Being the cook and watching your families waistlines isn't any easy task. Feasting on holidays is an age  old tradition and everyone has their favorites- usually loaded with fat and calories. So how do we feed our families and not stuff them like the turkey? In days past a day of feasting was not a problem. When the day was over we returned to a more meager fair, home cooked meals with lots of fresh produce.


Cutting the fat and calories in today's holiday dinner doesn't mean doing without, or serving a meal devoid of taste. In fact quite the opposite. Here are some things that will help keep the favor yet cut the calories.


Starting with the bird. Today's turkeys are pre-basted so why add calories with oil or butter based fats. To enrich the flavor of the bird and the gravy without the fat add several sprigs of fresh rosemary, sage and 2-3 bay leaves. When it's time to make the gravy pour off the drippings and allow then to cool to warm. Pour the drippings into a zip lock plastic bag. Snip open a bottom corner of the bag and allow  the juices to drain and  leave the fat in the bag.


Use clarified butter instead of butter or margarine to dress vegetables. Clarifying butter cuts out the milk solids and reduces the calories by 10 percent. To clarify: heat butter slowly. When the butter separates skim off the foamy top and use the buttery flavored oil left behind.


Oven roast your vegetables on a cookie sheet sprayed with cooking spray or greased with olive oil. Sprinkle with an herb blend or Mrs. Dash. These vegetables won't need dressing with butter.


Boil potatoes in one half water and one half chicken stock. When done pour off the liquid- save it and then add it back to reach the consistency desired. Add pressed garlic and a small amount of clarified butter. Yogurt instead of milk reduces calories and adds a rich flavor to mashed potatoes.


Make your own salad dressings with pure olive oil and fresh vinegars. Two tablespoons, (the average serving size) of a bottled dressing contains 2-3 times the calories compared to a simple oil, vinegar dressing. 


Use pure maple syrup to sweeten pies, yams, cookies & breads where the recipe calls for sugar or brown sugar. Maple syrup is a natural whole food that contains only 32 calories per 2 ounce serving. Be sure to reduce liquids when substituting dry sugars for maple syrup.


Try using ready made sheets of phylo-dough for individual fruit turnovers instead of pie crust. Phylo- dough is high in calories but it is less dense and therefore has fewer calories per serving.


Happy and healthy Thanksgiving everyone! Till next time, Rebecca.