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).

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Ask Dani – Did I Make The Right Choice?

Dear Dani,

I was in the cereal aisle of the supermarket the other night trying to decide between two cereals. One had 100 calories per serving, but no fiber, and the other had 140 calories with 5g of fiber. I ended up choosing the one with the fiber, figuring that the fiber makes it better, but now I’m not sure if I made the right choice. Can you help me out?

Thanks, Munching Michelle

Dear Munching Michelle,

You definitely made the right choice by going with the fiber filled cereal. Just because something is lower in calories doesn’t mean it’s a better choice, because they can be empty calories and your body doesn’t use them as efficiently as nutrient dense calories. Fiber creates more bulk in your food which will help you feel fuller longer and ultimately help you eat less, plus it’s great for your digestion and colon. But, just because something has fiber in it doesn’t mean that you can eat whatever you want. There are a lot of products on the market now that tout added fiber, but that doesn’t give you leeway to eat 5 fiber filled cookies. Plus, the added fiber that they put in yogurts or even cottage cheese isn’t necessarily the same kind of fiber that is naturally found in grains and produce (but, that’s a whole other conversation…). If you’re looking to lose weight you still need to take in fewer calories than you burn. So, you did a great job at choosing the fiber cereal, but always pay attention to the ingredients and serving sizes to make sure that you’re actually making the best choice. It sounds clich

Beat It or Eat It – Chicken Fingers (Yum!)

Beat it:

My husband loves him some chicken fingers. Seriously, I’ve never seen him as excited as he is when he gets to eat some yummy tender pieces of breaded chicken. I didn’t realize that there was such a discerning difference between types of chicken fingers either. That it was so hard to make a nice piece of tender meat chicken and that there are specific things to look out for when eating a chicken digit. What makes a really good chicken finger is a crispy crunchy coating with soft juicy meat inside. Unfortunately, 1 serving (about 5 pieces) will tack on 614 calories, 38g fat, 3g saturated fat, 2,225mg sodium (more than one person needs in an entire day!), 43g carbs, 3g fiber, and 35g protein.

Luckily, I love him enough to find a recipe that has way better stats than those fingers and taste good too! (And they have almonds in them – another favorite!) Check out how you can slash over 400 calories and 34g fat, and 1,971mg of sodium…

Eat it:

Almond-Crusted Chicken Fingers
(Serves 4)
- Canola oil cooking spray
- 1/2 cup sliced almonds
- 1/4 cup whole-wheat flour
- 1 1/2 teaspoons paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 1 1/2 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil
- 4 large egg whites
- 1 pound chicken tenders

1. Preheat oven to 475

Week 2 – 12 Weeks To A Stronger, Sexier, More Confident You

If you took the initiative to do this workout last week then I want to say that you’re awesome! The only way to losing weight and getting in shape is by doing what you gotta do to get there. If you found it challenging that’s ok. You always want to feel a bit challenged when you’re working out, because that’s the only way you’ll get better at it. I promise that within 2 weeks you’ll start seeing results in your ability to execute these moves. Things are going to get easier and become second nature. You won’t believe that you ever thought it was difficult. Just remember that consistency is key, so if you’re being wishy-washy with your workouts then your results will be wishy-washy too.

This week we ramp up the intensity a bit by increasing each exercise to 2 sets. You’re going to complete each exercise twice with 30 seconds of rest in between each set before moving on to the next exercise. The idea is increase your endurance, because you can only build strength and tone up if you have the stamina to tolerate the movements. The entire workout will last only 30-40 minutes (which if you think about it is shorter than an episode of Lost or Sex and The City – not too bad!).

Do this workout 2-3 times this week, allowing at least one day in between for your muscles to recover. On days that you are not doing this workout do 30-40 minutes of cardio. Rest is as important as working out, so make sure to give yourself 2 days of complete rest.

The workout:

The Playlist:
- Warm Up
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/jackals-vipers-in-envy-man/id261403046?i=261403593 (Jackals and Vipers – In Envy of Man Part 9)
(Jackals and Vipers – In Envy of Man Part 10)

- Workout
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/loser/id19820272?i=19820274 (Beck – Loser **None of the words make any sense, but I love this song!)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/family-affair/id328629?i=328605 (Mary J. Blige – Family Affair)
– (Muse – Hysteria)
(Ok Go – Here It Goes Again)

- Cardio
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bandits/id305499589?i=305499594 (Buck 65 – Bandits)
(The Black Keys – Howlin’ For You **I absolutely love this band! Just discovered them and I play them on repeat)
(Daft Punk -Technologic)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/gone-daddy-gone/id152471339?i=152471414 (Gnarles Barkley – Gone Daddy Gone)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/bamboleo/id553662?i=553568 (Gipsy Kings – Bamboleo **In the summer while Spinning in my studio I like to open up all the windows and blast this song. That’s how I know summer is really here.)

- Cool Down
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/too-afraid-to-love-you/id370968823?i=370968916 (The Black Keys – Too Afraid To Love You)
http://itunes.apple.com/us/album/the-story/id250112717?i=250112772 (Brandi Carlile – The Story **This one gives me chills. I love to listen to it while I’m running up the steep hill in the park. Makes me feel like anything is possible)

** If you want to really change your lifestyle and lose weight, combine this with my 12 week weight management program. Leave a comment if you d like some more info.

Beat It or Eat It – Bagels and Lox

Beat it:
Seriously, who doesn’t love bagels and lox (besides people who don’t like fish…)? My husband is a self-professed bagel snob and if he had it his way we would have bagels every morning. Seriously, he can tell you why each bagel is good and why it’s bad. And he wouldn’t bat an eyelash at going on a road-trip to find the perfect bagel. For me, it hits the spot every time, but I can’t have it all the time, because it can pack as much as 590 calories, 19g fat, 81g carbs, 3g fiber, and 28g protein. It’s actually got a lot of solid and healthy ingredients in it, like the lox, which has good for you fats, and the protein, which is good for your muscles, but as a 5’1 1/2″ (can’t forget that 1/2″!) girl I can’t be eating such calorie dense meals. Sure, I can balance it out over the course of my next 2 meals, but I like to eat multiple times a day, so for me eating something so heavy every morning just isn’t going to fly, so instead I have an alternative!

The breakfast of short champions

Eat it:
Shortie’s “Bagel” and Lox

1/2 teaspoon extra-virgin olive oil
1 red onion, sliced into thin rings
2 large egg whites, beaten
Pinch of salt
1/2 teaspoon capers, rinsed and chopped (optional)
1 ounce smoked salmon
1 slice tomato
1 whole-wheat English muffin, split and toasted

1. Toast english muffin.
2. Heat oil in a small nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook, stirring, until it begins to soften, about 1 minute. Remove from pan and set aside.
3. Add egg whites and season with salt. Cook, stirring constantly until whites are set, about 30 seconds..
4. Layer the egg whites, smoked salmon, tomato, onion, and capers on English muffin. (Serves 1)

It’s not a bagel, but I promise that it will do the trick. And now let’s tally up the stats: The calories have been cut by more than half, bringing this amazing breakfast to only 214 calories (!), 5g fat (heart healthy Omega-3 fat), 25g carbs, 3g fiber, and 19g protein. Not bad at all. Even if you’re not a breakfast person, once you eat this you will be.