10 ways to lighten up your holiday treats

The holidays are just around the corner and with that brings all the festive treats of the season! Indulging yourself in the treats is part of the fun, but it can leave you feeling crummy long after the holidays! Today we’re sharing 10 Tricks to Lighten Up Your Holiday Treats from Today Show Registered Dietitian, Joy Bauer. Check out the tricks below! Post originally published HERE.


1. Build a Better Cheese Tray

Mingle a few reduced-fat cheeses in with your usual selections to offer health-conscious guests a lighter option (use cute tags to label your choices). Round out your tray with whole-grain crackers (they have a heartier flavor and texture than bland white ones) and plenty of seasonal fresh fruit, such as sliced apples, pears, figs, and purple grapes.

2. Go Skinny-Dipping

Substitute nonfat Greek or traditional yogurt for calorie-laden sour cream or mayonnaise in any of your favorite dip recipes. Thick, tangy fat-free Greek yogurt adds body and creaminess to dips for a fraction of the calories and contributes a shot of filling protein too. If you prefer the taste of mayo or sour cream, simply go for the light versions.

3. Makeover Your Mash

Although potatoes by themselves offer plenty of healthful nutrients, including potassium and vitamin C, when you mash them together with loads of fattening ingredients like butter, whole milk, and heavy cream, you sacrifice their nutritional integrity. To make slimmer and trimmer mashed tots, replace the full-fat dairy with low-fat buttermilk or 1% milk and melt in just a tablespoon of butter for a hint of richness. Ramp up the flavor by adding fresh herbs, spices, and other flavor enhancers, such as sweet roasted garlic or even smoky hot chipotle peppers.

4. Clean Up Cranberry Sauce

Enjoy the health benefits of antioxidant-rich cranberries without drowning them in sugar by making a homemade cran-apple sauce with plenty of chopped fresh apples. Combining the super-tart cranberries with a naturally sweeter fruit, like apples, allows you to get away with adding far less sugar to your recipe. A hint of fresh ginger and cinnamon adds a unique twist.

5. Sip Slim With Skim

This time of year it’s fine to indulge in a few festive hot drinks, like hot chocolate and peppermint lattes, but it just makes sense to trim calories where you can. Request skim milk instead of whole to save up to 100 cals per 16-ounce serving.

6. Lighten Up Eggnog

Eggnog tastes rich for a reason. Made with the gut-busting trio of whole milk, cream, and egg yolks, an eight-ounce pour of this festive drink has more calories and fat grams than a fast-food burger. Slim down your favorite recipe by swapping out at least half the heavy cream for evaporated skim milk. If you’re sipping the store-bought stuff, dilute your glass with skim or soy milk to slash the cals, fat, and sugar.

7. Cut the Crust

If you’re one of the many who eat pumpkin pie just for the filling, consider losing the crust completely to shave off at least 100 cals per slice. Just prepare your standard filling recipe and pour it into individual ramekins coated with oil spray. Bake the filling until just set, top each cup with a dollop of whipped cream, and you’ve got a delicious pumpkin custard with fun presentation to boot. If apple pie is your thing, forget about the crust and dump the apple filling directly into a glass pie plate coated with oil spray (consider cutting back on the sugar in the filling to go even lighter). Top with a mixture of rolled oats, a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and a couple tablespoons of butter or soft buttery spread worked together with your fingertips until crumbly.

8. Rethink Your Roast

For meat lovers, nothing says holiday celebration quite like a perfectly cooked slab of prime rib — but the stats alone are enough to make your heart skip a few beats. At 720 calories and 63 fat grams per (modest) six-ounce slice, it’s one of the fattiest cuts going. For an equally elegant meal without all the damage, consider swapping your rib roast for a succulent, lean beef tenderloin, which has about half the calories and less than a quarter of the fat. Or, branch out from beef and try other lean holiday entrées, like roast turkey, Cornish game hens, or pork tenderloin.

9. Green Beans Go Lean

Seems like a punishable offense to douse innocent, healthy little green beans in fatty, salty soup mix and fried onions. Why not serve up a fresher, brighter side dish that makes your veggies shine? Top steamed, tender-crisp green beans with sautéed shallots and toasted slivered almonds and drizzle on a squeeze of fresh lemon. Your health-conscious guests will appreciate this low-cal alternative to traditional green-bean casserole.

10. Lighten Up Latkes

It’s fine to indulge in the real thing — crispy fried latkes — at least once during Hanukkah festivities, but if they’re going to be a regular feature on your holiday table, experiment with healthier versions that are baked or cooked in a nonstick pan with just a small amount of oil. Or, get creative with recipes that use low-cal veggies like zucchini, cauliflower, or broccoli in place of starchy potatoes. Dollop your latkes with slim-style toppings — try light sour cream, nonfat Greek yogurt, or natural (unsweetened) apple sauce.


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