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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: Italian continued...

Leaner eat: Prepare vegetable lasagna (keep the cream -- hey, it's a holiday! Frezza says) and enjoy one piece instead of two. Or make lasagna the American way with lean ground beef, part-skim mozzarella, and low-fat ricotta cheese and skip the cream.

Traditional treat: For the holidays, fish (usually trout) is boiled but then cooked in artery-clogging butter and served with (again!) mayonnaise.

Healthier eat: Grill, broil, or sauté the fish in a little olive oil, and serve with lemon juice or a lemon juice vinaigrette instead of mayo.

Traditional treat: Italian holiday desserts such as zeppole and struffoli are filled with nuts, figs, or sugared sweets. Panettone is sometimes stuffed with ice cream and served with chocolate sauce.

Leaner eat: Make a cheesecake using low-fat ricotta cheese, or end the meal with sorbet or fresh fruit salad with lemon.

Healthy Holiday Foods: German

Traditionally, German families share a hot drink and a slice of stollen, a holiday cake, on Christmas Eve or gather over a meal of sliced pork roast, rolls, ham hock-flavored sauerkraut, and cookies.

Traditional treat: Lebkuchen, the German word for gingerbread, is a tradition, as are pfeffernusse -- spice cookies made with molasses, allspice, and mace.

Leaner eat: "With the gingerbread and darker cakes and cookies, try subbing half the flour with whole-wheat flour to increase the fiber," says Sarah Krieger, MPH, RD, a personal chef, owner of Dining Cents in St. Petersburg, Fla., and an ADA national spokesperson. German food tends to be traditionally low in fiber, which makes it easy to overindulge (fiber fills you up faster and makes you feel full longer).

Traditional treat: A yeast-bread fruitcake, stollen is made with eggs and butter and studded with dried fruits, citron, nuts, and occasionally marzipan, topped with powdered sugar.

Leaner eat: Try using an egg substitute to cut cholesterol, Krieger says. Cut the amount of fruit the recipe calls for by a third or a half, she says, and chop it up so you have more pieces. Toasting the nuts is a great way to increase their flavor, so you need a smaller amount of this high-calorie ingredient.

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