The Richmond Register

November 26, 2012

Making a happy, healthy holiday dinner

‘Jolly without the jiggle’

By Ronica Shannon
Senior News Writer

RICHMOND — Pant and skirt waists may be tighter for some now that Thanksgiving is over, but there is still time to prepare a Christmas meal that’s full of jolly without the jiggle.

Kim DeCoste, diabetes educator for the Madison County Health Department and member of the Madison County Diabetes Coalition, gives tips about ways to reduce the fat and calories in many holiday favorites.

Aside from her recipe alterations, adding a new holiday tradition could be the key to preventing a day-long, holiday meal coma.

“A very important thing is physical activity,” DeCoste said. “Take the whole family for a walk. Also, try not to give in to all the stress of the holiday. Relax and enjoy, because we know stress most often causes the blood sugar to go up.”

What some dub the “Coronary Christmas” is more than a myth, according to information found at

“In a national 2004 study published in ‘Circulation,’ researchers at the University of California, San Diego and Tufts University School of Medicine examined 53 million U.S. death certificates from 1973 to 2001. They discovered an overall increase of 5 percent in heart-related deaths during the holiday season. According to the report, fatal heart attacks peak on Christmas and New Year’s Day, especially among the most rapidly stricken patients. According to the ‘Circulation’ study, ‘The number of cardiac deaths is higher on Dec. 25 than on any other day of the year, second highest on Dec. 26, and third highest on Jan. 1.’”

The keep the fat out of the kitchen, DeCoste recommends using ? less liquid or solid fat called for in the recipe.

“If the recipe calls for 1 cup, use 3/4 cups,” she said. “If it uses 1/4 cup of shortening, use three tablespoons of oil. Use equal amounts of oil for melted shortening, margarine or butter.

Instead of whole milk, half and half or evaporated milk, use skim milk, 1-percent milk, evaporated skim milk, fat-free half and half or plain soy milk with calcium.

Instead of eggs, use egg whites. Two egg whites or 1/4 cup of egg substitute equals one whole egg, DeCoste said.

Try to skip frying in fat.

“Use cooking methods such as baking, boiling, broiling, drilling, poaching, roasting, stir-frying or microwaving,” she said.

As a general rule, reduce salt content by one-half in all recipes and use salt-free seasonings and spices mixes.

When it comes to sugar “Reduce sugar by 1/4 to 1/3 in baked goods and desserts,” she said. “If a recipe calls for one cup, use 2/3 cup. Cinnamon, vanilla and almond extract can be added to give the impression of sweetness.”

Contact the Diabetes Center of Excellence at the Madison County Health Department at 623-7312 for more healthy holiday cooking tips.

Healthy holiday recipes

The following two recipes have been modified to contain less calories, carbohydrates and fat than their original version:

Pretzel Salad

    1 cup crushed pretzels

    1 cup broken pecans

    1 stick unsalted light butter

    3 TBSP Splenda granules

    1-8oz. pkg. 1/3 Fat Cream Cheese

    8 oz. Cool Whip Free                      

    1 lg. box  Sugar Free Strawberry Jello

    2 cups boiling water                        

    1 - 16 oz. bag Frozen Strawberries (do not thaw)

    1/3 cup Powdered Sugar + 1/3 cup Splenda granules

    1 – 8 oz. can drained/crushed Pineapple in own juice

Melt butter, mix in pretzels, Splenda, and pecans. Pat into a 9x13 pan. Bake 8-10 minutes at 350 degrees and cool. Mix cream cheese, Cool Whip, and powdered sugar/Splenda mix until creamy.  Spread onto pretzel mix and refrigerate 30 minutes. Dissolve gelatin in boiling water – add frozen, sliced strawberries until gelatin thickens. Add drained pineapple. Pour over cheese mixture and refrigerate. Serves 12.

Per Serving: Calories – 260; Carbohydrate – 26 gm; Fat – 16 gm.

Cream Cheese Cupcakes

    3 – 8 oz.  pkg. Neufchatel (Lite) Cream Cheese

    5 Eggs

    1/2 tsp. vanilla

    1 cup Splenda Granular

    Cooking Spray


Preheat oven to 300. Soften cream cheese, mix until smooth.  Add vanilla. Gradually add Splenda, then add 1 egg at a time, mixing well. Beat until fluffy. Grease cupcake tins with cooking spray, pour into cupcake tins, approx. 1/2 full. Bake for 40 minutes.


1 cup lite sour cream

4 Tbsp. Splenda granular

1 tsp. vanilla

 Mix all topping ingredients together.  After cupcakes have been removed from oven and cooled for 2-3 minutes, put 1 tsp. of topping in the center of cupcake and spread gently. If desired add a dab of preserves or lite pie filling. Bake again for 5 minutes. Refrigerate.  

Calories — 115; Carbs. — 5 gm; Fat — 9 gm;  (with preserves)

Calories — 108; Carbs. — 3 gm; Fat — 9 gm (without preserves)