Trimming The Fat From Holiday Meals

Last week officially marked the beginning of the holiday season – a time to give thanks, spend time with loved ones and plan for the future.

One of the greatest gifts you can give your loved ones is to think about and give firm instructions on how you would like to be treated in your final days. This column is dedicated to Mary Steiner, former chief executive officer of The Outdoor Circle, a position she held for two decades as she worked tirelessly to preserve Hawaii’s beauty.

This summer, Mary became campaign manager for Compassion & Choices Hawaii, a national nonprofit organization that supports, educates and advocates about choice and care at the end of life. Mary’s main goal is to get the word out about its services, which include helping people chart a course for their end of life. Professional end-of-life counselors and trained volunteers work with thousands of clients each year to explain options and offer non-judgmental support.

According to Mary, many people still don’t understand the critical importance of an advance directive. Regardless of age or health status, none of us knows when a future event might leave us unable to speak for ourselves. Speaking now with your loved ones, appointing a representative (health care proxy) and preparing a written record of your wishes are invaluable, and a true gift to yourself and your loved ones. Visit or call 225-4563.

Since the holiday season is the time most of us go to parties and tend to eat more desserts and rich foods, balance this with doing a little more exercise. I like to park in a central area when doing errands, take a wheeled cart with me, and walk more instead of driving from place to place (saves gas, too).

With Thanksgiving just past and Christmas parties on the horizon, try these lower-fat substitutions to trim the fat from your holiday meals.

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

* Use vegetable broth instead of chicken or turkey broth, and look for low sodium on the label.

* Use egg substitute or egg white for whole eggs. As a general rule, two egg whites equal one whole egg in most recipes.

* 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. Plain yogurt also works for many dips and has live cultures for intestinal health.

* Try low-fat or nonfat cheese instead of regular cheese for toppings or in recipes calling for cheese, or simply use less cheese.

* For a lower-fat stuffing, add apples, pear or dried fruit instead of sausage or fatty meat products, and bake in a separate pan to avoid the fat from the turkey dripping into the stuffing.

Happy Thanksgiving!

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