Don’t let holidays weigh you down

Published 12:00 am Saturday, December 19, 2015

Holiday eating can blow the most well-intentioned diets, but with just a few tweaks favorite recipes can become healthier.

“To make a recipe healthier, use everything lite,” the Merit Health River Region executive chef John Pelton said on Wednesday during the Healthy Woman Lunch Program that was held at the hospital on U.S. 61.

“You can use light sour cream, light cream cheese and light cheddar cheese and when using some light varieties you will not notice a difference, but you will be cutting half the calories and half the fat,” he said.

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Pelton however warned not to use fat free cheeses because they will not melt.

More than 40 women turned out for the program, which included cooking demonstrations by Pelton and a lunch menu of the recipes he prepared.

“This is one of our outreach programs for women of all ages and the purpose is that women are the primary decision makers for health care,” the director of marketing corporate programs, Leigh White said.

Participant Evelyn Jackson said she saw the free program advertised in the newspaper and since she was working towards leading an improved lifestyle, she decided to attend.

“I am trying to begin a healthier life and anytime you can get a recipe to help your health it is good,” Jackson said.

During the program, Pelton demonstrated a Christmas Pasta recipe that included using chicken breasts and turkey sausage.

“The pasta was really good and I thought the program was very informative. I like to listen to him (Pelton) on all his healthy ideas for cooking,” participant Diane Curd said, adding she was definitely going to try it at home.

For recipes calling for beef, Pelton suggested using ground turkey or veal, which are healthier meat choices.

Pelton shared his recipes with participants, which included the Christmas Pasta, Spinach Artichoke Dip and Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs.

Christmas Pasta

Cooked penne pasta (Pelton used tricolor pasta)

Cooked chicken breasts

Turkey sausage

Red pepper

Green pepper


Green onion

Diced tomatoes, chopped parsley

Parmesan cheese

Olive oil

Mix all ingredients in a large bowl and top with Parmesan cheese.


Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 14 oz. can artichoke hearts, drained, finely chopped

1 Package (10 oz.) frozen chopped spinach, thawed, well drained

¾ Cup grated parmesan Cheese

¾ Cup light mayonnaise

½ Cup shredded mozzarella cheese

½ Teaspoon garlic powder

Heat oven to 350 degrees. Combine all ingredients and spoon into a 9-inch quiche dish or pie plate. Bake for 20 minutes or until heated completely. Serve with vegetables or whole grain crackers.



Slow Cooker Buffalo Chicken Meatballs  

1-pound ground chicken

¾ Cup plain breadcrumbs

1 large egg

½ Teaspoon garlic powder

½ Teaspoon onion powder

2 Green onions, thinly sliced

Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

¾ Cup buffalo sauce

¼ Cup blue cheese dressing

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or a silicone-baking mat. Set aside.

In a large bowl, combine ground chicken, breadcrumbs, egg, garlic and onion powders and green onions, season with salt and pepper. Using a wooden spoon or clean hands, stir until well combined. Roll the mixture into 1 ¼ to 1 ½ -inch meatballs, forming about 24 meatballs.

Place meatballs onto prepared baking sheet and bake for four to five minutes or until all sides are browned. Place meatballs into a slow cooker and add buffalo sauce and gently toss to combine.

Cover and cook on low heat for two hours. Serve immediately and drizzle with blue cheese dressing, if desired.


About Terri Cowart Frazier

Terri Frazier was born in Cleveland. Shortly afterward, the family moved to Vicksburg. She is a part-time reporter at The Vicksburg Post and is the editor of the Vicksburg Living Magazine, which has been awarded First Place by the Mississippi Press Association. She has also been the recipient of a First Place award in the MPA’s Better Newspaper Contest’s editorial division for the “Best Feature Story.”

Terri graduated from Warren Central High School and Mississippi State University where she received a bachelor’s degree in communications with an emphasis in public relations.

Prior to coming to work at The Post a little more than 10 years ago, she did some freelancing at the Jackson Free Press. But for most of her life, she enjoyed being a full-time stay at home mom.

Terri is a member of the Crawford Street United Methodist Church. She is a lifetime member of the Vicksburg Junior Auxiliary and is a past member of the Sampler Antique Club and Town and Country Garden Club. She is married to Dr. Walter Frazier.

“From staying informed with local governmental issues to hearing the stories of its people, a hometown newspaper is vital to a community. I have felt privileged to be part of a dedicated team at The Post throughout my tenure and hope that with theirs and with local support, I will be able to continue to grow and hone in on my skills as I help share the stories in Vicksburg. When asked what I like most about my job, my answer is always ‘the people.’

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