• Josh Bezoni – Nutritionist

    Nutritionist, Josh Bezoni, has helped tens of thousands of men and women from around the world to slash over 30 tons of belly fat and body blubber. Now he wants to help YOU get a flat belly, too. Be sure to check in daily for belly-burning tips and breakthrough information.


5 Healthy Holiday Recipe Swaps

By Coach Josh Under Expert Tips, Healthy Recipes, Nutrition Tips, Recommended Resources

While statistics on holiday weight gain are inconsistent, one thing is for sure: the holiday season makes normally healthy habits much more difficult. The mashed potatoes get passed one extra time around the table, and the chocolate peppermint brownies stare at you all day from your desk. More than anything, holiday eating is challenging because we are surrounded by a sea of indulgent dishes.

5 Healthy Holiday Recipe Swaps
By Registered Dietitian Laura CaJacob

Just like Coach Josh says on p.164 in his book, Belly Fat Free, “You’re only setting yourself up for failure if you start an eating program that forbids you from ever eating your very favorite foods.” You don’t have to jump off the wagon over the holidays in order to enjoy your favorite foods. There are a variety of recipe substitutions that can keep you on track toward reaching your goals. Rather than skip your favorite dish entirely, why not lighten it up a little?

Before we get started, I must make a few notes as a lover of food, tradition and flavor:

  • I know it can be a sin to alter an all-time favorite family recipe. Leave Aunt Jane’s famous candied yams alone, and try changing some dishes that aren’t the one thing you look forward to in December. Who knows – you may add a new recipe into the regular rotation!
  • Don’t you dare try to eliminate every unhealthy ingredient in a recipe. The intention of modifying a recipe is not to create cardboard. As Coach Josh declares on p.174 of Belly Fat Free, “Remember—love the food you eat or you won’t stay on the program for long!”

Below is a list of five simple ways to adjust some holiday recipes without sacrificing flavor.

1. Substitute unsweetened applesauce for oil.

This works great in baking desserts to lower the fat content. The substitution ratio is 1:1, and the result is a moister, sweeter dish. This even works with boxed mixes.

Note: Do not try this with butter. Chocolate chip cookies turn into chocolate chip pancakes.

2. Increase vegetables.

There are so many dishes that could have more flavor, texture and color by adding some extra veggies. Try using more roasted root vegetables in a stuffing than bread. Throw leeks and mushrooms into a wild rice side dish. Generously add a variety of vegetables, and your belly will thank you.

3. Replace mild cheese with half the amount of strong cheese.

You flat out can’t eat as much blue cheese or parmesan as you can mozzarella or mild cheddar. By using less of stronger cheeses, you can drastically reduce fat and calories while actually increasing flavor. This works great for cheese plates, salads and melting cheese on vegetables.

4. Substitute pureed vegetables for cream.

Zucchini, squash and cauliflower are excellent choices for thickening soups without changing the flavor. Simply peel and roast the veggies then blend until you have a “creamy” puree. Add as a thickener until you get your desired consistency.

Note: Be mindful of the color vegetable you chose as this can really affect the soup’s appearance. We eat with our eyes first, and nobody wants to eat green cream of corn soup.

5. Reduce sugar by 25%.

There is usually so much sugar called for in most recipes that nobody will notice the 25% that goes missing.  If your recipe calls for 1 cup sugar and you use ¾ cup, you cut out 200 calories just like that. Consider this when using syrups, honey, or jams as well.

I challenge you to try some of these recipe modifications. I wouldn’t be surprised if you like the healthier version better than the original.

coach joshCoach Josh


13 Comments Add yours

  1. karen thoma
    10:56 PM #comment-1

    Hi Josh, My Dr. gave me more good news; BP dropped from 180 to 130 in 3 wks. & said see you Feb. 14th instead of in 2 wks, all from dropping 11 lbs. Bad news, Facebook has been locking us out [2 email addresses] from logging in. Have tried everything & am giving up trying to login. Will keep submitting info to you via this method, or send you messages, or phone you. Hope u have nice weather in Vegas. Been there 2X. LoL. Karen, Joe, &, Joey the Terripoo. Merry X-Mas Everyone except Facebook.

  2. Lynn Brown
    11:58 PM #comment-2

    These are great tips Josh. I also will potato peel thin slices of zuccini to make a yummy pasta dish, and add unsweetened tomota sauce topped with a little parmesean cheese. I do like your tip about reducing the sugar when called for in recipe. I just baked a ton of Christmas cookies and you are probably right, they would never notice the difference. I will try that for next time!

  3. J.R.
    2:01 AM #comment-3

    I just found out I shrunk two iches so my BMI is worse than I knew. Thanks for all the good information you give in your emails. Someday I’m going to be healthy and skinny because of you.

  4. W_Smith
    7:24 AM #comment-4

    Merry Christmas big guy! I appreciate all your articles and information.


  5. Mary W
    4:34 PM #comment-5

    I just read the 5 Healthy Holiday Recipe Swaps By Registered Dietitian Laura CaJacob and I just want to add that in addition to using less sugar I just switched over to stevia or a similar product. For a work holiday party I made raspberry muffins with stevia and everyone raved on the taste and no one knew I changed the recipe. It was my little secret. 🙂

  6. Sheila A.Liner
    8:13 PM #comment-6

    Thanks because now I can download the 37 foods brochure. and also neat food swaps. Sheila A. Liner

  7. Harriet Loyd
    9:29 PM #comment-7

    I like these ideas and already had tried 2 of them. The applesauce sub and 25% less sugar in my chocolate cake recipe, you can’t tell the difference. I will try the others too, thanks Josh!!!

  8. Harriet Loyd
    9:41 PM #comment-8

    You just reminded me about the cheese. Years ago while on a diet, I made diet tacos out of ground turkey meat and sprinkled parmesan instead of cheddar. My husband lost 120 pnds!!

  9. sandi danziger
    11:22 AM #comment-9

    Hi josh. I’m sandi Danziger listed above as one of the random winners. I haven’t been contacted yet. Let me know what info you need. It’s Dec 27. Thank you!

  10. Margaret Champagne
    4:03 PM #comment-10

    Dear Josh, I purchased your book and really like it. There is one drawback though. I have high chloresterol and don’t eat a lot of meat. The diet where you eat 5 times a day calls for too much meat for me. How can I get around that? I would appreciate hearing from you as soon as possible. Sincerely, Margaret Champagne

  11. ale
    7:39 AM #comment-11

    Hello Josh! Lean cuisine dishes have been a huge help, especially when I’m on the run and don’t have time to really prepare anything. For a while they were my lunch for work but I’ve started to bring in more home cooked meals. I really started to notice the ingredients on the box last night and it really threw me off that they may not be as healthy as they are cracked up to be. This reminded me of a post you wrote a while back about the Skinny Cow ice cream. What are your thoughts on the Lean Cuisine meals? Thanks! 🙂

  12. Chris Scallon
    12:12 PM #comment-12

    Josh, this is Chris Scallon, recent member of your BFF program.

    I am wondering if you have looked at the nutritional content of a protein drink made by a company called Intek. Their link is http://inteknutrition.com/PRODUCTS/PROTEIN%20EVOLUTION/protein.html

    It basically comes down to $1 per scoop and each container has 57 servings. I am wanting to know if I should switch to the ProGrade line. Based on my math the Prograde appears to be more than twice the expense at little over $2 per scoop but I can’t tell which has better ingredients, it appears that Intek is a more complete source of proteins but it does list sucralose and natural & artificial flavors.

    On the protein bar side I have been eating a bar made by Think Thin. They say there is 0 sugar in these bars, but does list sugar alcohols, is this really the same? The link to these bars is http://shop.thinkproducts.com/Brownie-Crunch-Protein-Bar/p/TKP-701271&[email protected]

    Any thoughts on these products and whether they are a good fit to the BFF plan?


    Chris Scallon…..

  13. Donielle
    12:57 PM #comment-13

    Hello Josh. I’m currently reading your book and Commandment #13 is Find a Role Model. I can’t seem to find that on your web site. It states that thee are tools like fat loss journals and find a weight loss buddy to help me keep accountable. Please let me know where I can find this for I can’t on your bellyfatfree web site. Thank you.



Please do not post comments with order questions or problems as they may not be resolved in a timely manner. For a quicker response, please email us at [email protected].

Add a comment

  • Avatars are handled by Gravatar
  • Comments are being moderated