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November 21, 2012 at 1:15 PMComments: 6 Faves: 0

Tips to Trim Calories in Your Holiday Treats

By Jessica Corwin MPH RDN More Blogs by This Author

Eating an extra 300 calories each day between Halloween and New Year’s will translate into an unwanted 5.5 pounds. What is even more shocking is that a massive holiday feast may present you with 3,000 – 5,000 calories! More than most of us need in 2-3 days.

Certainly we would all like to prevent holiday weight gain, though with leftover trick-or-treats, holiday drinks, and Christmas cookies, it can be a challenge!

Thankfully with small tweaks to your holiday treats, saving calories can become a reality and when it only takes an extra 500 calories each day (1 slice of pecan pie, anyone?) to gain a pound of fat this week, those small changes can truly make a big difference.

Here are a few of my favorite ways to lighten up recipes:

  • Cut the sugar: Most baked goods are forgiving when it comes to sugar. Cut the amount the recipe calls for by 1/3 to start and I bet you will not even taste the difference!
  • Go Greek: Swap out the sour cream in your spinach dip or mashed potatoes for fat-free plain Greek yogurt.
  • Boost the fiber: Swap half of the potatoes for cauliflower in your famous mashed potato recipes or prepare your baked goods with a 50/50 combo of whole wheat flour and all-purpose flour. Any time you can add more fruits, veggies, and whole grains, you are doing yourself a favor!
  • Add bubbles: Can’t enjoy the holidays without a few glasses of wine or perhaps something a bit stronger or richer? If you are able to cut it with sparkling water or extra ice, you will quickly save hundreds of calories. Cutting even two glasses of wine with club soda will save you up to 200 calories and it may feel even more festive with the added bubble, so why not?
  • Shrink the serving size: Bake up mini-sized double chocolate treasures (my favorite!), cut your brownies into half the size you usually slice, or if you are offering soup or a gravy, include an extra small ladle for serving. Finally, no matter what you are serving, if you offer small plates and bowls, everyone will help themselves to a little bit less while still feeling satisfied at their heaping dishes.

Speaking of deLIGHTful treats, try out this delicious appetizer from Skinny Taste. This blogger swapped out high fat sour cream and cream cheese for light whipped topping and fat-free Greek yogurt while still maintaining a powerful punch of holiday flavor. Serve up this Pumpkin Pie dip with crisp apple or pear slices, or a handful of cinnamon graham crackers, and enjoy a sweet ½ cup serving for only about 100 calories – saving you over 150 calories and 10 grams of fat from the original recipe! (Note: I trimmed the brown sugar down even more to a mere ½ cup and it was still as rich as can be!)

Enjoy this recipe and happy cooking throughout the holidays!

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6 Comments

  • Great tips!

  • Why thank-you, Victoria! Happy Thanksgiving to you! Hope it's a healthy and happy one :)

  • Thanks for the great tips....I did find myself taking smaller portions with everything!

  • Love these ideas, after reading them they make so much sense. I especially like the Greek yogurt substitute. Do you have any substitute ideas for the traditional veggie pizza and lasagna? Thanks

  • Julie, good for you! Sounds like you are doing a wonderful job of enjoying those holiday treats in moderation :)

    Nancy, are veggie pizza and lasagna traditional holiday foods for you? :)
    PIZZA: What I would suggest is to prepare your own whole grain dough (or at least half whole grain), purchase one of the already prepared whole grain crusts available at the store to boost the fiber and nutrients, top it off with a zesty pizza sauce (or make your own!) - just watch the sodium content, then add your reduced-fat mozzarella or opt for a more flavorful feta and Parmesan blend instead as you may find you need less cheese! Then top it off with plenty of veggies (fresh or if canned, rinsed) and enjoy :)

    LASAGNA: Opt for whole grain noodles to top off your lasagna, then rather than loading it up with layer upon layer of noodles, swap them out for thinly sliced zucchini or eggplant instead. Next opt for a light ricotta cheese (which you can even blend with cottage cheese to boost the calcium content), a heart healthy pasta sauce, and again, plenty of veggies to add extra fiber and volume to each piece.

    You can certainly still enjoy some of the full fat varieties of cheese in your dishes, just do your best to keep an eye on the total amount being used and the size of the portion being served. Sometimes when we use the real or full-fat versions, we feel more satisfied on less.

    Hope this helps! Enjoy!

  • actually yes, Christmas dinner has been at my sister-in-laws for the last few years and she always makes lasagne (we usually have a ham too). The veggie pizza would maybe be an appetizer. I like the veggie pizza for pot lucks too!

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