To avoid overeating high-calorie and high-fat foods during the holidays, decrease quantity and improve quality of festive foods.
The sugar, fat, or salt content of almost any holiday recipe can be reduced without a noticeable difference in taste, according to Mary Bielamowicz, AgriLife Extension nutrition specialist in College Station, Texas. If a recipe calls for a cup of sugar, use two-thirds of a cup. If it calls for half a cup of oil, shortening, or other fat, use one-third cup. If a recipe calls for one-half teaspoon of salt, use one-quarter teaspoon.
You can also substitute whole-grain or bran flours in recipes calling for all-purpose flour. Replace one-quarter to one-half the amount of all-purpose flour in holiday recipes with whole-wheat flour. Or substitute oat bran or oatmeal for one-fourth of all the all-purpose flour.
Reduced or nonfat cheese, milk, cream cheese, cottage cheese, yogurt, or mayonnaise can be substituted for their higher-fat counterparts. Evaporated milk can be used as a substitute for cream.
(Evaporated milk is canned, unsweetened milk with 60 percent of the water removed. When mixed with an equal amount of water, it can be substituted for fresh milk in recipes, according to the Food Lover's Companion.)
To make comfort-food dishes healthier, increase the amount of vegetables in soups, stews, pasta, casseroles, and homemade pizza. Trim fat off meat before cooking. Drain grease from browned meat before adding to dishes.
For those who cook holiday dishes for family and friends with diabetes and heart disease, opting for low-cholesterol and low-salt recipes, there are several new cookbooks.
150 Best Diabetes Desserts edited by registered dietitian Barbara Seeley (Robert Rose, $24.95) features biscotti, shortbread, and cookie recipes such as Cranberry Pecan Oatmeal Cookies, and Gingersnaps. Cocoa Roll with Creamy Cheese and Berries and Pumpkin Flan are festive desserts. Recipes have exchange calculations for the diabetic diet.
Diabetes Meals for Good Health by registered dietitian Karen Graham (Robert Rose, $24.95) explains how to turn that calorie-laden roast turkey dinner into one with appropriate portions and healthy recipes. Instead of stuffing the turkey, the stuffing is cooked in a baking dish. Gravy is limited to one tablespoon per serving. Dessert is a crustless pumpkin pie. The cookbook features actual-size color photographs showing readers exactly what an appropriate portion looks like. For dinner there's a large meal of 730 calories and a small one of 550 calories. Portion control is the key, whether you make Pork Chop & Applesauce or Tandoori Chicken & Rice dinners.
Recipes in Diabetes & Heart Healthy Meals for Two from the American Diabetes Association and the American Heart Association ($18.95) take about 10 minutes to prepare. The book is designed for adults with diabetes, many of whom are older, and may live alone or with only one other person. Leftovers are at a minimum. These recipes are more likely to suit contemporary tastes, although there are some old-fashioned or comfort-food options. Broccoli Cheddar Soup is spiced with cumin, and Fish Chowder is made with fat-free evaporated milk and seasoned with thyme and a little cayenne (optional). Entrees include Baked Cod and Vegetables, Slow Cooker Chicken and Noodles, and Cube Steaks with Country Gravy plus vegetarian entrees. Recipes include calculated exchange information.
The Healthy Beef Cookbook from the National Cattleman's Beef Association, the American Dietetic Association, Chef Richard Chamberlain, and registered dietitian Betsy Hornick (Wiley, $21.95) has nutrition information but not diabetic calculations. Three-Mustard Beef Round Tip with Roasted Baby Carrots and Brussels Sprouts and Smoked Texas Beef Brisket with Cabernet Barbecue Sauce are great holiday recipes. Recipes for grilling and main dish beef salads are included.