Kara Young, University of Kansas Medical Center dietetics intern, shares the delicious result of her project.
With the holidays quickly approaching, my project at KC Healthy Kids is to create healthier versions of traditional holiday recipes. Typically, holiday foods are known for lots of calories, sugar, sodium, and fat. According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American can consume approximately 4500 calories and 229 grams of fat when eating the traditional holiday meal and snacks. This is more than double the recommended amount of calories for the average person! My main goal for the project was to swap the high calorie, high sugar, high sodium, and high fat-containing ingredients for healthier alternatives that wouldn’t compromise flavor. However, I also wanted to make sure the recipes low cost and light-weight (only requiring one shopping bag worth of ingredients!). That’s because many residents in the Kansas City area rely on public transit to get to grocery stores.
To begin this project, I asked my mom to send me recipes for some of my family’s favorite holiday dishes. I quickly saw there were many changes to be made. Butter and sugar were the main two culprits, but several others were present as well. Needless to say, I had my work cut out for me to find more nutritious, yet equally satisfying, alternatives. Through seemingly endless brainstorming, I revised each recipe. On paper, they all looked to be nourishing and full of flavor. However, we all know things may not always what they seem. So, my next step was to actually go shopping for the ingredients and test each recipe.
Leslie Wilson, policy assistant for KC Healthy Kids, and I shopped for three recipes that had multiple ingredients in common. We went to two different stores that had bus stops, because we wanted to ensure that our target audience would be able to find all of the ingredients at the stores that were easiest to get to. We successfully found all the ingredients I needed for just under $32.
Also, to our surprise, the ingredients for all three recipes fit into one shopping bag. It was pretty heavy, though, so I split the ingredients between two bags and found it both comfortable and easy to carry. Our grocery shopping experience proved successful, as we had met both of the criteria for the shopping aspect of my project.
At this point, I was thrilled to be able to finally test out the recipes that I had re-created. Though nervous to try them at first (could you imagine having to re-create recipes that had already been re-created?), I can confidently say that each exceeded my expectations and proved to be delicious, lower-calorie, healthy alternatives to the traditional versions I was used to seeing on our holiday table.
Yes, the holidays are a time for us to indulge and enjoy celebratory foods, but these recipes prove that we can do that without “breaking the bank” on money spent or on calories consumed.
Here is one of my revised recipes (and my personal favorite!). Don’t let the yogurt and sour cream mixture scare you away. This is a dessert you’ll be glad you tried!
½ cup quick cook, steel cut oats
3 tablespoon olive oil
1 cup finely chopped pecans
1 cup nonfat, plain Greek yogurt
¼ cup honey
½ cup light sour cream
1 1.4 oz box fat free, sugar free instant chocolate pudding
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
Pinch of salt
Preheat oven to 325 degrees. Combine oats, ¾ cup pecans, and salt in bowl. Press mixture into bottom of an 8-inch round pan Bake 25 minutes then allow to cool completely.
Mix yogurt and honey until combined. Add sour cream and vanilla to yogurt. Mix thoroughly. Spread half of mixture evenly onto crust.
Mix pudding mix and milk until combined. Then continue mixing for 2-3 minutes. Spread chocolate mix evenly onto yogurt mixture. Spread remaining yogurt mixture onto chocolate layer.
Sprinkle pecans over top layer and chill in refrigerator for at least 30 minutes. Keep in refrigerator until time to serve.
Nutrition Facts per serving (8 servings): 280 Calories, 8 g Protein, 13 g Total Sugar (8 g Added Sugar), 17 g Total Fat, 172 mg Sodium
For reference, here is nutrition information on a store-bought frozen chocolate dessert: 580 Calories, 5 g Protein, 34 g Sugar, 40 g Total Fat, 190 mg Sodium
The Greater Kansas City Food Policy Coalition’s Grocery Access Task Force is working with local partners to make it easier for transit riders to buy groceries. You can get help planning your trip and planning meals, saving money and finding recipes at Grocery Shop with RideKC.