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Lightening up for the holidays

December 11, 2013
By Cheryl Rude , Marshall Independent

Here we are in the days between Thanksgiving and New Year's. If you are a reader of the food page, then you are probably working on menus to serve for the upcoming Christmas and New Year's holidays. Or maybe you're looking through your recipe boxes for those traditional family favorites, or looking for a new recipe to share with friends and family.

It seems that many of our traditional foods are also pretty high in calories and fat, and that may make you at least pause and think about what can be done to lighten up some of your holiday fare. Some recipes just aren't the same if you "tweak" them, but others can be modified without affecting the flavor or texture. Many favorite traditional recipes contain cream, cream cheese, butter, sour cream or sugar. Many of these recipes also were developed during a time when there were not a lot of good lower fat or sugar free options available. However, now there are products that can be substituted that can help lower the fat and sugar content of these recipes. If you are trying to cut back on sugar, saturated fat or calories, you might want to consider trying some of these products.

Following is a recipe for Strawberry Pretzel Squares that is a lighter version of a layered dessert that uses sugar free and fat free products. The recipe is taken from the Winter 2013 issue of the Diabetic Living magazine. It's a light and tasty dessert that could be a good way to finish off a heavier meal.

Strawberry Pretzel Squares

1 1/2 cups finely crushed pretzels

1/2 cup sugar, divided

1/2 cup margarine, melted

1 1/2 pkg (8 oz each) low fat cream cheese, softened

2 Tbsp skim milk

1 cup thawed, fat-free whipped topping

2 cups boiling water

1 pkg (0.6 oz) strawberry flavor, sugar-free gelatin

1 1/5 cups cold water

4 cups fresh strawberries, sliced

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Mix pretzel crumbs, 1/4 cup sugar and margarine; press onto bottom of 9 x 13" pan. Bake 10 minutes. Cool. Beat cream cheese, remaining sugar and milk until blended. Stir in whipped topping; spread onto cooled crust. Refrigerate to cool. Add boiling water to gelatin mix in large bowl; stir two minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold water. Refrigerate 1 1/2 hours or until thickened. Stir in berries; spoon over the cream cheese layer. Refrigerate 3 hours or until firm. Cut into squares to serve.

Cheryl Rude is a registered dietitian at Avera Marshall Regional Medical Center. In addition to her column, you can also find nutrition tips and ideas on the blog she writes at



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