This month is dedicated to watching holiday shows, sales on gifts, and football. Lots and lots of football. Somewhere in there we probably need to cook too. But nowhere in there do we want to watch our weight. Want a few tasty ways to enjoy holiday dishes and treats without as much guilt? Try replacing standard ingredients such as potatoes, butter, whole milk, granulated sugar, and egg yolks — we’ll show you how. (Tasty tip: Since nobody wants to suffer a dinner disaster, you can always make a “test batch” before a big meal.)

See ya later, tater: Well-prepared mashed potatoes are almost an art form. But here’s an ingenious way to cut the crazy-high calorie and carbohydrate count: substitute cooked cauliflower for half the potatoes! The taste and texture blend well together, and the nutritional data may surprise you:

Potato 1 cup, diced 116 26
Cauliflower 1 cup, chopped 27 5

The easiest way to prepare the cauliflower is to steam it until you can pierce it with a fork. Let it cool then plop it in a food processor. After the cauliflower is “mashed” to your liking, combine it with the mashed potatoes and add seasonings.

Bananas, not butter: Believe it or not, instead of butter you can use bananas and even avocados in baked goods such as breads, cakes, cookies, and muffins. All three foods add moisture and tenderness, but these two replacement ingredients have far better calorie and fat stats:

Butter 1/2 cup 814 92
Avocado 1/2 cup, pureed 184 17
Banana 1/2 cup, mashed 100 <1

When making the substitutions, you’re not only saving on overall fat count but also cutting way down on saturated fat: half a cup cup of butter has 59 grams of heart-unhealthy sat fat! Avocado has less than 3 grams, and banana has almost none.

Skinny up on the milk: Did you know that you can substitute 2% milk for whole milk in almost any dish? Here’s how much you can save in calories and fat:

Whole Milk 1 cup (8 fluid ounces) 148 12
2% milk 1 cup 124 <5

Since baking often needs exact measurements, this dairy substitution guide can help you work out the conversion for a recipe.

Soothe your sweet tooth: Sucralose (brand name: Splenda®) is an easy substitute for sugar because the replacement ratio is 1:1 — one cup of sucralose is equivalent to one cup of white granulated sugar. While the text and texture are slightly different from sugar, sucralose can easily be used in cooking (as opposed to table use) and almost no one will know. Here’s the calorie and carb payoff:

Sugar 1/2 cup (4 dry ounces) 387 97
Sucralose 1/2 cup 48 12

If you’re a little concerned about how those gingerbread cookies will come out, try replacing only half of the sugar with sucralose. (Shopping hack: If you don’t want to bother with the measurements, you can find sucralose/white sugar and sucralose/brown sugar blends in the baking aisle.)

Take the devil out of deviled eggs: A favorite year-round appetizer is deviled eggs. Looking for a quick and absolutely delicious way to bring the flavor but ditch the cholesterol (and some of the prep mess)? Use hummus instead of egg yolks! Ready-made hummus in a variety of flavors can be found in the deli section of most grocery stores. If you’re not ready to make the full switch, try replacing part of your filling recipe with hummus (plain hummus is a good way to start). You’ll get rave reviews from party guests!

By now you might actually be hungry, so go ahead and have fun in the kitchen. But before you pull out the knives and hand mixer, make sure you download the Teladoc app so that you’ll have a board-certified doctor on hand 24/7 if you need expert, non-emergency care. We’re always here to help you and your family have the healthiest, happiest holiday season!


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