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Healthy Recipe of the Month

Holiday Recipes Makeover

Traditional holiday dishes can stir up a bad case of heartburn - as well as pack on the pounds. Here's how to lighten your favorite recipes, but keep the satisfying taste.

What's a holiday feast without a turkey or a roast with all the trimmings?

Indeed, that's what we love about the holidays - all that rich satisfying food we don't often get. We load up the dinner plate with our favorites, then go back for more. Trouble is, those foods are full of fat. For people prone to heartburn, too much fat - and too much food - that is just asking for problems.

"Holiday foods are rich, festive foods, which is why we gravitate toward them," Elaine Magee, MPH, RD, tells WebMD. "These are foods we don't normally eat, and we tend to indulge in them. That's what gets us into trouble."

In the kitchen, there are tricks that cooks can use to lighten the fare. "No one's here to take away the traditional flavors," says Magee, who is WebMD Weight Loss Clinic's 'Recipe Doctor.' "We have a way of making mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, sweet potatoes, and pie a few pounds lighter (in fat) without compromising taste and integrity."

To make a lighter version of turkey gravy, use the brown bits at the bottom of the pan to flavor your gravy, she suggests. "Don't add too much of the actual fat, because the flavor is in the brown bits... not so much the 'drippings.' For creamy gravy, I use fat-free half-and-half or low-fat or whole milk instead of real half-and-half."

Magee's book Tell Me What to Eat if I Have Acid Reflux offers these suggestions:

When we cut fat, we cut calories and heartburn, Magee tells WebMD. "The dish still tastes great, so there's still a feeling of satisfaction."

Her stuffing recipe, for instance, uses much less butter than traditional recipes -- with chicken broth serving as the substitute. Also, her recipe doesn't use spicy sausage. "Both the spices and the fatty sausage can be problematic for people," Magee tells WebMD. "A traditional recipe for dressing would have twice the fat that's in my recipe."

Here's another tip: When going to a potluck, take a "safe" dish - one you know you can eat without heartburn trouble. "You'll know there's at least one thing there you can eat," Magee says.

Here are three recipes from recipe doctor Elaine Magee, MPH, RD.

Creamy Green Bean Bake
Journal as: 1 cup vegetables without fat + 1/2 cup broth-based soup
OR 1/2 cup vegetable without fat + 1/2 cup vegetable with 1 tsp fat
OR 1/2 cup hearty stew, chili, or bean soup

4 cups lightly cooked French-style frozen green beans
10-3/4 oz.-can condensed Healthy Request cream of mushroom soup (or similar)
1/2 cup fat-free or light sour cream
1 tbsp diced pimento (optional)
1/4 cup canned chow mein fried noodles

Makes 6 servings.

Per serving: 102 calories, 4 g protein, 16 g carbohydrates, 2 gram fat, 2 mg cholesterol, 3 g fiber, 337 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 20%.

O'Brien Potato Casserole
Journal as: 1/2 cup starchy foods & legumes without added fat

2 lbs. Ore-Ida Potatoes O'Brien (about 8 cups)
2 cups fat-free or light sour cream
6 green onions, white and part of green, finely chopped
10 3/4 oz.-can Healthy Request condensed cream of mushroom soup (or similar)
1/2 cup low-fat milk
2 tbsp butter sprinkles (such as Molly McButter)
8 oz. shredded reduced-fat sharp cheddar cheese
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp pepper
2 oz. reduced-fat Ruffles potato chips, crushed (optional)

Makes 16 servings.

Per serving: 115 calories, 7 g protein, 14.5 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat, 1 g fiber, 10 mg cholesterol, 308 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 26%.

Cranberry Walnut Dressing
Journal as: 1/2 cup starchy foods & legumes with fat + 1/2 cup vegetables without added fat + 1 teaspoon jam, jelly, honey or syrup
OR 1/2 cup starchy foods & legumes with fat + 1/2 cup unsweetened canned fruit in juice

(Eliminate onions if they are one of your heartburn trigger foods.)

1 1/2 cups finely sliced celery heart
1 1/2 cups chopped onion (1 large onion)
3 tbsp butter or canola margarine
1 cup reduced-sodium chicken broth (liquid)
16 oz.-can whole berry cranberry sauce
4 tsp. or cubes of low-sodium chicken broth (powder)
2 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth (liquid)
3/4 tsp. ground sage
1 tsp. thyme
1/2 tsp. ground pepper
14 oz. (about 8 cups) herb-seasoned bread cubes for stuffing
2/3 cups walnuts, toasted for 1 minute under broiler to lightly brown

Makes about 16 servings of 1 cup per person.

Per serving: 200 calories, 4.5 g protein, 32.5 g carbohydrates, 5.8 g fat, 6 mg cholesterol, 415 mg sodium. Calories from fat: 26%.

Source: WebMD Health

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