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).