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Tweak Your Favorite Recipes for a Healthier Holiday Meal

Source: Diabetes Forecast, November 2004 by Robyn Webb

New Twists on the Side: Tweak Your Favorite Recipes for a Healthier Holiday Meal

What’s your favorite part of holiday meals? It’s the side dishes, not the turkey, that make your mouth water, right? Unfortunately, while turkey is a lean, healthful food, traditional sides can expand our own sides if we’re not careful. So, I took the challenge to devise slimmer versions of your favorites: green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, scalloped potatoes, and Waldorf salad. I’m proud to say my testers couldn’t tell the difference between my renditions and the original high-fat, high-sodium versions of these beloved recipes.

I ditched the greasy canned onion rings that usually crown a rich green bean casserole in favor of real onion rings topped with walnuts, Parmesan cheese, and breadcrumbs. The result? All the crunch with none of the guilt.

I sweetened my Cranberry Orange Sauce with Splenda instead of sugar and added zip with flavorful orange zest, cinnamon, cloves, and ginger.

This year, there’s no need to forgo creamy Scalloped Potatoes. My version, as filling and satisfying as you remember, trims them down using 1 percent milk, a whole lot less butter, and just a small amount of cheese. For a buttery natural flavor, try Yukon Gold potatoes.

And finally, Waldorf Salad always a favorite. I’ve slimmed it down with reduced-fat mayonnaise and added nonfat sour cream for richness. With its immensely satisfying, crunchy, and healthful apples, celery, and walnuts, this is definitely a keeper for your holiday menu.

Green Bean Casserole Redux


2 (10-Oz.) packages frozen French-cut green beans, thawed and well drained
1 (10 3/4-Oz.) can condensed low-fat, reduced-sodium cream of mushroom soup
1/4 tsp ground black pepper
1 onion, thinly sliced into rings
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese
1 1/2 tbsp Italian-style breadcrambs


Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large bowl, combine green beans, mushroom soup, and pepper. Toss to mix gently. Coat a 2-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Place the green bean mixture into the casserole. Arrange the onion rings on top of the green beans. Sprinkle the casserole with walnuts, cheese, and breadcrumbs. Bake for about 40 to 45 minutes until bubbly and lightly browned on top.

Makes 6 (1/2 cup) Servings.

Dietary Exchanges: Carbohydrate Exchanges 0.5; Vegetable Exchanges 1; Fat Exchanges 1

Nutrients Per Serving:
112 Calories
48 Calories From Fat
5 g Total Fat
1 g Saturated Fat
3 mg Cholesterol
268 mg Sodium
14 g Total Carbohydrate
4 g Dietary Fiber
5 g Sugars
4 g Protein


Cranberry Orange Sauce


2 cups fresh cranberries
2 cups water
2/3 cup Splenda (granular)
2 tsp grated orange zest
1 (3-inch) cinnamon stick
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp ground ginger


Combine all ingredients in a large heavy saucepan. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat, and simmer for 45 minutes until thick. Discard the cinnamon and mash cranberries slightly with a potato masher. Cover and refrigerate for at least 1 hour.

Makes 8 (1/4 cup) Servings.

Dietary Exchanges: Fruit Exchanges 0.5

Nutrients Per Serving:
20 Calories
1 Calories From Fat
0 g Total Fat
0 g Saturated Fat
0 mg Cholesterol
0 mg Sodium
5 g Total Carbohydrate
1 g Dietary Fiber
4 g Sugars
0 g Protein


Scalloped Potatoes


2 medium potatoes, peeled and thinly sliced
1 small onion, chopped
2 tsp flour
Salt and pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups 1 percent milk
1 tsp light, soft tub margarine
2 tbsp Parmesan cheese


Preheat oven or toaster oven to 350 degrees. Place half the potatoes in a baking dish. Scatter the onion over them. Sprinkle with flour, salt, and pepper. Place remaining potatoes on top of the onions. Heat the milk to simmer. Pour the milk over the potatoes, dot with margarine, and sprinkle with cheese. Bake for about 1 hour until potatoes are tender.

Makes 4 (1/2 cup) Servings.

Dietary Exchanges: Starch Exchanges 1; Fat-Free Milk Exchanges 0.5

Nutrients Per Serving:
123 Calories
22 Calories From Fat
2 g Total Fat
1 g Saturated Fat
8 mg Cholesterol
122 mg Sodium
20 g Total Carbohydrate
2 g Dietary Fiber
7 g Sugars
6 g Protein


Waldorf Salad, Slimmed Down


4 red-skinned apples of choice, unpeeled, cored and diced
1 cup sliced celery
1/4 cup raisins
1/4 cup toasted walnuts
1/2 cup reduced-fat mayonnaise
1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
2 tsp. fresh lemon juice
Dash of cinnamon
Romaine lettuce leaves


In a large bowl, mix together the apples, celery, raisins, and walnuts. Combine the mayonnaise, sour cream, lemon juice, and cinnamon. Pour the dressing over the apple combination and mix well. Serve on a lettuce-lined platter.

Makes 8 (1/2 cup) Servings.

Dietary Exchanges: Fruit Exchanges 1; Fat Exchanges 1.5

Nutrients Per Serving:
137 Calories
69 Calories From Fat
8 g Total Fat
1 g Saturated Fat
5 mg Cholesterol
144 mg Sodium
18 g Total Carbohydrate
3 g Dietary Fiber
12 g Sugars
1 g Protein