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Makeover Tips for Holiday Dining

Makeover Tips for Holiday Dining

Dr. Janet Brill, PhD, RD

Holiday Series: makeover tips for healthier and lighter holiday fare

Gobble, gobble, the HOLIDAYS ARE HERE! Don’t let them be a nutritional minefield.

A few simple makeovers of some holiday favorites will lighten up your holiday yet still

allow you to enjoy the festivities. Here are some last minute tips for helping you get

through these holidays lean and fit:



Sweet potatoes, white meat skinless turkey, plain green beans and carrots,

Lighten them up:


Mashed potatoes, gravy, pecan pie, pumpkin pie, creamy soups, and


Use a gravy strainer to strain off the grease. Add corn starch to strained and

defatted broth to thicken.

Mashed potatoes:

Replace whole milk or cream with fat-free milk or fat-free half & half.

Replace butter with half the amount of light margarine (trans fat free). Cut down on

salt and use a dash of parmesan cheese instead (more flavor, less sodium). Use black

pepper, garlic powder and dried parsley to season. Use Light Creamy Laughing

Cow® cheeses in place of regular cheese.


If you use a boxed or bagged stuffing mix, dilute it with 3 cups cooked brown

rice, low sodium chicken broth, light margarine, and healthy fillers such as sautéed

onions, mushrooms, celery, garlic, peppers, even try adding sliced apples,

cranberries and walnuts!

Cranberry relish:

Mix cranberries with a small Valencia orange to add sweetness. Cut back on

amount of added sugar and add a tablespoon of Grand Marnier. Add chopped


Green bean casserole:

Omit cream soup and fried onion rings. For each pound of fresh green beans,

combine the following and bake in a covered casserole dish at 350 ºF until bubbly

(about 30 minutes): ½ cup fat-free half and half, 1 cup sliced carrots, 2 Tbsp minced

dried onions, 2 Tbsp grated parmesan cheese.

Better yet, steam green beans and add sautéed mushrooms, shallots, balsamic

vinegar, a touch of sugar and some sliced almonds and bacon bits for super tasty yet


Candied yams:

For each pound of yams, bake use ½ cup OJ plus cinnamon to taste and ¼

cup raisins. Add light margarine, reduced calorie maple syrup and a touch of mini

marshmallows and you cut the calories in half.

Or…for the more traditional sweet potato casserole…use the “mini”

marshmallows; replace butter with light tub margarine; and the brown sugar with

Splenda® brown sugar blend.


Purchase fat-free eggnog or make your own: 2 peeled ripe bananas, 1 cup

fat-free milk or soy milk, ½ tsp ground nutmeg, 1 tsp rum extract. Puree all

ingredients in blender until smooth.

Pecan pie:

Add oatmeal to the recipe, use a trans fat-free crust, substitute Splenda®

brown sugar blend for brown sugar, substitute light margarine for butter, substitute

Egg Beaters® for eggs. Use thawed fat-free whipped topping in place of whipped


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