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Traditional holiday dishes get low-fat makeover

By Christy Feig
CNN Medical Producer

Slightly modifying recipes can take traditional dishes from fat-filled to fit.
Slightly modifying recipes can take traditional dishes from fat-filled to fit.

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CNN's Christy Feig has some tips to make holiday favorites healthier without sacrificing taste.
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Diet and Fitness
Public Holidays

(CNN) -- For those battling the bulge, the holidays can undo many long-term accomplishments in a short amount of time. But there are steps you can take to enjoy your holiday favorites, but still keep the fat content down.

Creating recipes that are healthy but still appetizing and familiar is the aim of Bonnie Moore, executive chef at, a Web site devoted to healthy eating.

She says her focus at the holiday season is helping people create traditional-type dishes that won't put on the pounds -- like the typical mashed potatoes and vegetable dips.

For Moore, it's all about things you can substitute in recipes for high fats, and in the case of traditional mashed potatoes, that means butter and sour cream are out.

"Rather than adding cream, we add some low-sodium chicken broth and roasted garlic," Moore explains. This cuts the fat to less than a gram per serving compared with the more than 10 grams that can be in traditional mashed potatoes.

She also replaces the butter in bread and muffin recipes with applesauce or fruit puree.

"Fruit puree makes a great substitute for butter," Moore says. "Applesauce works really well. Crushed pineapples, mashed bananas -- they all work really well."

Because the fruit will add a more sweetness than butter, Moore advises reducing the sugar in the recipe by a tablespoon. Also, be sure to match the flavor of the fruit with the bread that you're making. For example, substituting applesauce in her Cranberry Walnut Bread recipe works because apples and cranberries tend to blend well.

When it comes to making holiday dips, sour cream is a staple in many appetizers, but it also loads on fat grams. Moore's solution? Take low-fat or fat-free plain yogurt and strain it overnight in the refrigerator. What's left will be yogurt that has a similar consistency to sour cream, which you can substitute in recipes.

"If you use yogurt that is not strained you're going to find that the sauce is thinner and kind of start to think that someone has tampered with the recipe right off the bat," Moore warns.

She uses yogurt in her Red Pepper Pine Nut Dip recipe, a healthy dip for vegetables or pita. When made with yogurt, it contains about a gram of fat for three tablespoons compared to about 12 to 15 grams of fat in the same amount of similar dips made with sour cream.

When using fruit in place of butter or yogurt in place of sour cream, do an equal exchange, Moore says. A half a cup of yogurt can sub for half a cup of sour cream.

When it comes to dessert, biscotti is becoming a popular and healthier alternative to cookies. Biscotti is much lower in fat because of the absence of butter, about one gram per serving.

Using these simple substitutions and slightly modifying recipes, experts say you can enjoy traditional holiday foods without dread of stepping on the scales later.

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