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Sharp Health News

Avoid winter weight gain with these holiday treats

Dec. 14, 2015

Holiday treats

It’s not only the winter weather that can be frightful. So, too, are the snowball and sugar cookies, assorted meat and cheese platters, eggnog and the many other food temptations you’ll encounter at holiday parties this season. Luckily, happy holiday eating doesn’t have to result in woeful winter weight gain.

Karen Busch, RD, a registered dietitian at Sharp Coronado Hospital, shares some advice to ensure that you’ll always have a healthy snack within reach at any holiday get-together, whether it’s at home, at the office or “over the river and through the woods.”

“Bringing a healthy dish or two of your own guarantees that there will be at least some food at the party that won’t contribute to winter weight gain,” Busch says. “There are so many healthier snack options available that don’t sacrifice taste, are easy to prepare and will allow you to enjoy socializing with friends and family members without worrying about a caloric explosion.”

Busch recommends the following simple recipes and tips:

  • Bring celery and peanut butter with raisins (yes, “ants on a log”) to family-friendly parties. This classic, fun snack also helps introduce children to healthier eating. Be sure to use natural trans-fat-free peanut butter, which has oil at the top (stir before using).
  • When baking cookies, substitute the recipe’s butter, margarine or oil with equal amounts of applesauce or pureed prunes. The result: healthier and softer goodies.
  • Choose your favorite sugar substitute instead of using sugar in recipes. Amount equivalents and conversions can be found online at or
  • Bake a pie without the crust. Prepare the filling of the pie as directed — use sweetener substitutions as suggested above, and substitute nonfat milk for evaporated milk. Pour the mixture into an appropriate-sized baking dish and bake. The result: a delicious pie without the extra fat.
  • If you must bring sweet treats, try baking oatmeal raisin cookies instead of chocolate chip cookies, or make brownies that are lower in fat by using trans-fat-free margarine.
  • And if there’s simply no time to make your own dish, be mindful when purchasing prepared foods for parties. Consider a fruit or vegetable platter instead of meats and cheeses, or ask about special ordering a tray of goodies made with less sugar or fat.

Find more healthy holiday recipes in the Nutrition section of Sharp Health News.

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