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Christmas Dinner: Cut Fat & 1,500 Calories!

Posted Nov 20 2009 10:01pm
Susan Burke MS, RD, LD/N, CDE
eDiets Contributor

How can you stay healthy throughout the holidays? It's easy, when you're a little creative, and a little disciplined too. I have come up with holiday suggestions that can save you almost 1,500 calories through a few simple substitutions.

Whether dining out at restaurants and holiday buffets, or serving holiday dinners at home, you are the captain of your ship, so to speak, when it comes to what you eat.

Meeting & Greeting: Just getting acquainted with guests can be a disaster for the waistline, if you indiscriminately snack. In fact, what you eat and drink before dinner can add up to more than 600 calories, just from one drink and a couple of handfuls of nuts!

Nuts, while healthy, are very high in calories and fat, and are easy to overeat. Dips and chips are menaces. Most are triple whammies of extreme fat, sodium and calories. Alcoholic beverages compound the problem, not only because they can be very weighty (one 6-ounce pina colada packs 398 calories and 6 grams of fat) but because imbibing tends to loosen inhibitions and inspire you to eat something you might normally avoid.

So, sip some sparkling water and save your alcohol for a glass of wine with dinner (100 calories, 0 fat); skip the nuts and instead snack on crudites (only 50 fat-free calories for a cup each of baby carrots and celery sticks vs. 374 calories and 34 grams of fat in just two ounces of roasted mixed nuts). You can save 622 calories and 40 grams of fat.

Start with Salad or Soup: Instead of sausage cheese balls (one of my cousin's favorites) and 279 calories and 14 grams of fat, enjoy a tossed salad made fascinating and crunchy with broccoli florets, snow pea pods and water chestnuts (total 100 calories, less than a gram of fat).

Keep it light with a nonfat salad dressing or make your own with one part extra virgin olive oil to two parts flavorful balsamic vinegar, and some chopped fresh chives (about 25 calories, 2-3 grams of healthy, monounsaturated fat). Broth-based soups with vegetables are similarly filling for a starter, and will save a similar amount of calories and fat. Save 154 calories, 11 grams of fat.

Stay the Main Course: Calorie and fat-wise, all lean meats are perfect... as long as you keep it healthy by not adding fat to the naturally low-fat meal. You may run into trouble if faced with pre-sauced and dressed entrees. Even vegetarian entrees can be hard on your diet if they're heavily sauced and cheesed.

But as long as you trim the portion size to what you're used to on your eDiets menu, you'll be okay. Just say "no" to gravy on the meats and potatoes, (save 100 calories, 7 grams of fat) and instead of the traditional broccoli casserole made with creamy mushroom soup and butter (267 calories and 16 grams of fat), enjoy steamed broccoli topped with slivered almonds and a sprinkle of dehydrated butter granules (60 calories, 0 grams of fat).

Baked sweet potatoes are succulent (55 calories, 0 grams of fat) instead of mashed white potatoes with butter and cream (236 calories and 9 grams of fat). Save 488 calories, 32 grams of fat.

Sweet Endings: Desserts are like appetizers -- they can make or break a holiday meal, calorie-wise. You can gorge on something laden with sugar and fat, or be sensibly satisfied with a sweet-yet-safe dessert. Don't deprive yourself of dessert, but make it smarter. Instead of Aunt Nelly's traditional pumpkin pie, made with whole eggs, two kinds of sugar and heavy cream (one-eighth slice has 346 calories, 17 grams of fat) try a deliciously modified recipe from The Web site has lots of good information on baking and cooking with SPLENDA Sugar Blend for Baking (a mix of sugar (sucrose) and sucralose) and SPLENDA Brand Sweetener (sucralose). This reduced-fat pie doesn't sacrifice taste or texture, and has only 150 calories and 7 grams of fat per slice. Save 196 calories, 10 grams of fat.

Drum roll please, Little Drummer Boy... Follow this advice and your total savings for your holiday meal comes to 1,460 calories and 93 grams of fat!

Enjoy your holidays by making them healthy for everyone. Start with one of our favorite holiday recipes -- Reduced-Fat Pumpkin Pie!

Have you started thinking about your New Year's resolutions yet? eDiets experts are here to help you make sure you reach your goals this year! Start by making sure you choose the right diet with our Free Diet Profile.

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