Try healthy alternatives to holiday favorites

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By Joan Martin

Cool weather has arrived, the stores are full of holiday decorations and turkeys are in the freezer. The holiday season is almost here.
Holidays can bring financial stress that burdens your spirit at times. Extra expenses make it hard on families this time of year. From purchasing gifts to traveling to planning an elaborate holiday meal, these are all ways to overspend. Skipping holiday traditions may not be the answer. Traditions connect families. Maybe you can scale back the big Thanksgiving  or Christmas meal and still have family food traditions. Choosing to eat a nutritious meal can help you avoid the extra spending and extra calories.  
Some families think a holiday meal would not be a feast without the meat. Look at different options to help you stay within your budget. Do you really need turkey and ham at Thanksgiving? If you cook a whole turkey or a bone-in ham, you can use the turkey carcass or ham bone to make delicious soup. Extra meat for the soup will also come from the carcass or ham bone. Cooked turkey and ham can also be frozen to use later.  
Call the Anderson County Extension Office at 839-7271 if you need help planning a meal or finding lower cost alternatives. Maybe you can skip expensive items that don’t add that much to the meal like the relish tray. Will they really miss the pickles, olives, spiced peaches and apples?
Prepare a list of items you need and stick to the list. Don’t buy it just because it looks good. You may never use that jar of mincemeat. Remember to look in your cabinet and the refrigerator to see what you already have. Check the expiration date on food to make sure it’s still good. Little expenses like seasonings and other small condiments can add up quickly. Look for the spices and herbs you need at discount stores.
Try the nutritious recipes below for healthier, low cost versions of holiday favorites.
Corn Pudding
(Makes 10 1/2 cup servings.  Cost per recipe: $2.03  Cost per serving: 21 cents)
2 (15 ounce) cans whole kernel corn, drained
4 Tablespoons Flour
2 tsp. sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
2 eggs, beaten
1 Tablespoon margarine, melted  
2 cups fat-free milk

1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
2. Grease 1 1/2 quart baking dish.
3. Mix corn, flour, sugar and salt together in a large bowl.
4. Combine well-beaten eggs, melted margarine and milk.
5. Pour into corn mixture and stir to mix.
6. Pour into prepared baking dish.
7. Bake for one hour. Stir completely two or three times during the first 30 minutes of baking time.
Nutrition facts per serving:  120 calories; 2.5 g total fat; 0.5 g saturated fat; 0 g trans fat; 45 mg cholesterol; 510 mg sodium; 23 g carbohydrate; 2 g fiber; 5 g protein
Apple Salad (serves 6)
1 Tablespoon reduced-fat mayonnaise or mayonnaise-type salad dressing.
(note: reduced-fat mayonnaise is lower in fat, salad dressing is lower in sodium. Either is a better choice than regular mayonnaise)
1 Tablespoon lemon juice
2 packets artificial sweetener
1 large Rome Beauty apple, cored, unpeeled, and diced
1/2 cup diced celery, finely diced
1/2 cup raisins
1/4 cup chopped nuts (optional - adds 60 calories per serving and 6 g fat per serving)

1. In mixing bowl, blend together reduced-fat mayonnaise, lemon juice and artificial sweetener.
2. Wash, core and chop apple, coat with dressing in mixing bowl. Quickly coating applies with the lemon juice dressing prevents browning from oxidation.
3. Add remaining ingredients; toss
4. Serve in lettuce-lined dish or bowl, or on lettuce leaves on salad plates.
Nutrition facts per serving without nuts: 74 calories, 18 g carbohydrates, 36 mg sodium, .5 g protein, fat 1 g.
**The benefit to this recipe is it uses much less mayonnaise and adds lemon juice and artificial sweetener for better flavor.  Use high quality apples that are not mushy.

Joan Martin is a consumer and family sciences agent the Anderson County Extension office.