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Flavor First
December 2014



Holiday Tips to Keep Your Weight Loss on Track
By Cheryl Forberg RD


It's holiday time and if you're following a weight loss plan, there are three different approaches you can take for those festive mealtimes.

Keep Your Eyes on the Ball Approach - You're working hard to reach your goal weight. This year, you plan to buzz through the holidays with intense workouts, lots of lean turkey, plenty of veggies; skip the stuffing, potatoes and pie - after all, you're almost there.

It's Only One Day - Let's Fall off the Wagon Approach - Start your holiday morning with a killer workout, enjoy a feast with reckless abandon and jump back on the wagon the next day with a killer overcompensating workout and an undercompensating menu for the day.

Middle of the Road Approach - Embrace your new BL lifestyle, enjoy many of the traditional trimmings of the day, but observe the new BL portion sizes you've come to know and substitute some of the BL ingredients and cooking techniques of your traditional holiday fare with your new arsenal of BL knowledge.

Whichever decision you make, I hope you'll savor every minute of it without guilt. Here are a few tips to help you sail through this holiday season:

The first rule of thumb for holiday gatherings, especially if it's not at your house, is never go to the party hungry. Maintain your normal daily routine starting with breakfast and a workout. Have a snack before you go - a half a sandwich, yogurt and fruit, or a glass of milk. Be sure when you arrive you aren't starving.

If there's a buffet, plan your strategy before you step up to the table. Figure out how you want to approach the buffet table, if there is one.

Try to remember that most of the food should be whole grains, fruits and vegetables; the remaining third can be lean meats. Fill up on veggies that aren't drenched in butter or sauce.

If it's impossible to resist trying everything on Auntie Em's table, at least make sure you take very small "tastes" or small spoonfuls of high-calorie dishes.

It's true that the time frame from Thanksgiving to the New Year isn't that long when viewed in the context of an entire year. And it's important to remember that a holiday is just one day, so it's okay to indulge yourself a little. Many people begin a downward spiral over the holidays, every year, beginning with Thanksgiving. One day of temptation leads to another, and before they know it, they've spiraled out of control by Christmas. Don't let that happen to you. Decide which approach you'll take this year - ahead of time - and stick to it. You don't have to be too hard on yourself and cut out all indulgences on Thanksgiving Day or Christmas. You've worked so hard this year - you deserve a few rewards - just stick to smaller portions and get back on track on the next day.

Turkey

Use a rack to roast the turkey so the fat drips away from the bird.

If you're roasting a whole turkey, bake the stuffing in a casserole OUTSIDE the bird. Stuffing baked inside the bird absorbs fat from the turkey.

If the stuffing calls for sauteed veggies such as celery, onions and mushrooms, use a nonstick pan to minimize the amount of oil required to cook them.

If you're using broth for stuffing or gravy, be sure to choose fat-free.

Use a fat separator to skim off all fat before making your gravy. This tool is easy to find in most stores. It looks like a liquid measuring cup, but the spout comes from the bottom of the cup so the fat stays behind as you pour the liquid (fat-free) from the bottom.

Pumpkin Pie or Sweet Potato Pie
Use cooked mashed sweet potato to substitute for pumpkin in your favorite pumpkin pie recipe if you favor sweet potato over pumpkin.

Make pumpkin (or sweet potato) pies with canned, evaporated, skimmed milk. As much of the water has been "evaporated" the remaining milk is more concentrated - rich and creamy and lower in calories and fat than regular evaporated milk.

Try to use half the amount of sweetener requested in the recipe, and if you have access, try using agave nectar as your sweetener (available at health food stores). Unlike sugar, it's loaded with antioxidants. Yes it has calories, similar to those of honey, but it's NATURAL and not artificial or chemically processed. Taste pie filling before baking to be sure it's sweet enough. Sometimes kicking up the sweet spices, e.g. cinnamon, cloves, ginger, etc. by about 25% helps to stretch the flavor so the lesser amount of sweetener isn't as noticeable.

Substitute most or all of the whole eggs with egg whites.

Eat just the filling of the finished pie and skip the high-fat crust. Or if no one else minds, bake the filling in a springform pan WITHOUT any crust at all.

Miscellaneous
Season vegetables with fresh herbs and low sodium seasonings - skip the butter.

Skip the dinner rolls; but if that's not an option for your family, buy whole-grain rolls.

Muhammara (Walnut and Pomegranate Dip)
This richly textured full flavored dip is delicious on toasted pita or on crisp fruit slices, such as apple or pear. In the fall, I love to use Fuyu persimmon slices when they’re in season. You’ll be reaching for this recipe again and again. The creator is my friend Zov Karamardian, who serves this at her eponymous restaurant in Irvine, California. I have adapted it slightly.

Ingredients:

Muhammara (Walnut and Pomegranate Dip)


1 cup Melissa’s Red Walnuts, not toasted
2 small Red Bell Peppers, peeled, seeded and coarsely chopped
1 small Red Onion, coarsely chopped
3 tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
1½ cups whole wheat Panko Breadcrumbs
¼ cup Pomegranate Molasses or Pomegranate Balsamic Vinegar
2 tablespoons Agave Nectar
2 teaspoons Smoked Salt
1 teaspoon Cayenne
¼ cup Olive Oil
4 Fuyu Persimmons, trimmed, halved lengthwise, and thinly sliced crosswise (or Belgian Endive leaves or Toasted Pita Bread Triangles)

Garnish:
¼ cup Pomegranate Arils (optional)
¼ cup Cilantro Leaves

Instructions:

Finely chop the walnuts in a food processor. Be careful not to grind them into a paste. They should be the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.


Finely chop the walnuts in a food processor. Be careful not to grind them into a paste. They should be the texture of coarse breadcrumbs.

Add the bell pepper, onion and lemon juice. Pulse until the peppers are finely chopped. Add the breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, agave, cumin, salt and cayenne. Using the pulse button, pulse once to blend.


Add the bell pepper, onion and lemon juice. Pulse until the peppers are finely chopped. Add the breadcrumbs, pomegranate molasses, agave, cumin, salt and cayenne. Using the pulse button, pulse once to blend.

Gradually add the oil, blending just until the mixture resembles a coarse puree. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl with a platter of persimmon slices, Belgian endive leaves and toasted Pita bread. Garnish with pomegranate arils and cilantro.


Gradually add the oil, blending just until the mixture resembles a coarse puree. Transfer the dip to a serving bowl with a platter of persimmon slices, Belgian endive leaves and toasted Pita bread. Garnish with pomegranate arils and cilantro.

Muhammara (Walnut and Pomegranate Dip)


Note: This dip refrigerates well for up to three days.

Nutrition Analysis:
Calories 45
Calories from Fat 25
Total Fat 2
Sat Fat 0
Trans Fat 0
Cholesterol 0
Sodium 100
Total Carbohydrate 4
Fiber 1
Sugar 1
Protein 1
Vitamin A 2
Vitamin C 8
Calcium 0
Iron 2

For more nutrition tips and recipes visit Cheryl's blog, click here.

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