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3 Easy Ways to Cook up a Healthier Holiday

  • author name Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN
Cookies on a baking sheet

Cooking up your favorite family recipes is often a big part of holiday festivities. Unfortunately, these family favorites are often laden with sugar, sodium (salt) and saturated fat. Here are 3 ways to make your holidays a little healthier.

1. Reduce Sugar Content

  • Consider cutting back the sugar by 1/2 to 1/3 of the original recipe and add more vanilla extract or spices (cinnamon, nutmeg, pumpkin pie spice) to enhance flavor.
  • Replace some of the sugar with Splenda or other artificial sweetener.
  • Make smaller portions (mini muffins vs. large muffins).

2. Cut Back on Sodium

  • Opt for fresh or dried herbs such as: garlic and onion powder, celery seed, Mrs. Dash, fresh sage, thyme.
  • Buy reduced sodium chicken broth instead of regular—a difference of 300 mg sodium per cup.
  • Be mindful of hidden sources of sodium found in baking powder, baking soda, brine, bouillon, miso, soy sauce, and seasoning mixes.

Note: Be careful when reducing salt in baked goods as salt can help control yeast growth in breads and enhance mouthfeel in pastries.

3. Limit Saturated Fat

  • Choose lean meats (avoid skin and trim away fatty parts).
  • Opt for skim or 1% milk instead of whole (can do this for evaporated milk too).
  • Reduce amount of cheese.
  • Try cooked, pureed veggies to make creamy soups.
  • For baked goods: replace half the amount of butter, shortening or stick margarine with applesauce/pureed prunes/mashed banana or canned pumpkin.

Keep in mind, modifications to any recipe could affect the taste and texture of your food. So before you change a recipe, decide if it is worthwhile to do so. Sometimes it’s best to simply eat a little less of the original recipe or to not eat it as often. 

author name

Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN

Gabrielle Nichisti, RD, LDN, is a registered dietitian with the Diabetes and Nutrition Center at Lancaster General Health.

Education: A graduate of the Pennsylvania State University, Nichisti values both education and counseling to connect with her patients. Passionate about leading an enjoyable, healthy lifestyle, Nichisti strives to help others overcome obesity, diabetes and heart disease.

Call: 717-544-5923

About LG Health Hub

The LG Health Hub features breaking medical news and straightforward advice to help individuals of all ages make healthy choices and reach their wellness goals. The blog puts articles by trusted Lancaster General Health clinical experts, good 'n healthy recipes, videos, patient stories, and health risk assessments at your fingertips.


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