Favorite Holiday Recipes Made Healthy

Cooking demo

Cooking with KBR Employees

As discussed in my last blog Rules for Healthy, Delicious Recipe Substitutions, there is a science behind making recipe substitutions, and I’ve applied several of those to some of my favorite holiday recipes listed below.

This green bean casserole has 160 calories and 85 mg of sodium in a one cup serving vs 283 calories and 780 mg of sodium in a typical recipe that uses cream of mushroom soup. You might think that using a fat-free substitute would be a healthier alternative; however, substituting fat-free soup only reduces the calories to 268 and adds 718 mg of sodium!  My modified Eating Well recipe offers 7 grams of fiber and only 85 mg of sodium per serving. You’ll also get the benefit of vitamins C, D, folate plus the minerals calcium and potassium.

 Green Beans Fresh Herbs and Onions Casserole

Makes: 8 servings      Prep Time: 40 min     Cook Time: 50 min


2 ½ pound green beans, trimmed and cut into 1-2 inch pieces

3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil  Green Bean Casserole pic

1 large onion, thinly sliced

3-5 Tbsp whole white wheat flour

¼ tsp pepper

½ Tbsp fresh chopped sage

½ Tbsp fresh thyme leaves

2 ½ cups low-fat milk

1 ½ cups fresh whole wheat bread crumbs, crumbled


  1. Position racks in upper and lower third of oven. Pre-heat oven to 425°F.
  2. Place prepared green beans in large bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Divide the beans between 2 baking sheets and spread out evenly. Roast 10 minutes, stirring halfway through and then switch pans. Roast 10 additional minutes or until beans start to brown. Remove from the oven.
  3. While beans are cooking, heat 1 Tbsp of olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add onion slices and cook until soft and brown. Add flour, pepper, sage, and thyme and stir for 1 minute. Slowly stir in milk and cook about 4 minutes or until sauce thickens. Add more flour if needed.
  4. Pre-heat the broiler. Place one pan of beans into a 2-quart casserole dish. Put half of sauce over beans. Spread 2nd pan of beans over sauce. Add remaining sauce and spread evenly.
  5. Place breadcrumbs in a small bowl and toss with 1 Tbsp of olive oil. Distribute breadcrumbs evenly over green beans.
  6. Put the casserole dish under the broiler and cook until the breadcrumbs brown.

 Chipotle Sweet Potato Casserole

Makes: 12 servings              Prep Time: 45 min           Cook Time: 30 min

A typical sweet potato casserole has 258 calories in a 1/2 cup serving due to a generous amount of butter, brown sugar and marshmallows.  This modified Smart Balance® original recipe reduces the calories to 140 per 1/2 cup.  The dish is a good source of vitamins A and C, and it provides you with calcium, magnesium, potassium, and phosphorous.



Chipotle Sweet potatoes pic [FILLING]

3 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and chopped

3 Tbsp. reduced calorie vegetable oil spread

½ cup evaporated skim milk

1 tsp. vanilla extract

¼ cup dark amber agave nectar

½ Tbsp. chipotle pepper in adobo sauce, minced

Non-stick cooking spray


2 Tbsp. reduced calorie vegetable oil spread

⅓ cup agave nectar

¼ cup pecans, chopped

½ cup whole wheat flour


  1. Peel and chop sweet potatoes. Add potatoes to a pot with enough water to cover. Boil until tender (about 20 minutes).
  2. Drain sweet potatoes & put in a blender. Add remaining ingredients to the blender, then purée until smooth.
  3. Lightly spray pie dish with non-stick spray and pour purée into pie dish.
  4. Mix the topping ingredients together with a fork and spread evenly over the sweet potatoes.
  5. Bake at 375⁰F for 30 minutes.

Carol’s Healthy Mac & Cheese

All that cheese in a Mac & Cheese recipe brings a good deal of saturated fat.  Substituting fat-free yogurt and cottage cheese for some of the ingredients leaves a great taste and 110 calories in a 1 cup serving vs 400 calories in a typical recipe.

Makes: 16 servings           Prep Time: 15 min           Cook Time: 30-35 min


8 oz. whole grain Penne pasta                                 MAc & Cheese pic

8 oz. 2% sharp Cheddar cheese, shredded

12 oz. 2% low-fat cottage cheese, small curd, drained

8 oz. non-fat plain yogurt

¼ cup Parmesan cheese, low sodium, grated

½ cup dry whole grain bread crumbs

2 Tbsp. Reduced calorie vegetable spread, melted


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees F. Bring a large pot of water to boil, add pasta, and cook until done; drain.
  2. In a large bowl, stir together pasta, all cheeses and yogurt and then spread into a 9 in. pie pan.
  3. In a small bowl, mix together bread crumbs and melted vegetable spread. Sprinkle topping over macaroni.
  4. Bake 30-35 minutes or until top is golden.

Whole Grain Carrot and Spice Cake

Makes: 24 (1.8 oz) servings           Prep Time: 60 min           Cook Time: 35-40 min

Skip the cream cheese, butter and sugar and still have a delicious, moist carrot cake from this modified Jane Brody recipe. You can reduce your calories from 575 for a 1.8 oz serving to 140 calories.  You will also get 66% of your vitamin A for the day with this healthy dessert!

Whole Grain Carrot Spice CakeIngredients:

4 cups carrots, grated

½ cup water

1 cup Stevia for baking

¾ cup vegetable oil spread (70-80% fat)

1.5 cup whole-wheat flour

1 cup enriched white flour

½ tsp. freshly ground cinnamon

1 tsp baking soda, no added sodium

½ tsp freshly ground dried nutmeg

½ tsp baking powder, no added sodium

2 eggs

½ cup raisins

½ cup chopped walnuts


  1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees after placing the rack in the center of the oven.
  2. Combine carrots, Stevia, water and vegetable spread in a saucepan. Bring to a boil and then reduce the heat. Allow mixture to cook 5-10 minutes.
  3. Sift together the flours, spices, baking powder and baking soda into a mixing bowl.
  4. In a separate bowl, use a mixer to blend 2 eggs. Stir in the cooled carrot mixture.
  5. Fold the flour mixture into the carrot mixture and then fold in the walnuts and raisins. Stir until blended.
  6. Pour into a stick proof Bundt pan that has been sprayed with vegetable oil.
  7. Begin checking firmness after 30 minutes. Cooking time varies depending on the type of sugar substitute used as discussed in the rules for substitution blog.

Enjoy these recipes and create your own healthy versions of your favorite dishes.





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