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When to Modify Holiday Recipes

Try these suggestions the next time you want to make over a recipe.

If you only make a recipe once a year, you may not need to modify it, just make sure to savor it as a “special treat.” If you prepare a recipe often, eat a large portion of the food or the food is high in fat, cholesterol, salt or sugar you may want to give it a makeover. Try these suggestions the next time you want to make over a recipe. Just remember, recipe modification is a trial-and-error process. If you don’t like the way something turns out the first time, try readjusting it the next time until you find a version you like. These are just a few options for modifying recipes from an NDSU Extension Service handout. To see more suggestions check out the Now Serving: Recipe Makeovers handout (available at

To Decrease Total Fat and Calories:

  • Use fruit purees (plum, prune or applesauce) for part or all of the fat in baked products.
  • Skim excess fat from the top of soups, gravies and stews. You may need to let it cool to make removing the hardened fat easier.

To Decrease Saturated Fat and Cholesterol:

  • Use two egg whites or an egg substitute product instead of one whole egg.
  • Use vegetable oils instead of solid fats. To substitute liquid oil for solid fats, use about one-quarter less than the recipe calls for. For cakes and pie crusts, use a recipe that calls for oil because liquid fats require special mixing procedures and different proportions of sugar.

 To Decrease Sugar:

  • Reduce sugar by one-quarter to one-third in baked goods and desserts. This works best with quick breads, cookies, pie fillings, custards, puddings and fruit crisps.
  • Increase the amount of cinnamon or vanilla in a recipe to enhance the impression of sweetness.

To Decrease Sodium:

  • Rely on herbs and spices rather than salt for flavor. Use garlic powder instead of garlic salt.
  • Try fruit juice, water or wine as a cooking liquid instead of broth or bouillon.

 To Increase Fiber:

  • Add vegetables to recipes (for example, chili, meatloaf, hamburgers and spaghetti sauce) and include the peel when appropriate. Add grated carrots or zucchini, or mashed squash or sweet potatoes, in muffins and quick breads. Add extra vegetables to quiche fillings, casseroles and salads.
  • Add beans to chili, stew, soup or dessert.


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