Eating without kilo-gaining consequences



Cut down on calories while still maintaining your food’s flavours by using spice and herb accents instead of butter or cream sauce; trimming fat from meat before cooking it; adding fruit to every dish; and serving seafood and fish.


Good food goes hand-in-hand with hospitality at this time of year, leading us to the constant temptation of high fat, high sugar, and high calorie morsels, finger foods, party snacks, grand feasts, buffets, and sweet treats.

Food specialists tell us, however, that there are plenty of ways to enjoy our share of the holiday fare without kilo-gain consequences. The first place to strengthen our willpower — as well as demonstrate our generosity to others — is in our own kitchens they say.

“For the occasions when you have control of the menu, plan it with the most nutritious of your favourite foods — and that includes finding the healthiest way to cook and serve them,” says Dana McCauley, author of Dana’s Top Ten Table (Harper Collins 2007). “Steam your vegetables, for example, rather than boiling the good taste and nutrients away. Use spices and herbs to add flavour accents, instead of butter or cream sauce. Trim fat from meat before cooking it; look for ways to add fruit to every dish; serve seafood and fish — and don’t forget lots of wholegrain foods for the heart-healthy benefits of B vitamins, minerals, essential fats, and fibre.”

Take a look at a few more menu tips from inside Dana’s kitchen:

• Use wholegrain breads and brown rice for poultry stuffing. Cook stuffing separately from the meat so it doesn’t soak up additional fat.

• Wholegrain brown rice makes a nutritious and tasty side dish, too — and it’s a breeze to cook and serve now that Minute Rice has simplified it. Unlike the practice required to meet the challenges of cooking traditional wholegrain rice, this newest variety is ready and reliably perfect in just a fraction of the time. Its nutritional value is endorsed by the Health Check logo seen prominently on the Minute Rice packaging.

• Consider pureed tofu as a vegetarian alternative to using eggs and dairy products to create a creamy texture. This soy-based, vegan food absorbs added flavours readily. Use the same amount of pureed tofu as any liquid dairy ingredient. To substitute for eggs: use five tablespoons (60 mL) per egg.

• Offer healthy snacks such as fresh or dried figs, cherries and/or grapes in addition to bowls of candy and chocolates for guests.

• Bake pita bread to use with low-fat dips instead of buying chips — and offer lots of raw vegetable strips, too.

• Serve fresh fruit salad for dessert, or use fruit as a topping for cakes, puddings, pies and ice cream.

• When partying yourself, use a smaller plate. Learn to acknowledge your true hunger and appetite. Don’t automatically accept seconds if you know you have had plenty.

Substitution tips

  • Reduce the sugar in muffins and add a small dollop of sugar-free jam or jelly to the centre of the batter.

  • Reduce the sugar in crisps and cobblers and add a pinch of cinnamon or nutmeg to naturally enhance the sweetness of fruit-based desserts. Extracts such as vanilla and almond are also good flavour enhancers.

  • Squeeze citrus juice — lemon, lime, grapefruit or orange — over fresh fruit desserts to enhance their flavour. You save approximately 45 calories with a squeeze of juice rather than a tablespoon of sugar.

  • If a recipe calls for coffee cream or half & half, consider substituting with whole milk or evaporated skim milk.