Archive for Tuesday, November 20, 2007

Extension agent offers healthy holiday alternatives

November 20, 2007

Chances are favorable that most everyone will have one too many helpings of turkey, dressing, mashed potatoes and gravy and pumpkin pie later this week.

However, Denise Sullivan, K-State Extension family and consumer sciences agent for Leavenworth County, contends there's a way to enjoy all the Thanksgiving fixings.

The solution?

Trimming some of those calories through better food preparation.

"I just continue to try to get people to think about principles of modification," she said. "Not just at Thanksgiving, but all the time."

"Reducing fat, reducing sugar. And a lot of times that can be done without too much difference in the end result."

Sullivan suggests, when preparing food this holiday season, to reduce ingredient amounts by a quarter when it comes to fats and sugars.

"You're not going to notice much of a difference in the end product," Sullivan said.

Sullivan cautioned experts are finding that sugar substitutes do not reduce a person's level of sugar acuity, or the body's want for sugar.

And, some sugar substitutes do not work as well when it comes to baking and cooking.

"There are places for the substitutes," Sullivan said. "And there's places for regular sugar. It's just trying to find that balance."

When it comes to recipes that require fats and oils, Sullivan said applesauce could be used as a healthy substitute, usually in quick breads and cakes.

Using ingredients with reduced in fat, salt and sugar are good substitutes, but Sullivan also warned those ingredients can be high in other categories.

For instance, something that's low in fat could be high in sugar or sodium to offset taste.

"That's one of those things," Sullivan said. "It's a tradeoff you have to be careful of."

Although healthy cooking is an important aspect, healthy eating is key as well, Sullivan said.

She said people should stock their plates with fruits and vegetables -- and not with ones with "all of the gooey sauces."

Fruits, vegetables and whole-grain foods are good to have at Thanksgiving feasts.

"Incorporate more of those kinds of foods around the holiday table," Sullivan said.

Sullivan also offers some post-meal advice.

"After Thanksgiving dinner, get out and take a walk," she said.

"Get leftovers put away as quickly as possible so you're not tempted to keep nibbling," Sullivan said. "And for food safety reasons."


Modified Broccoli Rice Casserole


16 oz. frozen, chopped broccoli

2 c. cooked brown rice

8 oz. reduced-fat American cheese

1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup


Combine cheese and soup. Heat until cheese is melted. Mix in broccoli and rice until blended.

Pour into casserole dish sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Bake at 350 degrees for 30-40 minutes or until bubbly.

Servings: 8. Calories: 140. Fat: 3 grams.

Modified Favorite Potato Casserole


2 lb. frozen hash brown potatoes

2 c. fat-free sour cream

1 can reduced-fat cream of chicken soup

1/2 c. chopped green onion

2 c. reduced-fat shredded cheddar cheese

2 c. crushed corn flakes

2 T. melted margarine


Combine sour cream, soup, and onion. In a 9x13 pan, layer potatoes, soup mixture, and cheese, repeating layers once and ending with cheese. Combine corn flakes and margarine, sprinkle on top. Bake at 350 degrees for 40-50 minutes or until bubbly.

Servings: 12. Calories: 282. Fat: 12 grams.

Double layer pumpkin pie


1-1/2 cups graham cracker crumbs

4 Tbsp. reduced-fat margarine

4 oz. reduced-fat cream cheese (Neufchatel)

2 Tbsp. skim milk

2 packets artificial sweetner

1 8-oz. tub frozen whipped topping, thawed

1 cup skim milk

2 boxes sugar-free instant vanilla pudding (4 serving size)

1 15-oz. can pumpkin (NOT pie mix)

1 tsp. cinnamon

1/2 tsp. ginger

1/4 tsp. ground cloves (or use 1-1/2 tsp. pumpkin pie spice in place of cinnamon, ginger and cloves)


  • Mix graham cracker crumbs and reduced-fat margarine with fork until well blended. Press into bottom of two 9-inch pie pans or one 15x22-inch pan. Bake for 5-7 minutes at 350 degrees. Cool while mixing next layer.
  • Beat softened reduced-fat cream cheese until very smooth. Beat in 2 tablespoons skim milk and the artificial sweetener. Carefully stir in half of the carton of thawed reduced-calorie frozen whipped topping. Spread on cooled graham cracker crust. Place in refrigerator while mixing next layer.
  • Pour skim milk into chilled bowl. Sprinkle both boxes of pudding mix on milk. Beat with wire whisk or mixer on low speed for 1-2 minutes. Mixture will be very thick. Stir in pumpkin and spices. Fold in remaining half carton of frozen whipped topping. Spread on cream cheese layer.
  • Chill for at least 1 hour. May be made the night before serving. The dessert can be garnished with additional whipped topping, toasted nuts (increases calories and fat) or slices of strawberry, if desired.
  • Cut into 16 pieces for serving. Refrigerate unused portions.

Servings: 16. Calories: 149. Fat: 7.4 grams.

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