Delicious, Lower-Calorie Holiday Recipes from Evette Rios

by Together Counts Partner | December 15, 2014 at 10:19 am | comments

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This holiday season, with a new baby in tow, I will be hosting my very first family shin digs! Now, in Latino families like mine, food is everything. It’s how we show each other love, and how we make guests feel comfortable in our homes. A Latino host will lovingly call you “gordita” and at the same time offer you arroz con habichuelas until your pants don’t fit anymore. We have a complicated relationship with food. We can’t. Love it. Enough. But what happens when a little too much food love turns into diet-related diseases at an alarming rate? Diabetes, high blood pressure, high cholesterol happen.

My family is dealing with diet-related illnesses. My uncles have all suffered from diabetes, two of them passing from illnesses related to the disease. And several years ago my own Mami was diagnosed with it. At first it felt like we had no control over what was happening, until we learned as a family that we could take a more active role in managing our health by paying closer attention to what we put into our bodies and getting more physically active every day. It was a learning curve at first until we learned about simple swaps that could help reduce the calories in food without losing the nutrition, and most importantly the flavor!

This holiday season I am going to be mindful of what I serve to my family. I am tweaking some of our very own recipes to create ones that cut calories without sacrificing any of the flavor. Which is why I am SO excited to be working with Together Counts™, a program that inspires calorie balance from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. For the next few weeks, I will be sharing with all of you the great-tasting, calorie-cutting tweaks that I am incorporating into my holiday celebrations! These are easy ideas, with ingredients that are accessible to everyone, no matter where you live.

Today, I’m starting with a great-tasting treat to cap any holiday meal. Nothing satisfies my family like a creamy Horchata. My recipe is a twist on this classic Latino drink by using oatmeal and almonds for fiber, while cutting down on calories by using the no-calorie sweetener of your choice! This delicious recipe will be a welcome addition to your holiday menu. Enjoy!

Evette Rios is a partner of Together Counts™, a program that inspires calorie balance from the Healthy Weight Commitment Foundation. She is also host of “Recipe Rehab” on CBS. For more from Evette, visit:


Oatmeal & Almond Horchata



1 cup gluten-free oats

2 real cinnamon sticks, broken up into pieces

4 cups organic unsweetened almond milk

1/4 cup any no-calorie sweetener (or until sweetened to your liking)

Pinch of salt

Fresh ground cinnamon and cayenne pepper as garnish

  1. Dry-sauté oats with cinnamon sticks until oats are just beginning to turn golden and cinnamon becomes flagrant. Use a non-stick pan. Should take less than two minutes. Careful not to burn.
  2. Combine oats/cinnamon with simmered almond milk until cool. Let stand covered overnight.
  3. Blend almond milk mixture until smooth. Pass through fine mesh strainer until liquid has no large particles. Add pinch of quality salt. Stir.
  4. Return horchata to fridge to chill.
  5. Pour horchata in cups with ice cubes. Add fresh ground cinnamon and a pinch of cayenne pepper to individual servings. Optional: rim glasses with sugar combined with cinnamon. Serve chilled.