Lighten up!

How to shave calories from holiday favorites

ShopSmart: November 2010

Sorry to be a killjoy, but you could easily scarf down 1,360 calories in a typical turkey dinner with mashed potatoes and gravy, a couple of veggie sides, and a roll. And that's without the pie! Figure another 320 calories for a slice of pumpkin; 500 for pecan. Here are some calorie-trimming tricks from our test-kitchen pros.

Calories: 440 per 8-ounce cup
Lighten it up: Use a low-fat, store-bought version and save 120 calories. Replacing a jigger of rum with rum extract saves 100 more calories.

Calories: About 100 per 4-ounce glass
Lighten it up: Serve red-wine spritzers. Mix half wine and half soda water in a wineglass, add a slice of lime, and you have a festive drink for half the calories.

Calories: 110 per ounce of cheddar cheese; 15 per water cracker
Lighten them up: For a nice, calorie-controlled portion, slice the cheese and serve it on the crackers. You can cut smaller pieces and make the cheese stretch further. To make it a little more healthful, serve cheese on a slice of zucchini instead of a cracker.

Calories: 350 in one large muffin
Lighten it up: Mini versions are just as delicious for about 50 calories each. Hey, there's enough starch on the table!

Calories: 120 in ½ cup
Lighten them up: Skip the butter and use low-fat milk or sour cream to fluff them up. Or omit the butter and cream and make smashed potatoes; the skins are left on, so you'll get a hit of fiber, too. Simply steam or boil cut-up potatoes, drain, and smash with a little olive oil and salt and pepper to taste.

Calories: 50 in ¼ cup
Lighten it up: Use a little more chicken broth and a little less of the turkey drippings to reduce fat in your turkey dinner. A gravy separator can remove some of the excess fat from pan juices. Or chill the gravy, skim off the fatty layer that will form, and reheat.

Calories: 170 per 1-inch slice
Lighten it up: Choose whole-berry sauce and boost the fiber. Or cut the sugar by using fresh, bagged cranberries to make your own. To sneak in more vitamins and calcium, use calcium-fortified orange juice instead of water.

Calories: 110 in 1 cup
Lighten it up: Use fresher-tasting frozen green beans and low-fat mushroom soup, top the casserole with your own caramelized onions, and ditch the fried onion rings.

Calories: 180 in ½ cup
Lighten it up: Omit the butter and moisten the stuffing with chicken broth. To boost fiber and reduce sodium, make your own stuffing using croutons from stale whole-wheat bread instead of using a mix. Cut the bread into cubes and use it in any stuffing recipe.

Calories: 320 in an average slice
Lighten it up: You can't have a turkey dinner without the pie, but go easy on the cream. Using reduced-fat evaporated milk in the recipe will give you the same creamy texture and taste, and you'll save about 87 calories per slice. If you want apple pie, make an open-faced tart and save about 63 calories per slice by losing the top crust.

E-mail Newsletters

FREE e-mail Newsletters!
Choose from cars, safety, health, and more!
Already signed-up?
Manage your newsletters here too.

More From Consumer Reports

The Best Matching Washers and Dryers These washer-dryer pairs cleaned up in Consumer Reports' tests.
Best 4K TVs to Buy Right Now The top picks from the hundreds of 4K TVs we've tested.
Best New Car Deals Save money on the cars that Consumer Reports recommends.
How to Pick the Right Size Generator for Your House Add up the items you need to power before making your choice.


Cars Build & Buy Car Buying Service
Save thousands off MSRP with upfront dealer pricing information and a transparent car buying experience.

See your savings


Mobile Get Ratings on the go and compare
while you shop

Learn more