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Holiday recipes and tips to help you stay skinny from author Christine Avanti

Christine Avanti is the author of Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food (Rodale 2012) and a Health Consultant on Food Network's Fat Chef, premiering January 26th at 10 P.M. For more recipes and weight loss tips check out her books Skinny Chicks...

A Skinny chick's holiday survival tips

Most women gain approximately seven pounds over the holidays for one plain and simple reason -- they don't have any "stay skinny strategies." But never fear, because I've been helping Hollywood's hottest bodies stay skinny for over a decade. I'm also a huge foodie and certified professional chef. What a combo, huh?
Skinny Chicks Eat Real Food

With my combined love for naughty yet oh so nice holiday foods, I thought it would be amazing to share skinny holiday tips and some of my favorite skinny holiday recipes. I hope you enjoy them as much as my family and clients do.

Tea time

Did you know you can enjoy chocolate desserts sans the calories? Check out fabulous dessert teas by Tea Forte. "Dolce Vitas" collection of dessert teas come in flavors like "Chocolate Truffle" and "Belgian Mint" that allow you to indulge without guilt, plus you get the fat burning benefits of tea's antioxidant called EGCG.

Start chewing

You can also chew gum to reduce stress and unwanted calories. A good one to check out is Wrigley's Dessert Delights gum in amazing flavors, such as mint chocolate chip ice cream or apple pie, and stop those nagging sugar cravings. And the skinny bonus? Did you know that studies have shown that chewing gum may help alleviate stress? Here's the skinny on stress: When we stress, our bodies release a hormone called cortisol, which is one of the culprits associated with the accumulation of belly fat. Thus, it's extremely important to keep your holiday stress at a minimum. Chewing gum, deep breathing, exercise and a full night's sleep will most definitely help!

Go dark

If you are a chocolate lover and you need the "real thing," opt for dark chocolate because it has less fat than milk chocolate and also contains more antioxidants than blueberries.

Plate size

At a holiday soirée, make only one trip to the buffet and use small plates instead of loading up with a large plate.

Caloric cocktails

Beware of liquid calories such as soda, beer, holiday cocktails, wine, hot chocolate and cider. These are highly available during the holiday season and research suggests that most folks gain two to three pounds over the holidays from beverages alone. Instead, reach for sparkling water with a twist of citrus or try drinking sake; it's approximately 40 calories less per ounce compared to other spirits.

Be selective

Don't waste calories on foods you don't like or foods you can eat any time of year. The best way to enjoy your favorite holiday dessert is to eat a low-carb meal such as roasted turkey with a green veggie and allocate your carbohydrate calories towards your dessert. Think of it this way: A 4-ounce slice of roasted turkey is approximately 135 calories and one serving of roasted Brussels sprouts is about 65 calories. That leaves you 250 calories to allocate towards your favorite holiday treat. Here are some foods for thought:

6 Sinful holiday treats that you can incorporate into your meal (under 250 calories)

  • Eggnog, 1 cup
  • Sugar cookies, 2 medium
  • Cheesecake, 1 slice
  • Pecan pie, 1 small slice
  • Gingerbread cookie, 1 large or 2 medium
  • Peanut brittle, 1.5 ounces

Don't skip meals

Never starve yourself all day so you can over eat at a holiday dinner. Contrary to popular belief, most of those calories will be converted to fat. It's far better to eat every four hours throughout the day so that when you arrive at the party, you are not ravenously hungry. Plus eating small frequent meals throughout the day is proven to help rev metabolism.

Spice it up

Spice up your food with hot sauce over the holidays. Adding hot spices to your meals can help curb hunger according to a study in the British Journal of Nutrition. Additionally, scientists at the State University of New York at Buffalo found that capsaicin (a compound found in chilies) triggers your brain to release feel-good endorphins. So tap into that Tabasco!!

Opt for veggies

Confused over which appetizers will help you keep you in your skinny jeans? Opt for olives over nuts and save yourself calories. Two ounces of olives are only 57 calories compared to two ounces of nuts which weigh in at 336 calories. Reach for a Caprese salad, 1 medium tomato, 1 ounce cheese with fresh basil (100 cals/serving) over 4 mini quiches (248) and save 148 calories.

Up next: Holiday recipes and tips to help you stay skinny >>

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