Healthy Holiday Cooking and Baking

The holiday's lend itself to overindulgence. With a little effort, you can enjoy delicious, healthy food and treats, reduce stress, and truly enjoy the season.

Balancing food and fun during festive times can be quite challenging. We have exposure to more food and beverage, higher calorie foods and beverages, increased stress, decreased leisure time, and the desire to keep our weight in check! There’s the tendency for quick grab meals as we’re making attempts to carry on our normal lives, with the added demands we place for the holiday season. Although we have additional challenges, we are not doomed!

You are in control when you prepare your own meals. You control ingredients, preparation and cooking methods, calories, fat sources and amounts, and flavor.  Preparing your meals and snacks is a vital step in successful life-long weight management and health improvements. When you consider many people gain 1-2 pounds during the holidays, aim to take it off and don’t, that 1-2 pounds turns into 10 - 20 pounds in 10 years! Small substitutions can break this cycle and still result in tasty foods and treats at this time of year!

Try out these substitutions, then share what works for you.


Instead of:


Fat grams saved:

Calories in pounds per year*

1 Tbsp butter or margarine

1 Tbsp apple sauce, prune puree (Lighter Bake), or fruit preserves


1 ¾ pounds /year

1 cup butter /margarine/ oil or shortening

½ cup apple sauce,prune puree (Lighter Bake), or fruit preserves

 184 –    218

49 - 58 pounds /year

2 Tbsp oil for sautéing

   2 Tbsp broth for sautéing


1 ½ pounds /year

1 Tbsp butter/margarine/  oil

   2 seconds cooking spray


3 ½ pounds /year

1 Tbsp  butter/margarine/ oil

1 Tbsp reduced calorie  margarine


1 ½ pounds /year

2 Tbsp regular salad dressing

 2 Tbsp nonfat salad dressing


3 ½ pounds /year

1 Tbsp mayonnaise

1 Tbsp nonfat mayo or nonfat yogurt


2 ½ pounds /year

1 Tbsp butter/ margarine

 1 Tbsp Salsa


2 ¾ pounds /year

½ cup regular  ricotta cheese

  ½ cup fat free ricotta cheese


4 pounds /year

2 Tbsp heavy whipping cream

2 Tbsp evaporated skim milk


2 ¼ pounds /year

2 Tbsp regular cream cheese

2 Tbsp nonfat cream cheese


2 pounds /year

8 oz regular     cream cheese

8 oz Neufchatel cheese or   nonfat cream cheese



8 pounds /year

21 pounds /year

1 oz full fat cheese

1 oz fat free cheese


2 pounds /year

1 cup whole milk

1 cup fat free milk


1 ¾ pounds /year

1 cup whole milk yogurt

1 cup nonfat yogurt


½ pounds /year

2 Tbsp regular    sour cream

2 Tbsp nonfat sour cream


1 ¼ pounds /year

1 cup heavy cream

1 cup evaporated skim milk


23 pounds /year

1 cup sweetened condensed milk

1 cup low-fat sweetened condensed milk or

1 cup nonfat sweetened condensed milk




4 pounds /year


 7 pounds /year

1 cup regular sour cream

1 cup low- fat sour cream 

1 cup nonfat sour cream



7½ pounds/year

12¾ pounds /year

½ cup whole milk cottage cheese

½ cup nonfat cottage cheese


1 pounds /year

1 cup chopped    nuts

½ cup toasted nuts (toasting = ↑ flavor)


10½ pounds /year

1 whole egg

2 egg whites or 1/4 cup fat free egg substitute


1½ pounds /year

*Pounds saved/lost if substitutions made 2 times each week.

Many resources are available that will give you more recipes for your holiday favorites, which include reader comments. Check out Cooking Light, All recipes, Eating Well, Fooducate, Heart Association, and Vegetarian Times. 

This post is contributed by a community member. The views expressed in this blog are those of the author and do not necessarily reflect those of Patch Media Corporation. Everyone is welcome to submit a post to Patch. If you'd like to post a blog, go here to get started.


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