Let me sayright up front-I am the last person to pull a Grinch-like attitude toward the holidays. Christmas was always a big deal in our household when I was growing up, and the delights of the table were front and center.
But I'm afraid my youthful ability to consume any and all foods with no effect is consigned to the mists of Christmas Past. If the same is true for you-and you're looking ahead to holiday feasts with a certain amount of trepidation-fear not. By following a few commonsense guidelines, you can feast and frolic without incurring
an excessive shroud of post-holiday guilt.
Beware the Buffet
If you don't want to be seduced and abandoned by the office-party buffet, you have to approach it with a definite strategy and a firm resolve.
- Never let your eyes get bigger than your stomach. Don't pile it on-you can always come back for more.
- Start with the protein. Give yourself a decent serving-preferably the lean variety, such as chicken or fish-before going for the carbs. And have a drizzle of sauce, not
- Keep in mind that vegetables and salads aren't a penance, they're a pleasure. So put plenty of them on your plate.
- Limit your carbs and fat. You don't have to skip them entirely. But if you go for the mac and cheese, eschew the mashed potatoes with gravy and the creamed corn.
The dessert buffet is far and away the biggest challenge. All I can say is, pick out one or two must-have favorites, and stop
up your ears against the siren song of those other tempting treats. Under no circumstances should you attempt to "sample 'em all"- that way lies madness, and an ever-expanding waistline.
Tame the Demon Rum
The social fallout from overindulging aside, those useless carbs can pile up! So...
- Water it down. That vodka will do less harm when mixed with a generous pour of cranberry juice and tonic.
- Alternate. A cranberry and tonic will taste much the same without the vodka.
- Keep your water glass busy. Wine with dinner is delightful, but don't let it be your only beverage.
- And remember-you don't need alcohol to have a good time. Seriously.
This is the cardinal rule during the holidays, and these tricks will help.
- Eat slowly. Give your stomach time to register that it's full.
- More food does not equal more love. Mom may be telling you "Eat! Eat! You're nothing but skin and bones." But you know better.
- You don't have to finish everything on your plate. Contrary to what we were told as kids, it will have no effect on the "starving children in Europe."
- Discipline your mouth. Sure, another slice of pot roast or cake sounds good, but is it worth the discomfort that will follow?
Remember that "moderation" isn't a four-letter word. It's a desirable and achievable goal that will do nothing but enhance your enjoyment of this festive time of year. And if you follow these few suggestions, you may even be able to eliminate that ever-present "need to diet" resolution from your New Year's list!
Festive Fruit Punch
This fizzy treat has minimal alcohol and maximum flavor! To make it really festive, freeze raspberries and mint leaves into a ring of ice in a 10-inch circular mold and float it in the punch bowl. For a non-alcoholic version, you can double the sparkling lemonade and leave out the champagne.
1 12-oz. can frozen lemonade
1 12-oz. can frozen limeade
1 12-oz. can frozen orange juice
1 cup pomegranate juice
2 750 ml bottles sparkling water
1 750 ml bottle sparkling lemonade
1 750 ml bottle champagne
Combine frozen juices and pomegranate juice in large punch bowl. Stir to combine. Add sparkling water and lemonade, and stir gently until blended. Add generous amount of ice, pour in champagne,
PER SERVING: 150 CAL; <1 G PROT; <1 G TOTAL FAT (0 G SAT FAT); 33 G CARB; 0 MG CHOL; 3 MG SOD; <1 G FIBER; 30 G SUGARS
Easy Bison Chili
This lean and tasty dish-which is great when made ahead and reheated-is the perfect contribution to any holiday pot-luck supper.
3 Tbs. olive oil
2 large brown onions, chopped
6 cloves garlic, minced
4 lb. ground bison (ground dark-meat turkey also works well)
4 Tbs. chili powder
3 10-oz. cans chopped tomatoes with green chilies
1 bottle dark beer, such as Guinness
2 15-oz. cans organic red beans
2 cups frozen corn kernels
- Pour olive oil into large pot. Add onions, and sauté over medium heat, 3 minutes. Add garlic, and cook 1 minute more. Increase heat, add bison and chili powder, and cook until browned, stirring often, about 5 minutes.
- Add entire contents of tomato cans, beer, and red beans, and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer, stirring often, one hour.
- Add corn, and salt and pepper to taste. Cook 15 minutes more. Serve hot.
PER SERVING: 181 CAL; 18 G PROT; 7 G TOTAL FAT (2 G SAT FAT); 12 G CARB; 42 MG CHOL; 257 MG SOD; 3 G FIBER; 2 G SUGARS