Make Your Own (Healthier) Inaugural Luncheon

The Inaugural Luncheon, where the president, vice-president, and members of government sit down for a midday meal hosted by the Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, is arguably a welcome respite in what will probably be a very busy day for President Obama. However, the luncheon menu—which, according to a report by Fox News, tops 3,000 calories—will be anything but welcome for the waistlines of Washington's elite.


Want to create your own version of the meal without consuming all the congressional calories? Read on for tips to lighten up your luncheon:


New England Clam Chowder Sauce: The real killer in this clam chowder sauce is the heavy cream, which packs over 800 calories alone! Substituting skim or fat-free milk for the heavy cream allows the New England classic to retain its silky flavor and texture without all the added calories.


Sweet Potato Hay: Sweet potatoes in their original form are great sources of vitamins B6, C, D, and beta carotene, but frying them in oil turns these once-healthy vegetables into a greasy side dish. Baking sweet potatoes instead of frying them is a great way to keep that crispy crunch, and drizzling them with a couple of tablespoons of olive oil—as opposed to the quart of canola oil called for in the recipe—will save you over 1,000 calories!


Red Potato Horseradish Cakes: This recipe essentially calls for making mashed potatoes, scooping them into balls, and broiling them. It sounds healthy enough, but the heavy cream and butter in the Inaugural Luncheon's recipe are anything but. Fortunately, swapping heavy cream for skim or fat-free milk, and using a lighter butter (or butter substitute) saves calories. In addition, the use of such a flavorful and powerful ingredient as horseradish means you will be satisfied with less!


Red Cabbage and Strawberry Preserves: Red cabbage provides cardiovascular and dietary tract support, in addition to antioxidant and anti-inflammatory benefits, but the sugar-loaded strawberry preserve recipe once again strips this side dish of its health potential. Replacing the sugar with Splenda, Stevia, or another sweetener helps this recipe save face. If artificial sweeteners aren't your thing, consider a more natural sweetener, like honey or agave nectar, but (like nuts and oils), they are best when consumed in smaller amounts.


Pie Crust: Pie crust is fairly simple to make: flour, sugar, butter, and egg—consider using a substitute for even one of these ingredients (splenda or stevia for sugar, light butter or margarine for regular butter, etc.) in order to lighten it up.


Cinnamon Crumble: While not the same as making an actual cinnamon crumble, consider just sprinkling cinnamon on top of your apple pie in order to let the cinnamon flavor shine through—without the accompanying sugar, butter, and flour.


Sour Cream Ice Cream: The half-and-half and sour cream in this ice cream recipe contribute to its caloric impact, but replacing these ingredients with their fat-free or lighter versions can help soften that blow. In addition, the sugar can be replaced with a calorie free artificial sweetener, or with smaller portions of an all-natural sweetener.