Eat well and be merry


Be jolly without the jiggle! With all the great holiday food, it might seem impossible this time of year, but we're making it easier to fight festive fat. Here's a healthy holiday meal you can make in an hour.

A study in the New England Journal of Medicine found while most people only gain a pound this time of year, for many, that pound is never lost and accumulates every holiday season.

"We're having fun. We're with family and friends, and we tend to splurge,'' said registered dietician and former chef Tracey Burg.

Burg is showing her class how to cook up a holiday dish that may break some unhealthy traditions. (Full recipes at the end of this article.)

"You can cut back on fat, cut back on salt, and you can stay healthy throughout the holidays but still have fun," said Burg.

Sear a lean pork loin that's been rubbed in salt-free seasonings and pepper. If you don't like pork, try chicken. While it cooks, start your sauce. Add apple cider, corn starch and anti-oxidant-rich cranberries, which Burg calls, "heart-healthy, immune-boosters."

Top it off with ground ginger, an anti-inflammatory that's good for arthritis.

"My family loves this! This is probably what I'll be doing for Christmas this year," said Burg.

Using canola oil instead of butter, cook up some dark leafy greens like Swiss chard.

Burg explained that "They're also loaded with folic acid, vitamin A, vitamin C and fiber."

Throw in some toasted walnuts for a boost of healthy fat, protein and omega-3s. Serve the pork and Swiss chard with fiber-packed roasted squash and whole grain parmesan rice pilaf.

"All together this is going to be about 400 calories," said Burg.

Burg adds if you want to stick with your favorite family recipes and still cut fat and calories, try making the ones that call for heavy cream with 1% milk or evaporated milk.

Tracey Burg's recipes are below or click here for printable version.

Roasted Acorn Squash (Serves 4)


1 acorn squash

Vegetable oil spray

¼ tsp. salt

¼ tsp. pepper


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut the acorn squash into quarters.  Remove seeds.  Place on a baking pan.  Spray with vegetable oil spray   for 8 seconds.  Season with salt and pepper. 

3. Bake for 20-30 minutes or until soft when pierced with a knife.

Nutritional information per serving:

Calories: 43                                         Carbohydrates: 11 g

Total Fat: 0 g                                       Cholesterol: 0 mg

Saturated Fat: 0 g                               Dietary Fiber:  2 g

Sodium:  143 mg                                 Protein:  1 g


Roast Pork Loin with Apple Cider Sauce (Serves 8)


2 lbs. pork loin roast

2 garlic cloves

½ tsp. pepper

½ tsp. dried thyme

½ tsp. Mrs. Dash Seasoning

2 tsp. oil


2 Tbsp. onion, minced

2 cups apple cider or apple juice

½ cup fresh cranberries

½ tsp. cinnamon

½ tsp. ground ginger

1/8 tsp. salt

1 Tbsp. cornstarch


1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Peel garlic cloves and cut into small pieces.  With the tip of a sharp knife make slits in the pork loin.  Stick     the garlic pieces into the slits. 

3. In a small bowl mix the pepper, Mrs. Dash seasoning, and dried thyme.  Rub the mixture over the pork loin.

4. In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add the oil then sear the meat on all sides until browned, about 5-8 minutes.

5. Place pork loin in a roasting pan and cook for 1 hour or until the thermometer reads at least 145 degrees.

6. Remove roast from pan.  Let roast sit for 10 minutes.

For the sauce:  In a small bowl mix the apple cider with the cornstarch.   Add the onion to the sauté pan that was used to brown the pork and cook for 2 minutes until slightly browned.  Add the apple cider mixture, cranberries, and spices to the pan and simmer, stirring for 5 minutes until the sauce thickens and the cranberries begin to split.  Serve with the sliced roast pork.

Nutritional Information per serving:

Calories:  168                                      Carbohydrates: 9 g

Total Fat:  7 g                                      Cholesterol: 73 mg

Saturated Fat: 1 g                               Dietary Fiber: 0 g

Sodium:   62 mg                                  Protein:  23 g


Parmesan Brown Rice Pilaf (Serves 6)


2 tsp. olive oil

¼ cup onion, minced

1 cup brown rice

2 ¼ cup low-sodium chicken broth

1 bay leaf

1 tsp. fresh thyme (or ½ tsp. dried thyme)

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ cup parmesan cheese


1. In a medium sauce pot, heat oil and sauté onion until soft (but not brown) about 2 minutes.  Add rice and sauté for another 2 minutes.

2. Add remaining ingredients.  Cover.  Simmer for 35 minutes or until the liquid is absorbed.

3. Stir in Parmesan cheese.  Serve.

Nutritional Facts: ½ cup per serving

Calories: 147                                       Protein: 4g                                        

Fat: 3g                                                 Fiber: 2g

Sat. fat: 1g                                          Cholesterol: 5mg

Carbohydrate: 24g                              Sodium:   253mg


Swiss Chard with Toasted Walnuts (Serves 4)


1 ½ lbs. red or green Swiss chard

1 Tbsp. extra-virgin olive oil

2-4 garlic cloves, minced

1 Tbsp. fresh ginger root, minced

2 Tbsp. water (or more if needed)

1 tsp. low-sodium soy sauce

¼ tsp. pepper

¼ cup walnuts, chopped and toasted*


1. Wash the chard and strip the leaves off the stalks.

2. Coarsely chop the greens. 

3. In a large skillet or stockpot with a lid, heat oil over medium heat.  Sauté garlic and ginger and cook for about 2 minutes.

3. Add greens and stir to coat with oil.   Add 2 Tbsp. water, cover, and cook until greens are wilted and soft, about 5 min.  Add more water if necessary.

5.  Season with the soy sauce and pepper.

6. Sprinkle with toasted walnuts. 

*NOTE:  To toast walnuts: heat walnuts in a dry pan over medium heat until slightly browned with a nutty aroma.  Remove from heat.

Nutritional Facts: for ½ cup serving

Calories: 65                                                     Protein: 5g                                          

Fat:  7g                                                            Fiber: 3g

Sat. fat:  1g                                                     Cholesterol: 0mg

Carbohydrate:   0g                                          Sodium: 204mg