in holiday foods


It’s “that time” of year again. We love the holidays for a variety of reasons, and food is one that ranks right up near the top of the list. But holiday get-togethers and parties with family and friends can end up packing on extra pounds from all that delicious food.

What can you do to reduce some of the calories?

· Replace high calorie appetizers with plant foods. Serve fresh vegetables with hummus or a low-fat dip. You can arrange the fresh vegetables in different shapes for the season: a turkey, a Christmas tree, or an ornament. Maybe try some cut-up fruit with a yogurt dip, which is a little different approach (most people don’t think fruit when they plan appetizers). For a nice change of pace, try a fruit bruschetta on whole grain bread with cranberry salsa.

· Keep your side dishes as plain as possible. Try to serve at least two different vegetables without the extra sauces or toppings. Most vegetables are low in calories, so filling your plate half full with vegetables will help you consume less calories.

· Think fruit for dessert. Try baked apples with cinnamon or fresh berries with a dollop of vanilla yogurt. Less calories but delicious.

· Choose white meat over the dark meat of turkey or chicken. Don’t fry the turkey.

· Cranberry dishes are a favorite this time or year, but may contain a lot of sugar. Make your own sauce. It’s easy. Put a little water in the bottom of a pan and add fresh cranberries. Bring to a boil and simmer until the cranberries pop. Add just a little sugar, honey or sugar substitute to taste. Cool and serve or refrigerate.

· Use evaporated skim milk to make pumpkin pies or add to your mashed potatoes. All the flavor but less calories.

· Use applesauce or pureed bananas instead of butter or margarine when making baked goods to reduce fat and calories. Use a one-to-one replacement. Reduce the sugar by ¼ to 1/3.

· Before making gravy, use a fat-skimmer cup or freeze the juices from the meat drippings to remove the fat. You will reduce the calories by 504 per cup this way.

· Use reduced fat or fat-free sour cream or yogurt in dip recipes. Use reduced fat cream cheese in the other dips or dishes instead of full-fat cream cheese.

· Instead of marshmallows or marshmallow crème in your sweet potatoes, try adding cinnamon with a little maple syrup. Or add crushed pineapple for a little tropical flavor.

· Infused waters are a big hit with most people, and substitute extremely well for higher calorie beverages. For a unique holiday approach, try serving a pitcher of water with cranberries, cherries, and/or other fruit. You can also include carbonated or unsweetened flavored sparkling waters.

Enjoy the holidays and the foods! Be sure to include some physical activity as well.

Pat Brinkman is the OSU Extension Educator for Fayette County.

By Pat Brinkman

OSU Extension Educator

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