There are many healthy options for holiday meals that your family will enjoy.
Holiday Beverage Makeovers
What would the holidays be without a traditional New Year's Eve champagne toast, a steaming mug of wassail for rosy-cheeked carolers, or creamy eggnog shared with friends? You can continue to enjoy your favorite holiday beverages and follow heart healthy guidelines. These simple tips can help make your holidays festive, fun and healthy.
Eggs mixed with traditional ale, grog or brandy is a holiday favorite. To reduce the amount of cholesterol, fat and saturated fat in eggnog, and lessen the risk of food poisoning from uncooked eggs, follow these suggestions:
• Use evaporated skim milk instead of cream for a thick, rich drink without saturated fat. By using evaporate milk, you can save 620 calories, 86 grams of fat, 54 grams of saturated fat and 310 mg of cholesterol. Evaporated skim milk contains more than four times the amount of calcium as cream!
• Replace fresh eggs with egg substitute to eliminate cholesterol. Egg substitutes are pasteurized, so they won't cause food poisoning if stored properly in the refrigerator.
• If you prefer to use real eggs, reduce the risk of food poisoning by mixing the eggs thoroughly with the milk and cooking over low heat to a temperature of 160 degrees (the eggs should coat a spoon when they are properly cooked). Cool the mixture in the refrigerator before adding the remaining ingredients.
• Make a batch of alcohol-free eggnog and let your guests add their own brandy to limit calories and reduce the risk of overindulging.
If you prefer to purchase eggnog, choose one of the light varieties that have up to 33% less fat and 60 percent less saturated fat per serving.
Hot buttered rum
What could be more delicious on a cold winter night than a steaming cup of hot buttered rum? While the drink may warm you, the ingredients (butter, powdered sugar, brown sugar, vanilla ice cream and rum) are enough to stop you cold! You can't remove all the calories and fat, but these changes improve nutrition without affecting the taste:
• Try substituting soft tub margarine for butter. Don't use low-calorie margarine, as its higher water content won't provide the same buttery taste or texture. By making this substitution you will reduce the saturated fat by 88 percent and eliminate cholesterol.
• Use one-third less sugar to decrease total calories. Even though sugar doesn't contribute fat, high sugar consumption has been linked to elevated triglyceride levels.
• Substitute fat-free vanilla frozen yogurt for ice cream for a creamy taste without the fat. Save 80 calories, 10 grams of fat, 7 grams of saturated fat and 40 milligrams cholesterol.
• Use rum flavoring instead of rum for a holiday taste without the alcohol.
Holiday beverages that hit the spot
These holiday favorites are naturally low in fat and calories. The aroma of peppermint, ginger, cinnamon and nutmeg adds a festive scent to your home as the beverages warm your guests.
To make a non-alcoholic version of mulled cider, use apple cider or cranberry juice heated with cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves. Add slices of apples and oranges for holiday flare.
For mulled cider with alcohol, use red wine and add seasonings or fruit as desired. Red wine contains flavonoids that may help reduce risk of cardiovascular disease. However, remember that women should limit alcohol to one drink per day; men no more than two drinks per day for overall good health.
Other holiday favorites
• Flavored herbal teas provide a comforting hot drink steaming with holiday aromas. Add a cinnamon stick, candied orange peel, or peppermint stick to for a festive flare.
• Make your own spiced coffee by adding ground cinnamon or ground gloves to your favorite ground beans.
• Put a scoop of praline frozen yogurt into a mug, then cover with hot cocoa or coffee. Stir with a cinnamon stick for a scrumptious holiday beverage.
How to Reduce Fat and Calories in Appetizers
for Holiday Buffets or Meals
Serve baked chips and low-fat or fat-free dips. You can buy great baked tortilla chips or even make your own. Simply bake tortillas until crisp in a 400 degree oven and break into pieces when cool. Or purchase baked potato chips. Buy low-fat or fat free dips, or find recipes on the Internet or cookbooks for making your own.
A cheese ball is a traditional delight for holiday meals. However, some recipes are very high in fat. Make your own with low-fat cream cheese and reduced fat cheddar or other reduced fat cheeses. Season well, and include chopped pimentos for color and flavor. If you serve it with your fat-free crackers or pita crisps, you will have a special treat. Everyone always wants more, but make a smaller cheese ball so that guests have room for your delicious dinner.
Serve raw vegetables in sticks and slices. Raw veggies make the best appetizer of all, since they leave more room for dinner! If your children won’t eat vegetables without dip, serve the low-fat variety. But try some unfamiliar veggies, and they may decide the taste is good all alone. Try jicama, snow peas, and radishes. Or try yellow, orange, and red bell peppers in addition to your usual celery and carrot sticks. If you serve low-fat appetizers for your holiday dinner, then your family and friends will have more room for the meal. Those who are watching their weight will love you! And everyone will enjoy the special celebration more!