Baked Ham, Lightened Up

Baked ham can be healthy, but it can also be a sugar and sodium disaster. Learn to avoid the common pitfalls and how to create a healthier centerpiece for your holiday feast -- or for dinner anytime of year.
Related To:

When I used to teach at a culinary school, my bonus each year was a ham (I know, a ham!). Baked ham can be healthy, but it can also be a sugar and sodium disaster. Avoid the common pitfalls and create a healthier main course for your holiday feast -- or for dinner any time of year.

Nutrition Facts

First of all, yes, ham is a lean meat. Glazed ham -- with bone-in -- is about 190 calories and 11 grams of fat per serving (that's about 3 ounces). However, typical glazed ham recipes usually suggest a 1-pound serving per person, which ups those figures to 760 calories with 44 grams of fat. Also, a typical 3-ounce portion of ham has 860 milligrams of sodium (or about 36% of your daily sodium needs). Factor that towards a larger, more traditional portion and that puts you at about 150% of your daily sodium needs.

The Sugar

The sweet and savory combination of ham and fruit are an Easter favorite. Most folks make their homemade glaze with honey, brown sugar, raisins or even pineapples. Other fruits to try are pears, apples, cranberries, peaches or oranges. Rather than honey or fruit juice, why not make a glaze with whiskey or brandy? About 90% of the calories and alcohol are eliminated once the alcohol is cooked.

Of course, you can always use half the amount of brown sugar or honey, but sometimes you just want the real deal. If you just can't bear to de-sweeten your ham, consider lightening up some of your other sweet dishes -- maybe skip the marshmallows on your yams or forgo a sugar-heavy dessert.

The Salt

Traditional hams are smoked or cured, which is the main reason for those high sodium levels. Paired with sodium-heavy sauces such as Worcestershire or chicken broth, your sodium totals will skyrocket even more. The simplest trick is to cut the salty ingredients by half or go for the low-sodium version of usual ingredients (i.e. low-sodium chicken broth).

[Editor's note: check out some more salt-cutting tips from our readers below]

Size Does Matter!

Yes, it's a holiday, but portions still count on Easter (and you want leftovers, don't you?). As I said, traditional recipes often call for a 1-pound serving of meat. To keep calories, salt and fat under control, opt for a smaller-sized ham and slice it in small pieces. Aim for about 3-4 ounces of ham per person (that's about the size of your palm). Then fill up on fresh side dishes -- with all the spring veggies coming into season, there are many options.

    Recipes to try:
    READ MORE:

Next Up

Easter Baking Projects to Do With Little Chefs

Celebrate the Easter holiday by baking Food Network's favorite kid-friendly cakes, cupcakes and cookies with your little chefs.

From Hot Cross Buns to Braided Loaves: 5 Easter Breads to Bake This Holiday

Celebrate the Easter holiday with Food Network's recipes for Easter breads including hot cross buns, braided breads and more.

Perfect Hard-Boiled Eggs

Melissa shares her secrets and recipes.

Chocolate Eggs, Marshmallow Chicks and Jelly Beans, Oh My! 8 Ways to Use Leftover Easter Candy

From rich chocolate eggs to colorful jelly beans, learn how one mom uses these sweet Easter treats in all-new ways.

Party Peeps Are in the House: The Most-Adorable Peeps Treats Ever

Fun fact: Most recipes that use marshmallows can be made infinitely cuter by swapping in Peeps.

Easter Egg Safety

How long do hard-boiled Easter eggs last? Can you eat eggs that have been dyed? Get answers to all of your Easter egg food safety questions.

Make-Ahead Easter Brunch Menu

Food Network's Alton Brown, Paula Deen and Giada De Laurentiis share make-ahead recipes for Easter brunch to help you pull off a stress-free holiday.

Spring Pea Salad

Make a light, fresh spring pea salad for a weeknight meal or a special-occasion dinner.

Hummus Deviled Eggs

Use up those Easter eggs! Make deviled eggs with hummus instead of mayonnaise for a new twist on a classic appetizer.