Healthy Holidays: How to Cut the Fat From Festive Food

Healthy eating doesn’t mean you can’t indulge in delicious holiday foods, you just have to be a little more creative. Try these easy, proven ways to trim the fat from the holiday season and you won’t even notice that you’re making healthier choices.

Low-Fat Substitutions

Light versions of festive food ingredients are readily available. Light Philadelphia Cream Cheese, light Cool Whip and light Egg Nog, to name a few.

If you can’t find a light version, there are plenty of ways to lighten virtually anything with ingredient substitutions. A quick internet search will bring up hundreds of ideas.

For example, butter is a popular ingredient in traditional holiday foods. Lighten it up with the following substitutions, at a rate of about 2/3 of the amount of butter in the recipe. For example, you would use 2/3 of a cup of applesauce for every 1 cup of butter the recipe calls for.

  • Pureed Fruit
  • Pureed Vegetables
  • Low-Fat Margarine

Low-Fat Butter Substitutions

Craving Christmas Chocolate?

Dark Chocolate has less fat than milk chocolate. If you or your family don’t care for the cocoa flavour of dark chocolate, mix it up! Melted chocolate can be a combination of dark and milk chocolate, which results in a richer chocolate taste than milk chocolate but without the bold, dark chocolate flavour. You can also opt for baking chocolate that has less cocoa content, such as semi-sweet chocolate chips.

“Even though dark and milk chocolates have the same amount of calories, healthy dark chocolate has fewer carbohydrates and fat than milk chocolate,” says DoveMed. “Dark chocolate has more cocoa and nutrients than milk cocoa. It has more dietary fiber, iron, magnesium, copper, manganese, potassium, phosphorus, zinc, and selenium.”

Air-Fried Appies

Ninja Air Fryer Appetizers
Photo: Ninja ®

Air-fried foods contain up to 75 percent less fat than traditional frying methods, without sacrificing flavour! In fact, the flavours are allowed to come through without being overwhelmed by the greasy taste associated with deep frying. We use our Ninja® Air Fryer for everything from seasoned potato wedges to chicken strips to hors devours.

The Ninja® Air Fryer functions as a dehydrator as well, which adds a whole new level of healthy holiday options. It’s easy to make nutritious vegetable chips and dips for snacking or entertaining. Plus, dehydrated food has a long shelf life so you can prepare them far in advance for yourself or as gifts.

Try this recipe for Air-Fried Pickles that will add some zip to your holiday appetizer platter. Stack it high with crispy, air-fried brussels sprouts, asparagus and sweet potatoes that taste delicious without packing on the pounds.

If you have to use the oven, eliminate the need to grease pans by using silicone or parchment paper.

Quick Tips for Cutting the Fat From Festive Food

  • Decorate holiday dishes or baking with red & green vegetables or fruit. We make ‘Christmas pizza’ every Christmas Eve, using red & green peppers. If you’re feeling creative, arrange the green peppers to make a wreath and add red pepper “berries”. Light Mozza and tomato sauce combine to create a perfect background.
  • Seasoning Greetings! Red & green herbs, cinnamon, ginger and other holiday favourites are a low-fat way to decorate or add festive flavours.
  • Nuts & seeds are a healthy way to decorate baking or appetizers.
  • Use Angel Food Cake instead of pound cake for treats like Mocha Squares or trifles. You can buy or make a sugar-free version to lighten it even more. A fast, festive desert is light Angel Food Cake topped with light whipped cream and fresh, sliced strawberries. Garnish with fresh Mint.
  • Lighter gravy? Yes you can! Refrigerate the drippings until solid fat forms on top, then remove as much as you like. You can add an envelope of gravy mix for more flavour, but read the package nutrition information and ingredients first. Bouillon is usually the lowest-calorie choice.
  • Lighten up light eggnog even more by adding up to a quarter glass of water. You’ll get all of the flavour and it’s easier on the stomach as well.

It may seem like it would take a Christmas miracle to have a happy & healthy holiday season, but it’s easier than you think! Please share your low-fat tips in the comments below.

✔ You may also be interested in reading:
Clever Recipe Substitutions and Switches for Healthier Summer Eating
Food Preservation Guide IV: Dehydrating Tips and Recipes
Light Turkey or Chicken Ranch Bake

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