Local News

Don't Abandon Healthy Eating For Holidays

Posted December 21, 2006 6:07 p.m. EST
Updated December 22, 2006 6:42 a.m. EST

Even the best intentions of healthier eating fall victim to holiday goodies. Baking tasty holiday treats can be lower in calories, sugar and fat.

The smell of fresh breads and cakes in the oven form the richest holiday memories, but they can also make you pack on the pounds. Natalie Newell, a registered dietician of Rex Healthcare, said it does not have to be that way.

"There are traditional foods that we have during the holiday season that you can modify and make a healthy choice at a holiday meal," she said.

Those choices mean healthier substitutes for high-calorie, high-fat ingredients, which is what bakers at Whole Foods Market do in some of their most popular treats such as the low-fat cocoa cupcakes. In the recipe, canola oil replaces butter.

"And there's a little bit of applesauce which helps replace some of the fat and some (non-fat) yogurt as well," said Larry Tobin of Whole Foods Market.

Tobin has all the healthy substitutes close at hand in the store, like egg whites.

"All the fat in whole eggs comes from the yolks," he said. There are also non-transfat products that substitute for traditional shortening.

Tobin prefers whole-grain flour instead of white flour and raw dehydrated sugar instead of refined sugar, but sugar adds calories.

"The best thing is, a lot of recipes, you can cut back, cut the sugar in half and probably not even miss it too much," Newell said.

Newell said you can also use half sugar and half Splenda, a natural sugar substitute. Less sugar and fat and more whole grains and vegetables are in Morning Glory muffins that Tobin bakes.

"It has a lot of vegetables, zucchini; carrots are baked in, walnuts, coconut; a lot of healthy additions," he said.

Healthy additions and smart recipes substitutes can make holiday treats fun and actually good for you.

Newell recommends people not try to lose weight during the holidays, but try to maintain their current weight. She said most people do not need that added stress on top of shopping and entertaining. Then, she says, you can get back to your weight loss goals in the new year.