Studies show Americans gain between 5 to 8 pounds during the fall thru winter food fest holidays. It’s a yearly cycle that brings us temporary enjoyment then; despair as we begin to feel our pant waists become tighter along with unsightly, muffin top bulge. Many of us are unclear about how to prepare cost-cutting, healthy, low Calorie, low-fat meals without sacrificing taste and flavor.

I’ve consulted with my friend Registered Dietitian, Robyn Goldberg, R.D.,, for some healthy holiday meal makeover tips and recipes that are quick and easy. These Calorie and cost cutting tips and recipes will make you the star of your holiday gathering and have all your girlfriends asking for your healthy holiday meal makeover secrets!

Planning creamy sauces and dips can be done the “skinny” way by using nonfat dairy products or using extra firm, low-fat tofu. Tofu has a consistency that is easily implemented in desserts, puddings, whipped toppings, frostings, dressings, and creamed sauces. Soymilk and rice milk may also be used in place of full fat or reduced fat dairy products. De-fatting the turkey and stuffing are key healthy steps for serving lean poultry. While the bird is resting after cooking, put the pan drippings in the freezer for 20 minutes. The fat will congeal on the top for easy removal. Bake the stuffing in a casserole dish instead of in the turkey where it absorbs animal fat. Baste the turkey with low sodium broth instead of fatty drippings.

Roasting vegetables enhances and intensifies their flavor because it concentrates the natural sugars. Cut the veggies into wedges or strips then, season with fresh herbs such as rosemary, sage, thyme, and/or oregano and brush lightly with good quality extra virgin olive oil. Bake at 400 degrees for 40 minutes or until fork tender. Using canola oil instead of margarine or extra virgin olive oil for salad dressing are healthy alternatives for butter or hydrogenated, trans-fat bottled dressings and marinades.

When you are cooking meals frequently tasting will add Calories and inches to your waistline. A great idea to cut Calories during cooking is to serve crudities of fresh veggies for you during the cooking day (then, later to your guests). This will help fill you and your guests up—not out. Other great low Calorie, low-fat appetizer ideas include low fat hummus with baked pita triangles or a reduced fat cracker with your favorite low-fat spread. Try making fun and colorful fruit or veggie kabobs with your favorite seasonal fruits and veggies, which will be taste best are they are freshest and most budget friendly as they are in season. Pick deeply the colored fruit and vegetables because they are highest in vitamins, minerals, and cancer fighting nutrients.

Dessert is always a hot topic over the holidays. Pies are commonly seen at various events. I recommend my healthy and delicious Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust that is only 125 Calories per slice or substitute a fresh fruit cobbler to satisfy to your sweet tooth without sacrificing taste.

Here is a healthy holiday makeover meal from Robyn:

Original Menu. Leaner Menu

3 ounces roast duck ☛3 ounces roast turkey breast

½ cup stuffing ☛½ cup rice pilaf

½ cup broccoli with hollandaise sauce ☛½ cup broccoli with lemon juice

½ cup jellied cranberry sauce ☛½ cup fresh cranberry relish

1 medium crescent roll ☛1 fresh whole wheat roll

1 slice pecan pie 1 slice ☛pumpkin pie with pecan crust*

Total Calories=1,205 ☛Total Calories=700

Total Fat-55 grams ☛Total Fat=19 grams

Robyn’s Green Bean Casserole


3, 10 ounce packages frozen French cut green beans, thawed and drained
1, 10 ¾ ounce can condensed low-fat cream of mushroom soup
½ cup nonfat sour cream
¼ tsp. ground black pepper
1 ½ medium onion, thinly sliced and separated into rings
4 T. nonfat or reduced-fat Parmesan cheese, grated
2 T. Italian breadcrumbs


1. In a large bowl, combine green beans, mushroom soup, sour cream, pepper, and mix well.Coat a 2-quart casserole dishes with nonstick cooking spray then, place the green bean mixture in the dish, arranging the onion rings evenly over the top.
2. Combine the Parmesan cheese and breadcrumbs together in a small bowl then, sprinkle over the onions.
3. Bake at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 50 minutes or until the green bean mixture is bubbly and the top is lightly browned. Serve hot.
Yields: 10 servings. Serving size: ½ cup. Nutritional content: 51 Calories, 0.6g fat, 2.8g protein

Celery Root Purée

If you’re concerned about cutting carbs this holiday season, you may want to consider substituting celery root for mashed potatoes this year at your table. Coming in at only 8 grams of carbohydrates per cup versus a whopping 24 grams per cup (raw and cooked is 29 grams per cup…yikes!!!), celery root’s drastically lower carb stat is a compelling attention getter. Although homely in appearance celeriac, commonly called celery root, is a root vegetable that has a delicate blended taste of celery and parsley with a slight hint of nuttiness. It is extremely low in cholesterol and is a good source of dietary fiber, vitamin B6, magnesium, potassium and manganese, and a great wintertime source of vitamin C and phosphorus.


1 ½ cups low fat, 2% milk (do NOT use skim or 1%)
1 ½ cups water
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 large celery root (about 1 ¼ pound total), peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
1 large cooking potato, peeled, cut into 2-inch cubes
(I prefer Yukon gold, because of their buttery taste)
½ small onion, peeled, quartered
3 T. butter
Salt and pepper to taste
Pinch of fresh ground nutmeg
Chopped fresh chives (optional)


1. Bring milk, water, and salt just to boil in heavy large saucepan over high heat. Add to the pan celery root, potato, and onion; bring to boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer until vegetables are tender, about 30 minutes. Drain and discard cooking liquid.
2. If you have a hand blender, add the butter to the saucepan and purée the vegetables. Or if you prefer, combine vegetables and butter in processor and puree until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper.
Top with freshly chopped chives, if desired.
Serving size: 1/2 cup. Serves: 4

Linda’s Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Crust

This delicious pumpkin pie recipe is only 125 Calories per piece! Plus, it’s really simple and time saving recipe, which I love because there are so many other dishes to make for Thanksgiving dinner. I recommend serving with a 1 T dollop of nonfat whipped real dairy crème, as it is a “free food”.


sportswear for women1 cup graham cracker crumbs
2 T. pecans, toasted and ground
1 T. unsweetened applesauce
2 whole eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
¾ cup evaporated skim milk
¼ cup apple juice concentrate
¼ cup brown sugar
¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground ginger
pinch ground cloves
pinch salt
12 pecan halves
1 tsp. maple syrup
nonfat whipped real dairy crème

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.


1. In a medium bowl, combine graham cracker crumbs with pecans and applesauce. Spray a 9” pie plate with low-fat cooking spray. Press into the bottom and halfway up the sides of a 9” pie plate. Set aside.
2. Combine remaining ingredients, except pecan halves and syrup, in a large bowl. Mix until well blended.Pour pumpkin mixture into piecrust.
3. Bake for 20 to 30 minutes or until a knife inserted in the middle comes out clean. Refrigerate pie when cool; cut into 12 equal pieces.
4. In a small bowl, coat pecan halves with syrup. Transfer to a baking sheet sprayed with low-fat cooking spray and bake pecans at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 4 to 5 minutes. Remove from oven. Place one pecan on the outer edge of each slice of pie along with a 1 T. dollop of nonfat whipped real dairy crème.
Yields: 8 servings. Serving size: 1 piece. Nutritional content: 125 Calories, 5g fat, 4g protein, 17g carbohydrates, 4g fiber, 81mg sodium. Stores in fridge for up to 4 days.