Preventing heart disease tastes great!

Every Day Heart Health in February and Beyond

This is a sponsored post developed for The Coca-Cola Company, but all content is my own.

It’s February again, and that means it’s American Heart Month. With all of the health information out there, it can be hard to figure out how to work heart healthy choices into your daily routine. By keeping a few simple tips in mind for foods, beverages and overall health, you can make small changes this month that will benefit your heart all year round.

A balanced healthy eating plan that is low in saturated fat and sodium and full of fruits, vegetables, beans and lentils, nuts and seeds, fish, high-fiber whole grain breads and cereals will help improve heart health. Select from this wide variety of meal options and make heart-healthy choices all day long.

Heart-Healthy Ways to Start Your Day

Simple swaps like full fat dairy for lower fat milk, yogurt and cheese will help start your day on a heart-healthy note. A few more examples to kick your day off right include:

  • Smoothie made with frozen fruit, fat-free milk and flax seed or wheat germ.
  • Ready-to-eat high-fiber whole grain cereal or cooked oats prepared with fat-free milk, raisins or other dried fruit.
  • Parfait layered with cut-up fruit, low-fat yogurt or cottage cheese and low-fat crunchy granola.
  • Corn meal pancakes or whole grain waffles topped with fruit and a dollop of fat-free ricotta cheese.
  • Whole wheat wrap spread with natural peanut butter or low-fat cream cheese with sliced pears or chopped peaches.
  • Corn tortilla filled with black beans, salsa and shredded reduced-fat cheddar cheese.

Lunch Time Meal Solutions

Base your mid-day meal with vegetables, then add low-fat dairy and whole grains for a balanced plate.

  • Roasted vegetable salad with turkey, fresh spinach and light vinaigrette, plus a whole wheat roll with mashed avocado.
  • Easy vegetable soup made with low-sodium tomato juice, frozen mixed vegetables and canned beans, plus whole wheat crackers with low-fat cheese and spicy mustard.
  • Lean beef slider with caramelized onion on potato roll, plus Napa cabbage slaw tossed in reduced-fat mayonnaise and a baked apple topped with low-fat Greek yogurt and toasted walnuts.

Eating Right into the Night

Choose lean proteins like chicken, fish and certain cuts of beef and flavor them with fresh or dried herbs and spices for a satisfying meal lower in fat and sodium, and healthier for your heart.

  • Stir-fried sirloin steak strips and portabella mushrooms over quick-cooking brown rice, plus garlicky green beans and cucumber salad with dill for sides.
  • Black bean veggie burger on multigrain bread with sliced red onion, plus roasted half acorn squash filled with chopped apple, honey and cinnamon and broccoli and bulghur pilaf sides.
  • Sautéed shrimp and cherry tomatoes over orzo with crumbled reduced-fat feta cheese and grilled zucchini basted in olive oil, plus kiwi and strawberry slices over arugula with balsamic vinaigrette.

Sensible Snacks for Any Time of Day

Reducing calories and smart snacking can go hand in hand, just watch your portion sizes.

  • Air-popped popcorn, roasted and seasoned chickpeas, melon cubes, unsalted nuts, citrus sections, dried dates or figs, steamed edamame, bowl of berries, banana chunks dipped in light yogurt, nut butter on whole grain crackers or frozen seedless grapes.
  • Select portion-controlled versions of your favorites, like Coca-Cola mini cans, packs of almonds or pre-portioned desserts for a meal that won’t break the calorie bank, helping you manage your weight for better heart health.

Know Your Numbers

Maintaining a healthy body weight can reduce the risk for heart disease, and this requires knowing how many calories you eat each day. But aside from weight and calories, it’s important to know all the factors that contribute to heart health. Be sure to talk to your doctor about lipid levels (cholesterol and triglyceride), blood pressure, fasting glucose (blood sugar), Body Mass Index and weight circumference numbers, and discuss any changes to your routine that can improve your heart health this February and beyond.

Robyn Flipse, MS, MA, RDN is a registered dietitian and cultural anthropologist with a focus on the societal forces continually shaping eating behavior and food trends. Her 30+ year career includes maintaining a busy nutrition counseling practice, teaching food and nutrition courses at the university level, authoring two popular diet books (The Wedding Dress Diet and Fighting the Freshman Fifteen) and numerous articles on diet and health and her high-traffic blog, TheEverydayRD. Today she is multimedia spokesperson and consultant to global food and beverage companies, including The Coca-Cola Company.

Research shows people eat less of a snack they crave when they delay eating it.

Research Offers Simple Way to Snack Less on Foods You Crave


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.

If you crave certain foods and give in too easily to the urge to snack, do not despair. A new study offers valuable advice just in time for Super Bowl Sunday, the biggest snack day of the year!

Research presented at the annual meeting of the Society for Personality and Social Psychology showed that when subjects postponed eating a snack they craved to an unspecified time in the future, they ate less. Not only did they eat less of that food when they finally got around to having it, they ate less of it over the next week, which can be helpful if you have a lot of Super Bowl leftovers in the house.

A key finding from this study was that those subjects who put off eating the snack they desired to an unstated time in the future did much better than those who denied themselves eating any at all and those who gave themselves permission to eat all they wanted.

Why Postponing Works?

By postponing the opportunity to eat something you crave, you give yourself time for the desire to diminish, and that’s a good thing. Every minute you’re not eating those nachos, fried mozzarella sticks, or chocolate covered pretzels adds up to calories, fat, salt and sugar you did not consume.

This strategy also removes two other saboteurs to self-control: guilt and retaliation. Guilt comes into play when you immediately start eating all you want of the snacks calling out to you. Once you realize what you’ve done, guilt can trigger further gluttony. On the other hand, if you tell yourself you can’t have the snacks at all, you’re likely to feel deprived and will eventually retaliate and eat more than your share.

Delay Trumps Denial

The subjects were divided into three different groups. One group was allowed to eat the snack freely, another was told not to eat the snack, and the third was told they could eat it later. The researchers observed their behavior when offered two different snacks: candies and chips.

The results were the same whether the subjects were assigned to a group or got to select the group themselves. Those that were told to delay their snack ate the least. Those who were told not to eat the snack at all ate the most.

So as you get you game plan ready for the Super Bowl, here’s a cheer that is sure to make you a winner when the snacks are served:

“I think I’ll pass!”

There is No Need to Diet! Try This Alternative Instead

If Diet Means Don’t Eat to You, Don’t Diet!


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

Diets just won’t go away. A perennial new year’s resolution, a guaranteed way to make money and a perpetual source of hope – dieting will remain a constant in our continually changing world as long as diet means don’t eat.

The only alternative is to eat! That’s right, if you don’t like the way it feels to be on a diet and want a way to abandon all diet plans and the diet foods that go with them forever, you must decide to eat instead.

Sound too good to be true? Let me explain.

Eating is about choosing foods that nourish your body. If done properly you can prevent most chronic diseases. And if you can prevent heart disease, hypertension, diabetes and many forms of cancer you won’t need special diets to treat them later in life.

Conversely, if you don’t eat to nourish yourself throughout your life you will need to go on a diet at some point to fix the damage. That’s when diets are prescribed to reduce fat, sodium and sugar and control calories, serving sizes and snacks.

The end result may be the same at this point – whether eating or dieting – but the attitude is not. Eating gives you the freedom to choose what you eat. Dieting gives you the rules about what you cannot eat. Even if you follow the same rules, by choosing them you defeat the need for a diet.

Why not begin eating today to nourish yourself and abandon diets forever? No matter what your weight or medical condition, it is simply a change of attitude. But that change in attitude may help you succeed where all diets have failed.

Use these simple eating tips for form good eating habits in the New Year

Eating Tips for Good Health and Weight Loss in the New Year


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

Anyone old enough to stay up until midnight on New Year’s Eve will probably make a resolution to drop a few pounds in the coming year. It’s one of the top resolutions made in the first minute of the first day of every new year. If it’s on your list, I have a few eating tips that can help you reach your health and weight loss goals in 2013.

The key is forming good eating habits so the preferred behavior happens automatically. A habit is a habit whether good or bad, so swapping out your old way of eating for something new, and better, solves the problem for good.

The biggest challenge is interrupting the status quo. It’s like switching off the cruise control in the car when we’re driving on a highway. Once we do, we’ve got to think about maintaining the speed limit again. The same is true when we‘re making food decisions. It’s not that we dislike every brand of high fiber cereal on the shelf; we just keep selecting the same low fiber one over and over again because that’s what we’ve always done.

But that does not mean you should skip the resolutions when the clock strikes midnight on December 31st. If you’re really willing to leave the old year behind, let this be the year you ring in good health and weight loss for the very last time.

Top 10 Eating Tips For 2013

  1. Pick a start date that works for you. There’s nothing magical about January 1st, or the 52 Mondays in the year, or your birthday. There’s also no reason to wait a minute longer if you’re ready. You can start right now.
  2. Be brutally honest with yourself about what has blocked your success in the past. Do you feel entitled to eat certain foods? Procrastinate about meal planning? Blame others for your food choices? It’s time to deal with those disabling thoughts and beliefs.
  3. Make educating yourself about good nutrition part of your commitment. It is much easier to eat well when you understand why it matters.
  4. Talk about the changes you’re making to those who need to know so they can be supportive of your efforts and so they’ll understand why you stopped eating the way you used to do.
  5. Don’t try to make anyone else change along with you, just be an example for them. You can only change yourself.
  6. Plan each meal and snack around a fruit or vegetable – or both – instead of thinking about the meat or starch first.
  7. If you eat out more than once a month, it’s not a special occasion. Those meals should be as well- planned and carefully selected as the meals you eat at home.
  8. Don’t worry about disappointing others if you don’t eat as much as you used to or celebrate with food the way you once did. Worry about disappointing yourself.
  9. Small changes are all it takes to overhaul your life as long as you make enough of them and you stick with each one.
  10. Make sure you never view any food as a reward, no matter how tempting or delicious. If you’re thinking, “I deserve to eat this,” don’t eat it unless you can say, “I choose to eat this.”

How many of your resolutions from last year did you keep?

Nothing could be easier than these quick desserts with just 3 ingredients!

Cooking With Kids: Quick Desserts with Just 3 Ingredients


This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.

If you want to get your children and grandchildren more interested in cooking,let them make dessert. Having a file of quick dessert recipes on hand makes it easy to get them involved. And with only 3 ingredients in each of these, clean up time is much faster, too. You’ll enjoy eating some of these desserts right away, while others are great gifts to give away.


Perfect Peach Sherbet

8-ounce container nonfat peach yogurt frozen + 8 ½-ounce can sliced peaches in heavy syrup frozen + 1 tablespoon peach preserves. Empty yogurt and peaches into food processer by dipping them in hot water for up to one minute first to loosen. Add preserves. Break up frozen chunks with a knife to make processing easier. Process until smooth, about 1 minute. Serve immediately in 4 small wine glasses.


Fruit Cocktail Cake

1 cup self-rising flour + 1 cup sugar + 15-ounce can fruit cocktail in juice. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir until well blended. Pour into greased 8” square pan. Bake at 350 for 45 minutes.

chocolate clusters

Crunchy Chocolate Clusters

16 ounce chocolate morsels (milk chocolate, semi-sweet or mix of both) + 8 ounces crunchy chow mein noodles + 1 cup lightly salted dry roasted peanuts, coarsely chopped. Melt chocolate morsels in microwave or double boiler. Add noodles and peanuts and stir to coat. Drop by teaspoonful onto paper-lined baking sheet. Refrigerate to set.


Peanut Butter Cookies

1 cup peanut butter + 1 cup sugar + 1 egg. Combine ingredients until blended. Drop 1” apart onto ungreased cookie sheet using teaspoon. Flatten with back of fork. Bake at 400 degrees for 8-10 minutes.


Pretzel-Pecan Candy

50 mini pretzel twists + 50 Rolo candies (chocolate covered caramel) + 50 pecan halves. Line cookie sheet with foil. Arrange pretzels in single layer. Top each pretzel with Rolo, small side up. Bake at 250 degrees for 4 minutes. Remove and press pecan half into the top of each.


Cute Crispy Cut-Outs

6 cups crispy rice cereal + 4 cups mini marshmallows + 3 tablespoons butter. Melt butter with marshmallows in a large bowl in microwave. Stir in cereal until coated. Press into an even layer in a greased 13” X 15” baking pan. Let set one hour then cut into shapes using large cookie cutters.


Simply Sweet Baked Apple

1 apple + 1 tablespoon maple syrup + 1 tablespoon raisins. Cut a thin layer off the top of the apple and core. Fill cavity with syrup and raisins. Microwave on high power 3-5 minutes, testing with fork after 3 minutes to see if tender.


Banana Cream Pudding Parfaits

1 box instant banana cream pudding + 2 cups low fat milk + 1 medium banana. Whip pudding and milk together 3 minutes or until slightly thickened. Spoon into parfait glasses in alternate layers with banana slices.


Foolproof Coconut Macaroons

14 ounce can sweetened condensed milk + 14 ounce bag flaked coconut + 1 tablespoon vanilla extract. Combine all ingredients in bowl and stir to combine. Line baking sheets with parchment paper then grease the paper. Drop macaroons by teaspoonful onto to baking sheets. Bake at 350 degrees for 8-10 minutes until lightly browned. Remove immediately onto cooling racks.

Celebrate National Trail Mix Day by combining your favorite trail mix ingredients and taking a hike

Trail Mix Ingredients You Can Mix & Match

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


The end of August signaled the end of summer vacation and the start of school to me when I was growing up, so I always felt a twinge of dread as it approached. That all changed when I learned August 31st is National Trail Mix Day. Trail mix has been a staple in my life and brought me endless pleasure as I’ve combined different trail mix ingredients to make batch after batch.

There’s plenty to celebrate about trail mix, even if you aren’t taking a hike!

Portable, nonperishable, compact and satisfying are the qualities that make trail mix the ideal travel food, whether on foot, bike, boat, or skis. You can customize your mix to make it savory, sweet, or spicy and opt for a crunchy, chewy or crispy combo.

Do’s and Don’ts of Trail Mix Ingredients

Chocolate is not a good idea if you (and your trail mix) will be exposed to warm temperatures since it will melt and turn your mix into a lump. Same for marshmallows and soft or sticky candy pieces.

Salty items will increase your thirst and add unneeded sodium if you’re not in the Amazon. Go for herbs and spices to add flavor, but be careful you don’t get carried away. You could end up with a culinary collision of Cajun-Curry-Chinese mix!

Calories can be lowered by using a higher ratio of cereal, popped and baked items to the dried fruits, nuts and seeds. Shoot for a 2:1 ratio to keep the mix under 200 calories a cup.

By using flavorful ingredients, like smoked nuts, cheese-flavored crackers or spicy bits, you can bypass the step of having to coat the whole batch with oil, season and bake as some recipes instruct. Skipping that step, and any fried or greasy ingredients, also makes it less messy to eat since you are using your fingers.

Mix and Match Your Trail Mix Ingredients


  • Squares, like Chex® or Crispix®
  • Circles, like Cheerios® or Kashi Heart-to-Heart®
  • Woven, like Mini Shredded Wheat or Cracklin’ Oat Bran®
  • Balls, like Kix® or Barbara’s Puffs®
  • Chunky, like Granola


  • Honey-roasted peanuts
  • Roasted soy nuts
  • Toasted corn nuts
  • Smoked almonds
  • Spiced walnuts
  • Shaved coconut
  • Cajun cashews


  • Pumpkin seeds
  • Sunflower seeds
  • Sesame seeds


  • Cheese-flavored
  • Herb seasoned
  • Oyster crackers
  • Mini graham crackers

Dried Fruit

  • Cranberries
  • Banana Chips
  • Dark or Golden Raisins
  • Blueberries
  • Cherries
  • Apricots
  • Crystalized Ginger

Popped & Baked Snacks

  • Popcorn
  • Mini popped rice cakes
  • Popchips®
  • Pirate’s Booty®
  • Pretzel nuggets
  • Baked Oriental rice cracker mix
  • Wasabi peas

Check out my post about which is the best nut and to learn more about dried fruit.

What’s in your trail mix?

Care packages from home can contribute to college weight gain

Tips to Prevent College Weight Gain

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Family Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.


Now that everything has been purchased and packed to send your recent high school graduate off to college, what’s left to do? For many parents and grandparents, it’s time to start worrying about the notorious freshman 15.

College weight gain is a bigger concern today than ever before because so many more young people are arriving on campus overweight. Packing on five or ten pounds between now and winter break and another five or more by the time they move back home in the spring can saddle them with excess weight they may never lose.

The health risks of starting adulthood overweight should not be ignored. As anyone who has tried to lose 15 pounds – and keep it off – knows, it’s not easy. Taking steps to prevent gaining those unwanted pounds in the first place is far easier.

As the author of Fighting the Freshman Fifteen, I can show you how you can help your college student do just that.

What Causes College Weight Gain?

Life on campus is filled with opportunities to eat, drink, and party too much. The rest of the time is often spent sleeping, sitting in classes (sometimes both at the same time) and studying. That combination of overconsumption and under activity is all it takes for some kids to gain a pound a week, which happens to add up to 15 pounds at the end of the first semester.

Yes, the school has a state-of-the-art fitness center, a campus that stretches over several acres or city blocks, and round-the-clock recreational activities. But somehow all of that opportunity to burn calories is underutilized. It’s sort of like all the home exercise equipment and gym memberships that go unused.

Another source of unneeded calories are those care packages that come in the mail filled with all their favorite foods. Bags of Twizzlers, boxes of Cheez-Its, and tins of homemade chocolate chip cookies arrive one day and are gone the next.

Repackaging those care packages from home can eliminate the temptation, and extra pounds that go with them. Try some of these instead.

Care Packages That Prevent College Weight Gain

Hair Care

  • Shampoo
  • Conditioner
  • Gel or Mouse
  • Spray or Spritz

Dental Care

  • Toothbrush
  • Toothpaste
  • Dental floss
  • Mouthwash

Laundry Care

  • Detergent
  • Bleach
  • Dryer sheets
  • Stain remover

Body Care

  • Bar soap
  • Shower gel
  • Bath powder
  • Deodorant
  • Body lotion

Appliance Care

  • Printer cartridges
  • Computer paper
  • Batteries
  • Gift cards for apps

And whatever you do, don’t keep reminding them of what it was like when you were in college!

You may be surprised to learn that the best nut to eat is the one you like best

Big Debate: Which is the Best Nut to Eat?

This post was originally written during my 2 1/2 year tenure as a blogger for Health Goes Strong. The site was deactivated on July 1, 2013, so the post has been reproduced here.



Walnuts: The Central Valley of California produces 99% of the U.S. supply and 75% of the walnuts eaten by the rest of the world. Highest in omega-3 alpha linolenic acids and polyunsaturated fat. One ounce = 12-14 halves. Recipes 142092598

Almonds: Believed to have originated in Central Asia,80% of the world’s supply now comes from California. Highest in protein (with pistachios), fiber, calcium, riboflavin and vitamin E. One ounce = 23 almonds. Recipes 88380139

Pecans: The U.S. produces 80% of world’s supply with Georgia the leading state for pecan production. Contains over 19 vitamins, minerals and phytonutrients. One ounce = 19 halves. Recipes


Pistachio: The oldest edible nut, originating in the Middle East over 9000 years ago. Highest in protein (with almonds), thiamin (with macadamia) and vitamin B6. One ounce = 49 nuts. Recipes 111718647

Cashews: Originally found in Brazil near the equator, India, Vietnam, and Mozambique join Brazil as the principle producers today. Highest in iron and copper and lowest in calories. One ounce = 16 nuts. Recipes 56112003

Brazil Nuts: Native to the Amazon jungle, Bolivia, Brazil and Peru are the chief producing countries. Highest in magnesium, phosphorus, and selenium and highest in saturated fat. One ounce = 6 nuts. Recipes


Hazelnuts: Also known as filberts and cobnuts, Turkey, Italy, Spain and the U.S. are the biggest suppliers. Highest in folate. One ounce = 21 nuts. Recipes

Pine nut | Pinienkern

Pine Nuts: Found inside pine cones, they are also called Indian nut, pinon, pinoli and pignolia. Highest in manganese and zinc. One ounce = 167 nuts. Recipes


Macadamia: Native to the Australian rainforest, they were introduced to Hawaii in 1882 and it has become one of the main growers along with Australia. Highest in thiamin (with pine nuts), calories, total fat, and monounsaturated fat. One ounce = 10-12 nuts. Recipes

soyfoods add variety to the diet

Soy is for Everyone!

This post was written a guest blog for The Soyfoods Council during National Nutrition Month 2014. You can read the original post here.

Being a vegetarian isn’t the only reason to eat soy-based products. There are benefits for all of us – young or old, vegan or omnivore – to incorporating more soyfoods into our meals. Although most of the benefits center on improved health, I think the biggest advantage to adding soyfoods to our meals is the way they can increase the variety in our diets.

With all the news we hear about superfoods, it’s easy to become convinced we can eat all we want of some foods (we can’t) or meet all our nutritional needs by just eating foods on a “top ten” list (we won’t). Eating a greater variety of foods is the best way to achieve optimal nutrition.

I also like to focus on variety because it’s an easy way to make sure no food takes up more space on our diet than it should, and that helps us deal with the hard-to-grasp concept of moderation. Simply put, it means we must control the amount and frequency of everything we eat to have a balanced diet. Too much of anything is not good, but there is room for everything when all foods are eaten in moderation.

If you want to expand the variety of your diet there are soy-based options in every section of the grocery store that can be incorporated into every part of your menu. For example, you can substitute soy strips for bacon in your BLT and soy crumbles for ground beef in your taco. And veggie burgers made with soy protein are now available in flavors ranging from spicy chicken to savory mushroom.

If you don’t think you’re ready to use a soy-based meat alternative, why not start with a soy snack? Try dipping soy crisps into your guacamole or spreading soy nut butter on an apple. Or you can take a soy bar along on your next hike or toss some roasted soy nuts into your trail mix. Remember, the goal isn’t to only eat soyfoods; it’s to add them to your diet to increase the variety of foods you eat every day.

Use this handy guide to add more soy foods to your shopping list.

Where to Find Soyfoods in the Supermarket


Produce fresh soybeans, tofu, tempeh, miso

Freezer edamame, meat alternatives, dairy-free frozen desserts

Dairy soymilk, soy yogurt, soy cheese, soy margarine

Snack soy nuts, soy bars, soy chips, soy crisps, soy crackers, soy pretzels

Staples canned and dried soybeans, soy pasta, soy flour, soynut butter

Condiments soy sauce, soy oil, soy mayonnaise

Keep your New Years Resolution to eat well with these tips for Super Bowl appetizers

Keep Your New Year’s Resolution to Lose Weight Even During the Big Game!

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

Put SPLENDA® Sweetener in Your Game Plan!
I have been compensated for my time by McNeil Nutritionals, 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.

There’s nothing like a new calendar signaling the start of a brand new year to motivate us to lose the weight we may have gained during the holiday season. That must be why New Year’s Resolutions are so easy to make But by the end of January the first big obstacle many of us will have to tackle is around the corner – parties to celebrate the Big Game. If your year of healthier eating has started off strong, don’t let this football feeding frenzy throw you out of bounds.

What you need is a strategy to carry you through game day, just as your team’s quarterback needs a playbook to move the ball down the field. In fact, planning to win will help you with every “interference” that may come your way in the year ahead.

Step Up Your Activity

One way we can get in shape after the holidays, and to prepare for the extra calories that often go with football parties, is by increasing our energy output long before game day. Wearing a pedometer to count your daily steps is a great way to set goals and measure your progress.

If you regularly work out in a gym, try adding 10 minutes or more to each workout or add another day to your weekly workout schedule to burn more calories. The best part is, if you stick to this new routine you should reach your weight management and fitness goals even sooner.

Plate Every Portion

Party food tends to be indulgent, but even worse, we sometimes eat it mindlessly. How can you keep track of how many chips and how much dip you’ve eaten when you’re cheering on your favorite team? I know I can’t.

The best way around this dilemma is to plate everything you’re going to eat before putting it in your mouth. You can use a cocktail napkin, small paper plate or drink cup to serve yourself the portion you want to eat instead of endlessly reaching into the big bowls of snacks and platters of food all around you. I find this especially helpful when faced with easily munchable treats like roasted peanuts, kettle corn and candy.

Even vegetables can be a problem if you end up eating too much high calorie dip with them. That’s why I use a piece of celery to scoop a tablespoon of dip onto my plate, then add plenty of vegetables to go with it. Not only does it help control the amount of dip I eat, it prevents double-dipping, too.

Rethink Your Recipes

Another way to save calories you’ll never miss is by preparing your party foods using low calorie ingredients, like SPLENDA® Sweeteners instead of sugar, Neufchatel cheese instead of cream cheese, and reduced fat sour cream instead of regular. Best of all, these simple substitutions can lower the excess saturated fat and added sugar content of many recipes in addition to lowering the calories, and that’s good for everyone.

Of course, we still want these popular dishes to taste delicious, which is why I turn to tried-and-true recipes like those found on Three big winners for me are Sweet Red Pepper Hummus, Raspberry Cocktail Sauce with Chilled Shrimp and Sweet and Crunchy Nuts. If you’re asked to bring something to the party, why not make one of these and see if you agree with me?

Score Every Point You Can!

Staying on track with your eating and exercise resolutions for the New Year is one way you can win by losing, so make every calorie count. Using SPLENDA® Sweeteners instead of sugar can help, especially since Valentine’s Day is just two weeks after the Big Game!

For more delicious appetizers and salads sweetened with SPLENDA® Sweetener:

If you haven’t signed up for the SPLENDA® Recipe Club, to receive THE SWEET DISH® e-newsletter (for free), you can do so here:

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.