Make traditional recipes healthier this holiday season

Try substituting these ingredients to help make your favorite recipes healthier.

The holidays are here and it is the time we pull out the traditional recipes we have grown to expect and adore during this time of year. If during the past few months, you have been watching what you eat and trying to be as healthy as possible you might be getting nervous about all the holiday celebrations to come. So how can you help make sure those habits stick throughout the holiday season?  One approach is to explore ways to make traditional recipes healthier.

With baking recipes, it is possible to make substitutes. Instead of:

  • Butter, use equal parts of cinnamon-flavored applesauce (look for no added sugar).
  • Sugar, use a lower-calorie sugar substitute.
  • Whole or heavy cream, substitute low-fat or skim milk.
  • Using only white flour, use half white and half whole-wheat flour.
  • Chocolate chips or candies, use dried fruit, like cranberries or cherries.
  • Sugar or butter use extracts like vanilla, almond and peppermint to add flavor.

When cooking, it is possible to make changes to make recipes healthier. Instead of:

  • Oil or butter, use vegetable oils such as olive oil.
  • Butter and salt, use herbs and spices, like rosemary and cloves to flavor dishes.
  • White pasta or bread, use whole-grain.
  • Frying, grill, bake or steam.
  • Whole milk or cream, use low-fat or fat-free skim milk

When choosing drinks, instead of adding:

  • Alcohol in mixed drinks, use club soda.
  • Sugar to mixed drinks, mix 100 % juice with water or use freshly squeezed juice.
  • Heavy cream or whole milk in dairy-based drinks, use low-fat or skim milk.
  • Sugar to sweeten cider, use spices and fruit, like cinnamon, cloves and cranberries.

It only takes small substitutes to make big changes in your health. Michigan State University Extension has many programs to help you make healthier changes for the long haul.  

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