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Cooking Basics

Merry and light: How to cut calories, not taste, from holiday meals

Want to get through the holidays without taking a few extra pounds into the 2015? 

Kristin Porter, author of a food and recipe blog Iowa Girl Eats, says it's not hard make healthy holiday dishes without sacrificing taste.

“It's all about moderation, enjoy yourself, because ‘tis’ the season,’ but be mindful about what you're eating," said Porter.

Her blog gives tips and tricks to people looking for tasty meal ideas without adding a lot of extra fat. 

As the mom of a young son, Porter has been gluten-free ever since giving birth. She says the main reasons people gain weight over the holidays is because they indulge without portion control.

She recommends enjoying holiday foods but in small servings. Be mindful of alcohol, she says, because it tends to cause people to overeat and is packed with calories. If at a party with an appetizer table, fill a plate and take it away to eat, instead of standing by the table and grazing.

Porter suggests cutting calories in recipes by making smart substitutions.

“Herbs are a great thing to add to any dish to add a lot of flavor but little to no calories,” said Porter.

Butter can be swapped for applesauce and Greek yogurt can be used in baked goods instead of heavy cream, sour cream, or butter. For healthier mashed potatoes, trade half the potatoes for steamed cauliflower. It won’t change the consistency or taste enough for picky eaters to notice, and they’ll be getting veggies while indulging.

Recipe: Healthier Mashed Potatoes

She recommends making side dishes with more veggies and less cream. Porter showed FoxNews.com how to make a quinoa, butternut squash and Brussels sprouts dish that is packed with flavor but not fat.

Recipe: Quinoa with Caramelized Butternut Squash and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

And as a way to get 2015 off to a fresh start, Porter also has a green detox smoothie for after the big meals, before or after a workout, or for a healthy breakfast.

Recipe: Dextox Smoothie

“It’s a great way to reset after you’ve indulged, and a great way to start the New Year on a healthy note,” said Porter.

For more healthy recipes and tips from Porter on keeping holiday meals merry and light check out IowaGirlEats.com.

Lauren Blanchard is a graduate of the Junior Reporter program at Fox News. She is now a multi-platform journalist and occasional general assignment news reporter. Follow her on Twitter: @LaurenBlanch12