7 Holiday Treats Under 500 Calories

Don’t let the holiday season weigh you down. These festive snacks are guilt-free and some even include leftovers.

1 / 8

It often seems like the winter holidays are synonymous with plates piled with high-calorie foods and desserts, along with the tons of leftovers saved for the next day.

Sure, indulging in your favorite bites during a special day might be harmless, but keeping refrigerators loaded with goodies for an entire season could spell trouble for the whole family. To make sure kids get the proper nutrition they need, we enlisted the help of Roger de la Torre, MD, a bariatric surgeon and obesity medicine specialist with Lee's Summit Medical Center in Lee's Summit, Missouri.

He offers tips to avoid overindulging during the most decadent time of year and alternatives to help sate both sweet and salty cravings. These treats are perfect for small hands, but even grown-ups are sure to enjoy them.

2 / 8
Strawberry santa hats

Dessert doesn't get more darling than this. Ruby red strawberries contain fewer than 50 calories per cup, are low in fat and loaded with vitamin C.

This treat is a festive way to help kids reach their daily fruit goals—which is 1 to 2 cups per day—and can be put together in just a few minutes. Whip a quarter cup of nonfat ricotta cheese with half a teaspoon of vanilla extract. Remove the leafy, green tops from a cup of strawberries and slice the pointed tip off each. Add a dollop of your mixture to the larger piece of strawberry and replace the "hat." Add a face to your fruit with two mini dark chocolate chips. Kids can also build the Santa hats themselves. Slice the fruit and let your young ones do the rest! This dessert contains about 100 calories.

3 / 8
Break-apart dark chocolate bark

Craving a chocolate dessert? There are other ways to indulge your cravings. "The holidays can be a difficult time," de la Torre says "There are temptations like leftovers and baked goods, and rather than deny yourself, I think it's a good idea to eat a healthier alternative."

Instead, whip up your own dark chocolate bark, adorned with toppings like shredded and unsweetened coconut flakes, pistachios and unsweetened, dried fruits.

Melt 16 ounces of dark chocolate over a double boiler, stirring constantly to prevent burning. Line a baking sheet or other wide, flat dish with parchment paper and spread your melted chocolate into a thin, even layer. Next, get the kids involved! Chop and sprinkle pumpkin seeds, dried goji berries and coconut flakes on top or use a handful of dried blueberries and coconut shreds.

An ounce of chocolate, about one-sixteenth of the tray, has 170 calories. Your festive add-ons will add a few more calories so spread them evenly and don't get too heavy-handed.

4 / 8
Star-shaped sandwiches

Creating festive treats from simple and wholesome ingredients might help can help sate your whole family's pre-party hunger.

Begin by building the sandwich the way you normally would, starting with one whole grain slice of bread and layering in your fillings, like thinly-carved turkey breast—leftovers work great here, too—and a slice of low-fat cheese. If you typically slather mayonnaise, spread in a tablespoon of mustard or hummus. Or build a classic PB&J with a tablespoon of all-natural peanut butter and no-sugar-added jam.

Place your second slice of bread on top, and using a star-shaped cookie cutter, punch out the perfect shape. Although it varies based on the size of your cutter, this trick helps make the sandwich snack-sized—plus it gets rid of bread crusts that so many kids hate! A turkey and Swiss star, with a squeeze of Dijon mustard, or a playful PB&J each contain around 210 calories.

5 / 8
Dark chocolate-dipped apple wedges

An apple, one of de la Torre's recommended snacks, contains just 95 calories and are available all year long

While fruits and vegetables make the best snacks, getting children—or adults—to enjoy eating them can certainly be a problem. When holiday tables are loaded with cookies, brownies and cakes, kids are much less likely to reach for a piece of fruit.

To entice young ones to get their recommended produce servings, slice an apple into wedges about 1 inch thick and dip one (or two) sections into melted dark chocolate. Sprinkle with a touch of unsweetened shredded coconut or chopped nuts or leave them plain. Get your kids involved by letting them dunk the apples and choose the toppings. They will be more excited about eating a snack that they helped create. Half a medium apple with one dunked wedge contains just 90 calories.

6 / 8
Berries and cream

A quick and easy snack is berries and cream. A cup of plump blueberries topped with 2 tablespoons of whipped cream contains 100 guilt-free calories.

If strawberries and blueberries aren't abundant in your area during the winter months, check the freezer section for a flash-frozen variety with no added sugar. Often, chilled fruits maintain more nutrients than fresh fruits whose nutrient compounds begin to breakdown as soon as they’re picked. Frozen fruit with a dollop of whipped topping make a feel-good substitution for a brimming bowl of ice cream.

7 / 8
Homemade party mix

Salty and crunchy snacks, like pretzels and chips, can be tough for children to resist. Instead of letting young ones go wild in the name of the holidays or restricting their consumption entirely, try a lighter treat for your family.

To make a lightened-up party mix, combine 3 cups of rice Chex cereal, a cup of unsalted peanuts, 3 cups of multigrain cereal O's and a packed cup of unsweetened raisins. A half-cup serving, which can be measured into a small bowl or cup for kids, contains 125 calories. The mix is more filling than the same serving of potato chips, and your young ones will be none the wiser.

This recipe is totally customizable, too! Feel free to fold in your favorite nuts, low-sugar cereal or dried fruit. For a real treat, you can also toss in some dark chocolate morsels.

8 / 8
Red, white and green sandwich wraps

These sandwich rollups are a perfect snack, and even make a great last-minute addition to the holiday spread. These bite-sized rollups come together in minutes and utilize healthy leftovers, like turkey. The benefits of incorporating leftovers into other recipes are two-fold: You don't waste food, but you also don't eat the same monotonous meals day after day.

To build this shareable treat, lay down an 8-inch whole wheat tortilla and spread on half of a ripe avocado. Then layer in 3 ounces of lean turkey breast, half a cup shredded lettuce and half a cup of sliced tomato. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Next, roll up your wrap—burrito-style—and cut into 2-inch thick rounds. Half the wrap contains 207 filling calories.

Both carbohydrates and fats get a bad rap, but the right kinds and in the proper quantities, can each fit seamlessly into a healthy lifestyle. Build snacks with whole foods, rather than reaching for prepackaged stuff, which de la Torre says are often loaded with other additives.

More On

Why "good is good enough" when it comes to food


Why "good is good enough" when it comes to food
Mindfulness coach Rosie Acosta, Dr, Jen Caudle, and dietitian Maya Feller share easy approaches to start eating healthy including leaning into your cu...
6 Ways to Make Your Pancake Breakfast Healthier


6 Ways to Make Your Pancake Breakfast Healthier
Reduce sugar and fat and pump up the fiber to make pancakes more satisfying and healthier, without skimping on flavor.
7 Best Diets for Your Heart


7 Best Diets for Your Heart
DASH, Ornish, Mediterranean and other eating plans your heart will thank you for.
Healthy snacks to fuel your student athlete


Healthy snacks to fuel your student athlete
Keep your student athlete fueled with these healthy snacks.
Gentle Ginger Juice Smoothie


Gentle Ginger Juice Smoothie
Whip up delicious ginger and fruit smoothie full of vitamin c and other nutrients.