Holiday feast can have healthy choices

Published 4:46 pm Wednesday, November 19, 2008

By by Carolyn Bivens – Extension Agent
The holidays are a special time of year full of celebrating with parties, special meals, and gifts of food. It is easy to pack on extra pounds with all that extra food within easy reach. Start a new holiday tradition by preparing delicious foods using low-fat cooking methods.
Most added fat in foods is found in butter, margarine, shortening, oil, egg yolks, sour cream, cream, chocolate, nuts, and cheese. There are many substitutions you can use to reduce the fat in traditional foods. Try substituting the high-fat ingredients in recipes with low-fat versions of the products or decrease the amount of a high-fat ingredient. Decreasing the amount of nuts or using a smaller amount of whole-milk cheese as a topping will decrease the fat calories in a recipe. Make gradual changes to a recipe to avoid a final cooked product that may be dry, rubbery, or tasteless.
Egg yolks can be a source of fat in a recipe. Two egg whites can be used in place of one whole egg. Keeping some whole eggs in a recipe will help with flavor and texture. For every 2 eggs in a recipe, use one whole egg and two egg whites. Breads, muffins, cakes, cookies, and puddings work with egg substitutes. Use one-fourth cup of liquid egg substitute for one whole egg and three tablespoons substitute for each yolk.
Other substitutes you can use to lower the fats in foods include plain low fat yogurt and nonfat evaporated milk. Pureed fruits such as dried dates, prunes, apricots, figs, unsweetened applesauce, and bananas can be used to replace some of the oil in baked goods.
Chocolate is used frequently in baking during the holidays. In place of solid chocolate, you can use cocoa powder. Use a good quality cocoa brand and use 3 tablespoons cocoa plus 1 tablespoon canola oil per ounce of chocolate. The cocoa and oil combination have much less fat and saturated fat than chocolate. Grate some solid chocolate on top of the finished product to give it a rich chocolate appearance. Fat is high in calories and using these tips will help you trim fat by about 50 to 75 percent and all those extra calories that lead to unwanted pounds.
Here are two of my favorite recipes with new twists on traditional versions. Make ahead to enjoy during holidays:
Cranberry Salad
1 (8-ounce) can crushed, unsweetened pineapple, juice pack (do not use fresh or frozen pineapple, it will not jell)
1 (3-ounce) sugar-free cherry gelatin
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
Artificial sweetener to equal 1/4 cup sugar
1 cup fresh cranberries, ground or chopped fined
1 small orange, peeled, quartered and ground
1 cup chopped celery
1 /2 cup pecans pieces
Drain pineapple and save juice, set pineapple aside for later use. Combine pineapple juice with water to equal 2 cups liquid needed to prepare gelatin and prepare according to package directions. Once gelatin is dissolved, stir in lemon juice; chill until partially set.
In a separate bowl, mix pineapple, sugar substitute, cranberries, orange, celery and nuts. Add mix to the partially set gelatin and stir until blended. Pour into large mold or 8 individual molds. Chill until firm. Double Layer Pumpkin Pie
1 1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs
4 tbsp. reduced-fat margarine
4 ounces reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)
2 tbsp. skim milk
1 (8 ounce) tub “Lite” frozen whipped topping, thawed
1 cup skim milk
2 boxes sugar-free instant vanilla pudding (4-serving size)
1 (15 ounce) can pumpkin (NOT pie mix)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice
Mix graham cracker crumbs and reduced-fat margarine with fork until well-blended. Press into bottom of a 9×13-inch baking pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool while mixing next layer.
Beat softened reduced-fat cream cheese until very smooth. Beat in 2 Tablespoons skim milk. Carefully stir in half of the carton of thawed reduced-calorie frozen whipped topping. Spread on cooled graham cracker crust. Place in refrigerator while mixing next layer.
Pour skim milk into chilled bowl. Sprinkle both boxes of pudding mix on milk. Beat with mixer on low speed 1-2 minutes. Mixture will be very thick. Stir in pumpkin and spices. Fold in remaining frozen whipped topping. Spread on cream cheese layer.
Chill for at least 1 hour. The dessert can be garnished with additional whipped topping, and cinnamon. Cut into 16 pieces.