Holiday Cooking: The Healthy Way

December 15, 2008


For many people, the holidays are a time of year when it’s acceptable to prepare and indulge in rich, high calorie foods. It’s also the time of year, when most people feel their clothes fighting tighter and the pounds creeping up. While it’s perfectly all right to enjoy rich holiday treats, by practicing conscious holiday cooking, you may be able to maintain your waistline and feel good about yourself this holiday season! Here are some healthy substitutions you can try when preparing your favorite holiday dish:



Holiday Dish/Ingredient



Take off the skin when you eat it. Choose white meat instead of dark.

Mashed Potatoes

Use skim milk instead of whole milk or cream. Use a little olive oil or low fat margarine instead of butter. Try using a variety of potatoes with skins for extra fiber.


Use sugar substitute instead of sugar.


Use whole grain breads instead of white bread. Use low sodium chicken broth instead of butter.

Candied Yams

Use sugar substitute; use low fat margarine instead of butter; avoid marshmallows. Use cinnamon, a little orange juice or unsweetened apple sauce to add flavor.

Pumpkin Pie

Use sugar substitute and add more cinnamon and spices. Use evaporated skim milk instead of regular. Use egg whites instead of eggs. Use gingersnaps as crust. Avoid whipped cream, or use fat free whipped cream.

Apple Pie

Add extra cinnamon and spices for flavoring. Use sugar substitute. Add a few chopped nuts and crushed high fiber cereal to add more fiber.


Use fat free or low fat version. Try soy eggnog. Try making your own with bananas, skim milk, ice, nutmeg, cinnamon and rum extract.

All-purpose flour

Whole-wheat flour for half of the all-purpose flour called for in baked goods.

Butter, shortening or oil in baked goods

Apple sauce of prune puree for half of the called-for butter, shortening or oil.

Use non-stick cooking spray to prevent sticking.


Two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute for each whole egg.

Whole Milk/Evaporated milk

1% or fat-free milk/ Evaporated skim milk

Fruit canned in heavy syrup

Fruit canned in it’s own natural juice or water or fresh fruit

Regular cream cheese

Fat- free or low-fat cream cheese

Regular sour cream

Fat-free or low-fat sour cream, plain fat free or low fat yogurt

Oil-based marinades

Wine, balsamic vinegar, or fat-free broth

Ground beef

Extra-lean or lean ground beef, chicken or turkey (no skin)


Trans fat-free butter or shortenings that are specially formulated for baking


Pureed fruit, such as applesauce, or low calorie, sugar-free syrup


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