Merry Makeovers: Healthy Holiday Foods
No matter what traditional treats are on your table, keep your feasting healthy with these buff buffet strategies.
Healthy Holiday Foods: Jewish continued...
Traditional treat: Potatoes, onions, eggs, and matzo flour are formed
into a batter and fried in oil to produce these crispy latkes, or potato
Leaner eat: Use extra-virgin olive oil instead of higher-fat kinds
such as corn oil, and toss out the egg yolks. When cooking with olive oil, you
can't take the temperature past 350 degrees, so add a bit of canola oil because
it can handle the heat. The bonus: The pancakes are even crispier, Frankel
says. Yolks make dough tender, whereas the egg whites create a crispy, crunchy
Traditional treat: The typical topping for latkes is sour cream --
not the healthiest choice.
Leaner eat: To up the nutritional value, Frankel makes a sauce using
fresh apples and cranberries. Cooked together, they add fiber and give an
antioxidant boost to the holiday menu. Another healthy substitution: sweet
potatoes instead of the called-for russet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are high in
fiber and beta-carotene. "I like to parboil my sweet potatoes in water
until they are just tender. Then cool them off and grate them for the
latkes," says Frankel. Use a dollop of low-fat or fat-free sour cream on
Traditional treat that's also a leaner eat: Some families serve
arancini ("little oranges"), which is already fairly healthy, Frankel
says. Chefs typically cook farro, a grain similar to barley or brown rice,
until tender, then mix with egg and roll in flour. The little balls are stuffed
with cheese or a spicy meat mixture and fried until crispy; the farro causes
them to turn brownish orange. "I like to fry the arancini in an olive oil
and canola oil mix. I get the flavor and health benefits of the olive oil with
the heat tolerance of the canola oil," says Frankel.
Healthy Holiday Foods: Italian
On Dec. 24, many Italians sit down with their loved ones to a multicourse
meal, the centerpiece of which is seafood (Sicilians famously serve a seven
fish-dish banquet). On Christmas morning, families gather around the tree
enjoying coffee, homemade biscotti, and a classic Italian bread called
panettone ("big bread").
Traditional treat: Shrimp cocktail dipped in mayonnaise is obviously
a recipe for too many calories and too much cholesterol, says Eldo E. Frezza, MD, chief of general
surgery and director of the Bariatric Weight Loss Center at Texas Tech
University Health Science Center and author of Slim the Italian Way.
Leaner eat: Lose the mayo, and wrap the shrimp in lettuce leaves
instead. Flavor with a small drizzle of olive oil and lemon. Or serve the cold
shrimp with cocktail sauce.
Traditional treat: Lasagna is traditionally made with cooking cream
(heavy, like whipping cream) and lots of meat, topped with Parmesan cheese.
It's easy to overdo the fat and calories, Frezza says.