Easy swaps for lighter holiday treats

Not all holiday indulgences are diet-wreckers. Check out these delicious swaps that go easy on calories and fat:

Shrimp cocktail instead of crab cakes

Classic crab cakes are often filled with fattening fillers and then deep-fried, making them a pretty heavy appetizer. Just one fried crab cake packs about 290 calories and 19 grams of fat - and that’s before the creamy tartar sauce! Instead, have a waist-friendly shrimp cocktail. One serving (5 large shrimp with 2 tablespoons of cocktail sauce) has a mere 45 calories and 0 grams of fat. Shrimp is a great source of lean protein, which makes them both light and filling.

Filet mignon, not prime rib

Prime rib may be a holiday favorite, but keep in mind that this cut comes from the fattiest part of the cow. One slice can saddle you with 750 calories and 45 grams of fat – that’s almost half your calories for the whole day. Filet mignon is no less delicious, and it’s a much leaner cut of beef; a 4-ounce steak has only 180 calories and 8 grams of fat. Do the math and you’ll see that opting for filet will save you 570 calories and 37 grams of fat!

Green bean casserole rather than sweet potato casserole

Sweet potatoes are packed with vitamins and fiber, which makes them diet-wise. No so much if they go into a calorie and fat loaded casserole swimming in brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows. A tiny portion of sweet potato casserole has 390 calories and 12 grams of fat. For a lighter side dish, go with a green bean casserole. Green beans are low in calories and high in fiber and Vitamins A and C, so even if you top them with cream of mushroom soup and a spray of crispy fried onions, a satisfying serving has just 100 calories and 5 grams of fat.

Check out my delicious Not So Southern Green Bean Casserole recipe

Pumpkin instead of pecan pie

The problem with pecan pie is the calorie-packed filling, not the nuts.  At 500 calories and 37 grams of fat per serving, pecan pie tops the list of holiday pies to avoid. Pumpkin pie is just as festive, and its savory deliciousness comes mostly from pumpkin and spices – not gobs of sugar and butter. Mind you a serving still has 316 calories and 14 grams of fat so consider it an indulgence, but it comes with a healthy boost of fiber and vitamins A and C.

For more tips on healthy eating, drinking and losing weight, and for delicious high fiber meal plans and recipes, check out my latest book, The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with Fiber!

Tanya Zuckerbrot MS, RD, is a registered dietitian in New York City and the author of two bestselling diet books:  The Miracle Carb Diet: Make Calories and Fat Disappear – with fiber and The F-Factor Diet. Follow Tanya on Facebook, Twitter and LinkedIn