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.

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!

Put Your Hands Up And Step Away From The Third Bowl of Mac N Cheese!

Just like bears, when winter rolls around we go into a sort of hibernation. When the days get shorter and colder we bundle up in our warm jammies and cuddle up on the couch with comfort foods. And then, just when the warm weather starts to wake us up out of our winter food coma we wonder how our once loose jammies got so snug. Then the inevitable frantic race to lose the weight before summer begins. As you know, I’m not one for crash dieting or any sort of crazy “slim down for summer” programs, so spare yourself the trouble, put down the third bowl of mac ‘n cheese and try experimenting with winter squash (I know, not as glamorous as mac ‘n cheese, but nevertheless, I promise, yummy!).

Here’s why squash is awesome: There’s more than 10 types of winter squash to choose from (butternut, delicata, acorn, pumpkin, and spaghetti squash just to name a few…) and they’re awesome choices if you want something warm, sweet, and filling. They’re high in fiber and water, which means you’ll feel fuller quicker and can eat more without the copious amounts of calories (just lay low on the butter and brown sugar). And they’re a great source of potassium, vitamin C, vitamin A, beta carotene, and Omega 3′s.

Try this awesome Mashed Maple Squash recipe from Eatingwell.com.

**Update**

My mom just emailed some interesting and very helpful info for cooking with maple syrup! This isn’t surprising to me in the least, because if there’s anyone who knows everything it’s her. Want to know the definition of “sesquipedalian”? She knows! Or, need an idea of how to make a diorama on bees that would make Martha Stewart swoon with delight? Yup, she knows that too! Thanks Mommy! (Yes, I’m an adult that still calls my mom “mommy”.)

You may want to share this with your ‘people’. After reading a story (with one of my classes) on maple syrup tapping in Vermont, I discovered the following:

Grade A – derived from the first of the season sap ‘drippings’ of the tree

lighter in color and sweeter

Grade B- derived from a later in the season sap

darker in color and more robust and hearty – best for vegetables, meats and
dishes not of the dessert variety

While both are sweet, the B is heartier. One tends to need less of it, hence, less calories. It is also advisable to mix the grade B with a bit of hot water to thin it out and make it go further on veggies, chicken, etc., Most will not know the difference. I, for one, am going to use only grade B from now on. If I do see a deficiency in sweetness, I will add a bit of Splenda. Even if thinned out with a bit of water, the B is still thick enough to nicely glaze whatever you intend it to glaze.

Beat It or Eat It – Reese's Peanut Butter Cups

Beat it:

Chocolate and peanut butter together are like little hugs and kisses from God. I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I feel like I’m having some sort of religious experience when I eat something that has this magical combination. My spine tingles, I get light-headed, and almost all of my other senses get knocked out, because of the sensory overload in my mouth. I’m seriously like a little lab rat that will suffer through an electrical zap, just to get to my precious pb & c, because I MUST have it! I have these very high cabinets in my kitchen where I stash all the goodies that I don’t want to be tempted to eat (out of sight out of mind, right?), but I would be lying if I said that I’ve never been caught scaling the counters to reach the peanut butter and chocolate chips that I keep hidden there. And I would be lying even harder if I said that I didn’t then sit down on the counter with the jar of peanut butter in one hand and the bag of chocolate chips in the other and proceed to dip chocolate chips one by one into the jar and make little chocolate chip perfections. Hershey’s makes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and you may ask yourself why I don’t just go to the store and get a package if I love it so much. It’s a lot easier to do then climb my counters, risk falling off as the cabinet door opens (there have been a few teetering close calls), and then go through all the work of dipping each chip in one by one. True, but each package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will run me 210 calories (110 of those are from fat), 13g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 24g carbs, 21g sugar, 1g fiber, and 5g protein. However, I just came across this recipe, which I can’t believe I never thought of, because it’s insanely easy and will give me more of a chocolatey punch than a measly chocolate chip will. Plus, it’s easier to control your portions!

Eat it:

Little Kisses From God
(Serves 4)
- 8 1/4-ounce squares bittersweet chocolate (you can use other chocolates too, but as long as we’re being healthy bittersweet has some great antioxidant benefits)
- 4 teaspoons peanut butter (you can also use almond, cashew or pistachio butter)

1. Top each chocolate square with 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter (or almond, cashew, pistachio).
2. Have a religious experience.

Each of these babies will only cost you 79 calories, 6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 9g fiber, 1g fiber, 1g protein, so technically you can even have 2!

Beat It or Eat It – Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups

Beat it:

Chocolate and peanut butter together are like little hugs and kisses from God. I’m not even kidding when I tell you that I feel like I’m having some sort of religious experience when I eat something that has this magical combination. My spine tingles, I get light-headed, and almost all of my other senses get knocked out, because of the sensory overload in my mouth. I’m seriously like a little lab rat that will suffer through an electrical zap, just to get to my precious pb & c, because I MUST have it! I have these very high cabinets in my kitchen where I stash all the goodies that I don’t want to be tempted to eat (out of sight out of mind, right?), but I would be lying if I said that I’ve never been caught scaling the counters to reach the peanut butter and chocolate chips that I keep hidden there. And I would be lying even harder if I said that I didn’t then sit down on the counter with the jar of peanut butter in one hand and the bag of chocolate chips in the other and proceed to dip chocolate chips one by one into the jar and make little chocolate chip perfections. Hershey’s makes Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups and you may ask yourself why I don’t just go to the store and get a package if I love it so much. It’s a lot easier to do then climb my counters, risk falling off as the cabinet door opens (there have been a few teetering close calls), and then go through all the work of dipping each chip in one by one. True, but each package of Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups will run me 210 calories (110 of those are from fat), 13g fat, 4.5g saturated fat, 24g carbs, 21g sugar, 1g fiber, and 5g protein. However, I just came across this recipe, which I can’t believe I never thought of, because it’s insanely easy and will give me more of a chocolatey punch than a measly chocolate chip will. Plus, it’s easier to control your portions!

Eat it:

Little Kisses From God
(Serves 4)
- 8 1/4-ounce squares bittersweet chocolate (you can use other chocolates too, but as long as we’re being healthy bittersweet has some great antioxidant benefits)
- 4 teaspoons peanut butter (you can also use almond, cashew or pistachio butter)

1. Top each chocolate square with 1/2 teaspoon of peanut butter (or almond, cashew, pistachio).
2. Have a religious experience.

Each of these babies will only cost you 79 calories, 6g fat, 2g saturated fat, 9g fiber, 1g fiber, 1g protein, so technically you can even have 2!

Beat It or Eat It – Pancakes

Breakfast is by far my most favorite meal of the day. I love everything about it. The foods, eating a meal after waking up hungry, and that it’s like baking mixed in with cooking. And did I mention the foods? Pancakes, waffles, french toast, frittatas, omelets, bagels, cereal (I always say that if I had to live in one aisle of the supermarket forever that it would be the cereal aisle), etc. The possibilities are endless. I even love breakfast for dinner. Seriously, I could go on and on about this, but I won’t. I will just tell you that my love for pancakes is true. Cereal is going to come and cereal is going to go, but my love for pancakes is true, and I will love pancakes till the day I die. For real. Sadly though, I don’t indulge often enough, because like I’ve mentioned before, I’m a little girl and little girls don’t get to have 600 calorie breakfasts. So, I’ve resigned myself to sneaking a taste or two off of my husband’s plate, since he is a 6’1” man that can have his pancakes. But boy is it a happy day, because I just found a healthier recipe for yummy blueberry pancakes that will give me the chance to eat my pancakes in loving peace off of my very own plate.

Beat it:
3 Regular blueberry pancakes (with 1/4 cup maple syrup): 530 calories; 128 of those calories are from fat; 14.17g fat; 750mg sodium; 96.66g carbs (!!!); 1.5g fiber; 32g sugar; 9.39g protein

YUM!


Eat it:
Berry Good Pancakes
- 1 1/3 cups all-purpose flour
- 1/3 cup sugar
- 1 1/2 teaspoons baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 2 large eggs
- 1 cup low-fat cottage cheese
- 3/4 cup low-fat milk
- 2 teaspoons freshly grated lemon zest
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- 2 cups blueberries

1. Whisk flour, sugar, baking powder, baking soda and salt in a large bowl.
2. Whisk eggs, cottage cheese, milk, lemon zest and vanilla in a medium bowl.
3. Make a well in the dry ingredients; add wet ingredients and stir with a rubber spatula until just combined. Fold in blueberries.
4. Moisten a crumpled paper towel with canola oil and use it to lightly oil a large nonstick skillet and heat over medium heat. Spoon on about 1/4 cup batter for each pancake and cook until bottoms are golden and small bubbles start to form on top, 3 to 4 minutes. Flip and cook until the other side is browned, 1 to 2 minutes longer. Lightly oil pan between batches. (Adjust heat as necessary for even browning.) Serve hot. (Yields 6 servings – 3 pancakes per serving)

Ready for the stats? Each 3 pancake serving is only 233 calories; 3 g fat (1 g sat, 1 g mono); 630 mg sodium; 41 g carbohydrates; 2 g fiber; 11 g protein. AMAZING! And if you use sugar-free syrup, you’ll be adding only 25 calories!

Can’t wait for Sunday!

Beat It or Eat It – Strawberry Margarita

Beat it:
Ok, I know I’ve said it so many times, but I love summer! And what goes better with a hot and humid day then a nice cold drink? A nice frosty cocktail, that’s what. And what’s the best icy alcoholic beverage? A margarita! Problem is, it’s easy to down way too many extra calories when you’re sipping something so sweet and so good. And don’t forget, the tipsier you are the less likely you’ll be to watch your calories. So, instead of chugging your way to an extra 340 calories, 67g carbs, and 17g sugar, try this slimmed down version…

Eat it:

No guilt!

- Half a 2-serving packet (about 1/2 teaspoon) sugar-free strawberry powdered drink mix (try Crystal Light or something similar)
- 6 ounces diet lemon-lime soda
- 1-1/2 ounces tequila
- 4 frozen unsweetened strawberries
- 1 ounce freshly squeezed lime juice
- 1 cup crushed ice or 5 to 8 ice cubes
- Optional garnish: lime slice

1. Combine powdered drink mix with soda in a glass and stir to dissolve. Pour mixture into a blender. Add all other ingredients to the blender, and blend at high speed until nice and slushy.
2. Pour into a margarita glass and, if you like, garnish with a slice of lime. (Yields 1 serving)

This 10oz. drink has only 125 calories, 0g fat, 24mg sodium, 7g carbs, 1g fiber, 2g sugars, 0g protein. How awesome is that!

Beat it or Eat it – Its Pasta Time!

Beat it:
I just returned from a week in Italy and strangely enough I only had pasta there once. Most of the dishes are pretty heavy and pretty high in calorie, so I just skipped most of it. Take for instance a simple dish of linguine, ricotta, and zucchini. Sounds harmless and pretty light, right? Sure, it can be, but when you add in butter and oil the stats soar to 550 calories, 15g fat (or more depending on how much butter and oil!), 90.8g carbohydrates (yikes!), 5.4g fiber, and 17.1g protein. And the white floured pasta doesn’t help either, it just makes you full and tired. But I love pasta though and don’t want to have to skip it, so instead I’m whipping up my own recipe tonight! Here it is…

Eat it:
- 6 quarts water
- 8 oz. whole-wheat fettuccine
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- 2 medium zucchini, sliced
- salt + pepper, to taste
- 1 tsp. minced garlic (or more if that’s your thing)
- 1 1/2 cups cherry tomatoes, halved
- 2 tbsp. mint leaves
- 1 cup part-skim ricotta cheese

1. Bring water to a boil in a large pot along with enough salt to make the water taste like the ocean. Add in fettuccine and cook until al dente. Drain.
2. Heat a large non-stick pan over medium-high heat. Add oil and swirl to coat. Add zucchini and saut

Beat It or Eat It – Amazing Chocolate Souffle Swap Inside!

Beat It:
Mmmmmmmmmmmmm! Did I say chocolate souffle? Uh-huh! It’s on the dessert menu of any restaurant worth eating at and most likely someone at the table will order it. Problem is a single serving can be as much as 676 calories, 58.2g fat, 51.4g carbs, 14.2g fiber, and 17.7g protein! And you know you can’t stop at just one bite. Fabulously enough though I have the perfect swap for you.

Eat It:
- 4 1/2 tbsp. granulated sugar, divided
- 1 tbsp. all-purpose flour
- 1 1/2 tbsp dutch process cocoa
- 2 tbsp. skim milk
- 1/4 tsp. vanilla extract
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp. powdered sugar

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat 2 (6 oz.) ramekins with cooking spray. Sprinkle each with 3/4 tsp. granulated sugar.
2. Combine 2 tbsp. granulated sugar, flour, cocoa, and milk in a small saucepan over medium heat. Cook 2 minutes, stirring until smooth.
3. Spoon chocolate mixture into medium bowl. Cool 4 minutes and stir in vanilla.
4. Place egg in medium bowl and beat with mixer at high speed, until soft peaks form. Add remaining 2 tbsp. granulated sugar , 1 tsp. at a time, beating until stiff peaks form. Gently stir 1/4 egg whites into chocolate mixture. Gently fold in remaining egg whites.
5. Spoon into prepared ramekins. Sharply tap dishes 2-3 times to level. Place on baking sheet and bake 15 minutes, until puffy and set.
6. Sprinkle each with 1/2 tsp. powdered sugar. Serve immediately. (Serves 2)

Here’s the fabulous part….one serving (an entire ramekin to yourself!) is only 79 calories, 0.6g fat, and 16.5g carbs! That means you don’t have to share it with anyone! Ok, I have to admit, I haven’t actually tried this baby out yet, so feel free to be the first and let me know how it is.

Beat It or Eat It – Fries!

What’s yummier than an awesome french fry? Maybe some awesome mac n’ cheese….but that’s for another post. Today we’re talking fries, because they seem to pop up with summer backyard barbecues, and instead of avoiding them completely just learn how to make even better ones that you don’t have to resist (in fact, I doubt you’d even be able to if you tried).

Beat it:
A small 3oz. serving will run you 271 calories and 14.5g fat, 31.9g carbs, 3g fiber, and 3.2g protein. The fiber is great, but let’s get real. It’s a potato — it doesn’t need all that fat!

Eat it:
Sweet Potato Fries

- 1lb. sweet potatoes
- 1 egg white
- 2 tsp. chili powder
- 1/4 tsp. garlic powder
- 1/4 tsp. onion powder
- 1/8 tsp. salt
- parchment paper

1. Preheat oven to 450 degrees.
2. Peel and cut potatoes (a ton of vitamins and lots of fiber is in the skin, so if you prefer to keep it on you can.)
3. In a bowl, combine egg and seasoning. Beat well.
4. Add potatoes and mix to coat.
5. Spray a baking sheet and line with parchment paper. Place potatoes in a single layer on sheet.
6. Bake, uncovered for 20-25 minutes, until golden.

And voil