Take a deep breath … Christmas 2011 is over.
But you may still have a few holiday parties left on your calendar. Or maybe you still have Ukrainian Christmas to celebrate.
Whatever the case, check out these 12 healthy holiday secrets from Chef Devin Alexander before your next calorie-rich shindig:
1. Eat First
So often, people eat lunch and then don’t eat again until they arrive at an evening party absolutely starved! Before going to a holiday party, be sure to eat a nutritious 200- to 300-calorie snack or meal like my Asian Crab Salad-Topped Brown Rice Crisps from The Biggest Loser Quick & Easy Cookbook! Though this sounds counter-intuitive, eating a small snack before a holiday party will help you from grabbing the first thing you see simply because you’re starved. Three to five of those tiny party faves can contain an entire meal’s worth of calories, and let’s face it, you are still left wanting or more!
2. Get Fruit-Full
Add frozen fruit like grapes or blueberries to holiday cocktails to enjoy a drink without having too much alcohol and so many empty sugars. I love filling champagne flutes with frozen grapes then pouring in the champagne. You still get to be social and enjoy a little bubbly, but you won’t overload on the calories even if you opt for a second drink.
3. Go Greek
When making holiday dips, swap fat-free greek yogurt in place of sour cream! Unlike fat-free sour cream, fat-free greek yogurt is thick and rich and is typically preservative- and chemical-free. By making the swap, you’ll save 22 calories, 3 g fat and 2 g saturated fat per tablespoon.
When you make your holiday pie crust, use 100% all-fruit spread and crunchy high-fiber cereal instead of butter and graham crackers for a delicious alternative with fewer calories and less suger.
5. Pork It Up
When making your holiday stuffing, add plenty of extra lean sausage to increase your protein and cut back on the empty carbohydrates that tend to abound during the holidays.
6. Dough a Deer (or a Candy Cane)
Use whole-wheat pizza dough to make danishes, pastries and festive soft pretzels in holiday shapes that would otherwise use buttery doughs. You’ll quickly be hooked on my Chocolate Glazed Soft Pretzel Bites!
7. Better Bling
Instead of adding red or green sugar or sugar-based sprinkles to your holiday desserts, use edible glitter. Since edible glitter is typically made from gelatin, you’ll get all the holiday bling and color with virtually no fat, calories or added sugars found in traditional sprinkles.
8. Beef Up
Instead of the traditional prime rib, make a filet mignon roast the centerpiece of your holiday dinner or special occasion. You’ll save 25 calories and 11.5 g of fat per 4 ounce serving.
9. Super Scoping
When you arrive at a party, scope out all of the food before you start eating. Choose to fill up on high-protein items like chicken skewers and shrimp cocktail or veggies (but easy on the dip!) and then leave room for a few of your favorite indulgences.
10. Dish It Out
Consider taking a healthy decadent dish to your next holiday party! It will give you an alternative if you happen to show up at a “deep fried party.” Plus, you’ll increase your chances of being invited back next year because hosts love when guests come bearing gifts!
11. Careful Not To Crack-er
When given the choice, skip the crackers and opt for bread. Many crackers have butter baked in them, while most bread does not. And let’s face it, the cheeses, meats and dips are center stage, so enjoy those in moderation without adding additional fat.
If you’re a chocoholic like me, embrace it with cocoa powder this holiday season! Cocoa powder has only 10 calories per tablespoon and provides 2 grams of fiber. Add it to a protein smoothie, yogurt or use as the base of your hot chocolate. You’ll satisfy your chocolate craving before you find yourself dunking your head in the chocolate fountain or lurking around the fudge!