Even More Ways To Slash Holiday Calories In Half

So, last week I wrote out a list of popular high-calorie holiday foods and easy ways to cut down on some of those calories while still getting to indulge in them. I’m a big believer in not depriving yourself, because when you ignore what you really want it doesn’t go away, you just end up eating too much of everything else, and then that nagging craving just comes back stronger.

I said this about Thanksgiving and I’ll say it about Christmas too, give yourself permission to eat that day and not worry too much. I know, not the advice that magazines and most nutritionists would give you. But take it from me, someone who has tried all sorts of diets – if you’re just honest with yourself about eating more than normal, you won’t have the guilt later when you eat too much, and honestly, it’s just one day, not 30. You can start fresh tomorrow. Set yourself up for success, not failure. It’s when we make promises to ourselves that we can’t keep that we overindulge and then beat ourselves up about it.

That being said, I’m going to finish off that list of foods that I started last week, so that you can still indulge in the things you love, and still save a few hundred calories, without feeling like you’re depriving yourself.

Green Bean Casserole – I was never such a fan of this one, but I know a lot of people are. A 1 cup serving can pack 110 calories. Not too bad compared other holiday side dishes, but you can still cut down on the amount of calories, so that you can enjoy more of some of the other things on the table. Top the green beans off with lower-fat mushroom soup, and caramelize your own onions instead of using store-bought fried onions.

Bread Stuffing – A 1/2 cup serving has at least 180 calories, and lets face it, the stuffing is one of the best parts, so you know you’re going back for seconds. Skip the butter and use chicken broth to moisten the bread. Use whole-wheat bread instead of white, and cook the stuffing separate from the bird, so that it doesn’t accumulate all the fatty drippings.

Pumpkin Pie – Mmmm! We all know that the only reason we eat dinner is to get to the dessert. An average slice of pumpkin pie will cost you about 320 calories. Instead of using heavy cream use reduced-fat evaporated milk and save about 87 calories.

Before I go, I’ll leave you with an awesome appetizer that looks beautiful, is healthy, and tastes awesome too.

Tuna Tartar Wrapped In Cucumber (adapted from Recipe Rehab With Tanya Zuckerbrot)
- 1 tablespoon mayonnaise
- 3/4 teaspoon soy sauce
- 1/2 teaspoon sriracha (Asian chili sauce)
- 8 ounces fresh, sushi-grade tuna, cut into 1/4-inch dice
- 1 avocado, peeled, cut into 1/8-inch dice
- 1 tablespoon thinly sliced fresh chives, plus 1-inch pieces for garnish
- 2 seedless cucumbers, peeled

1. Using a knife or a mandolin, slice the cucumbers lengthwise as thinly as possible.
2. Mix mayonnaise, soy sauce and sriracha together in a small bowl.
3. Add tuna, avocado and chives, and gently combine with a fork.
4. Spoon 1 tablespoon tuna tartar on the end of the cucumber slice. Roll up and place a toothpick through the middle to secure the filling. Garnish with chives and serve.

This recipe serves 12, and per serving there’s only 56 calories, 2.5 g carbohydrate, 1.25 g fiber, 5 g protein, and 3 g total fat.

Slash Holiday Calories In Half

The average person gains at least one pound between Thanksgiving and New Years. Doesn’t sound so bad, right? One pound isn’t bad at all and it should be fairly easy to take off, but the problem is that most people never do take that pound off. 5 years of holiday seasons equals 5 pounds and ten years equals 10 pounds! Most people tell themselves that they’ll wait until after New Years to do something about the thousands of extra calories they’ve eaten, because what’s the point if you’re just going to go to yet another holiday party next week? And besides, you have that New Year’s Resolution you’re planning on tackling (yet again this year) to finally take off the weight you gained last year, so why not have one last hurrah before buckling down.

The more you put it off, the less likely you’ll be to actually follow through with your plan, so here are some ideas to get a jump-start on your resolution, but still enjoy the parties and food.

Wine – There’s about 100-120 calories in a 4 oz. glass of wine (more for dessert wines), so if you know you’re going to have more than one glass slash the calories in half by turning it into a wine spritzer. Mix half wine with half seltzer and top it off with a slice of lime.

Looks pretty yummy and festive!

Cheese & Crackers – One cracker with an ounce of cheese will run you about 125 calories. Yikes! And you know you won’t be able to stop at just one. Cheese is usually pretty pungent, so you know that a 1/2 ounce portion can go a long way. Cut the calories even further by having the cheese with veggies instead of the crackers.

Mashed Potatoes – Heap a 1/2 cup on your plate and pile on 120 more calories. Lighten it up by leaving the butter out and using skim milk or chicken broth to smooth it out. For a bonus, leave the skin on the potatoes and it’ll look like you’re a gourmet chef. You’ll get an added boost of fiber too.

Gravy – There’s 50 calories in a 1/4 cup serving. But who can really tell how much we pour on anyway? The more the merrier, right? Well, yes, but only if you’re skimming off the fat. Use a bit more chicken broth and a little less of the turkey drippings to cut down on unnecessary calories. Secret tip: Place the gravy in a Ziploc bag, seal, and snip a tiny corner off the bottom. Squeeze the gravy out of the bag and watch the fat rise to the top. Stop squeezing as soon as you reach the fat and throw away.

There are too many things to list in this post, so check back later in the week and I’ll have some more for you! Happy Holidays!

Survival Guide: Airline Snacking

I just came across this awesome website from the Food Detective that offers food stats on all the major airlines and the amount of walking you’d need to do to burn it all off. Since I know that many of you will be traveling this holiday season I thought I’d help you all out by sharing it.

Here’s the basic rundown in case you don’t want to read the entire thing:

- Aside from Jet Blue being an awesome airline to travel, they were also really helpful on providing info on their snack items, which shows that they think about these things. American Airlines, Continental, and United Airlines were also pretty helpful. But, it was United Airlines that came in as the number one choice for healthy food options.

- Virgin America, Delta, and U.S. Airways were ranked as the worst. They were very reluctant to give out information, which implies your health isn’t all that important to them.

- Your best choices when flying these airlines:
* United Airlines – If you need just a snack, go for the Tapas snack box or the Lite snack box. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours and need a meal, go for the Turkey Sandwich (but skip the chips), the Fruit and Cheese Tray, or the Chicken Caesar Salad. For breakfast, stick with the smoothie or yogurt parfait. And as for the A La Carte snacks (Pringles, bread, or chocolate bar) definitely skip those!

* Jet Blue – If you’re flying less than 3 hours choose the nuts. They’re good for you and the healthy fats and protein will help keep you satisfied for a while. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours choose the Shape Up meal for sure!

* American Airlines – While AA doesn’t have great choices, stick with the Cheese & Cracker Snack Tray. Just be sure to skip the crackers, because with raisins will give you enough carbs, but with better nutrition. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours, choose the Boston Market Chicken Caesar Salad, but be sure to use only half of the dressing.

* Delta – Their individual snacks aren’t all that great, but if you’re flying less than 3 hours and don’t have a meal option go for the pretzels or the peanuts. The nuts are higher in calories, but may be more filling. If you’re flying longer than 3 hours, stick with the Breakfast Snack. If that’s not available though, choose the Fruit and Cheese Plate, but skip the crackers. And, obviously the Veggies and Ranch is low in calories, but it might not tide you over.

* Continental – None of their choices are all the great, but if you’re flying longer than 3 hours go for the Parfait or the Grilled Chicken Spinach Salad (use half the dressing though).

* Southwest – The nuts are the only way to go.

* Virgin America – For a small snack, stick with the PopChips or yumBar, and for larger snack, go for the Veggies & Hummus box. If it’s a meal you need though, choose the Protein Meal or the Homestyle Chicken Sandwich.

* U.S. Airways – Go for the CafePlus, but don’t eat the cookies (save them for later when you’re sweet tooth attacks).

Un-fried Sweet Potato Latkes

After much experimentation I finally figured out how to make healthier latkes that actually hold their form. Instead of making them with regular baking potatoes I made them with sweet potatoes, which gives them a great sweet and savory taste. They are super yummy, and super easy. Here’s what you’ll need…

- 2 medium-sized sweet potatoes
- 3 shallots
- 1/4 C. flour
- 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 3-4 egg whites (start with 3 and add another if you need it)
- 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp nutmeg
- salt and pepper, to taste

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees and line two baking sheets with foil. Spray with Pam.
2. Peel the sweet potatoes and shallots and grate both in a food processor or box grater.
3. Place grated potatoes and shallots in a cheese cloth or clean towel and squeeze out all the liquid.
4. Place in a bowl and mix in the rest of the ingredients. Start with 3 egg whites and add a 4th if the mixture isn’t bound enough.
5. Heat a large non-stick skillet over medium-high heat. Once warm, take a dab of olive oil on a paper towel and just wipe across the pan’s surface, so that it’s just greased. You don’t need a ton of oil for these babies!

6. Drop spoonfuls of the potato mixture onto the skillet to form 2 1/2″ latkes. “Fry” for a few minutes until the bottom of the latke turns golden and it feels set. Flip and repeat on the other side. In the meantime, line a plate with a sheet of paper towel and place the cooked latkes onto the paper towel (although you won’t really need it, being as how these latkes won’t be greasy).

7. Once all the latkes are cooked through, place them on the greased baking sheets.

8. Bake for about 5-7 minutes until latkes feel set.

9. Transfer to a plate and serve with all-natural applesauce!

Recipe yields about 12 latkes (unless you’re Martha Stewart and measuring them with a ruler and they’re all the exact same size…). Here are the stats for 4 latkes: 195 calories, 5g fat, 34g carbs, 4g fiber, 4g protein. Not bad, considering that the typical latke has 264 calories, and 13.8g of fat (and that’s for just 1!).

If you try these please let us all know how you liked them!

Is It Ok To Put Your Baby On A Diet?


I just read this article about mothers putting their babies on diets because they’re afraid their babies are going to be overweight. I am sickened by this and think it’s disgusting! Most of the mothers admit to doing it because they’re fearful that their children are going to grow up to be overweight just like them, but come on, scooping out a bagel for a 1-year-old is insanity! A mother and father even put laxatives in their baby’s bottle because they were afraid she would be overweight just like her father.

Hello! Unlike adults who yo-yo diet and can’t tell when they’re hungry or full, babies have an internal mechanism that tells them. That is, unless you screw with it. The only thing these parents are going to give these children are a massive dose of self-esteem issues.

It’s not the babies who need to be put on a diet, it’s the parents who need to deal with their own problems. Children learn by watching and if they see you overeat then they will overeat too. And if they see you checking yourself in the mirror 95 times a day then they will learn to do the same.

What do you think about this?

Goalgetter

“Obstacles are those frightful things you see when you take your eyes off your goal.” – Henry Ford

You can say what you want about Michael Phelps being born to swim, but he wouldn’t be breaking records if he wasn’t aiming for the gold. Do you know that when he was a kid his teachers told him that he would never be able to focus on anything? It sounds crazy considering that he’s the only athlete to win 8 gold medals in his sport and that he’s set 5 world records. One of the secrets to his amazing achievements is that he keeps a list of all the races he wants to enter, with goal times, on his nightstand. He sees it every night before he goes to bed and every morning when he wakes up. He’s set his sights on his target and to say that he isn’t focused is crazy. You don’t get to be a world champion without goals.

Think about it, have you ever heard of a marathon that didn’t have a finish line? Me neither. How would you know who won without that marker at the end? What about sports? Baseball has 9 innings and ice hockey has 3 periods. Without those the teams can play forever trying to one up each other. Stores have business hours indicating when they’re open and when they’re closed. And businesses have profit targets that they aim for, otherwise they would never know if they should stay in business or not. The same goes for things that you want. How would you know that you’ve achieved success without some sort of definitive mark telling you that you’ve arrived?

One of the biggest reasons that people don’t succeed is because they never define what success means to them in the first place. How can you know if you’re successful if don’t have a plan? One of the
scariest things to overcome when deciding to make a change in your life is the fear of setting goals. Many of my clients get stuck in this process because of fear. Fear of setting the goal and then the possibility of not reaching it. People interpret that as failure and no one wants to feel like a failure, so it’s easier to just not set the goal in the first place, right? Wrong! Without setting the goal you’re just like a hamster in a wheel. Always spinning to nowhere. If you have nothing to measure your success than there’s never anything to tell you when you’re done. And if you never know when you’re done than everything begins to feel like such a chore and you’re forever beating yourself up for not having gotten the body that you want or the life you want to live.

But there’s one more reason why goals are so important. Knowing that there is an end point makes the struggle to get there so much more manageable.

Goals shouldn’t be feared they should be embraced, because by setting them you actually make your life easier by having something to aim for. If you just keep your eyes on the finish line then no amount of struggling will equal failure, because you’ll keep at it until you get there. There isn’t one successful person out there that doesn’t have goals. Do you think Oprah is getting her own cable network because she just dabbled a little bit here and a little bit there? No way! She definitely had a clear path that she was going down in order to become the megastar that she is. I promise that this is where your success begins.

A good goal is one that is definable and realistic, such as “I want to be able to run a 5k by June”. I’ve stated what I want to do (run), I’ve stated a distance to aim for (5k), I’ve given myself and end date (June), and I’ve made it a realistic goal by giving myself 6 months. By defining the terms I know exactly what I need to do in order to achieve it, and by giving myself 6 months to get there I make it attainable and not too pressure filled. Along the way I may set mini goals (baby steps) in order to help me get there, such as starting with walk/run intervals for the first month and working my way up to running consistently for a full 5k. That way everything becomes way more manageable and I hit mini successes along the way to my larger success. It’s contagious.

Try it. Set a goal for today, something that you’ve been putting off, and see how great you feel once you do it.