Stuffing ourselves with food we don't normally eat, drinking fancy beverages instead of our normal water, keeping so busy we can't keep on our exercise schedules -- this describes what many of us fondly refer to as "the holiday season."
But you CAN enjoy the holidays and all that it offers and still stay on track with your weight-loss plan by keeping three things in mind:
1. Now more than ever, keep up with your exercise plan.
Exercise will keep your metabolic rate up, thus burning more calories each day. It will also reduce stress and help keep you feeling positive about your body. It's important to feel positive -- many of us tend to overeat when we are stressed, depressed, or feel bad about ourselves.
2. Strive for balance.
It's important to strike a balance between allowing yourself some of foods you want to taste and enjoy and those that will keep the weight off. One key is to keep portions sizes modest. Also, don't forget to eat ONLY when you are hungry and stop when you are comfortable -- especially during the holiday season.
Some people cut out needless "extras" by simply not eating or drinking after around 7 p.m. Faced with a late holiday party? Substitute sparkling water for wine and munch on crunchy raw foods, such as sliced veggies. Your mouth will be busy and you won't feel deprived.
3. Lighten up your holiday favorites everywhere you can.
Believe me, lightening those recipes can add up to big savings! If you cut 110 calories here, 130 calories there, and 90 calories in a third dish, you've trimmed off 330 calories from that one meal alone. You can lighten recipes by using less fat or oil than called for in the original recipe, and by substituting reduced-fat or reduced-calorie versions of some of the ingredients (such as using light cream cheese instead of regular cream cheese or fat-free half and half instead of regular half and half.)
Here are three lightened Thanksgiving recipes to inspire you to do the same to some of your own family favorites.
Mom's Mashed Potatoes
Journal as: 3 servings (1/4 cup each) "starches and legumes without added fat."
What's Thanksgiving without those steamy mounds of mashed potatoes? Here's a light version you can whip up right before you sit down to eat.
5 medium russet potatoes (medium white or red potatoes can also be used)
2 green onions, white and part of green, finely chopped
1/3 cup fat-free half and half (low-fat milk or whole milk can also be used)
1/4 cup fat-free or light sour cream
1 tablespoon butter (or no or low trans fat margarine)
1/2 teaspoon minced or crushed garlic (optional)
salt and pepper to taste
- Pierce each potato several times with a fork and microwave the potatoes on HIGH until they are tender throughout. (about 20 minutes depending on your microwave. You can also bake or boil the potatoes until tender if you prefer. Let potatoes cool a few minutes.
- Peel off skins (and discard) and add the potato flesh to a large mixing bowl along with the green onions, fat-free half and half, sour cream, butter or margarine, and garlic.
- Beat on low speed until fairly smooth and blended. Add salt and pepper to taste.
Makes 6 servings.
Per serving: 187 calories, 5 g protein, 37 g carbohydrate, 2 g fat (1.2 g saturated fat, 0.6 g monounsaturated fat, 0.1 g polyunsaturated fat), 6 mg cholesterol, 3.5 g fiber, 55 mg sodium (not including salt to taste).
Light & Easy Pumpkin Custard Pie
Journal as: 1 medium dessert.
The fact that it has one crust instead of two, and features an antioxidant-rich vegetable, makes this pie one of the better ones to grace your holiday table. You can use a store-bought piecrust for this recipe, or make a single piecrust from scratch -- it's up to you!
1/3 cup granulated sugar
1/3 cup dark brown sugar, packed
3/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
pinch of ground cloves
1 1/2 cups canned pumpkin
1 teaspoon vanilla extract
1 1/4 cups (canned) evaporated skim milk
2 teaspoons orange zest (orange peel), finely chopped
3 egg whites, lightly beaten
1/4 cup Meyers rum (you can substitute orange juice for the rum if you prefer)
Single pie crust
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
- In a large mixing bowl, combine sugars, cinnamon, nutmeg, and cloves on lowest speed. Beat in the pumpkin, vanilla, evaporated milk, orange peel, and egg whites.
- Beat with electric mixer until nice and smooth. Fold in the rum.
- Pour into prepared 9-inch, deep dish, unbaked pie crust and bake for 10 minutes. Reduce heat to 325-degrees and bake for 45 minutes more or until knife inserted in the filling comes out clean.
- Let cool and refrigerate until served. Serve with a little dollop of light Cool Whip or light whipping cream if desired.
Makes 12 servings.
Deluxe Boxed Stuffing
Journal as: 2 servings (1/4 cup each) "starches and legumes with 1 teaspoon fat."
If you're like many people, you probably turn to the boxed stuffing mixes (such as Stove Top) to shave some time off that Thanksgiving preparation. Instead of telling you no, I'm going to show you how to jazz up that box mix, and while we're at it, cut the added butter in half to make a light but flavorful quick bread stuffing. Note: Sauteing the veggies in butter does a nice job of bringing out their flavors, but you can shave even more off this recipe if you use just a tad of canola or olive oil instead.
1 box chicken flavor or sourdough bread stuffing mix (6 ounce box)
1/2 cup chopped onion
1/2 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 teaspoon minced or chopped garlic
2 tablespoons butter or no or low trans fat margarine
1 3/4 cup water
- Add butter, onion, celery, and garlic to a medium, nonstick saucepan and sautÃ© over medium heat, stirring frequently, until onion lightly browns (about 4 minutes).
- Pour in the seasoning packet and 1 3/4 cups of water and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat to a simmer, and cook 5 minutes.
- Remove saucepan from heat, add the bread crumbs, and stir to moisten. Cover and let stand about 5 minutes. Fluff with fork and serve!
Makes 6 servings (if you want to make a larger amount, double or triple the recipe ingredients and use a large, nonstick saucepan).
Per serving: 152 calories, 3.5 g protein, 22.5 g carbohydrate, 4.8 g fat, 2.4 g saturated fat (if using butter), 10 mg cholesterol (if using butter), 1.5 g fiber, 485 mg sodium.