Lighten Up Your Holiday Feast

Holiday Feast
Image by © Royalty-Free/Corbis

The countdown is upon us. The last-minute food preparation is soon to begin. Don’t regret the holidays by overdoing in the food consumption aspect of meals. Avoid having to include a strict eating regimen as a new year’s resolution by making some changes in the way you prepare your food. There are ways to cut back during food preparation to spare calories without changing the taste. Consider these suggestions:

  • Turkey: Haven’t bought yours yet? Choose a plain bird over a self-basting bird to lower the sodium content. To ensure a moist bird, leave the skin on while roasting, don’t over-bake the bird, and pour gravy on the meat after carving. This isn’t a calorie savings but we have to concern ourselves with sodium intake every day. Consider the latest recommendation from the 2010 Dietary Guidelines for Americans. It is suggested that we reduce our daily sodium intake to less than 2,300 milligrams (mg) and further reduce intake to 1,500 mg among persons who are 51 and older and those of any age who are African-American or have hypertension, diabetes, or chronic kidney disease. The 1,500 mg recommendation applies to about half of the U.S. population, including children and the majority of adults. (Source: Dietary Guidelines for Americans 2010, USDA,
  • Gravy: Use a fat-skimmer cup or freeze the juices in a shallow pan so you can remove the fat. You will save around 56 grams of fat per cup!
  • Dressing: Use a low-sodium boxed stuffing mix and add sautéed onion, celery, apples, and cooked rice. Add a little more broth and bake. Dressing is my favorite part of the meal so I fill my plate with low-calorie vegetables and fruits before the dressing is passed to me to keep my calories under control.
  • Candied yams: Sweeten with apple or orange juice and add ground cinnamon. Realize yams have flavor all by themselves. Wean yourself off the butter and marshmallows and enjoy their wholesome taste.
  • Green bean casserole: Green bean casserole is a favorite for many people over the decades. Cook fresh green bean with chunks of potatoes and fat-free half-and-half instead of cream soup. Top with almonds and leave the fried onion rings in the cupboard.
  • Mashed potatoes: Use skim milk, garlic powder, and a little Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter. Serve low-calorie margarine instead of butter.
  • Pumpkin Dessert: Consider serving the pumpkin custard without a pie shell. Individual baking dishes adorned with a small dollop of whipped cream can save calories without sacrificing the taste of a holiday meal favorite.

Ever wondered about the fat content of different meats and poultry that are traditionally consumed over the holidays? USDA offers this summary:




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Fat Facts

For a 3.5 ounce serving Grams of Fat

Roast Beef 15.0

Turkey Wing with Skin 12.3

Dark Turkey Meat with Skin 11.5

Roasted Ham 9.0

Turkey Breast with Skin 7.3

Dark Meat without Skin 7.0

Turkey Breast without Skin 0.7

Holiday meals don’t have to pack such a high-calorie punch. Simple makeover tips can lighten a meal and keep the taste good!



Posted: December 18, 2013

Category: WORK & LIFE
Tags: Healthy Holiday Eating, Holiday Foods, Holiday Meal Makeover, Lower-fat Versions Of Holiday Foods, Nutrition, October-December 2013, Panhandle-livingwell

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