Creating healthier holiday food and recipes


Adapted by Jessica Kovarik, RD, LD, former Extension Associate, from material by Susan Mills-Gray and Tammy Roberts, Nutrition and Health Education Specialists, University of Missouri Extension

With a little bit of planning and modification, you can create a healthier version of many holiday foods and recipes.

A recipe is actually a chemical formula and each ingredient has a function that results in the taste, texture and appearance of the end product. It’s important to know what each ingredient does, how it can be changed and by how much in order to keep the final product as close to the original as possible.

Research has shown that when more fiber is added, when fat and cholesterol is reduced, and/or when less sugar and salt is used, most people either don’t notice much difference between the original and healthier version or they accept the new product. So try out some of the suggestions below to makeover your favorite recipes, or try the recipes at the end of the article.

To add fiber
Adding whole grains may not be the first thing you’d consider changing in a recipe, but with the added nutrients such as fiber, potassium and magnesium, adding whole grains is one way to make a food more nutritious. To add more nutrients to your recipes, try baking with whole-grain flour. Be aware that whole grain flours can give a very dense, dry crumb, especially if you use too much.

To learn how to reduce sugar, fat, cholesterol and salt, view the full version of this article at (includes recipes as well)

Check out the extensive list of healthy recipes (including holiday fare) from our MU Extension Nutrition and Health Education Specialists at


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