Posts Tagged ‘holiday meals’

I can almost smell the celery and onions sautéing as they await grandma’s stuffing recipe… Mmmmmm… Have you also been thinking about your Thanksgiving meal, either what you will prepare or what you will eat? Food is an important part of most holiday traditions and memories, especially Thanksgiving. This year, maybe there is a way to take your traditional favorites and lighten them up a bit. Here are some great tips from USDA’s ChooseMyPlate.gov:

Tweek the Sweet – How about serving fruit as a colorful healthy option for dessert? Try a crustless pumpkin pie.

Cheers to Good Health – The best low calorie drink ever is water! You can add a special “twist” with a slice of lemon or lime or raspberries. Another alternative is seltzer water with a little 100% fruit juice for flavor.

Bake Healthier – Did you know you can substitute unsweetened applesauce or any fruit puree for the butter in recipes? Try replacing butter with ½ fruit puree and ½ canola oil to reduce the saturated fat and increase the fiber.

Spice it up – Use spices like cinnamon and nutmeg and you can reduce the amount of sugar in a sweet recipe. Use more herbs and less salt in savory dishes.

2013-11-28 09.20.52Brighten your meal – Let the rainbow of colors found in vegetables and fruit brighten the buffet table, fill (at least ½) your plate with high quality nutrition and fiber and even help you control your weight and blood pressure.

Skim the fat –Use evaporated skim milk instead of heavy cream in all your holiday baking.

Swap the grains – Add a little whole grain to your buffet. When I make bread in my breadmaker, I usually use half white flour and half whole wheat flour. You can sneak whole wheat flour into other recipes as well.

Go easy on the gravy – Think “drizzle” instead of “drown”. You can also try putting a few tablespoons on the side of your plate and dipping your turkey into the gravy.

Enjoy leftovers – Leave some for later! Be creative in how you use leftovers… turkey in wraps or soups and veggies in omelets. It’s fine to continue enjoying your leftovers up to five days after the holiday, then freeze for later use.

Focus on family and fun – After your meal, go for a walk, toss a ball around, MOVE a little. Just standing up (as opposed to sitting) allows your digestive system to work a little better.

Give to others – What better way to celebrate our abundance than by sharing it with those who have less? I have a friend that would make an extra Thanksgiving feast and deliver one to a shelter. That was a favorite memory and part of the holiday every year for her son.

Maybe I’ll sauté those celery and onions in a little olive oil instead of butter and use some extra sage and less salt. How will you make your holiday healthy this year?


“Make Healthier Holiday Choices,” 10 Tips Series No. 32. 2013. USDA. www.choosemyplate.gov/food-groups/downloads/TenTips/DGTipsheet32MakeHealthierHolidayChoices.pdf

“MyPlate Holiday Makeover.” 2013. USDA. www.choosemyplate.gov/downloads/infographics/2013-HolidayMakeover.pdf

Rodack, J. “9 Healthy Substitutions for Everyday Foods.” American Heart Association. 2014. https://www.goredforwomen.org/live-healthy/heart-healthy-cooking-tips/healthy-substitutions/

“The Natural Beauty of Fruits and Vegetables.” American Heart Association. 2014. http://www.heart.org/HEARTORG/GettingHealthy/NutritionCenter/SimpleCookingwithHeart/The-Natural-Beauty-of-Fruits-and-Vegetables_UCM_430112_Article.jsp

Written by: Shannon Carter, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Fairfield County

Reviewed by: Kathryn Dodrill, Extension Educator, Family and Consumer Sciences, Ohio State University Extension, Washington County

Read Full Post »

One of the most enjoyed parts of the holidays are the parties, dinners, buffets and snacks to graze on. Unfortunately with all these treats come extra calories and pounds.   Research shows the average American eats approximately 4,500 calories from a traditional Thanksgiving dinner.  This includes around 229 grams of fat from one meal.  Most people have two others meals on this holiday!

The average American gains one to two pounds over the holiday season and although that doesn’t seem like a lot those pounds do add up contributing to people being overweight or obese throughout their life. Therefore, rather than a strict diet and exercise regime during the holidays consider shifting your goal to weight maintenance.  This should be much more attainable for the average person. Doing this allows you to still enjoy the holiday foods while not resulting in weight gain.

Trim calories whenever you can without a loss of flavor or tradition. Some ideas for making some of your favorite foods healthier are listed below.


Use low fat margarine

Replace eggs with eggbeaters or whites

Use chicken or turkey sausage rather than pork sausage

Low sodium, fat free chicken broth is a good choice

Use whole grain bread


Simple peas or corn is healthier than creamed versions

If casseroles are a must- use low fat soup instead of regular cream soup

Increase the amount of vegetables in the recipe

Use crunchy whole grain cereal instead of fried onions

Mashed Potatoes:

Make with low-fat cream cheese or lite butter

Replace some of the potatoes with steamed cauliflower—no one may even notice

Use 2% or low-fat milk or buttermilk instead of high fat versions

Make sure to end your meal with a great dessert that is sure to be a hit and  is still relatively low in calories and fat.

This dessert uses gingerbread cake and sugar free butterscotch pudding.

Pumpkin Trifle

1 package gingerbread cake mix (14 ½ ounces)

1 ¼  cups  water

1 egg or 2 egg whites

4 packages (1 ounce each) sugar free instant butterscotch pudding mix

1 can (15 ounces) solid-pack pumpkin

1 teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ teaspoon each ground ginger, nutmeg, and allspice or pumpkin pie spice

1 cartoon (12 ounces) frozen reduced –fat whipped topping, thawed


Bake the cake per instructions on the package. Once completely cooled crumble the cake and set aside ¼ cup crumbles for garnish.

In a large bowl, whisk milk and pudding mixes for 2 minutes or until slightly thickened.  Let stand 2 minutes or until soft-set.  Stir in pumpkin and spices until well blended.

In a trifle bowl or large glass serving bowl layer a fourth of the cake crumbs, half the pumpkin mixture, a fourth of the cake crumbs and half of the whipped topping.  Repeat layers.  Garnish with the ¼ cup reserved cake crumbs.  Serve immediately or refrigerate until serving.  Makes 18 servings.  Each serving has 194 calories, 6 grams of fat and 31 grams of carbohydrate.

Author: Liz Smith, Family and Consumer Science Educator, Ohio State University Extension.

Source:   Recipes for Fall: Flavorful and Healthy– http://www.RD411.com

Healthy Holiday Food and Diet Tips. –www.WebMD.com

Read Full Post »