Calorie Watch: Healthy Alternatives for Holiday Snacking

By Amanda Ferrara, Student at New York University

The time between Thanksgiving and New Year’s is hard on the health-conscious person. With all of the extra sweet and fatty foods served at this time of year, it is hard to maintain a healthy lifestyle!

In addition, the National Institutes of Health reported that holiday eating can result in up to two extra pounds every year. Below are some healthy (yet delicious) alternatives to common holiday snacks so that you can maintain the healthy eating you have been doing all year even with all of the tempting treats around.

-By volunteering to bring a dessert to your upcoming holiday parties, you are being both a good guest and providing yourself with some healthy substitutes to the not-so-healthy holiday desserts that might be offered. Make treats that are healthy indulgences such as these chocolate chickpea cookies or these 20-calorie chocolate meringue cookies. Dark chocolate strawberries are also a good choice, as they are easy to make and are high in antioxidants. But if you really want to go the extra mile, play experienced baker for the day and impress your fellow party guests by bringing this elaborate (yet easier-than-it-looks) winter fruit salad.

-Instead of lattes and eggnog, have some warm apple cider with cinnamon. Recent research from WebMD shows that a nutrient in apples acts as an antioxidant and protects brain cells. Plus, it is delicious and festive! If you are really craving something sweeter, make this hot chocolate recipe instead. A steaming mug of this offers a lot of health benefits — up to three times more antioxidants than a cup of green tea!

-In lieu of unhealthy desserts or hors d’oeuvres, treat yourself to some Greek yogurt with dried fruit and honey. Add some walnuts (they are a source of omega-3 fatty acids to ward off cardiovascular disease) or cholesterol-fighting macadamia nuts. You could also have cheese with thinly-sliced pears. I personally love the Laughing Cow cheese wedges; they are just 35 calories per wedge and are deliciously creamy!

-When baking fruit pies, use half of the amount of sugar that the recipe requires. This does not change the chemistry of the pie and the fruit inside will provide enough sweetness to still taste great (According to Keri Gans, R.D., a spokesperson for the American Dietetic Association in a recent Women's Health article). Gans also says that you can use 2 percent milk instead of heavy cream in pudding pies, which will save you about 700 calories per cup!

One last tip: make sure you do not leave your house for any party or holiday dinner on an empty stomach. Many people assume that not eating all day will allow you to feast yet not exceed your daily caloric intake come dinner time, but the reality is that you are likely to eat more than you intended. Keep yourself at a satiated level of hunger by having healthy snacks throughout the day to prevent overeating at holiday meals!


Image: greenphile /

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