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Healthy Holiday Cooking

  • Category: Living Well
  • Posted On:
  • Written By: Julie Fortenberry, RD, LDN

With all of the family gatherings and tasty food that surrounds the holidays, we all know that managing your calorie intake can be challenging.

The holiday season is a time to celebrate with family and friends. Unfortunately, for many of us, it also becomes a time for over-eating and weight gain. The average American gains 5- 10 pounds during the holiday season! But the holidays don’t have to mean weight gain. Many holiday foods can easily be replaced with more nutritious alternatives without sacrificing festive smells and flavors. Making healthy food substitutions can allow you to eat, drink, and be healthy.

Here are a few easy modifications for your holiday meals:

Traditional Dressing/Stuffing:

  • Use a little less bread and add more onions, garlic, celery, and vegetables.
  • Add fruits such as cranberries or apples.
  • Moisten or flavor with low fat low sodium chicken or vegetable broth and applesauce.


  • Enjoy delicious, roasted turkey breast without the skin and save 11 grams of saturated fat per 3 oz serving.

Mashed Potatoes:

  • Use skim milk, chicken broth, garlic or garlic powder
  • Use Parmesan cheese instead of whole milk and butter.

Quick Holiday Nog:

  • Four bananas, 1-1/2 cups skim milk or soy milk,
  • 1-1/2 cups plain nonfat yogurt
  • 1/4 teaspoon rum extract
  • Ground nutmeg
  • Blend all ingredients except nutmeg. Puree until smooth. Top with nutmeg.

Desserts: For any desserts you can make simple substitutions to make your cake or pie a little healthier.

Here’s a few to try:

  • Make a crustless pie.
  • Substitute two egg whites for each whole egg in baked recipes.
  • Replace heavy cream with evaporated skim milk in cheesecakes and cream pies
  • Top cakes with fresh fruit, fruit sauce, or a sprinkle of powdered sugar instead of fattening frosting.

Julie Fortenberry is a registered dietitian at Touro Infirmary. She obtained a Bachelor of Science degree in Nutrition and Dietetics from the University of Southern Mississippi. Julie believes that lifestyle changes and wholesome nutrition are obtainable, and brings real-life understanding to wellness and nutritional counseling.