Health Tips

Holiday Cooking for Restricted Diners

Treatment for many medical conditions like diabetes and heart disease often includes dietary restrictions. And more people are voluntarily adopting diets for reasons ranging from health improvement to social consciousness. In fact, a study conducted by Harris Interactive found that 5 percent of people in the United States are vegetarian; half of those are vegan. Also on the rise are gluten-free, dairy-free and soy-free diets.

If you’re cooking for a variety of needs and pallets this holiday season, here are a few easy substitutions that can transform traditional holiday dishes into fare that everyone can enjoy.

For general cooking, unsweetened applesauce is a great substitution for oil or butter, especially in baked goods. The swap helps your dish maintain the right consistency, with just a hint of sweetness, minus all the fat. If you’re attempting this for the first time, try swapping out just half. For example, when your recipe calls for 1 cup of oil, use ½ cup applesauce and ½ cup oil. If you like what you taste, try using a full cup of applesauce the next time with no oil.

And when you’re trying to spice things up, don’t forget cinnamon. Some research has shown that cassia cinnamon may help lower blood sugar in people with diabetes. In lab studies, cinnamon also may reduce inflammation, have antioxidant effects and help fight bacteria. It obviously goes well with baked goods, but don’t stop there. Try sprinkling cinnamon in your coffee for that holiday taste, and adding it to savory dishes like chilies and stew for additional salt-free flavor.

Yes, food is an important part of the holiday season, but it’s not everything. Enjoy healthy cooking, sharing memories, and being with your friends and family.

Weekly Health Tips are brought to you by UCF Health, the College of Medicine’s physician practice. Offering primary and specialty care under one roof, UCF Health treats patients age 16 and up in primary care and age 18 and up for specialty care. Most major insurance plans are accepted. Two locations are now open: the original in East Orlando at Quadrangle and University boulevards just blocks from the main UCF campus and in Medical City at Narcoossee Road and Tavistock Lakes Boulevard. Schedule an appointment online today.