Food has long been the centerpiece of celebrations.  Win a victory—prepare a feast, get married—have a banquet, observe a holiday—enjoy a buffet. In biblical times when a prodigal son returned home or some other reason to rejoice with food presented itself, the host always asked for a fattened calf to be brought—not a lean chicken, right? That is because fat equals flavor.

You and I are free to enjoy an over-the-top meal from time to time too, but with so many of us struggling with over-the-top (of our pants) waistlines, it may be time for a little “nip and tuck” of our menus this holiday season.

While we have been trained that fat equals flavor, I must say that spices, herbs, and fresh citrus can often rival fat in the flavor category. Now I am not suggesting you go to the extreme and remove all the holiday indulgences from your table. I am simply suggesting that you look over your traditional menu and see where you might substitute fresh flavors for fatty side dishes or heavy mainstays.

Here are some suggestions/substitutions for your holiday spread:


Instead of…                                                        Try this…

Green bean casserole                                    Steam green beans, tossed with lemon zest (and a pat of butter)

Sweet potato casserole                                 Oven bake sweet potato and apple slices topped with cinnamon

Creamed mushrooms                                   Sauté mushrooms with garlic, shallots and fresh thyme

Stuffing/dressing with sausage                  Substitute poultry sausage, shredded yellow apples, fresh sage

Mashed white potatoes with gravy            Mash half white with half sweet potatoes (cook separately)—So much flavor you won’t need gravy!


As my Sicilian grandfather used to say before we dug into our holiday feasts—MANGIA!

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