Lightened Up Holiday Sides

To make your holiday meals healthier, try these tips to cut calories and fat in your favorite side dishes.

Bread & Rolls

Bread and rolls offer some of the easiest opportunities to lighten up your meal. Swap high-calorie white flour for wheat to create healthier homemade bread. Use egg substitute in place of whole eggs in rolls, and you’ll cut about 60 calories and 5 grams of fat per egg. Replace oil with nonfat yogurt or applesauce to keep your baked goods moist while dramatically reducing their fat content. Try using zero-calorie sugar substitutes instead of granulated white sugar to eliminate empty calories.

Candied Yams/Sweet Potatoes

Try adding only half as much butter to candied yams or sweet potatoes as the recipe calls for. Skip the marshmallows and use fruit juice or chunks of real fruit for added sweetness. Reduce or eliminate honey and syrup in favor of low-calorie spices like cinnamon and nutmeg.


Rather than covering them with butter, use herbs and spices to season vegetables, or roast a selection of your favorite vegetables in olive oil. You can also add fruit to complement the vegetables’ natural flavor without adding fat. Try carrots and dried cranberries or squash and sliced apples for a unique and delicious combination.

Green Bean Casserole

To lighten the traditional green bean casserole, bake chopped onions to create your own low-fat, crispy topping and use 98% fat free cream of mushroom soup instead.


Replace a portion of the bread in your favorite stuffing recipe with chopped onions or vegetables. You’ll cut empty calories while adding fiber and nutrients. Use whole wheat or low-calorie bread or replace the bread altogether with rice.

Mashed Potatoes

To cut fat without sacrificing flavor, try switching from whole milk to skim, or use equal amounts of each. Consider using fat-free sour cream or plain yogurt in place of butter to create a creamy texture and add flavor. Swap butter and salt for fresh garlic or Parmesan cheese to create a unique taste with a fraction of the calories. To really lighten up your holiday mashed potatoes, switch your plain white potatoes for a healthier alternative. Try mashed sweet potatoes, or a combination of mashed cauliflower, parsnips, celery root and/or rutabaga for a similar taste and texture, with fewer calories and higher levels of nutrients.

Pumpkin Pie

Although the traditional recipes call for sweetened condensed milk or cream, you can cut back on fat by using creamy lite coconut milk instead.

Cranberry Sauce

Avoid the high fructose corn syrup and make cranberry sauce from scratch. Cut back on the sugar even more by using fruits like apples in its place.


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