Tuesday, December 19, 2006

Low Fat Christmas Diet

Want to indulge in some healthy cooking and eating this Christmas? Is the Holiday party season taxing your weight? These low fat Christmas recipes might just be an easy way out:

Lowering the Fat in Holiday Treats

Eggnog:

  • Use egg whites or egg substitute instead of whole eggs.
  • Use fat-free half and half or evaporated fat-free milk instead of their whole milk counterparts.
  • Substitute rum extract for the alcohol if you want the taste without the effect.


Cakes, Bars and Muffins:

  • Use heart-healthy canola oil instead of butter, or use applesauce or mashed bananas if you want to cut the fat completely. Other fruit purees will work too. If you must use shortening, there is at least a new trans fat-free version available.
  • Substitute egg whites for whole eggs in cakes and quick breads.
  • Use cocoa powder instead of chocolate in your baked goods to add a rich chocolate flavor without the fat, or use smaller quantities of miniature chocolate chips instead of the regular versions. Dark or semi-sweet chocolate chips add more flavor than milk chocolate ones.


Cookies:

The key here is to cut the fat rather than eliminate it altogether. If you take the butter out completely, the end result is not very satisfying in terms of texture or taste. Many recipes that typically call for a whole stick of butter or more can be made over with about half that quantity. Avoid using whipped butter or tub margarine: the air and water content in these makes them unsuitable for baking. Again, consider using cocoa and add smaller quantities of chocolate chips.


Nuts:

In moderation, these make a great holiday snack. True, nuts are high in fat and dense in calories, but most of the fat is unsaturated. They are rich in omega-3 fatty acids, which help protect the heart. Nuts are also an excellent source of B vitamins, as well as iron, zinc and potassium.


Holiday Appetizers:

  • Substitute low-fat or fat-free versions of mayonnaise, yogurt and sour cream to make dips.
  • Serve plenty of raw vegetables to accompany your dips.
  • Make a fresh salsa and serve with home-baked tortilla chips.
  • Use fat-free cream cheese and lean cuts of turkey or ham in pinwheels and roll-ups.
  • In soups, use fat-free and low sodium broths as your base. Use pureed root vegetables or beans to thicken them instead of cream.


Holiday Dinner:

  • Serve lean cuts of meat, such as pork or beef tenderloin. If a ham is your centerpiece, be sure to trim the fat. And if turkey is making a comeback at your table, remove the skin and choose white meat over dark if you can.
  • Provide plenty of vegetables. Steam, braise or roast them. Glaze with a very small amount of butter if you like, or use broth and herbs for flavor instead. If you are serving mashed potatoes, substitute reduced fat or fat-free sour cream or cream cheese for the full-fat versions.

Holiday Desserts:

  • If you are serving a holiday pie, consider using Phyllo dough as a base or topping. Phyllo dough is light and flaky, and virtually fat free. Enjoy fruit cobblers or crisps with less butter and use oats for added fiber. Top with fat-free whip or low fat frozen yogurt instead of ice cream or heavy cream.
  • Use reduced-fat and fat-free cream cheeses for cheesecakes.
  • Serve poached or baked seasonal fruits such as apples or pears, again topping with low fat or fat free frozen yogurt or whip.

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