Healthier versions of Christmas favorites

Becky Varner's recipe for healthy living: Christmas ideas
BY BECKY VARNER Modified: December 29, 2013 at 4:53 pm •  Published: December 23, 2013
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There are many simple ideas for preparing healthier versions of Christmas favorites to serve during the holiday season. I thought it would be fun to try a variety of festive healthier choices, let folks try each recipe and get their opinion of them.

I chose a healthier appetizer, dip, breakfast/brunch idea and a dessert. Samples of the healthier versions and an explanation of why these recipes are healthier and tips on preparing healthier options were offered to customers at Buy for Less, 3501 Northwest Expressway.

Here is a sampling of the tasters' comments:

“Very informative — The sweet potato bisque is wonderful, and the oatmeal cherry muffins are absolutely wonderful. I would fix these foods!” Jo M.

“I have never been a hummus fan. I have tried many other recipes and just didn't care for them. However, this recipe was Great! I will definitely make this at home. Really liked the fact I could taste the food and get the recipe.” Destiny R.

“Yum on the oatmeal cherry cinnamon muffins and pistachio parfaits!” Gloria B.

“Muffins very moist — sweet potato bisque very tasty!” Ray G.

“We try to eat healthy but seem to fall short. Thank you for delicious healthy food tips.” Robert I.

Sweet Potato Bisque

Appetizers are often high in calories, fat and sodium. Choosing ingredients that are lower in these but packed with nutrients lends a good start to making a recipe healthier. Choosing a hot appetizer encourages folks to enjoy it slowly. This takes the edge off hunger and makes it easier to select smaller portions of the meal. This Sweet Potato Bisque recipe uses a small amount of olive oil, which is a healthful fat, and low-sodium chicken broth, which reduces the sodium content of a standard recipe.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped sweet onion

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound unpeeled sweet potatoes, chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt

Cilantro leaves for garnish

Pour oil in skillet and heat to medium.

Add onions and cumin. Saute 3 to 4 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Add sweet potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

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Sweet Potato Bisque

Appetizers are often high in calories, fat and sodium. Choosing ingredients that are lower in these but packed with nutrients lends a good start to making a recipe healthier. Choosing a hot appetizer encourages folks to enjoy it slowly. This takes the edge off hunger and makes it easier to select smaller portions of the meal. This Sweet Potato Bisque recipe uses a small amount of olive oil, which is a healthful fat, and low-sodium chicken broth, which reduces the sodium content of a standard recipe.

2 tablespoons olive oil

1 cup chopped sweet onion

2 teaspoons ground cumin

1 pound unpeeled sweet potatoes, chopped

4 cups low-sodium chicken broth

1 cup fat free Greek yogurt

Cilantro leaves for garnish

Pour oil in skillet and heat to medium.

Add onions and cumin. Saute 3 to 4 minutes while stirring occasionally.

Add sweet potatoes and chicken broth. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover and simmer for 20 to 25 minutes. Remove from heat and cool slightly.

Pour about half of the mixture in blender and add about half of the yogurt. Blend until smooth and pour into a large pitcher or bowl with a spout. Add remaining mixture and yogurt to blender and blend until smooth. Add to the other batch and stir.

Pour into 12 appetizer bowls or cups and garnish with a fresh cilantro leaf.

Nutrition information: This recipe makes 12 appetizer servings. Each serving contains about 77 calories and 2.5 grams fat.

Serving suggestion: This recipe can be served for a meal instead of an appetizer. Serve a double portion with a salad or sandwich for a meal. Six larger servings would contain about 154 calories and 5 grams of fat per serving.

Note: The reason the mixture needs to cool slightly is to prevent the yogurt from curdling when added to the mixture.

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