Healthy Eating for the Holidays, Substitutes for Healthy Recipes

Holiday seasons are especially cruel on our diets. Even if we are mindful with eating healthy foods at home, the ingredients used in parties are a different thing; loaded with butter, cream, plenty of sugar, plenty of salt, fats and other tasty but unhealthy ingredients.

Even in today’s health-conscious environment, it’s a tough time to watch what we eat.

Most recipes can be modified to increase their health value without sacrificing taste. The key to healthful eating is “reduce and replace.” Make small changes so that you will not sacrifice the taste and flavor. This will maximize your chances of success.

What should you change? Here are some tips:

1. Reduce fats. Concentrate on reducing the saturated fats such as butter and other animal fats, which are high in cholesterol.

Replace saturated fat with mono-unsaturated fats such as olive oil, canola oil, etc.

2. Limit sugar. Sugar has no nutritional value.

3. Limit salt. A risk factor for high blood pressure in some people.

4. Eat plenty of fruits, vegetables, grains and cereals.

Watch for fat in the recipe. Is there a way to reduce it or replace it with a less objectionable ingredient?

Pay special attention to the portion size. Substitute a smaller meat portion and fill your plate with vegetables prepared without a lot of butter or cream.

Here are some other tips for modifying recipes for health:

1. Whenever possible, replace butter with unsaturated oils such as olive, canola and soy oil.

2. Use nonfat or low-fat milk instead of whole milk, and choose fat-free or reduced-fat cheeses.

3. Limit margarine and butter, which contains fats that can raise cholesterol and have been associated with cardiovascular disease risk. Use apple sauce instead for baking.

4. Substitute lean cuts of meats for fatty ones. Remove skins, which are fatty.

5. Bake, broil or steam, rather than fry. Sauté with a dash of oil, wine or tomato puree. Always use non-stick cookware.

6. Substitute with seasonings, herbs, spices, lemon juice or minced tangy vegetables instead of full-fat marinades. Examples of herbs you can use are: Mrs. Dash’s seasonings, onion, garlic, parsnip, parsley — instead of salt and butter.

7. Avoid cream-based soups, sauces and gravies. Replace cream with skim milk. Choose vegetable-based soups and sauces. Tomato paste will also thicken sauces.

8. Eliminate egg yolks, which are high in fat and cholesterol. (Generally, double the eggs and throw away the yolks.) Or use egg substitutes.

9. Experiment with less fat, sugar and salt than called for in the recipe. Substitute agave honey for sugar, use fat-free low-sodium chicken broth, if necessary, for taste.

10. Substitute applesauce or other fruit purees for butter or oil in the recipe for baked goods, such as cakes and cookies.

11. Make pie-crusts with unsaturated oils instead of butter or solid fats. Top desserts with fat-free frozen yogurt or whipped evaporated skim milk. Or better yet, use fresh fruits!

12. For your appetizers, look for recipes at The Produce Moms website using fresh or roasted vegetables, fruits, lean meats, whole-grain/whole-wheat breads and fat-free/reduced-fat cheeses.

13. Bake sweet potatoes in their skins. Season mashed potatoes with roasted garlic and herbs, and fat-free chicken broth instead of butter and milk.

14. Skip MSG in oriental recipes. Again, substitute with fat-free chicken/beef/vegetable broth.

15. Replace bread stuffing with rice or grains. Try using fruits like apricots!

16. As far as practical, use reduced-fat dairy products, such as nonfat sour cream, whipped cream and whipped cream cheese.

Look for fat-burning exercises with trainer Sam Patierno in this section of

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About the Author: Dr. Robert Silverman