For many families, the holidays just wouldn’t be the holidays without Libby’s Pumpkin Pie, Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole or Eagle Brand’s Magic Bars or Fudge. Many holiday recipes developed by American food brands have been popular for decades, and have thus become part of our traditions.
But what if your family is trying to eat healthier? Can you still have your favorite brand-name holiday recipes and eat light, too?
As the "Recipe Doctor," I’ve been lightening favorite brand-name recipes for years, and they almost always work out wonderfully. When making over recipes, my goal is to lower the total fat, saturated fat, and cholesterol and switch to smart fats when I can (monounsaturated fat and omega-3s). I also try to reduce sugar and sodium whenever possible, and to increase fiber and important nutrients at the same time.
Below, you'll find healthier versions of several brand-name holiday recipes many of us have come to love, including:
- A lighter version of a decadent cookie recipe that has become almost synonymous with the holiday season: Eagle Brand’s Magic Cookie Bars recipe, but with 1/3 less fat and 10% fewer calories.
- A lighter version of one of the most beloved holiday side dishes ever: Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole recipe (also known as Green Bean Bake). This one has less than half the fat and saturated fat and 1/3 fewer calories than the original.
- A version of Crisco’s Pie Crust recipe with 38% less fat, 75% less saturated fat, and 1.5 grams more fiber per serving.
- A lighter, higher-fiber version of a crustless pumpkin pie: Bisquick’s Easy Pumpkin Pie recipe, made over with 75% less fat and saturated fat, half the cholesterol, and 23% fewer calories.
- A makeover of a breakfast casserole many people like to serve when company is visiting: Kraft’s Cheesy Brunch Casserole with triple the fiber and almost 50% less fat, saturated and cholesterol.
- A made-over version of the Libby's Pumpkin Cranberry Bread recipe with triple the fiber, one-third fewer calories, and more than 50% less fat, saturated fat and cholesterol.
Lightened Borden/Eagle Brand Magic Bars
1 3/4 cups graham cracker crumbs (low-fat or regular)
1/4 cup whipped butter, melted (or substitute reduced-fat margarine)
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1 tablespoon fat-free half-and-half (or substitute low-fat milk)
14-ounce can Eagle Brand Fat Free Sweetened Condensed Milk
1 cup butterscotch-flavored chips
1 cup semi-sweet chocolate chips
1 cup flaked coconut
1 cup chopped nuts (walnuts and pecans work well)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees (or 325 degrees if using a glass baking dish). Line a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with foil and coat the foil with canola cooking spray.
- In medium bowl, combine melted butter with fat-free sour cream and fat-free half-and-half. Stir in the graham cracker crumbs and press the mixture firmly on the bottom of the prepared baking dish.
- Pour sweetened condensed milk evenly over the crumb mixture. Sprinkle butterscotch chips, semisweet chips, coconut, and chopped nuts evenly over the top of the sweetened condensed milk; press down firmly with a fork.
- Bake 25 minutes or until top is lightly browned. Cool (chill if desired), then lift out the foil and cut into bars or triangles. Store bars covered at room temperature or in the refrigerator.
Yield: Makes about 30 bars
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion medium dessert.
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 185 calories, 4 g protein, 24 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 5 mg cholesterol, 1.2 g fiber, 68 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 39%.
Lightened Campbell’s Green Bean Casserole
For a bigger crowd, double the recipe and use a 2 quart casserole dish or a 9 x 13-inch baking dish. To cut down on the calories and fat from the French-fried onions, we're skipping the fried onions that are normally added to the top of the casserole toward the end of cooking.
16- to 20-ounce bag frozen green beans
10 3/4-ounce can Healthy Request condensed cream of mushroom soup
1/4 cup fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup fat-free half-and-half (or substitute low-fat milk)
1 teaspoon low-sodium soy sauce
Dash of freshly ground black pepper
2/3 cup French’s French Fried Onions
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly cook frozen beans according to package instructions; drain well.
- In a 1-quart casserole dish or 9-inch square baking dish, combine condensed soup, sour cream, half-and-half, soy sauce, black pepper, green beans and 2/3 cup of French fried onions.
- Bake until bubbly (25- 30 minutes) and serve.
Yield: Makes 6 servings
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1/2 cup "vegetables with 1 tablespoon fat maximum"
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 107 calories, 3 g protein, 14 g carbohydrate, 4 g fat, 1 g saturated fat, 3 mg cholesterol, 2.3 g fiber, 292 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 34%.
Lightened Bisquick Easy Pumpkin Pie
1 cup canned pumpkin (100% pumpkin)
1/2 cup Heart Smart Bisquick pancake and baking mix
1/2 cup brown sugar, packed
1 cup fat-free half-and-half (can substitute evaporate milk)
1 tablespoon rum or Grand Marnier (or similar)
1 1/2 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice (or use 1/2 teaspoon each of ground cinnamon, ground nutmeg and ground ginger)
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 large egg, a higher omega-3 brand if available
1/4 cup egg substitute
Light whipped topping (optional)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 9-inch deep dish pie plate with canola cooking spray or grease lightly with margarine.
- In large mixing bowl, combine the pie ingredients (not including whipped topping) by beating on medium-low speed. Pour into the prepared pie plate.
- Bake for 40 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean. Cool for 30 minutes, then refrigerate until completely chilled (about 3 hours). Serve with light whipped topping, if desired. Store covered in the refrigerator.
Yield: Makes 10 servings
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion light dessert
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 100 calories, 3 g protein, 19 g carbohydrate, 1.2 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 23 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 127 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 11%.
Lightened Kraft Cheesy Brunch Casserole
12 cups of 1/2-inch cubes of whole wheat bread (whole wheat sourdough works well), divided use
1/2 cup chopped red pepper, divided use
12 ounces Kraft shredded, reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese, divided use
3 cups small fresh broccoli florets
4 large eggs (use a higher omega-3 brand if available)
1 cup egg substitute
1/2 cup fat-free sour cream
2 1/2 cups fat-free half-and-half (or substitute low-fat milk)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 13 x 9-inch baking dish with canola cooking spray.
- Layer half of the bread cubes, half the chopped red pepper and half the shredded cheese in the prepared baking dish. Sprinkle all the broccoli florets over the top then repeat the previous layers with the remaining bread cubes, red pepper and cheese.
- In large mixing bowl, beat eggs, egg substitute, and sour cream until blended. Pour in the half-and-half and beat until blended. Pour egg mixture evenly over ingredients in baking dish. Bake for 50 minutes to 1 hour, or until golden brown on top and the center of the casserole is nicely set (not runny). Let stand 10 minutes before cutting and serving.
Yield: Makes 12 servings
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 portion frozen dinner light OR 1 "sandwich and burger lean meat" OR 1 slice whole wheat bread + 1 egg without added fat + 2 ounces low-fat cheese
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 265 calories, 18 g protein, 29 g carbohydrate, 9.5 g fat, 4.5 g saturated fat, 95 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 586 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 32%.
Lightened Crisco Canola Oil Pie Crust
3/4 cup whole wheat flour
3/4 cup unbleached white flour
3/4 teaspoon salt
5 tablespoons Crisco pure canola oil, frozen for at least 1 hour
4 tablespoons low-fat buttermilk
- Coat a deep-dish pie plate with canola cooking spray. Preheat oven to 375 degrees, or the temperature on the pie recipe you're using.
- Add flours and salt to medium bowl; blend well with electric mixer on LOW.
- Add chilled canola oil and buttermilk to mixing bowl with flour mixture. Beat on low speed until the mixture forms a dough. Stir in a teaspoon or two of more buttermilk if the dough seems too dry.
- Using your hands, press dough evenly into your deep-dish pie plate. If the dough is a little thicker around the rim, pinch it into scallops or make the rim double thickness and press it with a fork around the circle.
- Proceed with your recipe for baking. If you need a baked piecrust, preheat oven to 375 degrees, poke the crust several times with a fork, and bake for about 20 minutes.
Yield: 8 servings (orone 9-inch, deep-dish single pie crust)
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 2 serving crackers OR 2 slices whole wheat bread OR 1 piece small muffin.
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 160 calories, 3 g protein, 18 g carbohydrate, 8 g fat, .7 g saturated fat, .5 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 227 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 45%.
Lightened Libby’s Pumpkin Cranberry Bread
1 cup whole-wheat flour
1/2 cup unbleached white flour
2 1/2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1 teaspoon baking soda
3/4 teaspoon salt
1 cup brown sugar, packed measure
3/4 cup plus 2 tablespoons canned pumpkin (pure pumpkin)
1 large egg (use a high omega-3 brand if available)
1/4 cup egg substitute (or 2 egg whites)
3 tablespoons canola oil
5 tablespoons fat-free sour cream
1/4 cup orange juice
2/3 cup fresh or frozen cranberries (or substitute 1/3 cup dried cranberries)
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat the inside of a 9 x 5-inch loaf pan with canola cooking spray (or grease lightly with reduced-fat margarine) and dust with flour.
- In medium bowl, combine flours, pumpkin pie spice, baking soda, and salt and set aside.
- In large mixing bowl, combine brown sugar, pumpkin, egg and egg substitute, canola oil, sour cream, and orange juice by beating on medium speed until blended.
- Add flour mixture all at once to the pumpkin mixture and beat on low speed, scraping sides of bowl often, until a batter forms. Fold in the cranberries. Spoon batter into prepared loaf pan.
- Bake for 60 minutes or until fork inserted in center of loaf comes out clean. Cool in the pan for 10 minutes, then remove loaf to a wire rack to cool completely.
Yield: Makes 10 servings
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic members: Journal as 1 piece small muffin OR 2 pieces "pancake, waffle, French toast"
Nutrition Information: Per serving: 210 calories, 4 g protein, 39 g carbohydrate, 5 g fat, .5 g saturated fat, 22 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 330 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 21%.