Albright College



Healthy Holidays

While encouraging you to remain healthy this holiday season and feeling guilt free for the beginning of 2013, we are offering some healthier alternatives to some holiday favorites. For some, the holidays mean indulging in homemade meals and fattening desserts. For those who are trying to stay on their diet or not over-do it this holiday season, the Health Center is giving your traditional recipes a healthy twist.

Before the main dish, people like to enjoy a salad topped with some kind of dressing. Salad dressing can have many hidden calories, so beware, before you submerge your salad. Using low-fat alternatives or vinaigrettes can greatly reduce the amount of calories and fat you are ingesting. If you don’t like the alternative, use a small amount of your regular dressing and you will decrease your calories.

There are many sides that accompany the turkey, ham, lamb or other meat that is the star of the meal. Sides, such as green bean casserole, mashed potatoes, candied yams and cranberry sauce can have high caloric, fat and sugar contents. For green bean casserole, prepare a homemade mushroom sauce, instead of using Cream of Mushroom soup, and whole-grain bread crumbs instead of French fried onions; you can decrease the calorie and fat content in half. For the mashed potato lovers, replacing butter and cream with the water the potatoes were cooked in or low-fat sour cream, turkey or chicken broth, or evaporated skim milk can give the creaminess but reduce the calories. Alternating candied sweet potatoes for cranberry relish or adding fruit juice or applesauce to cranberry sauce can make these “sweet sides” lower in fat and naturally-sweetened.

Are you the type that enjoys drenching everything with gravy? If so, you may be adding major calories to your plate. Using vegetable oil, rather than turkey drippings when making the gravy can reduce the amount of saturated fat and it is cholesterol-free! If you desire the flavor from the turkey drippings, use a gravy separator to separate some of the fat from the gravy, which you can then easily skim off. The healthiest gravy is a low-fat broth-based gravy or vegetarian gravy.

During the holiday season, pumpkin pie is a staple dessert. To lighten this pie, replacing the traditional pastry crust with a gingersnap cookie, raisin and canola oil crust will cut out the butter and shortening. Also, since pumpkin is already sweet, use less sugar to cut back on the sugar content, the sweetness will remain. To make the traditional chocolate chip cookies healthier, replace some of the butter with tahini—a sesame seed puree, which has less saturated fat and add oats, which will increase the amount of fiber, without replacing taste. Also, adding oats will allow you to cut back on chocolate chips (which add calories and fat) without feeling like you’re missing out. Mixing all-purpose flour with whole-wheat pastry flour adds fiber to the cookie. Finally, adding walnuts (unless you are allergic, in which case DON’T), adds a crunch, will boost flavor and will offer a significant amount of the omega-3 fat alpha-linolenic acid, which has anti-inflammatory properties to help stop plaque buildup in arteries. You can enjoy dessert now!

For most people, the holidays wouldn’t be complete without eggnog. 1 cup of traditional eggnog, whether store bought or homemade can have over 343 calories and 19 grams of fat (11.3 grams are saturated fat). To make eggnog more manageable, make a homemade version that uses alternative ingredients. Replacing whole milk with low-fat milk (and skipping the heavy cream) and using egg whites and fewer yolks, can cut the calorie count to about 100, the fat content to 2 grams and saturated fat to 1 gram.

The Gable Health Center would like you to enjoy your holiday meals. Please remember to make smart food choices and eat as healthy as possible during this time of the year. The Gable Health Center does have a nutritionist, so if you would like to set up an appointment to speak with Jill Zelinsky, please call 610-921-7532.


- Lindsay Hendricks ’13

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