DECATUR, AL (WAFF) - Holiday food can mean major sugar and fat. But for the smart cook, a few substitutes can mean fewer calories.
"I typically find that if you are using fresh, local ingredients," said Chef Jake Reed. "And our farmers markets are surprisingly still open. There's robust flavor in those vegetables so you don't have to season as heavily. Now, I still use a little salt and a little pepper, but if you're using fresh ingredients, a little olive oil will go along way."
Chef Reed owns the Albany Bistro, and says making substitutions and alterations to your recipes doesn't mean you have to give up flavor.
"You can reduce a lot of calories... I tend to opt for honey instead of sugar to sweeten things," he said as an example.
For many people when it comes to holiday fare, they really can't take a lot of spices, even simple spices like salt and pepper. But Chef Jake says there are a lot of healthier alternatives.
Chef Jake takes us to the kitchen, where he shows us a couple of examples of fall favorites, like taking root vegetables.
"We've got butternut squash, carrots, sweet potatoes, turnips," he said. "Instead of using oil, I'll spray them with Pam. It's non-fat. Very small amount of salt and pepper."
He says they go into a 400 degree oven for about 15 minutes - then the clever substitutions come in.
"I'm adding olive oil and honey, and I'm pouring the mixture over my vegetables - mix that up really really well."
Back to the baking sheet for 5 minutes. During the wait, he makes dessert.
"We're starting off with a fat free whipped topping. To that we are adding one cup of pureed pumpkin..."
He adds a pinch of pumpkin pie spice and a half-teaspoon of vanilla, then folds the mixture together.
He then pulls out the veggies, which are well glazed. He says not to stress over cooking.
"Just use what you've got and enjoy what you're doing. It's the love of the food that makes the meal."
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