For guilt-free snacks with traditional taste try low-fat spreads

December 23, 1992|By Susan Stuck | Susan Stuck,Contributing Writer

Here's the typical holiday scenario: Overindulge from late November to Dec. 31, then wake up on New Year's Day and resolve never to do it again.

Festive occasions need not undermine health concerns. In developing recipes for the holidays, our test kitchens aimed to preserve the traditional tastes of the holidays while keeping fat content to a minimum. The result: crostini spread with smoked salmon spread or herbed yogurt cheese. These can be prepared in advance to minimize pre-party stress. The crostini can be toasted up to one week ahead and stored in an airtight container. The spreads can be made up to two days ahead and stored in the refrigerator.

Smoked salmon spread

1/2 pound smoked salmon

1 1/2 cups non-fat cottage cheese

3 tablespoons pepper-flavored vodka, such as Absolut Peppar (Plain vodka can be substituted for the pepper-flavored vodka, but season generously with cracked pepper.)

2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

2 teaspoons Dijon mustard

1 teaspoon prepared horseradish

freshly cracked black pepper

dill sprigs for garnish

Cut half of the salmon into chunks. Dice the remaining salmon. Place cottage cheese in a fine-mesh sieve and press on it to remove excess moisture. Transfer the cottage cheese to a food processor. Add the salmon chunks, vodka, lemon juice, mustard and horseradish. Process until smooth. Transfer the mixture to bowl and fold in the diced salmon. Refrigerate until chilled. (The spread may be prepared ahead and stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 2 days.)

To serve, spread on crostini and garnish with a generous sprinkling of cracked pepper and dill. Makes about 2 cups.

17 calories per tablespoon: 3 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 0 grams carbohydrate; 59 milligrams sodium; 2 milligrams cholesterol.

Herbed yogurt cheese

Remember to start draining the yogurt the day before blending the cheese.

2 cups yogurt cheese made from non-fat yogurt (see recipe below)

2 scallions, trimmed and minced

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley plus leaves for garnish

1 tablespoon chopped fresh basil or 1/2 teaspoon dried

1 clove garlic, minced

1/2 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

In a medium-sized bowl, blend together yogurt cheese, scallions, parsley, basil, garlic, salt and pepper with a wooden spoon.

To serve, spread the cheese on crostini and garnish with parsley leaves. Makes 2 cups.

24 calories per tablespoon: 3 grams protein, 0 grams fat, 3 grams carbohydrate; 66 milligrams sodium; 1 milligram cholesterol.

Yogurt cheese

Cream cheese contains about 60 times the amount of fat per cup as non-fat yogurt cheese -- reason enough for the minimal extra effort required to make the low-fat alternative.

To make yogurt cheese, begin with non-fat, plain yogurt that does not contain starch, gums or gelatin. Line a colander with a double thickness of cheesecloth. Set the colander over a large bowl. Spoon in yogurt, cover with plastic wrap and refrigerate overnight. (The yogurt cheese can be stored, covered, in the refrigerator for up to 1 week.) Transfer the cheese to a separate container. Discard the liquid. Six cups of yogurt makes about 2 cups of yogurt cheese.

United Feature Syndicate

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