"THE HEART OF THE MATTER"
Guest: Don Mauer, Author, Lean and Lovin It !, Chapters Publishing Carey, North Carolina
Topic: Controlling the holiday waistline
Host/Producer: Steve Girard
NEMA: Many of us enjoy the flavor of the holidays to the fullest...which can mean too much good cooking, too many cookies, and perhaps too much liquid holiday cheer. What should we do to keep a lean point of view, while making sure we gather all the holiday ambience we can? We can talk to the LeanWizard, Don Mauer, longtime friend and author of Lean and Lovin It, from Chapters Publishing. Don...so many greats tastes through this season...and one of them is egg nog...
MAUER: Everybody identifies the one drink for the holiday season as egg nog... everybody breaks out the egg nog. Hey, its got eggs in it...way high in fat...and I love a good egg nog, I think egg nog really tastes good and its a seasonal favorite, especially when you top it with a little freshly grated nutmeg. True freshly grated nutmeg, it just tastes so good. But since I lost a hundred pounds, the only way that I could have egg nog was...well, theres a couple of things. The first thing is that they now have either low fat or fat free egg nog available in grocery stores, which I think is great. Its not as rich on my tongue as the full fat egg nog is, but the different in fat content is so huge, that I think its worthwhile...and you can always season it a little, as I said, with a little bit of nutmeg. Actually, some people like to mix some alcohol in with egg nog, and believe me, the fat free egg nog tastes fabulous when you have a little bit of brandy or something else mixed in with them. Most people cant tell the difference. But if youve got one of your own favorite home-made egg nogs that you go, "I really know that this has eggs yolks in it, whipping cream and all the wonderful things that make egg nog, egg nog...I think theres a couple ways you can take your own recipe and reduce the fat content. First of all, for the eggs that are normally called for in an egg nog, you can use Egg Beaters or other fat free egg substitutes. Normally, an egg nog uses raw eggs, which everybody is concerned about these days in terms of bacteria and so on. So, Egg Beaters and other fat free egg substitutes are already pasteurized, so you dont have to worry about using without cooking it. And its going to cut a substantial amount of saturated fat and cholesterol out of your egg nog. And then, you can use...instead of whipping cream, you can use a couple of different things: evaporated skim milk in part for that...you could even use it 50/50, and that would cut the fat content of whipping cream in half...but still would have a rich texture to it, because the evaporated milk has a lot of the water taken out of it. I discovered something in the grocery store over the last couple of weeks that I think is pretty decent, too. There is such a thing as fat free half and half...I couldnt believe it. I bought some, took it home, used it in a couple things..Ive even been thinking about using for egg nog, and it is wonderful. Land O Lakes makes it, its a fat free half and half...and you can use that as a foundation on which to make a wonderful fat free or low fat egg nog at home for the holidays that uses your own recipe, too. So I think thats another good idea.
NEMA: Its Christmas...lets talk about cookies. Arent too many waking moments this time of year when I dont have a cookie in my hand...Help! How can we cut the fat in the cookies we make for friends and relatives this year?
MAUER: I mean theres nothing I love better than a good, homemade, all butter Christmas cookie. But thats the problem....right there is the problem with most Christmas cookies or cookies in general...the margarine, the butter or the shortening thats in those cookies. Now, what can you do with their own recipe? Because...I think a lot of people have tried to make cookies that are fat free and have fallen flat on their faces because a cookie is a very delicate balance of sugar and flour and shortening, and if it s not quite balanced properly, youre going to end up with something thats not quite edible. Ive done two things...Ive taken an oatmeal raisin cookie, and used fat free plain yogurt for the butter that was called for - it usually took a half a stick of butter, and I used a half a cup....Im sorry, it uses a stick of butter, which is a half cup of butter, and I used a half a cup of non-fat, plain yogurt. And putting that cookie together is really important, too...at that level. Its how you mix that batter that makes a difference in terms of how tender that cookies going to be at the end. So, for me, when Im making those cookies and any other low fat or fat free cookies, what I do is I get all the wet ingredients together...all the dry ingredients together, except for the sugar...and the sugar. What youll want to do is mix in a bowl all the dry ingredients, like with a wire whisk or a spoon. Im talking about the flour, the salt, the baking soda, or anything else thats a dry ingredient, and mix those together in a bowl, set that aside. Then start with your mixing bowl, mix all your wet ingredients together in a mixing bowl, and that could include milk, skim milk or eggs, or egg whites...anything thats wet - the vanilla, if theres vanilla in the cookie. Then add the sugar. Whisk that in until the sugar dissolves, then add all the dry ingredients all at once. And with a rubber spatula - not with a wire whisk or a spatula - fold and stir those dry ingredients into the wet until theyre just moist. Then make those cookies, drop those cookies or form those cookies, however youre going to do it. And those are two ways ...thats one way to pull most of the fat out of the cookie, and then how you put it together I think is a really important component. Now...what are you going to do for a cookie that doesnt really respond that well when you take all of the fat out? And heres my suggestion for that. Use half the fat that you normally use in that cookie...for example, if it calls for two sticks of butter, use one stick of butter, and then use half a cup of drained unsweetened applesauce. All you have to do is put the applesauce in a strainer, let the apple juice drip off of it for about 15 minutes, and then from that drained applesauce thats still in the strainer, measure a half a cup out. It will have half the fat of the full-fat cookie, but youre going to be really surprised to find that when you put that together, it is going to be almost exactly like the full fat version that youre trying to replace. And its really wonderful way to make most holiday cookies either fat free or very, very low in fat.
NEMA: Don, how about some tips on entertaining folks, whipping up some great food and keeping a close watch on the fat and calories?
MAUER: Most holiday meals begin with appetizers. People like to drag chips and other things through dips, and I have been very successful at making all sorts of holiday dips that normally call for sour cream, by using non-fat sour cream...or that use mayonnaise, by using low fat mayonnaise...and Im talking about mayonnaise thats one fat gram per tablespoon. Theres at least one product our there that has one fat gram and its a dead match for full fat mayonnaise...and youre saving ten fat grams for every tablespoon. Which is enormous amounts of fat savings. Or for cream cheese... the non-fat cream cheese, I think, works in a dip as well as a full fat cream cheese does, and it still has a lot less fat. I think some people have seen those reduced fat cream cheeses...the neuchatels cheese...thats seven fat grams per ounce versus ten for a full fat cream cheese. So, its not a huge savings in terms of fat by going to a neuchatel, or the fat reduced cream cheese. But I think the fat free works real well.
Now, what are you going to do for a meal? Well, I think theres a couple of things that I would do in terms of preparing a meal. I dont do...if youre going to do a turkey...one of the things I do now...I dont even roast a whole turkey anymore, I roast a turkey breast, and I leave the skin on and the bone in...everything. Its a full turkey breast. I put that in a roasting pan, I put a bunch of vegetables in the roasting pan and I roast that at 350 degrees for about 25 minutes per pound. Now, instead of basting that with butter, or larding that with bacon like weve done in the past....I make up a wonderful basting liquid that is three cups of chicken broth - de-fatted, skimmed of fat chicken broth, and one cup of dry white wine. If you dont drink it, by the way...if youre going to cook with wine, if you wont drink it -dont cook with it. Use a good wine here.
One cup of wine to three cups of chicken broth, and then baste that turkey breast throughout the roasting period with that mixture. Theres no fat in that. All the liquid thats in the bottom of the pan, by the way, when youre done...will turn into a fabulous fat free gravy by just skimming the fat off of that. Because, think about this...chicken broth, white wine, roasted vegetables and the juices that come off that turkey breast is going to add tons and tons of flavor.
For desert, I think....pumpkin pie is one of my favorite things in this season, and it doesnt matter if its for Christmas or Thanksgiving. I just love a good pumpkin pie. And theres a way to make a pumpkin....no matter what kind of pumpkin pie recipe youve got, all you have to do is substitute the evaporated skim milk for the evaporated whole milk that normally calls for...use two egg whites for every egg the recipe calls for...and that filling in that pie will be virtually fat free. And Ill bet you there isnt anyone at your holiday table that will be able to tell the difference between it and the full fat version.
NEMA: Now, Don...when we go visiting....and of course, that means eating and drinking, as well as talking....how do we keep the eating down without missing the feeling of fun and satisfaction that comes with eating during those visits?
MAUER: I think thats one of the toughest things...because you dont want to walk into somebodys holiday festivities and say, "Im on a diet....I cant eat that"! Because everyones going to feel badly, you are...the host or hostess...and so theres a couple of things that I do. Any dip, I would say, unless theyre telling you its a low fat dip...just stay away from it. Usually what you drag through dips, like some crackers and some toasted breads, pita points and that kind of stuff...most of that stuff is fairly low in fat. So you could probably have what you would normally drag through a dip...and especially if theyve got vegetables out for the dip. Go for the fresh vegetables, and dont bother dipping them in anything. I think during dinner time, that becomes sort of a tough thing to do, because youre looking at all these wonderful things spread across the table. This is what I do: Everybodys got dinner plates that have a fancy pattern around the outside or the edge? Now, you have a choice of really what youre going to put on that plate. A lot of people will fill that plate right out to the edge of the plate. What I do is fill the center of the plate out to the edge of the design...which means Im shrinking down all of my portion sizes...which means virtually cutting calories and fat grams while Im still enjoying all the wonderful food that that host or hostess prepared for me for dinner. And I walk away from there feeling really happy, really festive because I was successfully able to negotiate through that meal in a way that means I stayed on my lean path all the way through it.
NEMA: And if you get kind of waylaid a bit by the availability of such good stuff...then just make a commitment to not letting it go past the holiday itself....
MAUER: What I would do in that situation is - dont beat yourself up over it - because then youll never go back and try to get on that path. And then, make a ....December 31st comes up very quickly after Christmas, and so its time to make those resolutions...and I just resolve that after January 1st, I would go back to eating the healthy way that I was eating before, and not beat myself up over a few flaws that happened over the holidays. Cause I wouldnt want to ruin my holidays. Holidays are the best time of the year.
NEMA: No argument here. Our thanks to Don Mauer, author of Lean and Lovin It...and a new book coming out soon, well let you know when.
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