Revamping Holiday Favorites Back »

Tis’ the season for enticing winter holiday food to be everywhere we look, including magazines, television and social media. Photos often accompany holiday recipes that leave us with “visions of sugar plums dancing in our heads”. Traditional favorite recipes can help us make the holidays memorable for everyone, but it’s also important to take time to consider your needs as well.

It’s a tough time to watch what we eat with so many taste tempting opportunities occurring during the holidays. The 2015 Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommends that individuals consume an eating pattern low in added sugars and saturated fats. Small modifications to traditional recipes can lower calories, fat, sugar and sodium without sacrificing flavors. Consider analyzing your recipes; look at where the fat and sugar is and decide whether it can be left out, reduced or replaced.

Tips for Revamping Holiday Favorites

  • Use recipes with unsweetened applesauce or mashed ripe bananas instead of butter.
  • Try reducing the amount of sugar listed in recipes.
  • Use skim milk or low-fat milk instead of whole milk. For extra richness, try evaporated milk.
  • Swap regular cream cheese to lite or fat-free.
  • Use spices such as cinnamon, allspice or nutmeg to add flavor.
  • Top desserts with fat-free frozen yogurt.
  • Choose healthier cooking methods that use less fat, such as grilling, broiling, baking, steaming or microwaving.
  • Use broth-based soups in place of cream soups.
  • Serve seltzer water with a splash of 100% fruit juice.
  • Include fresh fruit at your dessert table.
  • Try using whole wheat flour to replace half of the white flour in baking.
  • Use unsaturated oils instead of butter or solid fats to make pie crusts.
  • Skim excess fat from the top of gravies, soups and stews.
  • Use a nonstick pan and cooking spray or healthy oils (olive or canola) instead of cooking with added butter or margarine.
  • Serve parfaits with colorful sliced fruit and low-fat yogurt.

Many individuals are concerned about over indulging during the holiday season. Try to be proactive by planning to embrace healthier food choices and eat a well-balanced diet containing a variety of whole grain foods, lean meats, fruits, vegetables, and low-fat dairy.

The following recipes are easy to serve for the holidays or anytime.

Low-Fat Traditional Pumpkin Pie
Courtesy of Mississippi State University Extension


  • 1 9-inch pastry shell, uncooked (look for non-fat or try the recipe without the crust)
  • 1 (16 ounce) can pumpkin (2 cups)
  • 1 (14 ounce) can nonfat sweetened condensed milk (not evaporated milk)
  • 4 egg whites
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt (optional)


  1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
  2. In a large mixing bowl, combine all ingredients except pastry shell; mix well.
  3. Pour mixture into pastry shell. Bake for 15 minutes.
  4. Reduce oven temperature to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 35-40 minutes or until a knife inserted 1-inch from edge comes out clean.
  5. Cool. Garnish as desired. Refrigerate leftovers.

Nutrition Facts: Slice - Calories: 290, Fat: 7g, Saturated Fat: 3g, Carbohydrates: 49g, Dietary Fiber: 2g, Protein: 7g, Sodium: 330mg. Serves 8.

Apple Crisp
Courtesy of University of Missouri Extension


  • 5 medium apples
  • 3/4 cup light brown sugar, packed and divided
  • 1/2 cup whole wheat flour, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • Non-stick cooking spray
  • 1/2 stick (2 ounces) cold, unsalted butter
  • 1-1/2 cups quick cooking oats


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Rinse and cut apples in half, lengthwise. Remove any stems. Cut out center core of apple that contains the seeds. Do not peel. Place apples cut side down. Use a sharp knife to cut apples into 1/8-inch slices.
  3. In a large bowl, combine sliced apples, 1/4 cup of brown sugar, 1 tablespoon of flour and cinnamon. Mix well.
  4. Spray 9” x 13” baking dish with non-stick cooking spray. Pour apple mixture into baking dish. Spread evenly.
  5. Use a sharp knife to dice butter into smaller cubes.
  6. In a medium bowl, combine remaining brown sugar and flour, oats, and butter. Mix with hands until crumbly. Spread oat and flour mixture over apple mixture.
  7. Bake uncovered on middle rack of oven for 40 minutes or until top is lightly browned or bubbly. Let sit for 15-20 minutes before serving.

Nutrition Facts: Per Square - Calories: 210, Fat: 6g, Carbohydrates: 40g, Fiber: 4g, Protein: 3g, Sodium: 0mg. Serves 10.

More Ideas

For additional information, check out University of Nebraska Extension’s Healthy Holiday Substitutions fact sheet. See The Ohio State University Extension Service’s fact sheet, Modifying a Recipe to Be Healthier.


blog comments powered by Disqus

Sign Up For Email!