If you missed last week’s post, Holiday Foods – Part 1, then you missed some easy and delish hors d’oeuvres! Go check them out now…I’ll wait. *humming the Jeopardy tune in my head*
For those watching what they put in their mouths, holiday time can be a little stressful. There are so many yummy foods that have been handed down through the generations and we can’t imagine NOT serving them, right?
“I have to make Grandma’s stuffing recipe with all the butter and sausage.” “My Mom made the best pecan pie (with all that sugar) and I want to serve it to my family!”
You swear you’ll only have a smidge of the ‘forbidden’ food, but you just can’t stop spooning it on your plate when it’s right in front of you.
Some people don’t serve soup or salad at a holiday dinner anymore, since it fills you up so you can’t eat as much of all the other goodies on the table and certainly won’t have room for dessert.
EXACTLY! Soup and/or salad is the perfect way to avoid overdoing it during the holiday meals.
You can still have all your favorites, but you’ll want less of them-guaranteed.
Let’s begin with my own salad and dressing:
Marcia’s Holiday Salad
- 1/4 C. red wine or balsamic vinegar
- 1/2 C. olive oil
- 2 Tbls. apple juice
- 1 Tbls. dijon mustard
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Sliced pears, dried cranberries and toasted pecans
- Your choice of greens (I use field greens) arranged on a plate.
Whisk together the vinegar, oil, juice, mustard and seasonings until well blended. Arrange the fruits and nuts on top of the salad greens and drizzle with the dressing. Note: You can substitute a different flavor of juice for the apple juice, if you like.
This salad’s pretty and the dressing won’t pack on the calories.
On to my version of the following soup:
Marcia’s Butternut Squash Soup
- 1 medium butternut squash, halved lengthwise, seeds scooped out
- Vegetable or Canola oil spray
- 1 medium onion, chopped
- 1 Tbls. ginger powder
- 1 Tbls. butter
- 3 C. reduced sodium chicken broth
- 1 pint of half and half (optional)
- Salt and pepper to taste
Place the squash halves cut-side down on a baking sheet sprayed with oil. Bake at 400′ for 40-45 minutes or until squash is very tender. Cool. When the squash is cool enough to handle, scoop the flesh from the skin.
While the squash is baking, cook the onion and ginger in the butter in a saucepan over moderate heat until onion is soft, about 5 minutes. Add the broth and simmer for 10 minutes, covered. Add the squash to the pan.
Transfer the mixture to a food processor or blender, in batches, and puree until smooth. Return the soup to the pan. Add Half and Half, if using. Add water or chicken broth to get the soup to the desired consistency. Cook over moderate heat until hot.
I’ve tried several recipes for Butternut Squash Soup and adapted them to my liking. You’d be hard pressed to find a more flavorful, creamier version. Making the soup without the cream eliminates most of the fat. the low-fat version has about 3 grams of fat in a 1-cup serving. The sodium in both versions is low.
Either version offers the best of both worlds – the flavorful, rich and creamy texture without making you feel guilty, and as a bonus you’ve gotten a day’s worth of Vitamin A.
A few tips to further avoid packing on pounds this holiday season:
- Skip the sweet breads or rolls.
- Just drizzle the gravy on your turkey, if you really can’t do without it.
- Avoid the creamy drinks and alcohol that is usually a part of a holiday.
- Serve yourself just 1/4 c. ( about 2 level tablespoons) of the side dishes like stuffing and potatoes.
- Go for a walk after dinner to help your food digest, rather than plopping on the couch to watch football.
- When it’s time for dessert, cut a 1″ sliver of one or two different pies and top with low-fat, sugar-free whipped topping, instead of guilt.
- Offer to do a large portion of the cleanup, if you’re up to it. Standing always burns more calories than sitting.
What are your favorite diet-buster holiday foods? Do you have any other suggestions for cutting calories and fat and still enjoying what you love (other than not eating the dinner, that is)?
You know I love hearing from you and anxiously await your comments!
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I’ll be here on Wednesday, but if I don’t see you, have a Happy Thanksgiving!