Chef Devin Alexander – before and after.
I’m all about making sure, “You Can Have It!” During the holidays, that’s particularly important. As someone who lost 70 pounds and reversed all my health concerns, I recommend the following:
Eat First: So often, people eat lunch and then don’t eat again until they arrive at an evening party…absolutely starved! Research has shown that when you do this, you consume even more calories. Be sure to eat a nutritious 200 to 300 calorie snack or meal, or a diabetes-friendly frozen, nutritional meal, before going to holiday parties! Though this sounds counter-intuitive, it will help you avoid grabbing the first fatty (or sugary) thing you see simply because you’re starved. Three to five of those tiny party faves can contain the same number of calories as an entire meal, and let’s face it—we all want eight to 10, or more!
Go Greek: Swap fat-free Greek yogurt in place of sour cream when making holiday dips! Unlike fat-free sour cream, it’s thick and rich, and tends to be preservative- and chemical-free. Greek yogurt provides protein and calcium while tasting just as good as sour cream. Plus, you’ll save 22 calories, three grams of fat and two grams of saturated fat per tablespoon!
Crust-Dos: Use mini fillo crusts instead of butter and graham crackers for making pie crusts. Not only do most brands contain little to no sugar, they help you manage your portions!
Pork It Up: When making your holiday stuffing, consider adding plenty of extra lean sausage (try chicken sausage!) to cut back on all the empty carbohydrates that tend to abound during the holidays.
Better Bling: Instead of adding red or green sugar or sprinkles to your holiday desserts that are already over-sugared, hunt down some edible glitter. You’ll get all the bling and color with virtually no fat, calories or added sugars, since they tend to be made from gelatin.
Get Fruit-Full: Add frozen grapes, blueberries or other fruit to your drinks to take the place of some of the liquid in the glass, helping you to drink less, and it looks pretty! You will “fill up” (best to stick to an ounce) without so much alcohol and so many empty calories. I love filling champagne flutes with frozen grapes, then pouring in the champagne. You’ll still look and feel social, but you won’t overload on the empty calories.
Beef Up: Make a filet mignon roast the centerpiece of your holiday dinner instead of prime rib for that special occasion. You’ll save 25 calories and 11.5 grams of fat per 4-ounce serving.
Super Scoping: When you arrive at a party, scope out ALL the food BEFORE you start eating. Choose items like chicken skewers, shrimp cocktail and veggies (easy on the dip!), and then leave room for a small portion of your favorite indulgence.
Dish It Out: When attending parties that aren’t professionally catered, consider taking a healthy, decadent dish, like Grilled Harissa Chicken Skewers, Shrimp Guac Apps or Salmon Cucumber Party Bites! It’ll be your backup if you show up to a “deep-fried” or super carb-heavy party. Plus, you’ll increase your chances of being invited back next year—hosts love when guests arrive with presents and offerings!
Cocoa-Loco!: If you’re a chocoholic like me, embrace it with cocoa powder this holiday season! Cocoa powder has only 10 calories per tablespoon and gives you two grams of fiber. Add it to a protein smoothie or some yogurt, or use it as the base of your hot chocolate. You’ll satisfy the chocolate craving before you find yourself dunking your head in the chocolate fountain or over-lurking around the fudge!