Did you know that the average American eats somewhere in the neighborhood of 3,000 to 4,500 calories during a holiday turkey dinner? Whew! No wonder most of us take l-o-n-g naps afterward! When it’s time to waddle up to the dessert table, we can pack on another 300+ calories with just one slice of pumpkin pie!

Lowering that calorie count

So, how can you avoid eating up to 25% of your daily calories in one serving of dessert? Try substituting high-fat and -sugar ingredients with ones that have fewer calories and, in some cases, more fiber (which helps to offset the carbohydrate count).

Healthy desserts are not too good to be true. You can find many delicious, sweet recipes; the key is to look at the ingredients. Nutritious ingredients such as dark chocolate, oats, maple syrup, almond flour, coconut oil, walnuts, almonds, unsweetened yogurt, and all berries (e.g., blackberries, blueberries, raspberries, etc.) can be used.

When baking with substituted ingredients, you may need to make slight adjustments to baking temperatures and times, depending on ingredients. Try these tricks, which have almost no effect on flavor:

  • Sugar: In most cases you can simply reduce the amount called for in a recipe. You can also replace all or a portion of granulated white and packed brown sugars (which contain 49 and 51 calories per tablespoon, respectively) with sucralose (which is about 600 times sweeter than sugar and contains only 6 calories per tablespoon) or stevia (200 times sweeter and 45 calories). Tip: Before making these substitutions, try using them in something like coffee, tea, or breakfast cereal to determine how much you want to use versus the amount of sugar required in a recipe. You can also test a recipe by making a small batch first.
  • Fat: Butter and oil not only add moisture, flavor, and “mouth feel,” but also help us feel full. But these calorie-laden ingredients can be replaced with healthier ingredients that have the same attributes. Try substituting:
    • all of the butter or oil with an equal amount of puréed ripe avocado
    • half of the butter with an equal amount of unsweetened applesauce1
    • ⅓ of a cup of oil with 1 cup of milled flaxseed2
  • Carbohydrate: When keeping an eye on carb intake, you can add fiber to just about any recipe. In addition to unflavored fiber powders, try finely ground flaxseed or chia seeds. You can also substitute some portions of flour with oat flour (which can be made at home).

Holiday dessert recipe

For the holidays, the best thing you can do is be proactive and make and bring your own healthy dessert. It’s a gift you can give everyone. These chocolate truffles, which feature fresh and freeze-dried berries and are super-easy to make, are not only gorgeous but also vegan. Don’t let “vegan” throw you off; these desserts are delicious! Better yet, each one has only 23 calories. They’re also gluten free, low fat, and work for people on the paleo diet.

Healthy Dark Chocolate Strawberry Truffles3

16 servings; 0.5 g fat (0 saturated fat), 0 cholesterol, 65.4 mg sodium, 6.2 g carbohydrate (2.2 g dietary fiber, 3.1 g sugar), 1 g protein per serving

  • To help ensure proper amounts, scoop each dry ingredient into a measuring cup using a fork, which acts like a sifter.
  • A food scale can also be used to verify dry ingredient amounts, which can help ensure that the truffle mixture isn’t too dry.
  • For a sweeter chocolate taste, add ¼ to ½ teaspoon of vanilla crème stevia to the maple syrup, or substitute additional maple syrup for an equal amount of the puréed strawberries (the strawberry flavor will not be as strong).
  • If the cocoa powder hasn’t completely mixed into the other ingredients after a few minutes of stirring, add any kind of milk, ½ teaspoon at a time, until the mixture comes together.
  • Since the chocolate mixture is sticky, you’ll want to wipe your hands with a damp paper towel after shaping each truffle.
  • The truffles can be made ahead of time and stored at least a week if kept refrigerated in an airtight container.
  • ½ cup (70 ml) whole strawberries (fresh or frozen and thawed)
  • 1 cup (80 g) unsweetened cocoa powder
  • 3 tbsp (45 ml) pure maple syrup, honey, or agave syrup
  • ⅓ cup (8 g) freeze-dried strawberries
  1. Place the fresh (or frozen and thawed) strawberries in a food processor or blender. Pulse until smooth and liquified (should yield slightly more than ¼ cup of purée).
  2. Place the cocoa powder in a small bowl. Make a well in the center. Pour in the strawberry purée and maple syrup. Stir until everything is completely incorporated. Chill for at least 30 minutes. (If chilling for longer than 2 hours, cover the top of the bowl with foil or plastic wrap to prevent the mixture from drying out.)
  3. While the mixture chills, line a baking sheet with wax paper. Place the freeze-dried strawberries in a zip-lock bag. Press out the air and seal. Put the bag inside another zip-lock bag, press out the air, and seal. Gently crush the strawberries into a fine powder with a rolling pin, pan, or plate. Transfer the powder to a small bowl.
  4. Remove the chocolate mixture from the refrigerator; roll it into 16 balls. After shaping each truffle, roll it in the powdered strawberries, and place it on the baking sheet. Transfer all truffles into an airtight container. Cover and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Teladoc is here for you 24/7 during the holidays

If you or an eligible family member gets sick with a non-emergency condition such flu, upper respiratory infection, food poisoning, upset stomach, or nausea, you can rely on Teladoc anytime, anywhere you are, even out of town. Our U.S. board-certified physicians can help diagnose and recommend treatments and, when medically necessary, send a prescription to a nearby pharmacy. Use our time-saving app to request a visit, receive a reminder before your visit, and actually see and talk to the doctor.

Your friends at Teladoc wish you a happy and healthy holiday season!



This portion of the Teladoc website occasionally offers health, fitness, and nutritional information and is provided for educational purposes only. You cannot rely on any information provided here as a substitute for or replacement of professional medical advice, diagnosis, or treatment. Teladoc cannot assure that the information contained on this site always includes the most recent findings or developments with respect to the particular subject matter covered.

If you ever have any concerns or questions about your health, you should always consult with a physician or other healthcare professional. Do not disregard, avoid, or delay obtaining medical or health-related advice from your healthcare professional because of something you may have read on this site. The use of any information provided on this site is solely at your own risk.

If you are in the United States and think you are having a medical or health emergency, call your healthcare professional, or 911, immediately.