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Cut fat to make a difference in holiday cooking

MILWAUKEE, WI — Some holiday changes are harder to hide than others. For instance, if the traditional 12 Days of Christmas were suddenly reduced to the Six Days of Christmas, we’d all notice.

It’s easy to make subtle changes in holiday food preparation, especially in recipes that use high-fat ingredients such as butter or whipping cream.

Over time, repeated with consistency, those subtle changes become delightfully pronounced as healthy eaters lose weight.

Fat has more than twice the calories of other foods, according to Ann Ruelle, RD, CD, CLSC, registered dietitian, educator and nutrition consultant for TOPS Club, Inc. (Take Off Pounds Sensibly).

Ruelle says it makes sense to curb fat in daily diets when controlling calories to achieve or maintain weight loss.

TOPS offers a few cooking tips from Ruelle to get healthy eaters through the holidays.

For starters, instead of using 1 cup of butter when cooking or baking, use ½ cup of butter plus ½ cup of applesauce, other fruit sauce or baby food.

However, Ruelle cautions, if cooks replace all butter in a recipe with pureed fruit they will sacrifice taste, texture and appearance.

Some flavor ideas to consider: prune puree pairs well with chocolate, spice and carrot cakes; mashed bananas work nicely in carrot or banana cake or muffins.

Also, 1 cup of whipping cream can be replaced in one of three ways:

• 1 cup of very cold skim milk whipped with 1 tablespoon of flour,

• 1 cup of very cold whipped evaporated skim milk, or

• ½ cup of low-fat yogurt mixed with ½ cup of low-fat, salt-free cottage cheese.

To replace cream in cream soup, Ruelle suggests thickening with mashed potatoes or cooked rice. First, blend the potatoes or rice with a little soup and then stir the mixture back into the soup pot; it will have a great texture without the guilt.

To replace 1 cup of sour cream, mix 1 cup of low-fat cottage cheese with 2 tablespoons of skim milk and 1 tablespoon of lemon juice, or simply use fat-free sour cream, Ruelle says.

TOPS, the nation’s oldest nonprofit weight-loss education and support organization, is celebrating 60 years of weight-loss support and success in 2008.

Founded and headquartered in Milwaukee, TOPS promotes successful weight management with a philosophy that combines healthy eating, regular exercise, wellness education and support from others at weekly chapter meetings.

TOPS has nearly 180,000 members in almost 10,000 chapters throughout the United States and Canada, and several chapters in Europe.

Visitors are welcome to attend their first TOPS meeting free of charge. The Fallbrook group meets on Fridays at 9:30 a.m. at FPUD, 990 East Mission Road. Call (760) 728-4201.


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