Menu Options for Calorie Conscious Guests

low calorie dessertsFor a variety of reasons ranging from health to aesthetics, more and more guests are counting calories. To accommodate their needs, it's important for event planners to keep this in mind when planning menus.

A first step is to give participants an opportunity to select low-calorie meals. Airlines and even passenger train services offering meals in First or Premium Class do it. It's time for the rest of the industry to get on board. (While we are at it, one of my clients requested large portions for a couple of their employees with hearty appetites. My company has kept this as a best practice.)

When it's time to reduce the calorie count on a menu, here are a few quick and simple ideas:


  • Pork and lamb tend to be high-calorie choices while lean beef, chicken, and fish are a more prudent pick for the calorie conscious.
  • Grill, bake, or roast meat instead of frying it.


  • Arugula is a lower calorie choice than iceberg lettuce. Romaine is the best choice, with only 5 calories per cup. Spinach has only 7 calories per cup.


  • When one thinks of fruit, one automatically thinks "healthy." While fruit may be a healthier choice than sweets, some fruit packs a wallop when it comes to calories. Opt for strawberries, cherries, peaches, raspberries, blueberries, grapes, and plums instead of higher calorie bananas and pineapples.

Mini Desserts


Everyone needs to indulge their sweet tooth sometime. Prevent a calorie explosion by serving up maximum flavor:

  • Sorbet, s'mores (believe it or not), and ices are great choices.
  • Serve low-calorie yogurt instead of whipped cream with berries for a tasty but calorie-reduced option.
  • Shortcakes, sponge cakes, or angel food cakes, topped with berries, are big on flavor but low in calories.
  • Lemons and limes are low calorie options so use them to concoct delicious beverages and low-calorie dessert like lemon or lime ices or granita.
  • Sugar-free Jello can be used as a base to create really delicious desserts

Small Bites

Another way to cut the calories is to serve smaller portions of dessert instead of full portions. Small bites can be very satisfying with reduced impact on the waistline.

For breakfast pastries, think mini-croissants, mini-muffins,and bite sized bagels. For lunch and snacks, think sandwiches on mini-kaisers, and mini-pastries like these recently seen at Sandals Ochi Beach Resort.

Mini-Breakfast Pastriesmini-pastries


  • Some companies are coming up with 0 calorie, low salt, and no salt options to soft drinks.

    Calorie CountFor example, Perrier has introduced sparkling water in lemon, lime and grapefruit flavors. There is no discernible difference in taste between these beverages and soft drinks. They have 0 calories and 0 salt.

    Dasani also offers 0 calorie and low sodium drinks in lemon, lime, and apple flavors.
  • Remember fruit juice does not automatically mean low calorie. Orange, pineapple, grape juices, for example, have a lot of sugar. Cut calories by chasing these juices with soda water or opt for lower calorie options like grapefruit and tomato juice.

Photo Credit: New York Townie, Sharrie's Berries, Anne Thornley-BrownMike Mozart

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