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Holiday meals & traditional substitutions

Tips for reducing the fat in a traditional turkey dinner

  • Turkey is a very low-fat meat, especially with the skin removed. Be aware that some turkeys are self-basted or injected with fat to make for a "moister" bird. Read the nutrition labels to select the lowest fat bird. (Probably 2-3 grams of fat vs. 9-10 grams of fat.)
  • If you traditionally baste the turkey with butter or margarine, try using apple cider, fruit juice, or reduced sodium turkey broth.
  • Skim the fat from the broth before making gravy. If you cook ahead, refrigerate the drippings to let the fat congeal on top for easy removal.
  • For dressing, use de-fatted broth, onions, celery, and seasonings to moisten the breadcrumbs. You may cook the onions and celery in the broth to soften them before adding them to the dressing. If you use a stuffing mix or prepared bread cubes, do not follow the directions on the bag, which often call for a whole stick of margarine. If you wish to use margarine, use a lighter margarine in minimal amounts.
  • Remember that dressing will generally have less fat (and be a less likely source of food poisoning) if cooked separately rather than in the turkey cavity.
  • If your holiday table traditionally includes many creamy, cheesy, rich casseroles, consider making some substitutions. Keep one or two of your family's favorites, but switch to lower-fat ingredients, such as lower-fat cream soups, cheese, and cracker toppings. You can make a rich tasting cream sauce with a fat free half and half cream that is now available.
  • Make total substitutions by offering fresh, simple steamed vegetables instead of casseroles. You can serve vegetables with pearl onions, mushrooms, water chestnuts, pimento, slivered almonds, etc. to dress them up for the holiday table. Add a unique spice such as rosemary or nutmeg for flavor.
  • Season green beans with ham base, chicken base, or just a little olive oil to give that "old-fashioned southern" taste to green beans without the saturated fat of bacon or ham hocks.
  • Breads are a great embellishment and filler for the holiday table. Limit butter as toppings or spreads. Avoid "flaky" breads, such as croissants or crescent rolls.
  • Salads should not be a source of extra fat or calories. Use fresh, simple ingredients. Consider a fruit salad made with fresh, seasonal fruits, such as apples, pears, oranges, etc. Buy something different to add to the salad, such as star fruit, kiwi, etc. Consider unusual combinations - star fruit, kiwi, and purple grapes.
  • If your holiday table includes salads mixed with dressings, such as Waldorf salad, use low-fat mayonnaise or yogurt.
  • Most molded gelatin salads should be low in fat. If your recipe calls for cream cheese, sour cream, etc., use the reduced fat or fat-free versions.
  • Make your own cranberry sauce. Fresh whole cranberries are low in calories and high in fiber. Fresh cranberries have only 44 calories per cup. Prepared cranberry sauce can have 404 calories per cup - and most of those calories are sugar with virtually all the valuable fiber strained away. Try making your own cranberry sauce, and experiment with smaller amounts of sugar than the package calls for.
  • Remember that you eat with your eyes as well as your mouth. Vary the color, texture, flavor, and shape of the foods on your plate. This makes for a very "pretty" as well as "tasty" holiday table.

Recipes for non-traditional holiday meals

Bar-B-Qued Flank Steak    

1 (2 pound) flank steak
1 teaspoon nutmeg
2 teaspoons dry mustard
1 tablespoon minced garlic
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup catsup
1/2 cup water
1/4 cup worcestershire sauce
2 tablespoons vinegar
1/4 teaspoon liquid Barbecue Smoke

Score meat by making 1/8 inch cuts diagonally (both ways) across top and bottom surfaces of meat.

Stir together nutmeg, mustard, garlic and pepper. Rub into surface of meat.

Wrap with foil. Bake at 350 degrees for 45 minutes. Refrigerate until chilled. Unwrap and slice diagonally in 1/4 inch slices, against the grain of the meat. Transfer to covered baking dish.

In small bowl, combine catsup, water, worcestershire sauce, vinegar and liquid smoke. Pour over roast.

Bake at 350 degrees for 1 hour.

  Dazzled Turkey Salad  

1/4 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1/4 cup fat-free yogurt
1 tablespoon honey
1 tablespoon brown mustard
1/2 teaspoon marjoram
1/8 teaspoon pepper
1/8 teaspoon ginger
3 cups chopped cooked turkey
1 1/4 cups red apple
1/2 cup celery
1/2 cup cranberries
2 tablespoons walnuts

Combine first seven ingredients in storable plastic container with lid. Add turkey, apple, celery, cranberries and walnuts. Stir to blend. Serve as a sandwich filling or with a green salad and crackers.

    Hearty Brown

6 ounces turkey breast slices
6 slices canadian bacon
6 slices bread
1 cup cheddar cheese, lowfat
1/2 cup fat-free yogurt
1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
4 tomato slices

Toast bread slices. Cut toast in half diagonally to make triangular-shaped toast points. Assemble sandwich by stacking (overlapping) toast points. Top with 1 slice each turkey and canadian bacon.

Combine cheese, yogurt, and pepper in a microwavable bowl. Heat until smooth. Stir and spoon over sandwich.

Top with a sliced tomato.

  Italian Roast  

1 (3 pound) beef chuck roast
1 teaspoon salt
1 tablespoon black pepper
1 tablespoon oregano
1 tablespoon Italian seasoning
1 tablespoon minced garlic
2 (15 ounce) cans beef broth

Place meat in large baking dish. Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 30 minutes. Remove from oven.

Spread herbs, spices and garlic over surface of meat. Pour broth over all.

Cover and bake at 350 degrees for 3 1/2 hours. Allow to marinate in refrigerator until cool. Slice very thin. Serve on hard rolls with a vegetable and fruit tray.

Cranberry Chutney    

1 cup dried figs
2 cups cranberries
1 naval orange
1 1/2 cups sugar
5 tablespoons cider vinegar
1/4 cup sherry
1/2 teaspoon curry powder
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon fresh ginger
1/8 teaspoon allspice

Combine all ingredients in large pan, bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and cook at a low boil 15-18 minutes until mixture is very thick and the liquid is syrupy. Cool.

Yield: 2 1/2 cups

  Feast Day Fruit Stuffing  

2 cups celery
2 cups onion
1 tablespoon vegetable oil
1 (6 ounce) package bread stuffing cubes, seasoned
1 (6 ounce) package cornbread stuffing mix
1 (20 ounce) can crushed pineapple
1 cup chicken broth
1 cup raisins
1/2 cup almonds

In a large skillet, saute celery and onion in oil.

Stir in seasoning packets from both stuffing packages, undrained pineapple and chicken broth. Heat to boiling.

Remove from heat. Add both stuffing mixes and remaining ingredients.

Mix well. Cover, let stand 7 minutes.

    Jambalaya Mix

1 cup long-grain rice
1 tablespoon minced onion
1 tablespoon green pepper flakes
1 tablespoon dried parsley
1 bay leaf
2 teaspoons beef bouillon granules
1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
1/2 teaspoon black pepper
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
1/8 teaspoon dried crushed red pepper

Combine all ingredients, store in an airtight container.

  Laurie's Carrots  

1 pound carrots
1/2 cup fat-free mayonnaise
1 tablespoon horseradish
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1/4 teaspoon paprika
10 low-fat ritz crackers

Boil carrots for ten minutes or until crispy- tender. Drain, reserving 1/4 cup liquid. Transfer to 1 qt. baking dish.

Combine reserved liquid with mayonnaise and horseradish. Pour mixture over carrots, sprinkle with salt, pepper and paprika. Top with crackers. Bake at 350 degrees for 15 minutes.

Sweet Potatoes Anna    

1 tablespoon margarine, soft
3 medium sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon minced ginger
1 1/2 tablespoons light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon salt

Melt margarine in bottom of 9 inch glass pie plate. Place potato slices in small mixing bowl. Toss with ginger, brown sugar and salt. Arrange in overlapping concentric circles around bottom of pie plate. Add an additional row along sides of pan.

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cover potatoes with aluminum foil. Bake on bottom rack of oven for 30 minutes. Remove foil and continue to bake for 30 additional minutes. Remove from oven and invert onto a serving platter.