Tuesday, January 20, 2015

Melissa's Tip of the Week is designed to help you and your family to live happier, healthier lives through diet and exercise.
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How to survive the holidays

Without gaining too much weight...

Oh boy.  The holidays bring good times spent with friends, hot toddies, buttered rum, holiday cookies baked just for you, and lots of special meals.  It can also bring an average of 10 extra pounds, if you're not careful.  When temptations are lurking around every corner, it's time to create some strategies to navigate the sea of goodies.

You might ask yourself "What's the harm in gaining a few holiday pounds?"  Holiday weight gain can easily become a permanent passenger, adding to adult obesity.  In fact, many folks that gain weight over the holidays never do lose those extra 2, 3 or even 10 pounds, and those add up year after year.  So how do we avoid this inevitable pitfall?

*Portion Control
If you struggle to keep your portions on the smaller side, try using a smaller plate.  Take just a small bite or two, so you can try all of the special holiday treats, but control how much of them you are putting on your plate.

*Never Arrive Hungry
It might seem like a good idea to "save" your appetite for a party, but this inevitably backfires.  You go hungry, and if you're anything like me, you start and can't stop.  Having a healthy snack beforehand, or even just drinking a glass of water can help you make better choices for the rest of the evening.

*Change Your Focus
Food is certainly a big part of holiday gatherings, and our memories of warm and cozy times are tied up with the smells and tastes of home.  But, the most important thing is the company you keep, enjoying your family and friends.  Try to focus on a game with the kiddos, or the conversation going on--changing your focus to the people, the lights, the warmth of family--can help take the focus off the food.

*Take Your Time
If you arrive and rush to eat, you will chew fast and forget you even ate.  Pace yourself, chewing slowly, talking to friends; Enjoy the time you have together, and pace your eating throughout the night.  The food won't disappear (we are so fortunate to be able to say that, right?).  Enjoy and relax.

*Be Choosy
You know the variety of things that are offered at these gatherings.  This is the time to be super choosy about what you are eating.  Do make sure to grab some fiber filled veggies, but then only take what you LOVE.  Don't eat a whole bunch of stuff you only sort of like.  Be choosy about your sweets, too.  Grab the one you like best.

*Limit Your Alcohol
We all know alcohol is basically empty calories and sugar.  Many holiday drinks pack a big calorie punch.  So it goes to reason that limiting those would help your overall goal of keeping your weight even over the holidays.  Try to keep track of how many glasses of wine you have, not how many bottles...
1 medium eggplant
Kosher salt
All-purpose flour, for dredging
2 large eggs
3/4 cup breadcrumbs
1/4 cup grated parmesan cheese
1 tablespoon plus 2 teaspoons extra- virgin olive oil, plus more as needed
2 large plum tomatoes, diced
2 teaspoons red wine vinegar
1 cup ricotta cheese
Shredded fresh basil, for topping
Thinly slice the eggplant into rounds and season with salt. Pour some flour into a shallow dish. Beat the eggs in another dish. In a third dish, mix the breadcrumbs and parmesan. Dredge the eggplant in the flour, then dip in the eggs and coat with the breadcrumb mixture.

Heat 1 tablespoon olive oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Working in batches, cook the eggplant until golden, about 2 minutes per side, adding more oil between batches, if necessary. Drain on paper towels and season with salt.

Toss the tomatoes with the remaining 2 teaspoons olive oil and the vinegar in a bowl. Spoon some ricotta onto each eggplant slice. Top with the tomato mixture and basil.

Photograph by Anna Williams

Recipe courtesy Food Network Magazine

Read more at: http://www.foodnetwork.com/recipes/food-network-kitchens/eggplant-ricotta-bites-recipe.html?oc=linkback
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