Healthy Cooking for the Holidays

Clara Wicoff Misenhelter.  Submitted photo 2023



By Clara Misenhelter

Southwind Extension District


The holidays are right around the corner! Many families, mine included, have holiday traditions centered around foods that they only get to enjoy a few times each year. These traditions are important and should be cherished without guilt. However, if you are wondering how you can make your traditional holiday recipes healthier, there are several steps you can take.


First, recognize that many holiday favorites (like pumpkin pie) start with a healthy first ingredient. Think of this vegetable or fruit as the “star” ingredient. Next, find ways to “focus on the stars” so that you can reduce the large amounts of fats and sugar typically found in traditional holiday recipes. For example, try using fat-free evaporated milk when making your pumpkin pie filling instead of using regular evaporated milk. Other ways you can “focus on the stars” this holiday season include switching from a traditional green bean casserole to a green bean sauté, from traditional mashed potatoes to yogurt mashed potatoes, from a traditional pumpkin pie to a crustless pumpkin pie, or from a traditional apple pie to slow cooker baked apples. Again, remember that it is important to make changes based upon what is important to your family traditions and culture. You may have specific recipes that are important for your family to enjoy as they are without making any modifications.


To learn more, consider attending one of the “Healthy Cooking for the Holidays” programs I will be hosting in November. These programs are free, but please call 620-365-2242 to RSVP for the location you prefer out of the following options:

  • Uniontown – November 8th at 6 PM
  • Iola – November 13th at 5 PM
  • Yates Center – November 15th at 6 PM
  • Chanute – November 16th at 12 PM


This article was adapted from a fact sheet originally published by retired family and consumer sciences agent Barbara Ames. This fact sheet can be found online at For more information, please contact me at [email protected] or 620-365-2242. To learn about additional programs we will be offering, visit to sign up for the “Wellness For You and Community, Too!” e-newsletter published monthly by the Southwind District.


Kansas State University Agricultural Experiment Station and Cooperative Extension Service

K-State Research and Extension is an equal opportunity provider and employer.

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