Mingle a few reduced-fat cheeses in with your usual selections to offer health-conscious guests a lighter option. 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, oranges, and purple grapes.
Jazz Up Your Fruit Plate
Dunk strawberries, pineapple chunks, banana slices, and other cut fruits in melted dark chocolate (at least 70 percent cocoa) for a special sweet treat. The dark stuff delivers a much higher concentration of heart-healthy antioxidants than milk chocolate.
Go Skinny Dipping
Substitute nonfat Greek or traditional yogurt for calorie-laden sour cream or mayonnaise in any of your favorite dip recipes. This nutritious and incredibly rich-tasting product contains a fraction of the calories and saturated fat of traditional dip bases. It’s also a great source of protein. If you prefer the taste of mayo or sour cream, simply go for the light versions.
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 potatoes, swap the usual suspects for 1% or skim milk and just a few pats of trans-fat-free soft tub margarine. Ramp up the flavor by adding fresh herbs, spices, and other flavor enhancers, such as sweet roasted garlic, or even smoky hot chipotle peppers.
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 less sugar to your recipe. A hint of fresh ginger and cinnamon adds a unique twist.
Sip Slim with Skim
It’s fine to indulge in a few festive hot drinks, like hot chocolate and peppermint lattes, this time of year, but it just makes sense to trim calories where you can. Request skim milk instead of whole to save up to 100 calories per 16-ounce serving.
En‘light’en Egg Nog
Use your favorite recipe but swap out half the heavy cream for fat-free half and half (or evaporated skim milk) to save a whopping 280 calories per cup!
Slim Down Apple Crisp
Take your favorite apple pie recipe, cut the sugar in half, forget about the crust, and dumple the apple filling directly into a glass pie plate sprayed with vegetable oil. Top with a mixture of rolled oats, a little brown sugar, cinnamon, and a couple tablespoons of butter or soft tub spread worked together with your fingertips until crumbly.
Swap Fudge for Fudgy Brownies
Instead of decking out your dessert spread with a platter of sinfully rich chocolate fudge, serve a plate of brownies cut them into small, bite-sized squares (they’re like dessert hors d’ouervres!). Brownies are a far cry from health food, but they’re less dense than fudge, so you get way more bang-for-your-buck, calorie-wise. Trim the stats even more by replacing the oil that goes into boxed mixes with unsweetened applesauce.
Put Pound Cake on a Diet
Instead of the typical recipe (which incorporates a full pound—that’s 4 sticks—of butter!), prepare a low-fat version with nonfat yogurt or low-fat buttermilk. The tangy yogurt or buttermilk produces a tender, low-cal cake that’s delicious topped with frozen, thawed berries and a dab of freshly whipped cream.