Tips to prevent holiday weight gain

Sensible Ways to Fight the Holiday Weight Gain Battle

This post originally appeared on

Avoiding weight gain between November and January is all about changing what you’ve been doing year after year that has contributed to the inevitable extra pounds you see on the scale on New Year’s Day. If you’re ready to do something different, I’ve got some suggestions to help you get started!

Reflect on Past Patterns

When you look back on how you’ve celebrated the year-end holidays in the past, what patterns of behavior do you see? Are you making several late night trips to the mall to do your shopping, spending every weekend decorating the house and socializing more frequently with friends after work? Does that leave you with less time to prepare and eat meals at home, keep up with your regular workouts, and take the dog for a walk?

Here are some ways you can change those patterns:

  • Start your shopping and decorating earlier.
  • Invite friends over for pot luck meals instead of eating out.
  • Plan fun activities you can do with family and friends, like ice skating, walking for a cause, biking through the neighborhood to see the holiday decorations.
  • Give yourself a curfew on week nights so you’re home and in bed on time to get a good night’s sleep.

Consider Your Mindset

What you are thinking as the holidays approach can also influence how you will behave. If you have the attitude “anything goes” because holiday foods are only available once a year, you can end up eating and drinking more than you can possibly enjoy. By changing your mindset to focus on the meaning of all those special foods, you can put the brakes on overeating and savor the memories.

Try these more mindful approaches at your next holiday meal:

  • Ask everyone attending to complete this statement: “It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving/Christmas/Hanukkah/etc. without ____________ (insert name of food or drink) because ____________.”
  • Get built-in portion control at holiday meals by swapping out your large festive plates and bowls for smaller ones, as covered in this earlier blog.
  • Have everyone around the table share a memory of when they first tasted their favorite dish including how old they were, who prepared it, and where they were.
  • Make a video of a parent or grandparent preparing a special recipe to share with the rest of the family.

Reorder Your Priorities

Ask yourself what really matters the most to you as you anticipate each holiday, and then make sure you manage your time and resources so you can participate in those events instead of spending so much time at unfulfilling obligations carried over from year to year. Sometimes all it takes is letting go of a few items lower down on your “to-do” list so you can add something new on top. And remember that having healthy holidays is one of the best ways to have happy holidays.

Consider these options to help you have the kind of holiday experience you really want:

  • Prepare a lower sugar version of a few favorite holiday recipes by swapping out sugar for SPLENDA® Sweetener Products (as described in this blog) to balance out your menu without giving up the sweetness of the things you love.
  • Make an appointment now to volunteer at a local soup kitchen, visit a house-bound neighbor, pack gifts to send to soldiers overseas, or wrap gifts for needy children.
  • Donate the cookies from your annual cookie swap to a nursing home so you won’t have to give up the fun of baking them, but can avoid the temptation of eating them.
  • Move up your annual New Year’s Resolution to lose weight by one month and make a December 1st No Weight Gain Resolutionso you can ring in the New Year without those extra pounds.

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.


Changes in the seasons bring more colorful produce to the market

Fall in Love with Fall Fruits and Vegetables

This post originally appeared as a guest blog in 

Even if the weather doesn’t vary much where you live, you can use the seasonal changes on the calendar to reboot your diet for better health. All it takes is expanding the colors on your plate to feature whatever is being harvested. I mark the arrival of autumn in the produce section of my grocery store by the orange-hued butternut squash, navel oranges and Fuyu persimmons that suddenly appear alongside all those huge bins of pumpkins. It’s a sure sign that summer is over!

According to the American Heart Association, eating a wide variety of different colored fruits and vegetables is the best way to get all of the essential nutrients you need to lower your risk for preventable diseases, such as heart disease, high blood pressure and certain types of cancer. To reach the goals outlined in the 2015-2020 Dietary Guidelines for Americans, you should consume 1-2 cups of fruits per day and 1-3 cups of vegetables per day, based on your age and energy requirements. Reaching those goals is easier if you remember you can include all forms of fruits and vegetables – fresh, frozen, canned, dried and 100% juice.

Thanks to rapid transportation, you can find fresh seasonal produce no matter where you live. In the fall, that includes the parsnips grown in Oregon and the Key limes from Florida. Even the internationally tagged Swiss chard, Brussels sprouts and Asian pears are all grown in the U.S. and are being brought to market now, so be sure to look for them in your store. For complete lists of what’s in season throughout the entire year, check Fruits and Vegetables More Matters What Fruits and Vegetables Are In Season?

Let the Holidays Lead the Way to More Produce in Your Diet

Incorporating more fall produce in your diet is easy if you think about the most popular dishes on your Thanksgiving menu. Do sweet potato casserole, cranberry sauce, and apple pie come to mind? There’s no reason to reserve them just for special occasions, and no reason to prepare them with all of the added sugars typically called for in indulgent holiday recipes. Many of your family favorites can be made using a low-calorie sweetener, like aspartame, to replace some of the sugar. You can find tried-and-true recipes on the websites for your favorite brand of low-calorie sweetener or experiment on your own.  The results should look and taste the same as the originals but will be lower in added sugars and calories, which is good for the whole family.

How to Make the Tastes of the Season Last

 Of course, pumpkin isn’t just for pie. I like to stock up on canned pumpkin puree this time of year so I can make these moist and delicious Raisin-Pumpkin Muffins in the winter months ahead. When you eat them for breakfast you can feel good about including your first serving of vegetables for the day in your first meal of the day! Other great uses for canned pumpkin are in smoothies, soups and chili. I also load my freezer with bags of fresh cranberries every fall so I can add them to quick breads when they are no longer in season and to this Cranberry Salad. It adds color and crunch to the plate thanks to the celery and walnuts. And if you haven’t tried pomegranate arils, the seed pod inside a whole pomegranate, this is the time to buy them. They also freeze well and can add some sparkle and extra vitamin C to any salad you serve.

When you go apple picking or buy a bushel of apples at a farmer’s market, making a big batch of this Baked Cinnamon Applesauce is a great way to enjoy them well into spring. Just freeze the applesauce in one-quart zip-top freezer bags and then thaw it to serve whenever you want it. Another great way to use up those apples and add more vegetables to your meals (cabbage, carrots and bell peppers) is with this Tangy Apple Slaw. In my house, a grilled cheese sandwich is the preferred side dish to  on a chilly autumn afternoon.

The leaves on the trees aren’t the only thing that change color in the fall. The fruits and vegetables on your plate should be changing color, too. Here’s to another flavorful season!

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian, cultural anthropologist and scientific advisor to the Calorie Control Council, whose 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, and authoring 2 popular diet books and numerous articles and blogs on health and fitness. Her ability to make sense out of confusing and sometimes controversial nutrition news has made her a frequent guest on major media outlets, including CNBC, FOX News and USA Today. Her passion is communicating practical nutrition information that empowers people to make the best food decisions they can in their everyday diets. Reach her on Twitter @EverydayRD and check out her blog The Everyday RD.


You can avoid vacation weight gain before your vacation begins

How to Lose Weight after Vacation… and Even Avoid Vacation Weight Gain

This blog was originally published on

One of the best things about going on vacation is the chance to interrupt the monotony of our weekly routines. Whether we use our time off to sleep in and eat a picnic lunch in the park or fly to another time zone where we have breakfast in the middle of the night, the change of scenery and scheduling helps us to recharge our batteries.

Another way we switch over to vacation mode is to adopt the mindset that “anything goes.” I know I have a tendency to stay up later, spend more money and splurge at meals to get the most out of my time off. And there are endless ways to splurge! From big breakfast buffets to lavish lunches and multi-course dinners, the calories do add up. Even when traveling with children and dining in family-friendly restaurants, the large portions and irresistible side-of-fries that seem to come with every meal can dismantle our best intentions.

If you’ve ever experienced vacation weight gain, then you know what I’m talking about. It may only be a few pounds, but if you don’t make a conscious effort to lose them after vacation they can lead to “creeping obesity.”

What is Creeping Obesity?

 Researchers at the University of Georgia who studied vacation weight gain used the term “creeping obesity” to describe what happens when the weight gained while on vacation is not lost from one year to the next, and over time, results in obesity. Gaining just two pounds a year packs on an extra 20 pounds after ten years, and that can be enough to make the difference.

The study involved 122 adults who went on vacations lasting from one to three weeks. Sixty-one percent of the participants gained weight while away, and their average weight gain was .7 pounds. The researchers found that consuming more calories than usual, especially from alcoholic beverages, was a significant factor contributing to the vacation weight gain, and the excess weight was still present six weeks after the subjects returned home.

While I don’t want to put a damper on your vacation fun, I do think it’s important to halt creeping obesity in its tracks so you can go back for more fun year after year and not need a new wardrobe every time. And one of the best ways to do that is to start before you leave home!

Since most of the study subjects gained less than one pound on vacation, why not try losing a pound before you even get the luggage out of the attic for your trip? An easy place to start cutting calories is how you sweeten the hot and cold beverages you drink every day. Instead of adding sugar you can swap it out for a low-calorie sweetener, like SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener. That one change can eliminate 32 calories for every two teaspoons of sugar you replace. And depending on how many sweetened drinks you have each day and how sweet you like them those calories can really add up!. You can also continue this swap during your vacation to cut calories without having to give up sweetness in your favorite beverages.

As I wrote in my blog Controlling Food Portions to Help Curb Holiday Weight Gain, you need a game plan to get what you want out of your vacation (or holiday meals), without gaining weight. You can find some helpful hints in Weight Loss Success: Lessons Learned From Successful Losers and in the checklist below, which I suggest you copy and pack in your carry-on bag, just as a reminder.

 Checklist for Avoiding Vacation Weight Gain

  • Plan a fun new physical activity into each day, such as kayaking, rock climbing or Flamenco lessons.
  • Select fresh seasonal fruit options for dessert.
  • Take walking tours to see the sights and explore old neighborhoods.
  • Order a diet or zero calorie drink instead of tropical fruit drinks.
  • Move to the music whether listening to a full orchestra, mariachi band or street corner musician.
  • Let one meal a day be “special,” but not all three.
  • Wear comfortable shoes so you’re ready for every opportunity to scramble up the stairs, frolic in the park, or track down the best bargains in the marketplace.
  • Enjoy sampling the local fare without overindulging.
  • Save cab fare and use a walking app to get to your next stop.
  • Share small plates to taste the many flavors of the local cuisine.

I hope you return from your vacations well-rested, and at the same weight you were when you left, or a few pounds less if that was part of your vacation plan!

I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well. 
Cooper JA, Tokar T. A prospective study on vacation weight gain in adultsPhysiology & Behavior.2016;156:43-47


Tips top pack healthy lower sugar lunches for kids

Back to School: Packing a Healthy Lunch

This blog was originally written for You can read that  post here.

If you’ve stepped into an air-conditioned store to get out of the August heat, then you know retailers are all stocked up to help us get our children ready to go back to school. Everything from highlighters to hand sanitizer is on the shelves to satisfy the “must have” list for kids in every grade. I recall one of the biggest back-to-school decisions my sons made each year was finding just the right lunch box they could carry with pride into the cafeteria. Having their favorite superhero on the outside was all that mattered to them!

What goes inside all those carefully selected lunch boxes has taken on greater significance over the last 16 years since September was first declared National Childhood Obesity Awareness Month. It was launched to focus attention on the need for kids across the country to lead healthier lives and prevent the early onset of obesity. Providing our children with a balanced and nutritious midday meal is an important way we can do just that.

Feeding Kids Right for Success in School and Life

Children need to be properly nourished to reach both their physical and intellectual potential. Even when they look fit and appear to be thriving, an inadequate diet can set the stage for future health problems. Eating well-planned meals and snacks each day is one of the best ways to ensure that all of the essential nutrients children need for growth and development are being consumed.

The routines of the school day provide an ideal way to help children form good eating habits that can last a lifetime. Starting with breakfast – either at home or in school – kids need to refuel their bodies in the morning after the overnight fast and get key nutrients that will make them ready to learn. A mid-morning snack also may be needed by younger children, or a breakfast split into two parts, to carry them over until their next meal.

When the lunch bell rings at school it’s time for kids of all ages to eat something nourishing, socialize with friends and, hopefully, get some physical activity. Sitting behind a desk all day is not good for children or adults, so taking advantage of this, and every other opportunity to get up and move around is perfect practice for a healthy lifestyle.

By the time the school day ends, most children are hungry and thirsty. That’s a good time to offer them nutrient-rich foods and beverages to replace any they may not have eaten at breakfast or lunch rather than letting them fill up on less nutritious snacks. Some popular options include cut-up vegetables and hummus, whole wheat crackers and cheese or a fruit smoothie made with yogurt. The goal is to reenergize and rehydrate them for their afternoon activities without letting them get too full to eat their dinner.

Making time to eat with your children each evening can provide one of the biggest boosts to their well-being, regardless of what is served. Research reported in the Family Dinner Project indicates children who eat with their family have higher self-confidence, better grades in school and lower rates of obesity among other benefits. Getting them involved in meal planning and preparation adds to their success by teaching them skills they will need the rest of their lives.

What About Weight Gain in Children?

Preventing unwanted weight gain in children requires that they get enough calories to support normal rates of growth and physical activity, but not much more than that. It is a delicate balance that must be adjusted to meet their changing needs, such as when their activity level slows down after their regular sport season ends.

Replacing some of the added sugars in your child’s diet with a low-calorie sweetener, like aspartame, is one way to reduce unneeded calories and make many of the foods and beverages you want them to eat and drink more enjoyable. Lower calorie, reduced fat and/or sugar-free products can also be substituted for their regular counterparts to help create more balanced menus. (See examples in the chart below.)

Making Healthy Meals and Snacks Part of Your Back-to-School Plan

While plenty of attention goes into making sure the first packed lunch of the year a good one, it’s important that every lunch is as good as the first. One way to do that is to create an idea board—like a Pinterest board—to use as a template for packing lunches. Start by drawing a grid similar to the one illustrated, and then let your child list items under each food group heading that he or she likes, will eat in school and can be easily assembled each day. Remind your children they don’t have to limit themselves to “traditional” lunch foods as long as the items belong in the designated group.

You can see sample foods found in each group on along with the recommended daily servings for children of different ages and the suggested portion sizes. Following the My Plate Daily Checklist will allow you to see how many calories your child needs each day and how to be sure they are getting all of the nutrients they need in their meals and snacks, without exceeding their recommended caloric allowance.

Once the chart is completed lunches can be packed using any combination of foods from each list as long as your child will eat them. All you have to do is make sure the items on the chart are on hand at the start of each week!

Sample School Lunch Planning Chart with Lower Sugar Options

low sugar menus

Introduce sugar free drinks to children to reduce added sugars

Winning Kids Over from Sugary Drinks to Ones with Less Added Sugar or Sugar-Free Drinks

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here

Every generation of parents faces different challenges when it comes to raising their children. That may explain why grandparents and their adult children don’t always see eye-to-eye over what a child should eat for breakfast. Yet the one part of childhood nutrition they usually do agree on is the need to reduce the amount of added sugars children consume.

Back when I was in elementary school parents and teachers warned us to cut back on added sugars to avoid cavities and those dreaded trips to the dentist for drillings and fillings. Today, thanks to fluoridated water and better dental hygiene, childhood tooth decay is better controlled. Now children face rising rates of obesity and excess added sugars are being blamed for contributing to the problem.

So when I get questions from parents (and grandparents) about whether their children should have chocolate milk or plain milk with their school lunch, drink lemonade or lemon seltzer at the family picnic, or order a soda or glass of water at a pizza party, I recommend drinks that replace sugar with low-calorie sweeteners, like SPLENDA® Sweetener Products, for a simple solution.

As fellow Registered Dietitian Hope Warshaw explained in her blog, “American Academy of Pediatrics Weighs In on Added Sugar and Sugar Substitutes,” the Academy recognizes the safety of low-calorie sweeteners for children and their use as a tool to reduce the added sugars and calories in a child’s diet. The important point here is that they are a tool, and when used as part of a balanced diet, low-calorie sweeteners can help children enjoy a wide variety of foods and beverages they might not be willing to eat without a little sweetness.

 Lead By Example

The best way to introduce children and teens to drinks with less added sugar is to let them see you choosing and drinking them. They should feel good about the choice, not stigmatized for having something labeled “sugar free.” It also helps if you serve just one beverage option for everyone in the family instead of segregating the sugar-free version for only some members. And it makes life easier when you only have to find room for just one pitcher of sugar-free iced tea on the picnic table!

Another important behavior to model for children is moderation. Serving sizes of no-calorie and low-calorie beverages should be age appropriate along with their frequency of use. And they should never replace recommended servings of low-fat milk and 100% fruit juices that provide essential nutrients.

Special occasions like birthday parties and youth sporting events provide a perfect opportunity to offer drinks with less added sugar to a child since plenty of high-calorie foods are typically being eaten, including many that contain added sugars. These occasions also provide a very effective “teachable moment” for a child when they realize they can have the frosted cupcake or goody bag of candy and the drink with less added sugar, but must give up the treats if they have the sugar-sweetened drink.

Let Children Help

Allowing children to help prepare family meals is a valuable way to teach them about good nutrition. A good place to start is by making smoothies together. This Strawberry Orange Smash Smoothie contains strawberries, calcium fortified orange juice, non-fat yogurt and SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener to make a delicious and nutritious drink for kids of any age.

Since most children love watermelon and it doesn’t require a sharp knife to chop up once cut open, you can let your little ones help make this Watermelon Lemonade. Just make sure they wear their swim goggles while squeezing the lemons!

And if you have teenagers looking for something more “sophisticated” to drink, let them try this Homemade Chai. It’s full of flavor from the fresh ginger and dried spices with just enough sweetness from SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, to keep them smiling as they sip.

You can find many more beverage recipes with less added sugar on and more good advice on dealing with childhood weight gain and obesity in the blog “Small Changes Can Help Children and Teens Manage Weight” by my colleague Sue Taylor.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog with Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

For the Love of Chocolate

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here.

What’s the most important “heartfelt” holiday celebrated in February? You get points for knowing Valentine’s Day is on the 14th, but did you also know February is American Heart Month? The goal throughout the month is to raise heart disease awareness, the leading cause of death for men and women in the United States. Then on the first Friday in February we celebrate National Wear Red Day where we not only get to make a fashion statement, but we can use it to remind women they may be at risk of heart disease and not know it.

I hope you agree February is the perfect time to show our love for the ones we love by helping them take steps to keep their hearts healthy!

Now for a harder question: How can we celebrate Valentine’s Day right smack dab in the middle of heart health awareness month and still be kind to our hearts? One simple answer is to have sweet celebrations, with less added sugars. Both the American Heart Association and the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend cutting back on added sugars, and using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products is an easy way to do just that!

Recipes for Desserts and Drinks with Less Added Sugar

To help you get started I’ve collected some of my favorite chocolate dessert and drink recipes from the SPLENDA® collection – all with less added sugars. As you will see, using SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar isn’t the only way these recipes are made more heart healthy. They also use vegetable oils or soft spreads instead of butter and fat-free milk instead of whole to reduce the saturated fat content. By making those substitutions and using SPLENDA® Sweeteners instead of full sugar, the caloric content of the recipes is also lowered to help with weight management. And another way you can cut the calories of any dessert is to simply cut the serving size in half!

If you have questions about the health benefits of chocolate, please read my earlier blog about the Health Benefits of Chocolate.

Chocolaty and Sweet Recipes with Less Added Sugar


1 cup all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups rolled oats

6 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 teaspoon baking powder

1/2 teaspoon salt

6 tablespoons trans-free margarine, softened

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

2 eggs

2 teaspoons vanilla extract

1 teaspoon almond extract


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F.
  2. Combine flour, oats, cocoa, baking powder, and salt.
  3. In bowl of electric mixer, beat margarine and SPLENDA® Sugar Blend on medium speed 1 to 2 minutes, or until light and aerated. Beat in eggs for 1 minute, or until light. Beat in extracts. Stir in dry ingredients.
  4. Drop teaspoons full of dough onto lightly greased baking sheets and flatten each with the back of a fork dipped in water.
  5. Bake 8 to 10 minutes in preheated oven, or just until puffed and no longer shiny on top. Cool on sheets 5 minutes. Remove to wire racks; cool completely.

Nutrition Info


1 cup slivered almonds

1 1/4 cups SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

3 large eggs

2 tablespoons milk

1/4 teaspoon almond extract

1 3/4 cups all-purpose flour

1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder

3/4 teaspoon baking powder

3/4 teaspoon baking soda

1/8 teaspoon salt

1 egg white, lightly beaten


  1. Preheat oven to 350° F. Lightly spray a cookie sheet with vegetable cooking spray; set aside.
  2. Bake almonds in a shallow pan for 6 to 8 minutes, stirring once, or until lightly toasted. Set aside.
  3. Beat SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener, 3 eggs, and milk at medium speed of an electric mixer for 3 minutes or until mixture is smooth and pale yellow in color. Beat in extract.
  4. Combine flour, cocoa, baking powder, baking soda, and salt; add to SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener mixture and beat on low speed until a stiff dough forms. Stir in almonds. Turn dough out onto a lightly floured surface, and knead lightly 4 or 5 times. Divide dough in half; shape each portion into an 8-inch log. Place logs on prepared cookie sheet and flatten to 3/4-inch thickness; brush with beaten egg white.
  5. Bake for 20 minutes or until puffed and golden brown; reduce oven temperature to 325° F. Remove from baking sheet to a wire rack; cool 10 minutes. Cut each log diagonally into 1/2-inch thick slices with a serrated knife, using a gentle sawing motion. Place slices on cookie sheets. Bake 10 minutes; turn cookies over, and bake 10 additional minutes. Remove to wire racks to cool.

Nutrition Info


1/2 cup chopped walnuts

2 egg whites

1/2 teaspoon vanilla extract

1/2 cup SPLENDA® Sugar Blend

1/2 cup semisweet chocolate morsels


  1. Preheat oven to 300° F.
  2. Bake walnuts in a shallow pan, stirring occasionally, 5 minutes or until toasted. Set aside.
  3. Beat egg whites and vanilla at high speed with an electric mixer until foamy.
  4. Add SPLENDA®Sugar Blend, 1 tablespoon at a time, beating until stiff peaks form; stir in walnuts and chocolate morsels.
  5. Spoon rounded teaspoons of mixture onto baking sheets lined with parchment paper.
  6. Bake for 15 minutes in preheated oven. Drop oven temperature to 200° F. Bake for one hour and 45 minutes. Cool slightly on cookie sheet. Remove to wire racks to cool completely. Store in an airtight tin.

Nutrition Info


1/4 cup water

6 tablespoons unsweetened cocoa powder

1/4 cup SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated

1 tablespoon vanilla extract

1 tablespoon grated orange peel

1/2 teaspoon cayenne pepper

5 1/2 cups skim milk

2 cinnamon sticks

1/8 teaspoon salt


  1. Whisk water, cocoa powder and SPLENDA®Granulated Sweetener in a saucepan. Slowly bring to a simmer over medium heat, stirring constantly. Cook until mixture thickens and resembles a syrup.
  2. Mix in remaining ingredients and heat. Do not boil. Serve hot.

Nutrition Info

Of course, eating a heart-healthy diet is important all year long if you want to reduce your risk for heart disease. Using a sugar substitute like one of the SPLENDA® Sweetener Products in place of full sugar can help you with the goals of reducing your added sugar and calorie intake and with achieving and maintaining a healthy weight.
I have been compensated for my time by Heartland Food Products Group, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.


Robyn Flipse, Registered Dietitian and Cultural Anthropologist

Meet Health Goes Strong Writer Robyn Flipse

This blog was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated in July 2013, but you can read the original post here.


Some say timing is everything, and for me I would have to say that is true when it comes to my chosen profession.  I became a registered dietitian in the 1970s during the food revolution triggered by two books: Rachel Carson’s The Silent Spring and Adelle Davis’s Let’s Eat Right to Keep Fit. (Anyone who has a personal Woodstock story read them both.) Little did I know that what we eat would remain headline news throughout the rest of the 20th century and into the 21st !

My good timing lead to a career bringing diet and health information to a public whose appetite is never satisfied. I have provided hundreds of television, radio and print interviews; presented at international symposia; appeared in national media tours; and created Internet videos to meet the demand for more food and nutrition news.

Even after writing three books and a website column (that became my first blog once the word “blog” was invented), I still had more to say. Then along came the offer to become a blogger for Health Goes Strong in September 2011. I write as The Everyday Dietitian and hope to keep posting until everyone has had their fill!

What I Know Now That I Didn’t Know at 20

Without a doubt, I know that time is more valuable than money. Time is the universal equalizer, and the more of it you have the richer your life will be. In fact, everything I know about eating and exercise comes down to having enough time to put into practice. That is why all of my career decisions have been based on how to spend fewer hours working so I’ll have more time for living well.

Another under-appreciated nugget I learned later in life is that the shoes you wear will determine how fit you’ll be. There are literally millions of steps that go untaken when wearing fashionable, but impractical shoes. Once I figured that out, I never let my footwear keep me from climbing the stairs, parking on the perimeter, or dancing at a wedding. Modern technology is destined to make us all fat and sedentary, but you can fight back with a comfortable pair of shoes.

What I know About Eating That Most People Don’t

Nutrition information does not make people eat better. It just allows them to know more about what’s in their food and how it can affect their health.  Making the right food choices each and every day takes motivation (plus time, skill, and money). Finding your source of motivation to eat well is the key to overcoming all of the cultural distractions that have been blamed for making us fat and unhealthy. Government regulations can’t make unmotivated people eat right, just as seductive advertising can’t keep the motivated from doing so.

Some things I’ve written that you really should read.

Getting Motivated to Eat Right

Beware of Footwear That Can Make You Fat This Holiday Season 

Childhood Obesity: 5 Things Every Parent Should Know 

Family recipes can be improved by each generation

Tweaking Holiday Recipes: ‘Tis the Season for Joy, but Not All the Weight Gain!

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by TC Heartland, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

What is the first thing that comes to mind when you think about the foods that will be served at one of your holiday dinners? For me, it’s my mother’s recipe for turkey stuffing. Although it contains a loaf of white bread and a pound of pork sausage and is loaded with calories, it just wouldn’t be the holidays without it! If you feel the same way about the special dishes that are part of your holiday meals, but are concerned about year-end weight gain, help is on the way!

I’m tackling ways to help curb holiday weight gain in a two part series. Here in Part One I’m focusing on how to tweak some favorite holiday recipes to make them lower in calories and/or added sugar without losing their great taste. In December you can look for Part Two, which deals with portion sizes and how to get what you want without taking more than you need. And if you need a little refresher on the topic before then you can read my previous blog about Avoiding Holiday Weight Gain.

Keeping the Traditions without All the Calories

Many of the ingredients now available to prepare our favorite holiday recipes are more convenient than the ones our grandmothers and great-grandmothers used. Preparing a boxed cake mix instead of measuring and mixing all of the ingredients in a cake recipe is just one example. We also have modern appliances that make meal preparation easier and more predictable. I’ll take my electric mixer over a hand whisk to beat egg whites any day. I don’t know anyone who wants to give up the improved safety, quality or convenience these changes offer us when cooking, especially during the holidays.

Some of the ingredients available today also allow us to enhance the nutritional value of a recipe without sacrificing taste or appearance. I’m sure my great-grandmother would have been happy to use enriched flour in her holiday stollen so it would contain more iron and important B vitamins along with all the dried fruits and nuts. She also might have replaced the sugar in her cookies, pies and cakes with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated had been available in her day. It measures cup for cup when used in place of sugar for cooking, baking and beverages and significantly reduces the calories and carbohydrate that sugar adds. You can try in recipes such as No-Sugar Sugar CookiesIrresistible Lemon Chiffon Pie and Ricotta Cheesecake Torte. I’m sure you’ll agree, the only thing missing is some of the added sugar and calories that go with it!

As you prepare your holiday menus and food shopping lists, here are some other ways to tweak your favorite recipes to cut calories you’re never going to miss – and help curb holiday weight gain. (Please note that the calorie savings can vary depending on the brand of product you select.)

  1. Use fat-free evaporated milk instead of regular evaporated milk in pumpkin pie, mashed potatoes and creamed soups – save about 120 calories per cup
  2. Replace full fat cream cheese with reduced fat cream cheese (Neufchatel) in cheesecake, spreads and frostings – save about 200 calories per 8 ounces
  3. Use Greek yogurt instead of sour cream in dips, sauces and cakes – save about 260 calories per cup full fat Greek yogurt in place of full fat sour cream and 150 calories per cup fat-free Greek yogurt in place of reduced fat sour cream
  4. Make your own Mix Ahead Hot Cocoawith SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated instead of buying instant cocoa packets – save 50 calories per 6 fluid ounces prepared
  5. Choose a single crust pie versus a double crust pie (such as pumpkin pie instead of apple pie) and save at least 100 calories per serving without the top crust (not counting other potential calorie savings in the filling)
  6. Replace half the oil in quick breads with unsweetened applesauce – save about 900 calories per ½ cup of oil you replace
  7. Top warm fruit crisp with whipped cream instead of ice cream – save about 35 calories per ¼ cup “dollop”
  8. Spray cooked vegetables with a mist of olive oil instead of adding melted butter – save about 90 calories for each tablespoon of butter replaced with a spritz of olive oil
  9. Skim fat from stock before making soup or gravy – remove 115 calories per tablespoon of fat
  10. Prepare party punches with SPLENDA® No Calorie Sweetener, Granulated instead of sugar – save 677 calories per cup of sugar replaced with SPLENDA® Granulated Sweetener. That saves almost 20 calories per serving.

While these are not the only changes that may be needed to avoid holiday weight gain, they are a good start that will benefit everyone around your table. And just as I’ve tweaked my mother’s stuffing recipe to replace the pound of pork sausage with half a pound of lower fat poultry sausage and half a pound of diced mushrooms, you will find ways to reduce the excess calories and added sugar in your holiday meals that no one is going to miss, thanks in part to SPLENDA® Sweeteners. The gathering of family and friends is what matters most during these special celebrations, and it’s nice to know we can continue to pass on traditions from one generation to the next even if the recipes change over time.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.

Plate size is one way to control portion size

Controlling Food Portions to Help You Curb Holiday Weight Gain

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here.

I have been compensated for my time by TC Heartland, LLC, the maker of SPLENDA® Sweetener Products. All statements and opinions are my own. I have pledged to Blog With Integrity, asserting that the trust of my readers and the blogging community is vitally important to me.

A simple ruler may hold the key to preventing holiday weight gain this season. You’ll need it when unpacking the festive plates, glasses and utensils you use for all your holiday parties and meals. As indicated by the research cited below noting the size of that dinnerware can help you control the size of the portions you eat.

A study published in the Cochrane Database of Systematic Reviews found a link between portion size and overeating based on a review of more than 70 other studies that looked at the effect of different portion sizes on food consumption. The researchers concluded “people consistently consume more food and drink when offered larger-sized portions, packages or tableware than when offered smaller-sized versions.”

Pick the Right Plate for Portion Control

Choosing a smaller plate or bowl is one way to limit portion sizes according to a study published in the Journal of Consumer Research. The research found that using smaller plates can decrease serving size by up to 10% with a corresponding reduction in the number of calories served. If your holiday place settings are super-sized, this may be a good time to pick up some smaller-sized pieces to add to the set to provide the options you need. I found a nice selection of smaller plates and bowls at the discount store that worked well with my tableware, and I got them at a great price, too!

 Apply Caution to the Portion Size When Eating Out

When eating in a restaurant or someone else’s home you typically don’t have a chance to pick your own plate, so other strategies are needed to control food portions. The most important one to remember is that you do not have to eat everything on your plate – or multiple plates if served multiple courses – no matter who prepared the meal or is paying for it. And if questioned about why you didn’t finish be prepared to politely, but firmly, tell your host how delicious the food was, but you simply had enough. You can then ask to take the unfinished portion home.

Need more help? Keep these 5 Portion Control Tips in mind to help you avoid holiday weight gain and unwanted calories all year long:

 Portion Control Tips

  1. Always use a small plate to serve yourself hors d’oeuvres at parties to avoid taking food from platter to mouth where it’s easy to lose track of how much you’ve eaten.
  2. Choose an appetizer for your meal when eating out and complement it with a salad and/or side vegetable.
  3. Alternatively, share an entrée in restaurants and get your own appetizer or salad to start.
  4. Use a salad plate at buffets and don’t put more than three different foods on it at a time, so you must get up and revisit the buffet line if you want more food.
  5. Ask the server for a “primo piatti” portion of pasta, or first course, instead of an entree portion.

For more tips on controlling holiday weight gain, see my earlier blog on “Tweaking Holiday Recipes.”
Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN, “The Everyday RD,” is an author and nutrition consultant who has headed the nutrition services department in a large teaching hospital and maintained a private practice where she provided diet therapy to individuals and families. With more than 30 years of experience, Robyn is motivated by the opportunity to help people make the best eating decisions for their everyday diet. She believes that choosing what to eat should not be a daily battle and aims to separate the facts from the fiction so you can enjoy eating well.


Tips for eating holiday lefotvers

What’s Your Plan For A Stuffed Refrigerator?

This post was written as a guest blog for You can read the original post here.

Anyone hosting a Thanksgiving dinner has to have a game plan to make sure all of the food needed for a successful meal is purchased, prepared and properly served. But what about the days after Thanksgiving when your refrigerator is stuffed with assorted leftovers? Do you have a plan for that food so it doesn’t go to waste or end up around your waist?

No need to worry, help is on the way! Just use these tips to turn those leftovers into completely new menu options that will let you enjoy the tastes of the day, but with a healthy new twist.

Smoothies – Use leftover undressed garden salad, fruit salad, crudité vegetables and cooked leafy greens to make a smoothie to fuel you through your Black Friday shopping. Add any slightly bruised apples that didn’t make it into the pie and the remains in that jug of apple cider to sweeten. 

Crumbs & Croutons – Leftover yeast breads and rolls can be cubed, placed in a baking pan and baked until toasted on all sides for use as croutons. (Be sure to store them in an airtight container to keep them crisp.) Unused stuffing mix, cornbread, crackers, chips and nuts can be turned into crumbs and frozen for future use. Just store each of them in separate labeled bags for easy identification.

 Soup – Mashed white or sweet potatoes (without marshmallows) and roasted root vegetables are all you need to make a hearty soup. Add them to a pot with leftover turkey stock (or a little gravy and water) then use an immersion blender to puree. Punch up the flavor with curry seasoning or sriracha sauce, bring it to a low boil, then reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes. Add croutons made from your leftover bread for a lunch that will satisfy with far fewer calories than a reheated plate of leftovers.

 Dips & Spreads – Put marinated vegetables from an antipasti tray, such as mushrooms, artichoke hearts or asparagus, in the blender with drained canned white beans to make a tasty vegetable hummus — or mix the pureed vegetables with any leftover hummus. Enjoy with cut up celery stalks not used in the stuffing. Combine roasted red peppers and caramelized onions in the blender with assorted olives for a flavorful tapenade to spread on a turkey wrap. Give leftover peas and pearl onions a whirl in the blender with the remains of the guacamole for a lighter version of this classic dip.

 Omelets & Frittatas – Shred and combine leftover pieces of different hard cheeses to add to egg dishes along with diced baked potatoes, broccoli, green beans and other vegetables. A simple veggie omelet is an ideal high-protein low-carb dinner for the day after the feast.

 Second Chance Desserts – Treats that are out of sight are out of mind, so cut leftover pies and cakes into individual portions, wrap each in plastic wrap, then label, date and freeze them to enjoy at a time when you can afford those extra calories.

 Help the Hungry – Don’t forget to donate any extra nonperishable foods, such as canned pumpkin, boxed pasta, bagged stuffing and bottled juices to your local food pantry to help feed those with no leftovers. It’s a great way to celebrate the true meaning of Thanks-giving!