All Health's Breaking Loose: Health by stealth

What’s on your holiday menu? It seems holiday cooking just keeps getting richer. But there is a way to cook delicious food that will delight your friends and family without the worry of added pounds that make the season even more stressful.

Let’s remind ourselves of what we are dealing with. Calorie counting helps us quantify food. Calories don’t specifically tell us what’s in the food, but they give us an idea of what it might take to burn off that food.

For example, if one cup of turkey stuffing has 360 calories and it’s alongside a six-ounce serving of turkey at 340 calories, we’re already up to 700 calories. Add 300 calories for mashed potatoes and gravy, 150 calories for a half-cup of candied sweet potatoes and 225 for green bean casserole, that brings us up to 1,375. If you are inclined to add a dinner roll at 110 calories and slice of apple pie at 410, we have a new total — drum roll please — 1,895 calories.

For many of us, that’s enough calories for a whole day. And when all those foods hit the belly at the same time, it’s a digestive nightmare that sends you to couch groaning. Keep in mind those calories will need to be used or burned. And if brisk walking burns 100 calories per mile, I’ll let you do the math.

All this in the name of tradition!

But tradition is memorable — it adds to the fun of the holiday menu. And it’s tough to explain to Uncle Larry that his favorite candied yams have been cut from the roster. Or to tell Aunt Lucille she’s not getting her favorite apple pie. So maybe we can’t (without a mutiny) omit the family favorites. But we certainly can lighten them up a bit.

If you make your stuffing by cutting the butter in half and then adding that same amount of chicken broth back in, the difference is almost undetectable. Pumpkin pie made by reducing the sugar a quarter-cup and adding a quarter-cup agave nectar is delicious. Your family won’t know you made the adjustment. Be sure to reduce the cream or milk by one tablespoon so the pie will set nicely.

Rather than add butter and cream to the mashed potatoes, use chicken broth, a little rosemary (a quarter-teaspoon per about eight potatoes) or a hint of onion powder to bring out the flavor of the potato. Do we really need to add sour cream and butter to something that is going to have gravy poured over the top? With a few minor adjustments such as these, you can save hundreds of calories. I guess you could say it’s health by stealth.

Those delicious traditional holiday meals you are looking forward to will be just as delicious, and with a little careful planning, a whole lot lower in calories. And maybe when you make it to the couch post-meal, you’ll be smiling, instead of groaning.

I’ll see you in two weeks.

Love & health,


LOA BLASUCCI is an author and owner of All Health’s Breaking Loose Wellness Retreats. Blasucci’s book, “All Health’s Breaking Loose,” was named a best-pick finalist in the Health: Exercise & Fitness category for 2011 by USA Book News. Find more at

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