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9 ways to snack smarter this holiday season

9 ways to snack smarter this holiday season

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With so many seasonal foods to choose from, it is easy to go overboard. How do dietitians handle the abundance of candy and holiday foods? It requires being both savvy and selective. Here are a few tricks to savor your favorites this season.

  • Dilute calories. Whole grains can help you control your portions of calorie-rich chocolate candy by filling you up with fiber.
  • Mix half a 250-calorie bag of your favorite M&M’s with 3 cups of pre-popped unsalted popcorn. It still equals 250 calories, but you will be full and satisfied instead of wondering what you could eat next.
  • Mix a Fun-size pack of Reese’s Pieces or your favorite small candy with ½ cup of Chex mix for a satisfying mix of salty and sweet at just 190 calories.
  • Fortify your snack. Eating sugar alone just leaves us wanting more.  Take the extra step to count out a serving of your favorite candy and mix with 2 tablespoons unsalted peanuts. This combination will add healthy fat and protein to curb your cravings.
  • Incorporate fruit. If you crave caramel, slice a juicy Granny Smith apple and double dip into 2 Tablespoons of Marzetti’s Light caramel dip. At 200 calories, this snack will give you that sweet fix while providing a good dose of fiber and antioxidants.
  • Go light. This easy recipe for Pumpkin Fluff will satisfy your urge for pumpkin pie with 100 calories per serving. Mix the following ingredients together and keep chilled. Eat alone or dip into it with 4 Nabisco crispy Gingerbread cookies for a 220 calorie dessert:

Ingredients (makes 8 servings):

1 15-ounce can pumpkin puree

1 3.5-ounce package of sugar-free vanilla instant pudding mix

½ cup skim milk

8 ounces sugar-free whipped topping, thawed

2 teaspoons pumpkin spice

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  • Shop seasonal products. Not all tasty treats are unhealthy. Watch out for your favorite yogurt, cereal and whole-grain snack brands that may bring out a seasonal twist on something ordinary.
  • Special K, Cheerios and Chex are whole-grain cereals that spice up their product lines with pumpkin- and cinnamon-spiced cereals that bring a healthy dose of seasonal flavors to your kitchen. Top vanilla yogurt or ice cream with pumpkin flavored cereal. Or make your own snack mix by adding a couple tablespoons of your favorite holiday candy, dried fruit, or spiced nut to a ½ cup serving of cereal.
  • Brew it up, Coffee shop lattes are loaded with sugar and extra calories. Shop seasonal coffee flavors like maple, hazelnut, cinnamon, vanilla and pumpkin. Mix flavors of coffee and brew your own signature flavor such as vanilla cinnamon or maple pumpkin. Add a little low-fat half-and-half for creamy texture, and you can savor this hot brew any time.

Disclaimer: Niki Kubiak is not affiliated with or sponsored by any named product or brand.

Niki Kubiak is a sports-certified registered dietitian, competitive runner and owner of Niki Kubiak Sports Nutrition and Weight Loss.

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