It’s common knowledge the holidays are a time to indulge, but since the season is more like a marathon than sprint, we need an arsenal of tools to keep us on track.
Try serving these lower calorie suggestions for upcoming fall/winter events — from the ubiquitous office potluck to a Thanksgiving appetizer to a New Year’s snack. You will discover you can still indulge with decadent, heavenly foods without breaking your daily calorie limit.
WATCHING A FOOTBALL GAME
Serve: Savory Chicken Pot Pie
Skip the cheesy, calorie-laden nachos and buffalo wings, and make healthy pot pies using chicken, carrots, potatoes and peas, instead. “Dredge the chicken in flour before cooking to eliminate the need to make a separate roux for thickening,” says Libby Mills, MS, RD. Then, bake a stew with the protein and vegetables. Place several layers of filo dough on top of the mixture. You can serve the pies in individual ramekins for personalized tastes and diets (such as vegetarian).
AFTER A COLD OUTDOOR WORKOUT
Serve: Hot Chocolate
After a Thanksgiving 10K or a long run with friends, invite everyone over for some hot cocoa. Mills suggests embellishing it with a “with a drop of vanilla topped with frothed milk and sprinkled with cocoa powder.” If you’re into the latest turmeric, chai or matcha drinks, those are great warmer-uppers, too.
FOR A HOLIDAY POTLUCK
Serve: Baked Apple Slices
Most colleagues bring pies and decorated cookies for potluck desserts. For a healthier alternative, make a tasty treat full of seasonal flavors. To start, “slice apples thinly and lay out on a parchment-lined cookie sheet. Sprinkle the slices with a light dusting of cinnamon and bake at a low temperature,” says Mills. She recommends putting them in a closed-foil pouch so they will come out soft. If you prefer more of a potato-chip, crispy texture, leave the slices out of the foil.
THROWING A HOLIDAY PARTY
Serve: Gourmet Protein
Some super elegant proteins do not have tons of calories. For example, one cup of cooked lobster has just 129 calories, according to the United States Department of Agriculture (USDA) National Nutrient Database. For a cheaper, yet still healthy option, you can opt for King crab legs, which have 100 calories per 134 grams, about 1 leg. If you’re not into shellfish, 3.5 ounces of filet mignon equates to 220 calories.
AT A HOLIDAY MOVIE VIEWING PARTY
Serve: DIY Popcorn
Instead of the standard microwave popcorn, use air-popped popcorn and sprinkle with freshly shredded Parmesan cheese instead of loading up the butter, says Jenn Fillenworth, MS, RD. “Three cups of air-popped popcorn only contains 93 calories. Plus, it has 3.5 grams of dietary fiber that helps maintain GI health and helps you feel fuller longer,” she says.
FOR A HOLIDAY MORNING BREAKFAST
Top of high-fiber cereal or lightly sweetened Greek yogurt (try a drizzle of honey) with berries. One cup of raspberries only has 64 calories and 8 grams of fiber. For another protein-filled option, Fillenworth suggests adding berries to nonfat cottage cheese. “An entire cup of cottage cheese is only 105 calories,” she says.