Countdown to New Year’s: No-Resolutions Resolution Week 1
Halloween has come and gone, which means the holidays are about to descend upon us. In a blink of an eye, the turkey will have been carved, the presents will have been opened and the champagne uncorked. We can already feel that 2015 will be different. Why? Because this new year we are not going to write down our typical weight-loss resolutions on Jan. 1. Nope. Instead we're going to avoid packing on the extra pounds by following our six-week No-Resolutions Resolution plan — beginning right now.
With the gazillions of temptations that surround us during the holidays, it is challenging to stick to healthy habits. First, you need to clean house.
We all have been polishing off the kids' Halloween candy after dinner. Don't let their stash continue to lurk in those cupboards. Those "fun size" candy bars may look small, but they tend to add up. Multiply that by seven and you’ve added another 1,000 calories and 50+ grams of fat to your weekly diet. This is no time to continue adding the extra calories, so don’t just hide it in a very, very high (unreachable without a stool) cabinet. The truth is, when you know it is there, you will find your way to it. Get it out of the house.
OK, so the Halloween candy is gone, but the craving for treats is not going to disappear. Like any successful plan, it is all about balance. You’ll never make it through the next six weeks if you deny yourself all pleasures.
If you are a chocoholic, instead of the candy bars, keep a stash of 72 percent dark chocolate where the candy was. When you feel the temptation coming on, break off a square. Or melt one to two squares in a ramekin in the microwave with a half tablespoon of water and an equal amount of sugar for 30 seconds on high. Stir, then drizzle over a sliced banana or strawberries for a post-dinner treat. The dark chocolate will squelch that sweet tooth and at the same time deliver flavanols, which boost blood circulation, promote a healthy heart and improve memory.
Do you crave the cool creaminess of pudding or mousse? You will fool everyone in your family with this rich chocolate mousse (the smoothness comes from avocado).
When it comes time to begin baking, take a look at the recipe's ingredient list. Would the recipe taste just as good with a reduction of sugar? Is it necessary to use butter, or can you substitute with canola oil, which is lower in saturated fat? If a cake calls for buttercream frosting, substitute with a fruit compote or a sprinkling of confectioners' sugar. If you can make modifications to the recipe without changing the integrity of the final product too terribly, go for it. If you’re tasked with baking an apple pie, swap it out with Sunny Anderson’s Baked Apple with Crisp Topping or Giada De Laurentiis' Poached Pears in Honey, Ginger and Cinnamon Syrup. Skip the ice cream topper.
Remember the holidays are a time to celebrate and enjoy. So on Thanksgiving Day, don’t deprive yourself. Deprivation will make anyone crazy and that's when things can get ugly. When you're staring down those pecan and pumpkin pies, cut slivers not slices. That way you can take pleasure in the variety without overdoing it. Eat the fillings, but skip the crusts, where most of the fat and carbohydrates lie. If that doesn't satisfy your sweet side, reach for the fruit. And if you aren't sure there will be fruit on the buffet, be the one to bring it!
Kiri Tannenbaum is a graduate of Le Cordon Bleu Paris and holds an M.A. in food studies from New York University where she is currently an adjunct professor. When her schedule allows, she leads culinary walking tours in New York City and is currently at work on her first book.