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Reducing Fat in Your Holiday Recipes

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Whatever you celebrate, the holidays are a time for feasts. Many of us dig out favorite recipes for cookies, pies, soups, and holiday meats. Delicious as they are, these recipes do not always have the healthiest ingredients. Luckily, there are things you can do to improve your holiday diet while still enjoying your favorite dishes.

Cut down on saturated and transfats

The first step toward making holiday recipes healthier is to cut down on saturated and transfats. Saturated fats are solid at room temperature and are found in butter, lard, and most animal products. Transfats are found in partially hydrogenated oils.

Eating too much of these fats leads to high cholesterol and can increase your risk of heart disease and stroke. Plus, high-fat foods are also high in calories, so reducing the fat content of a dish usually also makes it lower in calories.

Here are some recipe changes that can help cut down on fat:

If a recipe calls for… Replace it with…
Sour cream Plain low fat or nonfat yogurt, or nonfat sour cream
Cream or whole milk Reduced fat or skim milk
Whipping cream Imitation whipped cream (made with skim milk)
Cheese Low fat or nonfat cheese
Ground beef Extra lean ground beef or turkey
Bacon or sausage Canadian bacon or lean ham
Chicken or turkey with skin, duck, or goose Skinless chicken or turkey
Beef (chuck, rib, or brisket) Beef (round or loin; trimmed of excess fat)
Pork (spareribs or untrimmed loin) Pork tenderloin
Whole eggs Egg whites or egg substitutes
Chorizo sausage Turkey or tofu sausage

Replace Bad Fats with Good Fats

You can replace saturated and transfats in your recipes with monounsaturated and polyunsaturated fats. Mono- and polyunsaturated fats are plant based fats such as canola, safflower, and olive oil. Monosaturated fats protect against heart disease. If a recipe calls for butter or lard, try substituting it with a “good fat” oil.

More tips for making holiday recipes a little healthier:

  • When making soups and stews, prepare them ahead of time and then chill them. The fat will float to the top and harden. Remove the hardened layer of fat before reheating.
  • When making muffins or quick breads, use 3 ripe, well-mashed bananas, instead of ½ cup of butter or oil. Another option is to substitute a cup of unsweetened applesauce for a cup of butter, margarine, oil, or shortening.
  • When making pie crust, use only ½ cup of margarine for every 2 cups of flour. Use soft margarines (liquid or tub types), because they tend to have less transfats than hard or stick margarine.

CHP Health Coaching Can Help

For more information about improving your overall diet, call a CHP Health Coach. Health Coaches are specially trained healthcare professionals, such as nurses, dietitians, and respiratory therapists. They are available by phone, anytime, 24 hours a day, 7 days a week, at no charge to you.

To talk to a Health Coach, call 850-383-3400. You can also get information online at and scroll to login to Health Coaching.


Live Healthy: Recipe

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Broccoli Mandarin Orange Salad

Preparation time: 30 minutes

Serves: 6


  • 5 cups broccoli florets
  • 2 Tbsp. almonds
  • 2 - 11 oz. cans of mandarin orange sections, well drained
  • 1 orange, grated peel and juice
  • 5 green onions, chopped
  • 3 Tbsp. white vinegar
  • 1 Tbsp. sugar
  • 1 Tbsp. olive oil
  • salt and pepper, optional*

Colorful and full of crunch, this salad will please even the non-veggie people! Steam broccoli flowerets in covered saucepan for 3 minutes only. Remove quickly and rinse with cold running water until broccoli is no longer warm. Do not cook further. Place in serving bowl and chill, covered. Meanwhile, in a medium-sized bowl, combine almonds, drained mandarin oranges, grated peel and juice from orange, green onions, and remaining ingredients except for salt and pepper. Toss gently and allow to stand at room temperature for about 15 to 30 minutes. When ready to serve, pour marinated orange mixture on chilled broccoli and toss very gently. Season to taste. Each serving provides: An excellent source of vitamins A and C, and a good source of folate and fiber.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:

Calories: 84 Carbohydrates: 13g
Total Fat: 3.4g, Saturated Fat: 0.4g Cholesterol: 0mg
% of Calories from Fat: 33% Dietary Fiber: 3g
Protein: 3g Sodium: 19mg


Credit: Recipe was developed for Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) by Chef Carmen I. Jones, CCP. This recipe meets PBH and Centers for disease Control & Prevention (CDC) nutrition standards that maintain fruits and vegetables as healthy foods.



Live Healthy for the Holidays

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

What a wonderful time of year! The weather begins to cool down; we begin to think about the holidays; maybe we anticipate vacation from work and school. And ugh…the time of year when many people get sick! You have probably heard a few good tips for keeping your defenses against flu and other germs, but you may not have thought of one of your best defenses. Something you probably do at least three times a day. Yes - what you eat!


Most of us realize that our diet impacts our long term health. But we may not know how it impacts our ability to fight off germs. The more healthy nutrients you take in the better your immune system can fight germs and keep you from getting sick. Remember, that drinking plenty of water and exercising regularly also helps keep the body’s resistance up. So go for a walk, take your water bottle along, and come home to cook a healthy recipe! (See recipe for Turkey Cranberry Soup for an idea of what to make.)

Live Healthy: Recipe

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Turkey Cranberry Soup


2 teaspoons canola oil
1 medium onion, chopped
1 large carrot, cut into bite-size pieces
1 rib celery, cut into thin slices
1 parsnip, peeled and cut into bite-size pieces (optional)
1 medium sweet potato or yam, peeled and cut in half, then into bite-size pieces
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 cups non-fat, reduced-sodium turkey or chicken stock, divided
1 sweet, juicy apple, peeled, cored and cut into bite-size pieces
1 cup frozen (and defrosted) cranberries or canned whole cranberries, rinsed and drained
3 cups diced cooked turkey
Salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste*

  • In a deep pan or skillet, heat the oil over MEDIUM-HIGH heat.
  • Sauté the onion until it softens, about 4 minutes.
  • Add the carrot, celery, parsnip (if using) and sweet potato.
  • Lower heat to MEDIUM and, stirring frequently, sauté until the vegetables become lightly browned.
  • Add the bay leaf, thyme and 1 cup of stock.
  • Lower heat to a simmer and cook until the vegetables are almost tender, about 10 minutes or less.
  • Stir in the apple and cranberries, if using the frozen kind.
  • If the mixture seems dry, add enough additional stock to cook the fruit.
  • Gently simmer until the apple has softened and the cranberries are tender, about 5 minutes.
  • If using canned cranberries, add them after the apple has softened, along with the turkey.
  • Heat through for a few more minutes, until the turkey is hot.
  • Season to taste with salt and pepper.
  • Serve as is or over cooked brown rice or whole-grain pasta, if desired.

Credit: Recipe courtesy American Institute for Cancer Research. This recipe meets Produce for Better Health Foundation (PBH) and Center for Disease Control and Prevention (CDC) nutrition standards that maintain fruits and vegetables as healthy foods.

Nutritional Information per Serving

Calories: 207 Carbohydrates: 18g
Total Fat: 5.2g Cholesterol: 53mg
Total Fat: 5.2g Dietary Fiber: 4g
% of Calories from Fat: 23% Sodium: 231mg
Protein: 22g  

Ask Dr. Nancy - Free & Low Cost Ways to Get Healthy

Note: This article is over 60 days old, and may contain information that is out of date, or has been superseded by newer information.

Q: I want to get healthy . . . if it’s free or low cost! Any suggestions?

The answers are more plentiful than you may expect. The rest is up to you! Here are a few simple suggestions that will make a difference in your life.


It’s the easiest, best free exercise of all. Just don’t set unrealistic goals. Start with even 10 or 15 minutes at a time, and work up to 30 minutes five days a week. Rainy day? Walk in the mall. You’ll quickly feel the mood and energy boost of walking. (Also consider a fitness center, now more affordable with a CHP $150 membership reimbursement. See page 3 for details!)

Control portion size.

If you’re not ready to change your diet drastically, begin by reducing amounts—and eat more slowly. Using smaller plates and bowls at home is a good trick. They’ll look full, and you’ll discover you still feel full with less food. Most meals cooked at home are cheaper and have fewer calories than restaurant meals. If you have leftovers, freeze them for later rather than grazing on them after hours. Avoid eating anything two to three hours before going to bed. In addition to avoiding acid reflux (heart burn), studies show eating fewer calories later in the day promotes less storage of those calories as fat.

Stop buying and eating junk food.

Break away from this unhealthy American pastime. Most fast food restaurants have healthy choices now. Make the healthy choice.


I’m serious. A good belly laugh actually has healthful physiological effects (also smiles and chuckles). Stress and worry can cause illness. So be open to looking on the light side, watch and read comedies, and seek out people with a good sense of humor. The doctor says: yuck it up.

Take our new online Health Survey.

This great tool yields personal health help. You answer questions that take 15–20 minutes and then receive an individualized (and updateable) report. The survey also creates forms that you can take to doctors’ visits, lets you set and track health goals, and generates a tailor-made list of information resources. The Health Survey is a terrific way to map the “big picture” of your health and decide personal goals. Do you want to lose 20 pounds, improve your strength and balance, or reduce the medications you take? CHP can help! Try this and other online services and don’t forget our 24-hour Health Coaching phone line (850-383-3400). We also have health classes and support groups through our Health Promotions department (850-383-3511) and their community partners. Live well. It’s your choice!

To Access the Health Survey

  1. Click on Members tab.
  2. Click CHP Health Coaching.
  3. Log on with your user ID and password (or register, if you are a first-time user).
  4. Click Health Tools.
  5. Click Health Survey.