If you’re on a no-salt, no-sugar, no-fat diet like I am, or if you have other diet restrictions to deal with, what can you make that’s special for yourself on Christmas Day?
I wrote yesterday about going back to my roots for Christmas Eve. I’m doing the same for Christmas Day, but with a twist. I’m taking a traditional dish, manicotti with meatballs, and taking out all the restricted elements, re-imagining the dish with a variety of ingredients that get me at least some of the tastes I love.
Rather than buying pre-made manicotti shells, for example, I found whole wheat lasagna noodles and have cut them in half to make smaller manicotti. I roll them and fill them with low-fat ricotta cheese. Part-skim ricotta is an option, but the low-fat variety has even less fat.
I make my own tomato sauce with salt-free canned tomatoes. The tomato paste has some salt, but not enough to throw me off my diet. I top them off with a fat-free shredded mozzarella I found. It doesn’t actually melt like real cheese, but it’s close enough for some added flavor.
Instead of beef meatballs, I use ground turkey, buying a pound of lean and a pound of extra lean (which costs about twice as much) to produce a medium lean meatball with about 4.5 grams of fat per serving.
It may not all be what I was accustomed to in the past, but it’s getting me close enough to be thankful for it. And I can serve it to guests without feeling like I’m putting them on a restricted diet as well.
Think about the holiday foods you love and try to re-imagine them. You’ll need to plan ahead because many salt-free ingredients are only available online, so ordering takes time. But the end result is better than bland, nothing food that a nutritionist may be telling you to eat.