Lighten up a holiday meal with easy changes

Published on December 20, 2012 by Admin

SAN DIEGO COUNTY – Pie, mashed potatoes, cookies, and carved ham – these are just a few of the popular seasonal dishes people tend to consume more of during the holidays. According to Katie Ferraro, M.P.H., R.D., C.D.E., nutrition expert for TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly), the nonprofit weight-loss support organization, the holidays don’t have to sabotage a family’s healthy meal planning.

“Use parties and family get-togethers as an opportunity to try out new, healthier recipes and to incorporate several of the following tips into upcoming celebrations,” said Ferraro. “Special holiday recipes prepared healthier with simple substitutions can add nutrition and won’t break the calorie bank.”

Mash cauliflower instead of potatoes

One cup of mashed potatoes made with skim milk and no butter has 150 calories, while one cup of mashed cauliflower made with skim milk and no butter has one third of the calories, according to the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) – and tastes nearly identical. For the pickiest eaters, mix half mashed cauliflower, half mashed potato. “Add fresh herbs in place of salt for zesty flavor,” said Ferraro.

Unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar, oil, or butter

Cut calories in baked goods while providing a hint of sweetness with this substitute. According to the USDA, a cup of sugar contains 775 calories, while a cup of unsweetened applesauce contains only about 100 calories.

Nutrient-rich leafy greens instead of iceberg lettuce

For an added boost of vitamins, minerals and antioxidants, consider dark, leafy vegetables like arugula, chicory, kale, mustard greens, or spinach in place of iceberg lettuce for your salad. “Generally, the deeper the color of vegetable, the better the nutrition,” says Ferraro.

Air-cured or other smoked meats instead of bacon

Substitute bacon with lower-fat and higher-protein Canadian bacon, turkey bacon, or prosciutto. According to Ferraro, one slice of bacon has 45 calories, while turkey bacon contains roughly half that amount. These meats are best enjoyed in limited quantities though, as they can still contain significant amounts of sodium.

Finely-chopped prunes instead of butter in dark breads

Swap finely-chopped prunes or baby food prunes for oil, butter, or margarine in quick breads or other dark baked goods, like brownies. Cut calories and fat in half without compromising on sweetness or moisture.

Steam in canned broth instead of saut

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