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Ask A Dietitian: Healthy Holiday Eating

by Rachel Blundell MS, RD/LD

The holidays tend to be our time to over indulge in comfort foods and decadent desserts. Unfortunately, this leads to some extra pounds by the New Year. How about transforming those holiday favorites into healthier versions of themselves? Here are a few tips and tricks to lightening up your favorite recipes:

  • Replace butter with a soft tub butter spread. You can actually bake with these products so long as they have 65% fat content!
  • Use skim or 1% milk in place of whole milk. If a recipe calls for cream or half-and-half, try using evaporated skim milk instead.
  • Choose reduced-fat or fat-free varieties when available, like for cream cheese, sour cream, cottage cheese and yogurt.
  • Try using applesauce or prune puree for half the butter, shortening or oil called for in a recipe.
  • Reduce the amount of sugar in a recipe by ¼ (so instead of 1 cup use ¾ of a cup) or experiment with replacing some of the sugar with Splenda.
  • When a recipe calls for one whole egg, use two egg whites or ¼ cup egg substitute in its place.
  • Opt for healthier cooking methods such as baking, broiling, boiling, grilling, roasting or poaching rather than frying in oil.

While you’re baking this holiday season, try out this heart healthy pumpkin pie recipe – the perfect example of a delicious and healthy holiday treat (only 169 calories per serving and 7g of fat).


FOR CRUST 1 cup quick cooking oats

¼ cup whole wheat flour

¼ cup ground almonds

2 Tbsp brown sugar

¼ tsp salt

3 Tbsp vegetable oil

1 Tbsp water


¼ cup brown sugar, packed

½ tsp ground cinnamon

¼ tsp ground nutmeg

¼ tsp salt

1 egg, beaten

4 tsp vanilla

1 cup canned pumpkin

2/3 cup evaporated skim milk

Preheat oven to 425˚.

To prepare crust mix oats, flour, almonds, sugar and salt in a small mixing bowl. Blend oil and water in measuring cup with fork or small wire whisk until emulsified. Add oil mixture to dry ingredients and mix well. If needed, add small amount of water to hold mixture together. Press into 9-inch pie pan and bake for 8-10 minutes or until light brown.

Turn oven down to 350˚. To prepare filling mix sugar, cinnamon, nutmeg, and salt in a bowl. Add egg and vanilla, mix to blend ingredients. Add pumpkin and milk, stir to combine. Pour filling into prepared pie shell. Bake for 45 minutes at 350˚ or until knife inserted near the center comes out clean. Enjoy!

For nutritional counseling, Norman Regional Health System offers the guidance of registered dietitians. Those interested can schedule an appointment for an assessment with a referral from their family physician.

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