Four ways to cut calories

(ARA) – You may relish holiday office parties, neighbourhood gatherings, family meals and the annual New Year’s Eve bash. But how happy will your holidays really be if all those extra calories you consume during seasonal festivities go straight to the portion of your anatomy that could least use the extra padding?

Holiday weight gain will be an unpleasant reality for many Americans this year. It is possible, however, to trim the calories and still enjoy holiday merriment. Just keep in mind these ‘Four Cs’ to help curtail calories at holiday parties, Weight Watchers advises:

Cocktails

Some people forget to keep tabs on liquid calories. Since they don’t usually make you feel full, it’s easy to forget that holiday spirits and cocktails can be high in calories. To limit liquid calories, keep sugary mixers like Triple Sec, Grand Marnier and Crème de Menthe to a minimum. Opt instead for lower-calorie substitutions.

For example, instead of a cosmopolitan, which packs 179 calories in just 3 ounces, go for a mimosa that offers just 105 calories in 6 ounces. Spiced tea with an ounce of rum adds up to just 70 calories and is a good replacement for eggnog, which pours on 186 calories per half-cup serving.

Cookies

Santa Claus isn’t the only one who loves holiday cookies. They are a seasonal ‘must have’ for many. Don’t deprive yourself completely; deprivation tends to lead to overindulgence. Pick one cookie and savour it. To create a little more cookie control, bring your own renovated recipe, and follow these tips to lighten up these holiday favourites:
* Top it – Sprinkle chocolate chips, nuts or dried fruit on top of cookies instead of mixing them into the batter. This will reduce the amount used of these high-calorie add-ons.
* Toast it – Bring out the flavor of nuts or coconuts by toasting them before adding them into the recipe. This will also allow you to use less of them.
* Substitute it – Egg and sugar substitutes can help reduce calories and fat.
* Shrink it – Cut calories in half by reducing the size of the cookie, so you can still enjoy the flavours of your favourite holiday treat.
Candy

Chocolate goes with the holidays like Santa and his red suit. But you’ll consume fewer calories and feel satisfied longer if you substitute a long-lasting holiday candy, like a candy cane, for chocolates. Also, look for ways to incorporate sensible snacks with a touch of indulgence, such as chocolate-dipped pretzels.
Couture

Don’t bow to baggy sweaters and stretchy fabrics that make it easier to overlook your figure flaws. You might think twice about grazing at the holiday party buffet if you’re wearing your ‘skinny’ jeans. Also, buy a party dress or a fantastic outfit that makes you feel great now and hang it on the bathroom door as a reminder that you want to look and feel your best this season. For instant inspiration, you can find tips to dressing ‘five pounds lighter’ on WeightWatchers.com.

For more help managing holiday calories, visit www.weightwatchers.com.

Classic Sugar Cookies
Try this reduced-calorie holiday treat
Ingredients:
3 cups all-purpose flour
1 tsp baking soda
2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup Neufchatel cheese
1 cup sugar, granulated
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 large egg(s)
1/2 cup fat-free skim milk
1 tsp all-purpose flour
1/3 cup sugar, colored (for decorating)

Preparation:

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Combine flour, baking soda, baking powder and nutmeg in a medium bowl. Set aside. Place butter and cheese in a large bowl, and cream using an electric mixer. Add sugar and beat until batter is pale yellow. Beat in vanilla extract and egg.

Add about 1/3 of flour mixture and 1/3 of milk to cheese mixture. Mix batter on low speed until just combined. Repeat with remaining flour and cheese mixtures.

Shape dough into a ball and loosely cover with plastic wrap. Using your palms, press down on the plastic wrap to flatten the dough into a hamburger shape. Refrigerate for at least 30 minutes and up to two days.

Sprinkle a teaspoon of flour on a flat work surface. Pull off about 1/3 of the dough and, using a rolling pin, roll out dough to 1/8-inch thickness. Using a 3-inch circular cookie cutter, cut cookies out of dough and place on ungreased baking sheets. Roll up dough scraps and add back to dough ball. Pull off another 1/3 of dough and repeat process until all dough is used.

Sprinkle cookies with colored sugar and bake until edges just start to turn golden, about 10 to 12 minutes. Remove cookies to wire racks and cook completely. Makes 45 single-serving cookies.

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