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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
/articleid/3738628/1/pictures/1910310">Photo - Gravy, cranberry sauce and rice pilaf can add merriment to your holiday feast without adding unneeded calories. <strong>CHRIS LANDSBERGER - THE OKLAHOMAN</strong>
Gravy, cranberry sauce and rice pilaf can add merriment to your holiday feast without adding unneeded calories. CHRIS LANDSBERGER - THE OKLAHOMAN

Gravy can also be made using fat-free canned chicken stock for the liquid. For richer gravy, add some evaporated canned skim milk to the stock before thickening.

Serve baked sweet potatoes whole instead of preparing a high-fat sweet potato casserole. Wrap in aluminum foil and bake at 400 degrees for about an hour. They are so sweet and good.

Instead of traditionally prepared mashed potatoes using whole milk and butter, use skim milk or fat-free chicken broth. Season with fresh chopped chives, a little garlic, butter-flavored sprinkles or add a little butter flavored extract to the skim milk or broth before adding to the potatoes.

A wonderful way to brighten the Christmas table is to serve cranberry sauce. But many canned cranberry sauces contain 100 calories or more per ¼ cup. Our cranberry relish recipe contains 59 calories per ¼ cup and is packed with flavor from the jalapeno and cilantro and contains less sugar than many recipes.

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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