These Recipes Prove That Holidays Don’t Have to Be Filled With Calories



This is the time of year when many people struggle to maintain their health and weight. The holidays often encourage individuals to overindulge and exercise less.

Here are some recipes that offer less calories, less fat or less sugar.

It only takes a few minutes to turn a side dish of plain rice into cranberry pecan rice pilaf. Reinvent brown rice with the simple addition of cranberries, pecans, fresh thyme and sauteed celery. Once you get the hang of this formula to bulk up rice, change the nuts and dried fruit to suit your taste.



  • 2 cups cooked brown basmati rice, room temperature
  • 1 1/2 teaspoons olive oil
  • 1 cup chopped onion
  • 3/4 cup chopped celery
  • 1/2 cup chopped pecans
  • 1/2 cup dried cranberries
  • 1 tablespoon fresh thyme leaves
  • 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt

Warm a large nonstick saute pan to medium heat. Add the olive oil, and saute the onion and celery. Once the vegetables become soft and tender, add the cooked rice, pecans, cranberries, thyme and salt. Mix until combined and warmed through.

Nutrition information per serving: 403 calories, 5.2 grams fat, 0 milligrams cholesterol, 312 milligrams sodium, 79 grams carbohydrates, 7.5 grams protein


Start to finish: 15 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 3 cups water
  • 12-ounce bag of cranberries
  • 1 large box of sugar-free cherry gelatin

Boil water and add cranberries. Gently boil for about 10 minutes. Add gelatin and cool.

Nutrition information per serving: 44 calories


Start to finish: 30-45 minutes
Servings: 10

  • ½ cup wild rice
  • ¼ cup white rice
  • 3 cups croutons
  • 1 cup fat-free chicken broth
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Salt and pepper
  • Approximately 1–2 cups of vegetables, including carrots (shredded), green peppers (julienned), celery (chopped) and onion (chopped)

Boil wild and white rice, and then drain. Add vegetables to the cup of chicken broth, and cook until tender. Add rice and mushrooms to vegetable mixture. Add croutons to vegetables and rice. Season with salt and pepper to taste.

Nutrition information per serving: 150 calories, 1 gram fat, o milligrams cholesterol, 156 milligrams sodium, 18 grams carbohydrates, 3.3 grams protein.


Start to finish: 30 minutes
Servings: 4

  • 3½ cups green beans, washed and trimmed
  • 1¼ cups fresh mushrooms, washed and sliced thin
  • 1/3 cup low-fat cream of mushroom soup
  • 1/3 cup skim milk
  • 2 tablespoon green onion, minced fine

Steam green beans in steamer until crisp, but tender (three to five minutes). Place mushrooms, soup, skim milk and green onion in a medium sauce pan and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to simmer, and cook briefly for two to three minutes or until mushrooms are tender. Stir frequently to prevent burning. Add green beans, and heat thoroughly.

Nutrition information per serving: 100 calories, 2 grams fat, o milligrams cholesterol, 34 grams carbohydrates, 15 grams fiber, 10.3 grams protein.


Start to finish: 70 minutes
Servings: 8

  • One 15-ounce can pumpkin
  • One 12-ounce can evaporated skim milk
  • 1-2 eggs or ¾ cup egg substitute
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1-2 tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla
  • 2/3 cup of sugar substitute appropriate for baking

Combine all ingredients, and beat until smooth. Pour into a 9-inch pie pan sprayed with cooking spray. Bake at 400 F for 15 minutes; reduce temperature to 325 F, and bake for an additional 45 minutes. The pie is done when the knife comes out clean.

Nutrition information per serving: 120 calories*, 2 grams fat, 22 milligrams cholesterol, 207 milligrams sodium, 10 grams carbohydrates, 4.5 grams protein.

*Optional: Add 2 tablespoons of whipped topping for an additional 50 calories.

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