It’s holiday time and throughout the holidays we often serve family favorite recipes that are laden with fat, sugar, fat and calories. Indulging too frequently can result in weight gain, irritability, decreased energy level, and inability to handle holiday season stress efficiently. You do not have to succumb to the fact that this time of year will leave you feeling helpless and a few pounds heavier. You can still indulge in your holiday favorites with just a few tweaks to your traditional favorites.

There are a number of recipe modification techniques that can be used to make your favorite holiday dishes healthier without sacrificing taste and overall appeal. Modifying recipes to healthier versions will better aid you in maintaining a healthy weight and overall wellness this holiday season. Recipe modification tips and substitutions aren’t only used for baked goods. They can also be used for appetizers, entrees and side dishes; anywhere there may be hidden or obvious extra calories.

Are you among those that think if a recipe is modified to be healthier then it will not taste as good? This is a common misconception that can be easily proven wrong. What’s even more incredible is that sometimes recipe modifications can result in an even better tasting recipe than their fat laden versions.

You do not have to be a world class chef in order to successfully modify a recipe. All you need is some general cooking knowledge and know how to follow directions. It’s that simple! General recipe modification guidelines include reducing or replacing fat, sugar and salt. Fat can be replaced with applesauce, mashed banana, prune puree, or fruit-based fat replacers sold in supermarkets. Sugar can be reduced and replaced with cinnamon, cloves, allspice and nutmeg, or flavorings such as vanilla or almond extracts. Salt can be reduced by half or eliminated completely.

Other recipe modifications include replacing enriched white grains, such as white pasta, with whole grains, such as brown rice or whole wheat pasta. Whole milk can be replaced with low-fat or fat-free milk. The amount of cheese can be cut in half, switched to a lower fat option, or reduced and combined with bread crumbs. The amount of meat, fish or poultry can be scaled down by loading up on more vegetables, or replaced completely with a high protein vegetarian version such as soy crumbles or quinoa.

Additional ingredient substitutions include replacing whole milk with 1% or fat-free milk, vegetable oil with olive oil, sugar with sugar substitute or sugar blend, chocolate chips with dried fruit, cream with equal parts 1% milk and fat-free evaporated milk, sour cream with fat-free plain yogurt, butter with canola oil, whipping cream with chilled fat-free evaporated milk, and coconut with half the amount, toasted to enhance flavor.

Don’t these substitutions seem simple? You will feel better about yourself when eating your holiday favorites made healthier. By putting in the effort to modify your recipes to healthier versions, you help combat the holiday weight gain and keep yourself feeling healthy and well. These substitution ingredients are not hard to find and are sitting right next to their unhealthy versions in the same aisle. So this year make a difference and a new tradition that can keep you working toward healthier holidays for years to come.

Author's Bio: 

Bonnie R. Giller helps chronic dieters break free of the pain of dieting and get the healthy body they love. She does this by creating a tailored solution that combines three essential ingredients: a healthy non-diet mindset, nutrition education and caring support. She utilizes the principles of intuitive eating, which is eating based on your internal signals of hunger and satiety versus situations or emotions. The result is they lose weight, keep it off without dieting and live a healthy life of guilt-free eating.

Bonnie is a Registered Dietitian (R.D.), Certified Dietitian-Nutritionist (CDN) and Certified Diabetes Educator (C.D.E.). In addition, she is a Certified Intuitive Eating Counselor.

Bonnie is the author of 2 cookbooks and is now working on her third cookbook. She is also the author of an e-book called “5 Steps to a Body You Love without Dieting” which you can download free at

For more information on Bonnie’s programs, books, lectures and presentations, visit