Written by: Mikaela Zamarron

We have all probably heard the common joke about the winter weight that people put on during the holiday season from all the rich food, gatherings and lack of outdoor activities. With the pandemic around us, it makes getting exercise even more difficult, so it is harder to burn off the extra calories we might consume with the typical holiday food. If you have been looking for some tips on how to reduce the calories in both the holiday and everyday dishes, check out what we recommend to lighten up the recipes around you.



  1. Choose low-fat or non-fat versions of dairy products like milk, cheese, sour cream and yogurt. 
  2. Substitute sour cream in recipes for Greek Yogurt, it is low-fat while still being thick and creamy. 
  3. Use canola oil in place of butter when you bake. You can sub out half of the butter for canola oil if it calls for softened butter; however, if the recipe calls for melted butter, you can replace the complete amount with canola oil which is a healthier, unsaturated fat.  
  4. Instead of free pouring oil into your pans, use a measuring spoon to measure out the amount you need. Or you can use a nonstick cooking spray—there are even refillable containers you can pour your oil into instead of buying new cannisters of cooking spray when you run out! 
  5. Bake, broil or air fry! The current trend of air frying is nothing new—an air fryer is like an oven in a more convenient size and easy to use settings—so for the crispy Brussel sprouts this year, try popping them in the oven at a high temperature or in the air fryer under the frying option. 
  6. When choosing ingredients, choose ingredients that pack flavor on a smaller calorie budget. Try using cheeses with a stronger flavor so you can use a smaller amount but still enjoy the flavor. Use seasoning to make dishes flavorful instead of relying on fat, sugar and salt to make a dish tasty.  
  7. Skip rubbing down your turkey, chicken or ham with butter or oil. They are all fatty enough on their own to crisp up. Opt for a glaze that might add flavor without added fat. 
  8. Skim out the fat from your turkey drippings. Put your drippings in a measuring cup and leave them in the in the freezer for 20 minutes. The fat will rise to the top and be easy for you to skim off. You get all the flavor without the added fat.  
  9. For extra creamy potatoes, use a potato ricer or a sieve to make the potatoes extra finely mashed, and use nonfat options like milk, buttermilk or yogurt instead of butter, cream, or whole milk. You can also follow the trip above and add flavorful ingredients instead of relying on butter for flavor. 


  1. Use less of the topping in the recipe. When it comes to things like cheese, breadcrumbs and frosting, you can often cut the extra toppings in half and not really notice the difference, you might even be able to replace those options with healthier versions: herbs mixed with a strong cheese to add flavor, whole grain breadcrumbs or another crunchy topping like nuts/seeds, use a fruit compote or drizzle.  
  2. Reduce the amount of sugar in baking recipes, you won’t even notice the difference. You can take out 1/3 of the sugar in recipes without affecting the end product. 


  1. Swap whole wheat flour for white flour. You can substitute between ¼ and ½ of the all-purpose flour with whole wheat flour. Whatever you make will be nuttier, more flavorful and be higher in fiber. If you notice that the batter or dough is a little dry, just add a little more of the liquid.  
  2. Choose whole wheat options for pastas, breads and grains you eat. Substituting white rice, pasta or bread with a whole grain option can make a big difference in our fiber intake. We should aim for at least 50% of our grain products to be whole grain and if you are having something in a sauce, you won’t even notice the difference.  
  3. Incorporate more fruits and veggies into dishes. Instead of loading up on protein and grains on those holiday plate, try adding more veggies to your dishes to add bulk, fiber and flavor. Instead of only having onions and garlic in your stuffing, add carrots, celery, root vegetable or even winter squash. Make a deconstructed banana cream parfait adding more fruit and using granola or nuts for crunch instead of a buttery crust.  
  4. Leave skins on fruits and vegetables like apples, potatoes, cucumbers, etc. Not only does this make food prep easier, it adds more fiber to your dishes and doesn’t negatively affect the flavor or texture of the dish for most fruits and veggies.  

We hope you use these tips both during the holidays and in everyday cooking. Happy Holidays!