When it comes to some treasured holiday recipes like Grandma’s apple pie, you simply can’t mess with success. But when making other holiday dishes, it can be easy to cut down on calories without cutting back on flavor by swapping one ingredient for another.
Here are a few simple substitutions that you may find yourself using all year:
Appetizers & Side Dishes: There’s nothing like spreading a dollop of an ooey, gooey cheese dip on a cracker, or scooping some cheesy potatoes on to your plate. Did you know you can use reduced-fat or part-skim cheese in most recipes? Same great taste, calcium and protein with fewer calories!
Speaking of dips, another option is to use yogurt as a starting point. Grab some plain, fat-free yogurt, throw in a package of Ranch dressing mix, and you’re good to go! It’s the perfect companion with veggies, pretzel sticks, grain pita chips and more.
Some of our favorite dishes may also call for cream or whole milk. In most cases, you can shave off some of the calories by using 2% milk.
Main Dishes: When it comes choosing cuts of meat, look for leaner options like beef tenderloin, pork loin and chicken breast – even removing the skin from chicken and turkey can help save calories, too. When cooking, consider choosing healthier methods of cooking like braising, baking and sautéing over frying.
Desserts & Baked Goods: We know what you’re thinking – how can you save calories in a dessert without sacrificing taste? It’s easy. For example, one simple solution is to swap shortening for canola or vegetable oil.
If you’d like to go a step further, you can substitute that oil with unsweetened applesauce or, for a more distinct holiday flavor, pumpkin puree. Not sure if you want to completely substitute all of the fat like that? No problem. Consider substituting half.
At the end of the day, it’s all about being practical and using some common sense. These simple tips combined with keeping portion control in mind and staying physically active will help you and your family stay happy and healthy during the holidays.
Photo courtesy Dinner Series.