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Feature Articles: Food, Fitness and Cooking and Produce

Alter Holiday Recipes for Health

Tammy Roberts, MS, RD, LD, Nutrition and Health Education Specialist, Barton County, University of Missouri Extension


If you haven’t already, you will soon be taking out your favorite holiday recipes. If you’re like most, some of the family favorites are heavy in fat, sugar and calories. Family favorites can be improved and made more healthfully. You just have to know the rules.


The first rule to know is that in some recipes, you cannot make changes in the ingredients or the recipe won’t work. That is true for pickles, jellies and most candies. That means you can make some healthful changes to cookies quick breads and cakes.


In baked products, you can usually decrease the amount of shortening, butter, or cooking oil by 1/3 and still have a good end product. If the recipe calls for one cup of butter, you would use 2/3 cup. In cakes and quick breads, make sure you have two tablespoons of fat in the recipe for every cup of flour. Another option for cakes and quick breads is to substitute unsweetened applesauce for half of the fat. Just remember that every time you add one less tablespoon of fat, you save 100 calories in your recipe.


You can also decrease sugar by 1/3 in most recipes and still have a good-tasting product. Keep in mind that for cakes and cookies, you need to have cup of sugar for every cup of flour. For quick breads and muffins, you need to have at least one tablespoon of sugar for every cup of flour. Just keep in mind that one tablespoon of sugar per cup of flour will help the muffins brown nicely but the muffins will not be sweet. They will not be as moist either. Sugar actually holds moisture so less sugar can make for a drier product.


To add nutrients and fiber, substitute whole grain flour for all purpose flour in recipes. You can usually replace - of the all purpose flour with whole grain. Be creative with your whole grains. Make you own oat flour by putting it in the blender to grind to flour. You can also blend bran cereal to make flour. Both oat and bran flour can replace of the all-purpose flour in a recipe.


Many people need to decrease the amount of sodium they consume. Salt cannot be changed in pickle recipes but can be decreased or eliminated in most other recipes. It’s just a matter of making your taste buds adapt.


Challenge yourself this holiday season to try making at least one of your recipes healthier. Who knows? By next year you may be writing your own cookbook!




Last update: Tuesday, May 05, 2009








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