Lightening Up Holiday Meals

Diana Helfand
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Wednesday - December 19, 2007
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Ami Mickelwait and DiAnna Marlerwith a holiday table setting at  Kailua Beachwalk
Ami Mickelwait and DiAnna Marlerwith a holiday table setting at Kailua Beachwalk

Gail Allen seems to have endless energy! On Oahu she is the owner of Kailua Beachwalk, which has distinctive clothing, gifts and items for your holiday table; Island Treasures Gallery, with more than 800 Hawaii artists represented; So Kailua, with Kailuathemed clothing, swimwear and gifts; and Red Bamboo, with unique furniture and housewares. Gail also is currently opening another Beachwalk on the island of Lanai!

Juanilla Lubrano and Gail have been friends for more than 25 years. Juanilla is a former Los Angeles designer and will be working with Gail to design handmade pillows, quilts and gift items.

The holiday table setting is as important as the food, and you can see an array of unusual and creative pieces to enhance your dining experience at the stores. This column is dedicated to Gail, a hard-working entrepreneur who is truly a wonder woman!

We are in the midst of the official “go off the diet season,” but if you want a few tips on how to lighten up your Christmas meal without too much sacrifice, here are some substitutions to trim the fat from your holiday meal.

* Substitute low-fat margarine, such as Smart Balance without trans fats, for butter in your recipes.

* Use egg substitute or egg whites in stuffing and for baking. General rule is two egg whites equal one whole egg in most recipes.

* Use vegetable broth with low sodium instead of chicken or turkey broth.

* Use low-fat, skim or evaporated milk instead of whole milk or cream. Whole milk contains 8 grams of fat per 1 cup serving; skim contains 0 grams.

* Use low fat or nonfat sour cream for dips instead of regular sour cream.

* Try low-fat or nonfat cheeses for toppings or to serve with vegetables or crackers.

If you are planning a turkey for Christmas, here’s a lower-fat stuffing that always gets raves at my house.

Merry Christmas!


* 2 1/2 cups low-fat, low-sodium vegetable broth

* 3 Maui onions, fine dice

* 3 cups diced whole-grain bread

* 3 cups cornbread

* 1/2 cup diced sweet apples

* 1/2 cup diced pears

* 1/2 cup dried cranberries

* 1/2 teaspoon allspice

* 1 teaspoon cinnamon

* 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg

* 4 egg whites, beaten until frothy

In a skillet over medium-high heat, heat 1/2 cup of the vegetable broth. Add the onions and cook for 10 minutes until onions have softened. In a large bowl, combine the cooked onions, remaining broth, breads, fruit, spices and egg whites. Mix well. Place mixture inside the cavity of a turkey or place it in a greased casserole dish. If stuffing is to be baked separately, cover casserole dish with foil and place in a pre-heated 350-degree oven. Bake for 45 minutes and uncover. Continue baking for about 15 minutes or until top is lightly browned.

Makes 12 1/2-cup servings.

Nutrition information per serving:

Calories: 95 Fat: 2 grams Sodium: 190 milligrams (if using store bought cornbread will vary)

Cholesterol: 1 milligram

(Diana Helfand, author of “Hawaii Light and Healthy” and “The Best of Heart-y Cooking,” has taught nutrition in the Kapiolani Community College culinary arts program.)

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