5 Weight Control Tips for December Damage Control

Woman Stepping onto ScaleWeight loss in December is not usually the objective for my clients.  Most of my clients simply hope to hold the line on their weight.  The challenges of the holidays are numerous:  shopping which leads to more frequent fast grab lunches at the mall, office parties, stress-related eating, and family or friend gatherings during the holidays.  Here are 5 tips to help you manage the tipping point on the scale:

  • Try to eat a healthy meal before hitting the mall.  If your shopping period is an all day affair, then plan your restaurant meal in advance.  Use the Internet to preplan your options at your mall restaurant by reviewing the nutrition information online.
  • For office parties and gatherings, try to have a healthy snack of fruit or veggies prior to the festivities.  If you are feeling a sense of fullness, it will be easier to resist some of those high temptation goodies which are sure to be available.  If you are having lunch catered in, see if you can find out the menu so you can preplan how you will handle the meal to meet your health and weight objectives.
  • You can help your stress-related eating by simply controlling your eating environment at home.  Make sure your kitchen is full of healthy food options which are easy to prepare as opposed to a kitchen full of high temptation baked goods and candy.  If you must bake for the holidays, keep those baked treats where you cannot easily get to them.  Better yet, store them at skinny friend’s house.
  • For gatherings with family and friends, contribute something to a potluck which meets your dietary objectives.  Make it something healthy, but something you can enjoy as well.  Fresh shrimp, a fruit platter, or crackers with reduced fat cheese spreads are good options.
  • Watch those alcohol calories!

An ounce of prevention is probably worth much more than a pound of cure.  It is much easier to avoid weight gain, than to undo those unwanted December pounds come January.

Wishing my readers a happy and healthy holiday season and 2013.

4th of July Cookouts: Build a Healthier BBQ Meal!


Marie’s Mango Lime Salsa

We are now in full summer swing with July 4th quickly approaching.  Of course, this time of year is noted for sizzling burgers and hotdogs on the grill.  For those who are looking for healthier alternatives for quick summer meals or ways to opt out of the standard grilled burger and hotdog routine, try some of the following alternatives to standard cookout menu items.

Try grilling some salmon or chicken and top with this mango lime salsa.  My client provided the recipe and photo, and noted how delicious it was.  She kindly calculated the calorie content as well!  Thank you Marie!

Mango Lime Salsa-makes 2 cups; prep time about 30 minutes

1 small red onion diced small

1/2 red pepper 1/4 inch dice

1 jalapeño (or to taste)

1/3 cup fresh lime juice (about 2 large limes)

2 tsp ground cumin

2 mangos peeled, pitted and cut into 1/4 inch dice

1/4 cup chopped parsley or cilantro

salt & pepper to taste

In medium bowl, combine all the ingredients and mix well. The salsa will keep 2 days in the refrigerator. Serve with baked tortilla chips, or over any grilled fish or chicken.

Each 1/2 cup portion has about 50 calories.  You can also top lettuce leaves with salsa and serve as a side dish.

For a great healthy side and alternative to fatty side dishes such as creamy potato salad, try grilled fruit kabob.

 Grilled Fruit Kabobs

1/4 cup melted butter
2 tablespoons brown sugar
juice from 1 fresh lime and lime rind
1 tsp. cinnamon
In a small bowl, stir together melted butter, brown sugar, grated lime rind, lime juice, and cinnamon until the sugar is dissolved.  Use any fresh fruit cut into one-inch pieces such as pineapple, apples, nectarines, melon, bananas, or large whole strawberries. Thread the fruit alternately onto metal skewers.  Brush kabobs with butter mixture and place on barbecue grill.  Grill for 6-8 minutes, turning frequently and brushing generously with butter mixture until the fruit starts to brown and is heated through.
Anyone have other non-traditional BBQ sides for this upcoming 4th of July?


6 Benefits of Beer: Happy Dad’s Day!

I know a lot of great fathers and they ALL enjoy their beer.  While everyone knows the downside of too much beer-the “santa claus” physique (known technically as central obesity) or the dreaded hangover, there are actually some benefits from drinking modest amounts of beer.  For men, a “modest” amount of beer would be two or less 12 oz. cans of beer. If there was ever a time to toot beer’s horn, it would seem to be Father’s Day.  Here are some of the benefits of modest beer consumption:

  • It can actually decrease blood pressure if consumed in small amounts.
  • It can contribute B vitamins to the diet because beer is made from hops and yeast, both of which provide various B vitamins.
  • It is a modest source of selenium (an anti-oxidant), calcium, and magnesium. These nutrients are important for strong bones.
  • It can be a source of anti-oxidants.  In fact, the darker the beer, the more anti-oxidants! 
  • It can thin the blood, thereby decreasing the potential for blood clotting which could lead to heart attack or stroke.
  • It may lessen the likelihood of kidney stones, in part due to the high water content of beer.

For those dads with special medical problems that would generally require abstinence from regular beer, there are even non-alcoholic beers and gluten-free beers now widely available you so can imbibe without affecting your health! And for those dads trying to whittle their waist or needing to control their carbohydrate due to diabetes, beers come in a wide range of calories and carbohydrate content, so check the labels to find the beer that is best for you.  

So happy Father’s Day to all you great dads out there.  Enjoy your beer and fire up the grill while you are at it. Nothing beats a cold “brewski” with a grilled meal on a hot summer day.

“Resized” Holiday Cheesecake

Our taste buds love it, but our waist lines hate it: cheesecake. However, there are smarter ways to enjoy this treat. By using fat-free or reduced fat versions of the fattiest cheesecake ingredients, you can cut the calories by half without sacrificing taste.


Conventional Cheesecake Recipe: 1/12 of the cake=533 calories, 36 gm. fat
“Resized” Cheesecake Recipe: 1/12 of the cake=250 calories, 10 gm. fat

15 graham crackers, crushed
1 tablespoon butter, melted
4 (8) ounce packages or containers fat-free cream cheese
1 cup sugar
¾ cup skim milk
3 eggs
1 cup fat free sour cream
¼ cup flour
1 tablespoon vanilla extract

Spray a 9-inch springform pan with cooking spray. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a medium bowl, mix the crushed graham crackers with the tablespoon of melted butter. Press the mixture onto the bottom of the springform pan.

In a large bowl, mix the cream cheese with sugar until smooth. Then blend in the milk and eggs one at a time mixing just enough to thoroughly incorporate into the mixture. Add the fat-free sour cream, vanilla, and flour and mix until smooth. Pour the filling into the springform pan.

Bake for one hour. Turn oven off and let cheesecake begin cooling in the oven for an additional 30 minutes before taking out of the oven. Cool thoroughly prior to serving. Consider topping each wedge with strawberries, raspberries, fresh mint, or a dollop of whipped cream. One serving is 1/12 of the cake.

By using the slimmed down versions of ingredients in recipes such as this, the only factors being affected are the total fat content and calories per serving. Enjoy this slimmed down cheesecake without guilt! Happy holidays and happy new year!

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip The merry holidays have arrived, bringing with them plenty of social engagements and delicious food. For many people, delicious often means “full of calories.” However, it doesn’t have to. With a bit of crafty cooking, you can make your favorite holiday recipes equally tasty, but with far fewer calories. Over the next few weeks, I’ll present favorite recipes and tips for “resizing” them, highlighting principles along the way that will help you manage your caloric intake, not just during the holidays, but throughout the year.

This week, we’ll begin by exploring how to tweak a popular appetizer- spinach dip. A favorite of many, this dish packs a mean 72 calories in each tablespoon. While that may not seem like a lot, remember most of us don’t stop at a tablespoon! Making a few key changes to this recipe can reduce the caloric count to 50 calories per tablespoon. While cutting down 20 calories may not seem like a big deal, keep in mind that most people probably eat about five tablespoons, which translates to at least 100 calories saved. During the holidays, those calories all add up quickly.

Conventional Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 72 calories

Resized Spinach Dip Recipe: 1 Tablespoon serving size = 50 calories

“Resized” Holiday Spinach Dip

1 10-oz. package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and drained
1 package KNORR brand vegetable Soup, Dip, and Recipe Mix
3 green onions
1 8-oz. can drained, chopped water chestnuts
1 container no fat sour cream
1 cup no fat mayonnaise

Mix all ingredients together. Chill for several hours to blend flavors. Stir well. Serve with
crackers, cut up vegetables, or cubed bread. This goes nicely into a scooped out round loaf of sourdough bread with the scooped out bread being used as a dipping food.

Substituting the fat-free versions of mayonnaise and sour cream in this recipe, and virtually all recipes for that matter, will help whittle your waist without compromising the taste!