The holidays are upon us once again, and as we know, sticking to our diets with all the tempting treats and goodies around can prove to be oh-so-difficult.
That’s why we were excited to speak to lovable Chef Fabio Viviani (host of Yahoo!’s “Chow Ciao”) to get the scoop on how to make our holiday’s a little bit healthier, so we can have less regrets come January…but still have just as much fun!
According to Viviani, one great alternative is to use olive oil and spices instead of butter.
“Season and baste your turkey with Italian herbs like rosemary, sage, thyme and garlic,” Viviani recommends. “Then drizzle with olive oil. You’ll have all the flavor but without all the calories!”
To reduce your fat intake even more, be sure to remove the skin and choose white meat over dark. You can also make a low-fat stuffing by omitting butter, using fat-free broth or yogurt instead of heavy creams, and lean turkey or chicken sausage instead of pork sausage.
“The reality is there is really no way to make your holiday completely fat-free, but there are definitely things you can do to cook with less calories,” Viviani says.
With Viviani’s healthy tips in mind, here are a few holiday recipes that will make us say “Ciao Chow” to unwanted calories and expanding waistlines. Read on for more!
Low-Fat Pumpkin Soup
Ingredients (makes 6 small servings):
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 onion, chopped
1 kg pumpkin flesh, chopped (butternut is great)
3 sprigs fresh rosemary
4 cups chicken stock or 4 cups vegetable stock
3 bay leaves
1 cup skim milk powder
1. In a large saucepan, heat olive oil and gently cook onion without browning, for 3-4 minutes.
2. Add pumpkin, carrot and rosemary and cook, stirring for 2-3 minutes.
3. Add stock and bay leaves.
4. Bring to the boil, cover and simmer for 12-15 minutes until vegetables are tender.
5. Remove any rosemary stalks and bay leaves.
6. Place a third of the soup in the blender and a third of the skim milk powder and puree.
7. Pour into a large bowl.
8. Repeat with the remaining soup and milk powder and pour the whole lot back into the saucepan, heat through and serve.
9. For Vegetarian, use vegetable stock.
Chef Viviani’s tip: Serve pumpkin soup in small martini glasses for a fun, tasty alternative to a starchy appetizer.
Chef Viviani’s Roasted Broccoli
Ingredients (serves 6):
4 to 5 pounds broccoli
4 to 6 tablespoons olive oil
4 tablespoons pine nuts, toasted
½ cup light parmesan cheese
Pepperoncinis to taste
Salt and pepper to season
1. Cut and wash the broccoli into chunky florets.
2. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
3. In a sheet pan or baking dish, arrange broccoli in a single layer. Add the pepperoncinis, pine nuts, parmesan and then drizzle with olive oil. Season with salt and pepper.
4. Roast for 20 minutes or until broccoli has browned a bit.
Chef Viviani’s tip: There’s no need to make a heavy, creamed broccoli with this healthier recipe! Roasting is a great alternative to still have all the taste but without the fat.
Chef Viviani’s Healthier Sweet Potatoes
Ingredients (serves 6):
2 tablespoons olive oil
3 large sweet potatoes
A few pinches of salt and fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Drizzle the bottom of a glass or non-stick baking dish with olive oil, just enough to coat.
2. Wash and peel the sweet potatoes. Cut them in half and place them in the baking dish. Drizzle with a bit more olive oil, then add salt and fresh ground pepper to taste.
3. Bake in oven for 60 minutes or until soft.
Chef Viviani’s tip: Forget the fattening marshmallows and brown sugar. Sweet potatoes can be healthy if you prepare them without all those high-calorie extras.
Low-Fat Pumpkin Custard Dessert
Ingredients (serves 8):
¾ tsp. stevia extract
1¼ cups evaporated fat-free milk, canned
¾ tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. sea salt
¼ tsp. ginger
3 large eggs
1 ¾ cup canned pumpkin
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray ramekins with canola oil cooking spray. Mix and dissolve stevia in evaporated milk and set aside.
2. Combine dry spices in small bowl. With electric mixer, beat eggs and pumpkin into dry spices. Mix thoroughly.
3. Gradually add stevia and milk mixture into egg and pumpkin mixture and stir until incorporated.
4. Pour into eight fou-ounce ramekins and place them in a large casserole dish filled halfway with hot water. Bake for 25 minutes or until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean. Let cool and refrigerate.
Chef Viviani’s tip: Stevia is a wonderful substitute for sugar. It’s all-natural and has way less calories, but still tastes the same. You can also substitute olive oil for butter in many cases; just make sure to consult a cooking conversion chart first.
Be sure to check out Fabio Viviani on Yahoo!’s “Chow Ciao” every week for more of his incredible cooking ideas!
About Kristen Aldridge
Kristen Aldridge lends her pop culture expertise to Yahoo! as host of "omg! NOW." Receiving millions of hits per day, the hugely popular daily entertainment news program is one of the most-watched on the web. As a seasoned entertainment journalist, pop culture expert, fashion addict and lover of all things creative, she is founder of positivelycelebrity.com and recently launched her own celeb-inspired fashion line and smartphone app. Connect with Kristen to talk all things celebrity via Twitter and Facebook, or visit her official website.