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Healthy For the Holidays

Becky Varner shares recipes aimed at keeping your holidays happy and healthy.
BY BECKY VARNER Modified: December 18, 2012 at 3:13 pm •  Published: December 19, 2012

Enjoying traditional Christmas foods is a part of celebrating of the season, but just because many favorite recipes are high in calories, fat and sugar, it doesn't mean you have to sacrifice your healthy lifestyle.

But many of the traditional foods can be perfectly healthy with a few simple changes in the recipes. Or we can substitute a healthier version of a similar food that is just as delicious as the traditional food.

Traditionally prepared gravy is very high in calories and fat. But it is so simple to remove most of the fat and therefore many of the calories. Place the turkey juices in a container and refrigerate. The fat will rise to the surface and harden. It is easy to remove the fat with a spoon and discard. Then use the defatted turkey juices and proceed making the gravy according to your favorite recipe. The gravy will have the same wonderful flavor minus a lot of calories and fat. Every tablespoon of fat removed reduces the calories by 120 and the fat by 13 grams.

Another way to remove the fat is to use a fat separating pitcher. The spout is at the bottom of the separator and so when the turkey juices are poured into the separator, the fat will rise to the top and the defatted juices in the bottom will pour out of the spout.

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Spicy Cranberry Relish

This recipe makes 8 servings.

12 ounces fresh cranberries

1 cup apple juice

2 tablespoons finely chopped jalapeno pepper

¼ cup sugar

¼ cup finely chopped cilantro

2 tablespoons chopped green onion

1/3 cup freshly squeezed lime juice

¼ teaspoon black pepper

¼ teaspoon salt

• Combine cranberries and apple juice in medium pan and bring to a boil. Turn heat to simmer and cook, uncovered, until berries split and liquid has thickened, about 15 minutes.

• Add remaining ingredients and stir to blend.

• Refrigerate several hours or overnight.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes eight ¼ cup servings. Each serving contains approximately 59 calories and no fat.

Serving Suggestions: Serve beside or on top of turkey for a delicious complement.

The fat and calorie content of stuffing or dressing can be reduced by sauteing the onions, celery and seasoning in just a tablespoon of oil instead of a large amount. Fat-free egg substitutes can be used in place of whole eggs. Keep the moisture but reduce the fat and calories by substituting fat-free chicken broth for the butter.

Or serve a healthy version of a brown rice recipe instead of the dressing. Our Christmas Rice Pilaf is a great option!

Christmas Rice Pilaf

This recipe makes 8 servings.

½ tablespoon olive oil

1 cup julienne cut carrots, 1 inch pieces

½ cup finely chopped onion

2 ½ cups reduced sodium fat free chicken broth

½ cup orange juice

1½ cups uncooked instant whole grain brown rice

¼ cup golden raisins

1 ½ teaspoons sugar

¼ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground cinnamon

¼ cup finely chopped pecans

• Pour oil in a large pan and turn burner on medium heat. Add carrots and onions and saute for about 5 minutes.

• Add broth and orange juice. Bring to a boil.

• Add rice, raisins, sugar, salt and cinnamon.

• Cover and reduce the heat. Simmer for 10 to 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed.

• Transfer to serving dish and sprinkle with pecans.

Nutrition Information: This recipe makes eight ½ cup servings. Each serving contains approximately 146 calories and 5.5 grams fat.

Source: Becky Varner


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