December Monthly Strategy- Healthy Holiday Meal Planning

Healthy Holiday Meal Planning
The holidays are a wonderful time to get friends and family together to celebrate the season. With a little planning, you can spend less time in the kitchen and more time with your guests.

Stay organized- Plan your menu. Collect your recipes a few weeks ahead of time. Choose recipes that will allow you to make some foods in advance with foods you can make the day of the feast. You can find holiday recipes on

Save money- Shop ahead. By having your recipes ahead of time you will be able to buy your ingredients on sale, save yourself money, and avoid the crowds. Use the digital coupons to help you save more money.

Make it Healthy- Substitute for lower fat ingredients. Reduce the calories and keep the flavor with these healthy substitutions.

Ingredient Modification/Substitution
Bacon, 2 strips 1 oz. lean Canadian bacon or 1 oz lean ham
Bouillon cubes or granules low sodium bouillon
Butter Margarine
Cheese, regular Reduced-fat or skim milk cheese
Chocolate, baking, 1 oz or 3 tbsp. cocoa + 1 tbsp. or less vegetable oil if needed
1 square
Cream cheese Light cream cheese or 4 tbsp. margarine blended with 1 cup low fat cottage cheese, salt to taste; small amount of skim milk is needed in blending
Cream, heavy, 1 cup 1 cup evaporated skim milk
Cream, light Equal portions of skim milk or 1% milk or evaporated skim milk
Egg, 1 whole ¼ cup egg substitute or 1 egg white + 1 tsp. vegetable oil or 2 egg whites, whipped
Evaporated milk Evaporated skim milk
Fat in baked recipes Use no more than 1 to 2 tbsp. of added oil or fat per cup of flour. Increase low fat moist or liquid ingredients such as buttermilk to add moistness
½ to 1/3 cup oil in baking Equal amount of applesauce or equal amount of baby food fruits or 1 cup dried figs or dates pureed with ¾ cup water and 1 tsp. vanilla
Flour; all purpose, 1 cup 1 cup whole wheat flour minus 1 tbsp. oil called for in recipe and increase liquid by 1 to 2 tbsp. or ½ cup white + ½ cup whole wheat flour or ¾ cup white + ¼ cup wheat germ or bran
Frosting Sprinkle powdered sugar
Canned fruit in heavy syrup Canned fruit in fruit juice
Garlic, onion and celery salt Garlic, onion and celery powder
Mayonnaise Plain yogurt + 1 tbsp. mayonnaise per cup or reduced-calorie mayonnaise
Milk, whole Skim milk or 1% milk
Rice, white Brown rice
Salt in recipes Reduce amount or eliminate; use spices and herbs
Shortening, ½ cup 1/3 cup vegetable oil
Sour cream, 1cup 1 cup nonfat plain yogurt or 1 cup low fat cottage cheese +2 tbsp. lemon juice+ 1 tbsp. skim milk or light sour cream

Sugar Reduce amount by ½ to 1/3 of the original amount; use no more than ¼ cup added sweetener (sugar, honey, molasses), per cup of flour

Regular Gelatin Sugar free gelatin mix or fruit juice mixed with unflavored gelatin
Vegetables, canned Fresh or frozen vegetables or low salt canned or rinsed canned vegetables

Save time- Prep the day before. There are many parts of your meal that can be prepped a week or more ahead of time and placed in the freezer like pies, rolls and cookies. You can make quiches, strata, cakes, and muffins the day before. All of this prep will minimize your work on the big day.

Lighten Up Your Classic Dishes!
• Reduce the calories in your Green Bean Casserole by using Silk Unsweetened Light Original Soymilk instead of cream of mushroom soup. See below for recipe.
• Use Splenda® No Calorie Sweetener to cook, bake and sweeten beverages to reduce calories and carbohydrates in your holiday meals.
• Swap whole milk for Dannon® Natural Plain Low Fat Yogurt to make mashed potatoes. See below for Herbed Goat Cheese Mashed Potato recipe.
• Keep the flavor and reduce the fat in your lasagna with BarillaTomato and Basil Pasta Sauce, Barilla Lasagna, and low fat cottage cheese/part skim ricotta cheese.
• Use Smart Balance Omega Fat Free Milk and egg substitute to make your Sweet Potato Casserole. See below for recipe.

Green Bean and Mushroom Casserole
Serves 12

1 ½ tbsp. olive oil, divided
2 medium onions, thinly sliced
1 ½ tsp. salt, divided
1 lb. fresh mushrooms, thinly sliced
3 tbsp. dry sherry
4 tbsp. flour
3 cups Silk Unsweetened, Original, Light Original or DHA Omega-3 and Calcium
2 tbsp. tamari or soy sauce
Salt and pepper to taste
2 (10 oz.) bags frozen cut green beans, thawed or 1 ½ lbs. fresh green beans, cooked until tender

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 2-quart baking dish with nonstick spray.
2. Heat ½ tbsp. of the olive oil in a large heavy saucepan over medium heat. Add onions, season with ½ tsp. salt and cook until slightly browned and soft, 10-12 minutes. Remove the onions and set aside.
3. Heat the remaining tbsp. of olive oil in the same saucepan and add the mushrooms. Cook over medium-high heat, stirring often, until the mushrooms begin to brown and most of the liquid evaporates, about 5 minutes. Add the dry sherry and cook for about 1 minute more. Sprinkle the flour over the mushrooms and cook while stirring over medium heat until the flour browns slightly, about 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and cool briefly.
4. Warm the Silk in a saucepan or microwave. Slowly whisk the warm Silk into the mushrooms, scraping up any browned bits on the bottom of the pan. Return the saucepan to the heat and bring the sauce to a boil, stirring constantly. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook, stirring often, for 8-10 minutes until the sauce reaches the consistency of a thick cream soup. Stir in the tamari, the remaining salt and black pepper to taste.
5. Mix in the green beans and ½ cup of the onions. Place in the prepared casserole dish, top with the remaining onions and bake uncovered for 30-40 minutes.

Recipe from

Nutrition Information (per serving): 100 calories, 3g fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 621mg sodium, 12g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 4g protein

Herbed Goat Cheese Mashed Potatoes
Serves 6

2 1/2 lbs. russet potatoes, peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
½ cup low fat milk
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 cup Dannon® All Natural Plain Low Fat Yogurt
4 oz. crumbled herbed goat cheese
½ tsp. kosher salt
¼ tsp. freshly ground pepper

1. Place potatoes in heavy saucepan, add 1 inch of water and cover with a tight fitting lid. Place over high heat. When you see steam escaping (don’t take the lid off) reduce the heat to low and continue cooking for exactly 20 minutes.
2. Drain the potatoes and put them back in the pot over medium heat. Shake the pan and cook for 1 minute to make the potatoes very dry. Mix the milk, olive oil, and Dannon® All Natural Plain Low Fat Yogurt in a glass measuring cup and microwave until hot.
3. Mash the potatoes and fold in the yogurt mixture and then add the goat cheese. Season with salt and pepper.
Recipe from

Nutrition Information (per serving): 330 calories, 13g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 12mg cholesterol, 300mg sodium, 43g carbohydrate, 3g fiber, 10g protein

Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole
Serves 8

3 lbs. sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/3 cup Smart Balance Omega Fat Free Milk
¼ cup egg substitute
2 tbsp. brown sugar
½ tsp. salt
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon

1. Place sweet potatoes in a large saucepan or Dutch oven; cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; cover and cook for 25-30minutes or until tender. Drain.
2. In a large mixing bowl, beat the sweet potatoes, milk, egg substitute, brown sugar, salt and vanilla until smooth. Transfer to a 1 ½ quart baking dish coated with nonstick cooking spray. Sprinkle with cinnamon. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees F for 25-30 minutes or until heated through.

Recipe adapted from

Nutrition Information (per serving): 162 calories, 0g fat, 0g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 258mg sodium, 37g carbohydrate, 5g fiber, 3g protein