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Healthifying Your Holiday Treats

Posted Dec 23 2010 10:54am
This time of year, most of us get inundated with cookies, candy, cakes and other assorted holiday treats. When we're party-hopping, it's hard to know when to say no.  And here's the good news - you don't always have to say no. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed, and that means indulging a little! 

What most of us seem to have a problem with is the "a little" part. For me, when I indulge in sweets and fats more than my body is used to, I tend to feel like a big pile of poop (which is not very festive at all).  Over the past few years, I've developed some fun ways to enjoy my favorite holiday foods without turning myself into a bowlful of jelly.  Here are some of my favorites
Holiday Cookie Oats

In the mix
-1/2 cup steel cut oats
-Chocolate chip/M&M cookie (broken up into small pieces)
-Pumpkin pie spice

Whenever I just grab a few cookies for breakfast, I tend to feel sluggish and ravenous by noontime, since my sugar high has worn off. My mood quickly shifts from cheerful to  hangry, and no one wants to see that. Pictured above, my cookie-topped oats are a great way to get your fiber and fill you up in the morning while still allowing you to enjoy that holiday treat. I dish out the oatmeal from the rice cooker while it's still hot, and the chocolate from the cookie gets melty and gooey.  It's just decadent enough to disguise that I'm actually eating something marginally healthful.  Earlier in the week, I made the same mix, except with sugar cookies. And instead of making the oatmeal with water, I made it with apple cider.  It was Yum-tastic!

Nog it Up:  Another way I like to spice up my holidays is with eggnog.  Just like Homer Simpson , I look forward to my nog each Christmas season (until the government comes and takes it away).  But, eggnog isn't exactly great for you (more than 300 calories in a cup -- yowza!), so I like to take a half cup of eggnog and some lowfat vanilla frozen yogurt, mix it up in my Magic Bullet, and sip away on my Nog Milkshake.  I still get my nog fix, but I don't have to run 15 miles to burn it off.

Don't Skip the Dip:  Along with the sweet treats, the holidays seem to come hand-in-hand with fatty (yet irresistible) dips and spreads.  For me, I find it's difficult at a holiday function not to stand around inhaling hundreds and hundreds of mayonnaise-laden calories. 

My tip is don't skip the dip! There's no point in staring longingly at food that you think is "off limits."  You'll just make yourself crazy and irritable, and no one wants to be around a Grinch!  So, my suggestion for holiday gatherings is to scoop that dip with a veggie instead of a cracker or chip, as I've shown at right with my mozzarella bacon spread atop some broccoli.  You still get the fatty goodness that you craved, but you're also eating something healthy too, so you'll have more energy later for burning up the dance floor.

Wine is Fine: When I go to a social gathering, I find it's easy to get to talking and lose track of how many cocktails I've had.  (This is a condition I like to call "Zero to Hammered.")   So my final tip for holiday parties where the beer and wine is flowing (I got this tip from my friend Heather) is to mix a little water into your chardonnay or riesling. You probably won't end up drinking as much and you're less likely to wake up the next morning with a killer headache and thus, actually be able to make it to that 8 a.m. yoga class.

Enjoy your holidays, everyone!


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