Holiday Recipe Alternatives

Holiday Recipe Alternatives

Something I hear almost every day is “every get together and celebration involves food.” Sound familiar?! During this time of year, overindulging becomes easy, and we allow ourselves to enjoy “treats” more often because it’s the holidays. Practice mindfulness this time of year by selecting the treats you really love and eat them when not distracted by a phone, computer, or television set. Also, it never hurts to try to make your holiday favorites a little healthier!

Here are some ingredient alternatives to lighten up your fully-loaded holiday dishes.


Healthier Alternative

 Sugar  Reduce amount by ¼ cup OR
Replace half the amount with unsweetened applesauce
 Butter  Replace 1 stick with ½ stick + ¼ cup unsweetened applesauce
 Oil  Replace with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce, pureed pumpkin or beans, or mashed banana
 Heavy cream  Replace with an equal amount of evaporated milk
 Whole milk  Replace with an equal amount of 1% or 2%
 All-purpose flour  Use half all-purpose and half whole wheat
 Mayonnaise and Sour cream  Replace with an equal amount of nonfat plain yogurt
 Whole egg  Replace with 2 egg whites
 Cheese  Replace with an equal amount of the 2% variety
 Cream cheese  Replace with an equal amount of Neufchatel cheese, whipped cream cheese, or pureed low-fat cottage cheese

Lightened Up Holiday Cheese Ball

Serve this festive crowd-pleasing appetizer with whole grain crackers or sliced raw veggies (bell pepper or carrot strips, cucumber slices, or celery sticks).

Makes 20 servings (adapted from


  • 1 pound Neufchatel cheese, at room temperature
  • 2 cups reduced fat feta cheese
  • 2 tsp Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • ½ cup roasted red bell peppers or sundried tomatoes, drained and finely chopped
  • ½ cup fresh parsley, finely chopped
  • ¼ cup fresh chives, finely chopped


  1. Line the inside of a Bundt pan with plastic wrap. Process the Neufchatel cheese, feta, Worcestershire sauce, salt and pepper into a food processor until smooth. Empty the mixture into a bowl and fold in the peppers/tomatoes.
  2. Spoon the mixture into the Bundt pan, packing in and spreading into an even layer, covering with plastic wrap. Refrigerate for at least one hour or up to 2 days.
  3. Invert the mold onto a platter. Sprinkle with parsley and chives to coat the wreath.

We used reduced fat cream cheese and reduced fat feta cheese to decrease the calories. We also cut back on the portion size by increasing the number of servings provided. Eating with veggies will also keep your calories low.