Tips for Cutting Calories During the Holidays

Justin Walker, Cooking Light

This pecan-date pie cuts out about half the calories from a traditional pecan pie.

Cooking Light Magazine’s recipe for Pecan-Date Pie

There’s appetizers, eggnog, casseroles, pies and cakes. Nothing says decadence like a holiday meal. The South is known for its rich and delectable foods. And sweet and savory family recipes are what make Southern holidays what they are. But for those looking to cut a few calories before setting that New Year’s resolution to eat healthy, we’ve got you covered. Ann Pittman is executive editor of Cooking Light Magazine in Birmingham. She spoke to WBHM’s Esther Ciammachilli for our food series “Sound Bites” on some healthier holiday options.

On healthy appetizers

You don’t want to deprive yourself during the holidays. That’s why when you talk about healthier holiday eating a lot of times people kind of tune you out. But with appetizers [like dips], serve some vegetables with it as your dippers. I’m not going to say don’t serve chips or pita chips or tortilla chips with your guacamole or your spinach artichoke dip. But have lots of fresh veggies there too. The starchier dippers like the chips and bread, those are going to pack on calories really quick.

On serving salads with a holiday meal

Having a beautiful salad on the table is such a great strategy. People will love having something fresh and crunchy and light on the table. I like to make salads very pretty. Incorporate some unique things that will entice people to actually put the salad on their plate. Shave carrots into ribbons or use some watermelon radishes that are very pretty. If you yourself are looking to eat less of the heavy stuff, start by filling half your plate with the salad and then that’s going to force you – in a good way – to take smaller portions of some of those richer heavier foods.

On portion control

That’s probably the hardest thing about healthy eating is portion control. And when you’re having these foods that you probably only have maybe once or twice a year you want to kind of indulge, and maybe overindulge. But it’s so important to watch yourself. You know which foods are heavier. It’s the desserts. It’s the creamy casseroles. So don’t deprive yourself. Don’t tell yourself you can’t have them. That’s not realistic and it’s not fun and it’s not joyful. Just take smaller portions. Fill half your plate with the salad. And at the dessert buffet, take maybe really small portions of two or three things instead of one big slice of cake. You’re going to be more satisfied because you’re trying different things. But you’re just keeping the portions a little smaller.

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