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Try these lighter versions of classic goodies

You already know what foods you love to eat during the holidays, don't you? You probably don't need anyone to give you any new, exotic, or gourmet holiday recipes, but you might be looking for a way to enjoy the holiday treats you know and love without calorie overkill.

The way I see it, the holidays are to be enjoyed. And the key to getting through them without gaining a pound is to enjoy some of our favorite foods -- in reasonable portions -- and to trim them back on calories, fat, and sugar when possible. (Keep up with that exercise program, too!)

Members visiting the Recipe Doctor and Snack Attack community boards have talked about all sorts of favorite holiday treats, from fudge and brownies to snickerdoodles. We all want to have our cake (or cookies, as it were) and eat it too! And so we can. Let's just cut the calories as much as tastefully possible. Deal? Deal.

I took on two popular holiday cookies and cut the fat by using lower-fat margarine, and I reduced the sugar by using Splenda. They look and taste just as joyous as they used to -- but we've trimmed the calories by 25%.

The tricky part about cookies is that if you cut back on the fat too much, it's not a cookie anymore -- it's a muffin. When you change the proportion of fat to flour and increase the level of moisture to compensate, you can lose the characteristic texture of a cookie. But I've learned that I can go down to 25% to 33% less fat in a cookie recipe and still have it look and taste wonderful.

By using a margarine with 8 grams of fat per tablespoon instead of butter or stick margarine (which has about 12 grams of fat per tablespoon) in the cookie recipes, we cut the fat by one-third (4 grams of fat per tablespoon).

I also included a lighter fudge recipe. Why? Because I'm fondly known as "the fudge lady," that's why! Every holiday season, I invent a couple of new fun fudge flavors and disperse them among my friends. I figure there are two types of people: those who like fudge and those who love fudge. Guess which one I am.

This fudge recipe does not (I repeat, not) require a double boiler or a Santa's bag full of patience. We use the microwave, and the dish is prepared in about 5 minutes. The best part is that this is a low-guilt indulgence because I use fat-free sweetened condensed milk and nonfat flavor enhancing ingredients (like liqueur) instead of butter. The only fatty ingredient is the chocolate -- which, in my book, is fat grams well spent.

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