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Health Information Making the Holidays Healthier

Making Your Holidays Healthy and Light
Ideas for making traditional favorites more healthful

There’s no reason to look at the holidays as a time when you have to deny yourself. The traditional foods you love can fit into a healthful menu with a few slight adjustments. You’ll probably find that your family and guests don’t even notice the change. And you may just find that eating lighter becomes a new holiday tradition.

“Cutting fat and calories from holiday fare is easier than you think,” says Jennifer Ventrelle, MS, RD, LDN, a clinical dietitian and nutrition consultant at Rush. “Most people don’t know, for instance, that you can cut the amount of oil in half for many recipes and still come out with the same delicious dish.”

Fat and sugar are the two things that add the most calories to your holidays. Here are some easy ways to cut down on fat and sugar to make traditional favorites lighter.

Reducing fat

  • To cut total fat, reduce the amount called for in recipes by one third. For baking, replace some fat with fruit purees such as applesauce.
  • Steam, broil or bake food instead of frying. If you have to fry, use a vegetable oil spray rather than butter, margarine or oils.
  • Use herbs and spices to add extra flavor to foods instead of mayonnaise, butter or margarine.
  • Use two egg whites or one-quarter cup of egg substitute for each egg required.
  • Replace regular mayonnaise with fat-free, “light” or soy-based mayonnaise or salad dressing.
  • When recipes call for light cream, use equal portions of one-percent milk and evaporated skim milk.
  • For heavy cream, use equal portions of half-and-half and evaporated skim milk.
  • Substitute low-fat sour cream or yogurt or equal portions of each for sour cream.
  • Use reduced-fat (often called “Neufchatel” cheese), fat-free or soy cream cheese instead of cream cheese.
  • Rather than using frosting, decorate cakes and other baked goods by sprinkling them with sifted confectioner’s sugar, sifted cocoa or flavored marshmallow crème.

Reducing sugar

  • Use only a half cup of sugar for each cup of flour in cookie and cake recipes.
  • Use only one tablespoon of sugar for each cup of flour in quick breads and muffins.
  • Vanilla, cinnamon and nutmeg can enhance flavor when sugar is reduced.

There is one thing you’ll probably need more of over the holidays: exercise. “During the holidays, you may be consuming more calories than you usually would, so you need to be more physically active to burn those calories off,” says Ventrelle. “A good way to make sure that you get the extra activity is to put it on your schedule: ‘Take a walk with my husband and daughter, 7:00 to 8:00.’ The more active you are the more energy you’ll have to share for the holidays.”

For more information about nutritional services at Rush visit our Food and Nutritional Services home page.

Looking for a doctor? Call toll free: 888 352-RUSH (7874).

Please note: All physicians featured in Discover Rush Online are on the medical faculty of Rush University Medical Center. Some of the physicians featured are in private practice and, as independent practitioners, are not agents or employees of Rush University Medical Center.

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