Plan your menu to include plenty of fruits, vegetables, lean meats, seafood, whole grains, and low-fat dairy.
To shave calories, go easy when adding nuts, cheese, cream sauces, gravy, butter, and whipped cream.
2. Start the Party Light
Most appetizers tend to be loaded with calories. And it is so easy to over eat them before the meal.
Make it easier on your guests by offering light and satisfying appetizers. For tempting yet healthy appetizers, offer shrimp cocktails, whole-grain crackers with reduced-fat cheese, vegetables with a low-fat yogurt dip, or fresh fruit skewers.
3. Harness the Diet Power of Produce
Add more simple vegetable and fruit dishes to your menu instead of heavy dishes with sauces. Your guests will fill up on healthy fiber without lots of extra calories.
For example, green bean almandine with a squeeze of lemon is healthier than traditional green bean casserole. Simple peas or corn are healthier than creamed peas or corn. But if you must have casserole, use low-fat soup, increase the veggies, and top it with a crunchy whole-grain cereal instead of fried onions.
4. Go Frozen in Winter
Fresh is usually the best when fruits and vegetables are in season. But when prices are high in winter, head to the frozen food aisle.
“Frozen fruits and vegetables are usually less expensive and can be more nutritious because they are picked at their peak ripeness and frozen immediately” says American Dietetic Association spokeswoman Sarah Krieger, RD. Buy frozen produce in bags, use only what you need, and save more by not wasting spoiled produce.
Canned foods can also be a healthy option. Read the nutrition labels to find fruits and vegetables with less added sodium and sugar, Krieger says. Reduce the sodium and sugar solutions even more by rinsing the vegetable or fruit under cold water before you cook.
5. Respect Special Requests
As you plan your holiday menu, ask if guests have any food preferences or intolerances. For example, a dear friend may be lactose intolerant. A favorite cousin may have cut red meat from his diet.