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Holiday Health: Keeping Treats & Sweets While Dieting


Holiday Health: Keeping Treats & Sweets While Dieting

By Amy Lignor


Can you have yourself a “merry little Christmas” while watching ones who eat mounds of fudge, drink down egg nog, and sit down at a family Christmas dinner and load a platter up so high that it actually looks like they are feeding ALL of Santa’s reindeer parked on top of the roof? Many will cry just thinking about it. They are rare, but those people who eat everything and never gain an ounce always seem to have the ability to show up at a holiday party or event right in front of us…the ones who eat a Hershey’s kiss and somehow gain far more than the 22 calories it supposedly has in it.

Gluten-Free Chocolate Turtle Thumbprint Cookies
Gluten-Free Chocolate Turtle Thumbprint Cookies


Now, it is important to note that, yes, there is a ‘Dessert Lover’s Diet’ where you could lose up to five pounds in a month. There are others that claim even more. But what’s really the case is that when we are trying to watch our weight, our cranium automatically tells us that sweets and treats are forbidden. In fact, you can almost see a line of CAUTION tape stretched over the platters when you walk close to them. In truth (and, yes, this is true), doctors say that forbidding everything that is good, every little dessert that offers a happy smile, is actually a bad thing for the human body as well as for losing weight. Why? Because the brain feels deprived. The point is not having a dessert; the point is not consuming four of them.


If your diet is rich in fruits, vegetables, whole grains and the “good side of the Force” when it comes to fats, then choosing to have a dessert each and every day is just fine. Big enough to satisfy the craving and small enough where the calorie intake doesn’t skyrocket.


Desserts can be rich in “bad” fats, like the ever-present butter. Which means that having meals that are rich in omega-3 fatty acids – like fish – can offset the issue. Denying the body sweets is not the best plan when wanting to stay on track with a diet. And there are a variety of okay treats to choose from that actually allow less than 100 calories.

“Tis the Season” season brings on that ultimate fear of doing things wrong. Not fair, considering it is a time to be with family and enjoy oneself, not glare across the table at the one with the platter overflowing with food. One of the biggest things to avoid are actually drinks. The holiday-themed coffees run extremely high in fat and cholesterol, not to mention calories. But just by sticking to your own coffee and simply adding a drizzle of vanilla or peppermint extract to it, you save hundreds of calories. If your mind needs to believe that Starbucks is at work, buy one of those mugs and pour the less-calorie coffee into it.

When it comes to holiday baking, there are those temptations that you want to “test” so that the people you plan to serve

Low-Fat Gingerbread Cookies
Low-Fat Gingerbread Cookies

really like it Just remember, testing too much of that cookie dough will have you spending way more dough on the gym once you make (or re-make for the hundredth time) that New Year’s resolution.


You can cut the fat and calories without sacrificing taste during the holidays. If you use half the sugar amount the recipe calls for in, say, a fruit pie, you will save almost 750 calories for every cup of sugar you do not apply.


When it comes to cookies, use a mixture of half whole-wheat pastry flour and half all-purpose flour. (Guests won’t notice

the difference.) In your cheesecake that everyone is coming to the party for, substitute part-skim ricotta cheese for cream cheese and cut the fat by close to 60 grams for each cup you use. Brownies? Of course you can have them, just use pureed pumpkin instead of oil and for every half-cup of oil you eliminate, you’ll save more than 900 calories and 100 grams of fat.


See? There are ways to make sure that this holiday season is enjoyable, while also making sure the scale stays the same – or even lowers. Again, it is the New Year where you need to speak your resolution, but if you’ve already learned the ins-and-outs of cutting calories and still enjoying treats, then this January 1st won’t be so difficult.

Images:  http://www.brit.co/healthy-christmas-cookie-recipes/

Source:  Baret News




Happy Hour With Vegetables

Happy Hour With Vegetables

~ Richard Hudson

 When switching to a diet largely composed of fruits and vegetables that is also elevated in protein and fiber, you need to begin by thinking about a substantially increased emphasis on fruits and vegetables. Breakfast is one place to get some fruit. You can Fruit-Vegeplate.aspxhave it with oatmeal or another grain cereal or in a dish as a side with a poached egg on toast, but more preferably over lightly steamed spinach. Spinach is actually a vegetable that is not only tolerable, but actually quite good early in the morning.

For a morning snack you can have a little almond or peanut butter on some celery and that potentially gives you a second vegetable and we’re still not to lunch yet. However, you might decide to have a little plain yogurt and add some fruit and maybe nuts as well as whey protein to that for a snack. Maybe you had the oatmeal and fruit option for breakfast. If so, lunch is coming up soon and still no vegetable in sight.

That’s a great day for a lunch salad. Some greens will get you started and if you’re inventive at all you can usually manage to add at least 5-6 vegetables on top of the lettuce bed: celery, carrots, cucumber slices, tomatoes, sweet red or other sweet pepper slices, broccoli or cauliflower fluorets (or both) will get you started. You can add a few pine nuts, seeds, or seasoned tofu as well as some fish (tuna, sardines, clams, oysters, or salmon or just about any fish) or meat (preferably chicken or turkey baked previously and cut up in small pieces). However you do it you’ll get a good number of vegetables if you have a salad. But if you are in a bit of a rush and just put together a fruit smoothie with added whey protein for lunch then you may be headed into the afternoon hours still lacking in vegetables. This begins to place you into the vegetables required for both afternoon snack and dinner, since the best option for after dinner snack is usually something that simulates dessert — a cup of strawberries. And that’s not a vegetable.

Whatever you have for dinner should include some vegetables, possibly a starchy vegetable like sweet potatoes, wild rice, squash as well as a green non-starchy one like steamed broccoli, green beans, peas. To that you will usually add some fish or foul (chicken or turkey). Thus, it would be good to add some vegetable intake to the mid-afternoon snack.

Since my own tastes give me a tendency to be a little on the shy side of my vegetable intake by mid afternoon, but fine with respect to fruits, I usually concoct a multi-vegetable dish for the mid-afternoon snack also known as “Happy Hour” that everyone contributes to — nuts, a little cheese and crackers, and a vegetable dish. The last item is my responsibility.

The vegetable plate starts with a large deep red plate to which I add cut up broccoli, cauliflower, sliced sweet red peppers or any colored sweet peppers, sliced cucumbers, baby carrots, cherry tomatoes, and many other possibilities. It’s important to have at least 7-8 choices, and also to have a nice presentation. It’s invariably a pleasure to eat something from a plate that looks great. You don’t need any sauces to dip the vegetables into. If you did someone would want some salty chips or crackers, and I can’t think of a less healthy competing dish than chips and salsa or some other dip.

In addition to the raw vegetables noted above you can prepare some cooked or steamed vegetables and mix them into the same plate or put them on a separate plate or simply have a dish with cooked (not overcooked) vegetables. Freshly cooked beets, cut into small pieces and cooled — even cold — are great. Steamed Brussels sprouts, asparagus tips, cauliflower, broccoli, and carrots all work as well. Many other vegetables can be cooked and served warmly as part of a “Happy Hour” spread. These include sautéed asparagus, potato slices, leek slices, sautéed portobello mushrooms, baked sweet potato or baked white potato “fries.” The latter two possibilities can be seasoned and eaten as finger food, while some of the former may need a separate plate and a fork — depends how informal you want to be. Squashes like butternut can be cut up, seasoned and cooked. Also, zucchini sliced and sautéed or converted into zucchini pancakes are great as well. Cooked eggplant in small slices can be good also. Many of these cooked vegetables and can be combined onto the same larger plate for serving and usually a tooth pick is sufficient to pick it up and get it to one’s mouth. Whatever you do or however you manage to distribute the late afternoon vegetable plate over several days, variety is important. It shouldn’t be the only time during the day you get your vegetable portions, but if it becomes that then with what lays before you, you are well-prepared.

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