Easter and Passover Favorites Made Lighter

You won't miss the calories with these easy and yummy substitutions

By Elaine Magee, MPH, RD
WebMD Weight Loss Clinic - Expert Column

Reviewed By Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD/LD

Whether you are celebrating Easter or Passover this spring, you probably have certain favorite dishes you look forward to eating. It's no surprise that most of these holiday favorites are brimming with calories, fat, and sometimes cholesterol or sugar. Can we really make these same dishes lighter in calories and fat and still have them taste as delectable as ever? You bet!

Transform traditional holiday favorites into yummy dishes that contain half the fat and a lot less calories, just by making a few recipe adjustments. In general, you can:

  • Substitute reduced-fat dairy products for regular versions.
  • Use lean meats, light sausages, and skinless poultry instead of regular or full-fat versions.
  • Exchange egg substitute or egg whites for half of the eggs called for in recipes (1/4 cup of egg substitute or two egg whites is equivalent to one whole egg).
  • Substitute olive or canola oil for vegetable, and you can usually cut the amount of oil in half. For baking recipes, nonfat ingredients like fruit juice, nonfat sour cream and pureed fruit should be substituted for the missing fat.
  • Cut the amount of butter in half, for most recipes. For baked goods, other somewhat-solid ingredients such as nonfat sour cream and nonfat cream cheese, can fill in for the fat you leave out.

For dish-specific suggestions, check out the tables below!

Favorite Easter Dish "Lightening" Tips
Blueberry Muffins Use about two tablespoons of canola oil per regular-sized muffin recipe (one that makes 12 muffins). Replace the rest of the oil the recipe calls for with lowfat yogurt or nonfat sour cream.
Coffee Cake Use 1/4 to 1/3 cup canola margarine or butter per cake. Replace the rest of the fat the recipe calls for with fat-free or light cream cheese, or pureed fruit like applesauce or pureed pears or peaches.
Twice-Baked Potatoes Use Louis Rich turkey bacon or center-cut bacon, and use less than the recipe calls for. Switch to fat-free or light sour cream and use reduced-fat cheese. The butter the recipe calls for can be left out completely, and the amount of sour cream increased if necessary.
Cream of Asparagus Soup Use a maximum of 1 tablespoon canola oil to saute onions and celery. Instead of blending the flour into melted butter, blend WONDRA quick-mixing flour with some of the chicken broth to form a paste. Fat free half-and-half can be substituted as well.
Potato Casseroles Substitute reduced-fat canned cream of mushroom or celery soups, along with reduced-fat cheeses, sour cream, and milk. If butter or margarine is called for, it can generally be cut in half if not eliminated.
Green Salads Use reduced-fat dressing, or cut the calories and fat grams in regular salad dressings in half by blending 1/2 cup of the dressing with 1/2 cup of apple juice or orange juice (or any fruit juice or nectar).
Cheesecake Use light cream cheese instead of for regular cream cheese. The crust can be made with a lot less softened or melted butter than the recipe calls for (replace the lost butter with liqueur, light pancake syrup, or fat-free sour cream). If sour cream is called for, you can use fat-free or light versions. Half the eggs can be replaced with egg substitute. Skimmed evaporated milk can be substituted for the full-fat kind.
Lemon Cake Instead of other fats, you can use as little as _ to 1/3 cup of canola oil or canola margarine per cake. The rest of the fat can be replaced with lemon yogurt, sour cream, or fat-free cream cheese. Cut the number of eggs in half, and replace the rest with egg substitute.

Favorite Passover Dish "Lightening" Tips
Chicken Matzo Ball Soup For the matzo balls, replace half the eggs with egg whites or egg substitute. Use half the amount of fat the recipe calls for, and replace the rest with chicken broth.
Beef Brisket Brown the onions and brisket in a minimum of oil (about 2 tablespoons per 5-pound brisket).
Kugel Replace half the eggs with egg whites or egg substitute (1/4 cup of substitute or 2 egg whites is equivalent to one whole egg). You can probably cut the amount of butter and sugar in half (the missing butter can be replaced with mashed potatoes, condensed chicken broth or a similar ingredient).
Passover Rolls Replace half the eggs with egg whites or egg substitute. Cut the amount of vegetable oil called for can be cut in half and replace the rest with mashed potatoes or chicken broth.
Passover Apple Cake Cut the amount of vegetable oil in half and replace it with fruit puree such as applesauce.
Passover Sponge Cake Replace half the egg yolks with egg substitute (2 tablespoons per egg yolk).

Originally published April 2003.
Medically updated March 2007.

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