Wednesday, November 23, 2011

Preventing Holiday Weight Gain Part 1 ~ featuring Registered Dietician, Jenny Cooper (including recipes for Spinach Dip and Baked Balsamic Chicken)

The Holidays are here! With the bustle of decorating, shopping, spending time with friends and family and eating delicious food who wouldn’t agree that this is the most wonderful time of the year? But along with the fun and celebration of the holidays also comes worry and stress around holiday weight gain. The good news is, you can enjoy all of your favorite holiday foods without stretching your waist line.  The key to preventing weight gain during the holidays is the same as preventing weight gain any other time of the year: limit the amount of calories you take in through foods and beverages while also burning extra calories through physical activity. Where most of us get in trouble during the holidays is when we overindulge on holiday goodies for two months straight and we allow the busyness of the holiday season and the colder temperatures to interfere with our usual efforts in staying physically active. To help keep you on track this year in preventing those sneaky pounds from piling on, check out these top three ways to prevent unwanted holiday weight gain:

1.       Avoid Overindulging During the Holidays

It’s perfectly okay during the holidays to enjoy your favorite holiday goodies, but try to limit the amount of high calorie foods you eat by practicing portion control. This can be accomplished by eating from a small salad plate versus a regular sized dinner plate and by filling half of your plate with fruits and vegetables, a fourth of your plate with a lean protein food such as turkey or beans and the other fourth of your plate with a starchy carb food like a dinner roll or mashed sweet potatoes. At that holiday meal, you can also save your calories by choosing to eat only your favorite dishes and fight the urge to “sample” everything. For dessert try to choose your top two favorite desserts offered and cut very small slices of each to enjoy.

Avoid skipping breakfast to “save” calories for the big meal later. This will only cause you to overindulge during the meal. Have a breakfast consisting of protein, a whole grain and a piece of fruit. The protein and fiber from the breakfast meal will curb your appetite and control blood sugar until your next snack or meal. If your holiday meal is later in the day, be sure to have a healthy snack 1-2 hrs before the meal to, again, prevent you from overeating at the meal. Your snack should also contain some type of protein and fiber such as low fat cheese slices and whole grain crackers, unsalted trail mix with nuts and dried fruit or raw veggies and hummus.

Be sure to eat a healthy meal before heading out for that last minute shopping trip or when hitting the major after holiday sales, and carry a healthy snack with you to prevent being tempted by unhealthy fast food and convenient store snacks. White meat turkey on whole grain bread with veggies or tossed into a salad makes a great pre-shopping trip meal!   
Stay tuned for part 2...
                                                                                                           Jenny Cooper, RD, LDN
 Hi! It's Joy.
Jenny was talking about the importance of eating a well balance breakfast. I have a hard time finding something for breakfast that will stick with me all morning.  Recently, a friend told me about Bagel Thins. They are just like a bagel, but thinner (duh, I am sure you could have figured that out) and have about 1/2 the calories of a regular bagel.

I now eat a Bagel Thin sandwich and drink an 8 oz. glass of skim milk every morning for breakfast:
  • 1 whole wheat bagel thin toasted
  • 2 fried egg whites (mix 3/4 tsp. sugar with leftover egg yolks and freeze for later use)
  • 1 slice of lowfat cheese 
    This meal has approximately 300 calories, and it sticks with me until lunchtime even on days when I run 5 miles or more.

Jenny also mentioned eating a healthy snack a couple of hours before a big meal to curb your appetite. One of my favorite snacks is spinach dip with fresh veggies. Just look at these beautiful veggies at the local Italian market.

Spinach Dip
2 cups light or nonfat sour cream
1 pkg. frozen spinach (chopped, thawed, and drained)
1/4 cup chopped onion
3/4 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried oregano

  • Combine ingredients in a bowl and chill for at least an hour.
  • Serve with raw carrots, broccoli, cauliflower, cucumber, celery, bell peppers, tomatoes, asparagus, sun-dried tomatoes, zuchinni, squash, snap peas or any veggie of your choice. 
  • Can also be served in a round bread loaf.
  • Also makes a great spread for sandwiches.

Jenny says that we need to include lean meats in our diet. Here is a really easy and juicy chicken dish to help you maintain your weight during the holidays. It is great hot out of the oven with veggies. Leftovers would be perfect tossed in a salad for that preshopping meal!

Balsamic Baked Chicken

4 chicken breast halves, bone-in or skinless
1/4 cup balsamic vinegar
1 Tablespoon olive oil
1 1/2 tsp dried oregano
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp fresh ground black pepper

  • Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  • Arrange the chicken bone side down in a 9 x 13 inch baking dish.
  • Pour the vinegar over them and sprinkle evenly with the oil, oregano,  salt, and pepper.
  • Bake the chicken 20 minutes and baste with the vinegar juices.
  • Bake 20 minutes more (depending on size of breast) or until juices run clear.
  • Serve chicken with juices spooned over them.

Servings one breast (94 g.)
calories 170.2
fat 10.1
protein 15.2
fiber <1 g

Buon Appetito!

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