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The CalorieKing’s Best Choice Holiday Foods

The holiday season means good food – often too much of it!  But you can avoid weight gain during the holidays with careful menu planning and sensible eating.  Get a head start with our suggestions below:

Healthy Snack

Vegetable Snacks: Best Choice!


Appetizers and pre-dinner nibbles can add substantial calories to your holiday calorie intake. Also, be aware that salty foods and snacks can make you thirsty; a problem if you quench your thirst with calorie-laden soda, fruit juice or alcohol.  Be sure to keep water within reach!

CalorieKing Best Choice:

3 oz. vegetable sticks and 1 oz. fat free ranch dip

55 calories, 0g fat and 12 carbs

Instead of:

1 oz. regular potato chips and regular ranch dip

280 calories, 20g fat and 17 carbs

SAVE: 225 calories, 20g of fat and 5g carbs!



A Holiday Turkey

You CAN save calories with your turkey if you remember some key tips.  Stick to the light meat and remove the skin before serving.  Avoid the self-basting birds that can be higher in fat, and baste using fat-free ingredients such as wine or soup stock.  Use non-stick cooking spray for greasing the pan.

CalorieKing Best Choice:

4 oz. light meat (breast, back) without skin

180 calories, 4g fat and 34g protein

Instead of:

4 oz. dark meat (leg, thigh) with skin

250 calories, 13g fat and 30g protein

SAVE: 70 calories, 9g fat and gain an extra 4g protein!


A holiday time treat, ham often comes with different cured flavors such as honey roasted, spiced, brandied and more.  Remember the cures can be high in sugar and add calories. Trim any visible fat and baste the ham yourself using fat-free ingredients.  Also be aware of the higher fat and sodium content if you are on restricted diets.


Roasted Ham

CalorieKing Best Choice:

3 oz. lean, plain-roasted ham

134 calories, 5g fat and 21g protein

Instead of:

3 oz. regular plain roasted ham

207 calories, 15g fat and 18g protein

SAVE: 73 calories, 10g fat and gain an extra 3g fat!

NOTE: Ham is high in sodium; some 1130mg for a 3 oz. portion!


There are a few tricks to keeping this holiday classic healthy.  Don’t cook stuffing inside the bird where it can absorb the fat from the turkey.  Try making your own low-fat stuffing without butter. Use fresh whole-grain breadcrumbs, water or low-fat chicken stock and add plenty of spices and vegetables for flavor.  Consider alternative recipes that use wild rice.  Be aware that most packaged brands are high in sodium.


Stove Cooked Stuffing

CalorieKing Best Choice:

4oz. (1/2 cup) plain stuffing cooked in the oven

120 calories and 1g fat

Instead of:

4oz. (1/2 cup) stuffing cooked with the bird

210 calories and 12g fat

SAVE: 90 calories and 11g fat!

Sweet Potatoes

Traditional candied sweet potatoes are a holiday treat but remember this preparation can add extra calories, carbohydrates and fat to an already delicious, sweet vegetable!  Try them plain or plain mashed and garnished with herbs and apples or dried fruit.

Baked Sweet Potato

Baked Herbed Sweet Potato

CalorieKing Best Choice:

1 4oz. baked sweet potato

100 calories, 0g fat and 25 carbs

Instead of:

4 oz. sweet potato casserole

263 calories, 9g fat and 41g carbs

SAVE: 163 calories, 9g fat and 16g carbs!

Cranberry Sauce

If you’re a fan of cranberry sauce, keep in mind that it’s laden with sugar and calories. Limit yourself to a 1 tbsp. (3/4 oz.) serving.  Or, make a sugar-free homemade sauce with fresh mashed cranberries, a calorie-free sugar substitute, orange zest and a splash of balsamic vinegar.

Cranberry sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

CalorieKing Best Choice:

2.5 oz. (1/4 cup) low sugar cranberry sauce

30 calories, 0g fat and 10g carbs

Instead of:

2.5 oz. (1/4 cup) regular jellied cranberry sauce

110 calories, 0g fat and 25g carbs

SAVE: 70 calories and 15g carbs!

Delicious Desserts

It wouldn’t be the holidays without a little bit of dessert.  It doesn’t have to be a calorie trap if you make some smart choices and keep your portion sizes at a minimum.  Stay away from the higher calorie pies and stick to the lower/no fat options for toppings.


CalorieKing Best Choice:

4 oz. (or 1/8th of a 9” pie) pumpkin pie

Pumpkin Pie

Beautiful Pumpkin Pie

240 calories, 10g fat and 30 carbs

Instead of:

4 oz. (or 1/8th of a 9” pie) pecan pie

455 calories, 20g fat and 65g carbs

SAVE: 215 calories, 10g fat and 35g carbs!

Frozen Desserts:

CalorieKing Best Choice:

4 oz. (1/2 cup) non-fat vanilla frozen yogurt

100 calories, 0g fat and 20g carbs

Instead of:

4 oz.(1/2 cup) 10% fat regular vanilla ice cream

235 calories, 13g fat and 27g carbs

SAVE: 135 calories, 13g fat and 7 carbs!

Frozen Yogurt

Frozen Yogurt & Fruit: Best Choice!

Whipped Toppings:

CalorieKing Best Choice:

2oz. (1/4 cup) Fat Free Reddi Whip ®

10 calories, 0g fat and 2 carbs

Instead of:

2oz. (1/4 cup) 37% heavy cream, whipped

105 calories, 11g fat and 1 carb

You’ll Save: 95 calories and 11g fat!

We know you are looking to get healthy!  Here’s our tips to Beating Holiday Weight Gain!

Looking for more Best Choices?  Check out our comprehensive guide for Smart Swaps for Healthy Cooking.

We’ve got great tips for Healthy Cooking on a Budget right here!