Eliminate a hundred calories per day with these easy tips and ingredient substitutions.

This year Americans will celebrate the holidays from November 26 to January 1 — 36 days — with parties, traditions and indulgences. Whether you’re having cocktails with friends, appetizers from the holiday buffet or cookies from the office exchange, consuming 100 extra calories each day can easily go unnoticed until a naughty pound appears on your first weigh-in of the New Year.

With these tips, it’s easy to eliminate 100 calories per day in your kitchen workshop — and don’t worry, they’ll only be missed around your waistline. Saving 100 calories for 36 days can give a nice jump on New Year’s resolutions.

App-e-teasing appetizers

A bite can be worth 1,000 calories…OK, almost. Creamy dips, bacon-y bites, cheesy spreads and surprises tucked into puff pastry are often loaded with high-fat ingredients like butter, bacon, cheese and cream — even healthy fats like olive oil, mean lots of calories. Per gram, fat has nine calories — more than double the four calories per gram in carbohydrate or protein.

A teaspoon of fat adds up fast to 45 calories, which slows digestion and can make you feel full. Eating an appetizer shouldn’t squelch your appetite. Going light is key.

Low-fat sour cream, mayonnaise or cream cheese can be substituted for the regular version any time. Blend fat-free with low-fat ingredients. Dips and spreads can be made with ½ cup light mayo and ½ cup fat-free sour cream or fat-free Greek yogurt instead of the called for one cup mayonnaise. This will save 105 calories and 136g fat. Use fat-free mayonnaise in deviled eggs.

Displacing half the sour cream in dip with chopped veggies like peppers, onions, scallions or celery reduces the calories — most of which are fat, by almost half.

Especially true for stronger cheeses, grated cheese versus sliced extends the flavor while using less on flat breads, hot gratin dips, cheese balls and garnishing crackers. Low-fat cheese, but not fat-free, works for fondue.

Using turkey bacon in recipes calling for a pound of bacon can save 260 calories, 22g fat and 10g saturated fat. Using half a slice of turkey bacon to wrap baked sweet potato cubes, water chestnuts, melon wedges or dates in place of a strip of bacon save 28 calories, about 18 of which are from fat.

Use half the called for bacon or pork sausage to maintain the savory flavor. Adding chopped veggies can make up the volume and an egg substitute can bind the mixture (if necessary). Reduce bacon or sausage crumbles — even nuts and dried fruits — by switching them for decoration versus an ingredient.

Flaky layers of crispy crust make great shells and wraps for the most delectable appetizer. But when the layers are separated by slathered butter – the calories are high. Use phyllo dough in place of puff pastry to save 71 calories and almost all of the 10g of fat per ounce.

Exchanging cookie calories

The beloved holiday treat — cookies. They say the best things come in small packages, and so true with just a few small changes. You’ve probably noticed that first bite, maybe the second, taste amazing; but after that the tasting pleasure declines. Try making smaller cookies. Rolling a sugar cookie dough ball the size of a pecan will reduce a 2 ½ inch cookie to just a couple bites and save about 50 calories per cookie.

Fiber-rich fruit purees like apple sauce, prune butter, pumpkin puree, mashed over ripe bananas — even low-calorie zucchini or cauliflower purees — can replace up to half the fat in a drop and bar cookie recipe. Reduce the called for sugar when using sweet fruit purees. The net savings is a whopping 725 calories.

For most cookies, reducing a cup of sugar by 1/3 can save 225 calories without compromising flavor and texture. Sprinkling colored sugar on top before baking gives the visual and initial sweet taste of sugar. Using half of the 1 cup of chopped walnuts called for can save 383 calories, almost all of which are from fat! Use bittersweet chocolate (70 percent cocoa) for less sugar more flavanols that may help prevent heart disease.

Calorie Count




Butter 1 cup, 2 sticks 1628
Oil 4 ounces/ ½ cup 955
Apple Butter 4 ounces/ ½ cup 244
Pureed pumpkin 4 ounces/ ½ cup 42
Pureed zucchini, steamed 4 ounces/ ½ cup 18
Cream, heavy whipping 1 cup 414
Non-fat (skim) evaporated milk 1 cup 200
Cream Cheese 1 cup/ 8 ounces 793
Low-fat cream cheese 1 cup/ 8 ounces 482
Fat-free Greek yogurt 1 container/ 6 ounces 100
Mayonnaise 1 cup 1496
Light Mayonnaise 1 cup 571
Fat-free mayonnaise-like 1 cup 215
Sour cream 1 cup 444
Reduced-fat sour cream 1 cup 327
Fat-free sour cream 1 cup 170
Cheddar Cheese 8 ounces by weight 921
Low-fat sharp cheddar cheese 4 ounces by weight 196
Blue Cheese 2 ounces by weight 200
Puffed pastry, frozen 1 ounce 156
Phyllo dough, frozen 1 ounce 85
Bacon 1 slice 43
Turkey Bacon 1 slice 30

Libby Mills, MS, RDN, LDN, is a sought-after Nutrition and Cooking Coach, speaker, author, radio talk show host and spokesperson for the Academy of Nutrition and Dietetics known in health fields as a food and nutrition authority. Libby markets and teaches nutrition through scrumptiously fun culinary experiences, as well as entertaining, imaginative communication to all ages, ethnicities and socioeconomic backgrounds. She engages audiences with experiences from her Midwestern roots, urban living, and endless quest for healthy, flavorful, good food.