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Festive, Not Fattening

Tastes Good, Too

The Hampl Strategy

Jeff Hampl, PhD, RD, an assistant professor of nutrition at Arizona State University in Mesa, cooks Christmas dinner for family and friends and knows all about substitution, too. He suggests replacing oil with an equal amount of applesauce when baking cakes. "No one can tell," promises Hampl, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association.

Spreading out the high-fat foods over the course of the dinner is another strategy. "It's a shame not to prepare [some traditional] foods," he says. "Modify the recipe as much as you can." Then just don't serve them all at once. His main course, for instance, is goose -- high in fat. A 3.5-ounce serving with skin has 305 calories and a whopping 21.9 grams of fat. But he limits the damage by using a turkey baster to remove the fat from the pan every 45 minutes.

The Ayoob Approach

For a decade, Keith Ayoob, EdD, RD, an associate professor of pediatrics at the Albert Einstein College of Medicine, has flown from New York to San Francisco each year to prepare a holiday dinner for at least a dozen family members and friends. He has several techniques for preserving flavor without tipping the fat scales.

Take old favorites and give them a nutritious and interesting twist. For instance, instead of fixing sweet potatoes with butter, he slices the potatoes into three-quarter-inch thick chunks and cooks them covered in apple or pineapple juice. He starts the meal with a huge salad of vegetables. And he serves steamed (green) broccoli with red peppers, giving the meal a seasonal flair. "Combine foods for color," says Ayoob, a spokesman for the American Dietetic Association, and the result is a lot of eye appeal.

Like Tribole, he aims not for zero fat but less of it. "I rub the inside of the turkey with a bit of butter, but I also use herbs and garlic," he says. For the dressing, he combines onion, celery, garlic, chicken broth, and seasoned bread cubes. And he uses fresh herbs whenever he can.

Indulge the family's love of traditional favorites. "My Mom is Greek and likes stuffed grape leaves," Ayoob says. "They can be a little high in fat, so she makes them without meat" to reduce the amount.

Offer Options, Keep Perspective

Aware that some holiday diners may be more weight-conscious than others, dietitians suggest giving people many options. "Set up the dinner as a buffet and guests can pick and choose," Ayoob suggests.

And don't be too strict with yourself or your guests. Holiday dinners only come around once a year. Half the fun is eating foods we normally pass up or don't have time to prepare.




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