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Fitting in Holiday Desserts

Whether it’s pumpkin pie, cookies, or another treat, there are sure to be plenty of tempting desserts around the holidays. It's best to save sweets for special occasions, making the holidays a good time to allow for a special treat!

For this month’s meal makeover, we’ll show you some ways to fit a portion of tasty dessert into a holiday meal.

Plan Ahead and Substitute!

When it comes to sweets, the key is to plan ahead and keep portions small. Simply cut back on the amount of starchy foods you eat during dinner to "free up" some carbohydrate for dessert.

Let’s say you use Create Your Plate to fill your plate at dinner. Your original meal might look like this:

  • 3 ounces turkey breast (about ¼ of your plate)
  • 2 cups spinach salad with red bell pepper, walnuts, gorogonzola cheese, and balsamic vinaigrette (about ½ of your plate)
  • ½ cup mashed potatoes (about ¼ of your plate and 15 grams of carbohydrate)
  • ¾ cup of fresh fruit on the side (about 15 grams of carbohydrate)
  • 1 small whole wheat roll on the side (also about 15 grams of carbohydrate)

To fit in a serving of our bonus cookbook recipe Almond Joy Hot Chocolate (11 grams of carbohydrate for one cup), just skip one of the starchy foods on your plate to “make room” for it in your meal plan. Perhaps your mom only makes her famous mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving. In that case, skip the fruit or roll on the side. It’s all about balancing and trying to keep the amount of carbs you eat consistent with your usual plan. Make it work for you!

Let's say you want to fit in a cookie like our Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies (17 grams of carbohdyrate per cookie). Again, you might skip the fruit or the roll. You could also eat half of a roll and half the amount of fruit salad in anticipation of a cookie for dessert. That way, you'll still get to try a bit of everything.

Here are some more dessert portions that may be helpful to remember this holiday season:

  • 1 piece pumpkin pie (1/8 of an 8-inch pie) – about 25 grams carbohydrate
  • ½ cup fruit cobbler – 30-45 grams of carbohydrate
  • small, unfrosted brownie (1¼-inch square) – about 15 grams of carbohydrate
  • 3 gingersnaps – about 15 grams of carbohydrate
  • frosted cake (2-inch piece) – about 30 grams carbohydrate
  • 1 frosted cupcake – about 30 grams of carbohydrate
  • ½ cup regular pudding – 30 grams carbohydrate
  • ½ cup sugar-free pudding – 15 grams carbohydrate

When possible, curb your sweet tooth with something that includes some nutritious ingredients like fresh fruit, low-fat dairy, or whole grains. For example:

  • 1/3 cup of apple, pear, or berry crisp made with fresh fruit
  • 1/3 cup pudding made with skim milk and topped with fresh berries
  • 2 small chocolate-covered strawberries
  • an oatmeal cookie with dried fruit

We have lots of tasty dessert recipes here on Recipes for Healthy Living that you can bring to your next holiday party. Try:

Cranberry Oatmeal Cookies
Chocolate Pudding Cake
Almond Joy Hot Chocolate
Mini Pumpkin Tarts
Cinnamon Roasted Pears

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