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Be party smart - simple rules to avoid calories

Health Nutrition Psychology

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With the abundance of parties this time of year - from the holidays to Mardi Gras - it can be easy to over-indulge and see the result in your waistline. Even so, it's possible to enjoy party favorites with the right approach.


Mitzi Dulan, registered dietician, author and nutritionist for NFL and Major League Baseball teams, offers a party game plan everyone can follow that emphasizes moderation, avoiding hunger extremes and eating real foods like avocado, shrimp and all-natural honey.


"Some people think they cannot enjoy the food at parties and maintain their figure," Dulan says. "This isn't true. I encourage people to eat the foods they love, but do so in moderation. It is easy to over-eat at parties, which is why I created this guide to avoid extra calories."


Mitzi Dulan's party game plan includes obeying five simple rules:


1. Portions, portions, portions: The No. 1 rule of the party game plan is one of the easiest steps, yet most often violated. Eat foods in smaller amounts. It's when you go back for seconds and thirds that the pounds accumulate. The first bites are always the tastiest anyway.


2. Avoid the chemistry test: Xanthan Gum. Sodium Alginate. Erythorbic Acid. What may seem like questions on an annoying high school science quiz are actual ingredients found in party dips, marinades and appetizers. Stick to foods with short ingredient lists like chicken, vegetables and cheese.


3. Drink in moderation: Alcoholic beverages are full of empty calories. If you drink, stick to light beers and avoid sugary beverages like margaritas.


4. Bring an appetizer: Hosts and hostesses will not mind - some may even find it helpful - if you bring your own appetizer. This will ensure there are smart alternatives at the party. Dulan has designed several recipes with this idea in mind including Honey Guacamole and Honey Glazed Shrimp.


5. Steer clear of extremes: Don't come to a party ravenous or leave stuffed; stay somewhere in the middle. Have a snack or appetizer before the party, like a Chicken Lettuce Wrap, to curb hunger. At the party, stop eating before you feel full or sick. Eat until satisfied, regardless of how much food is left on your plate.


The following recipes, created by Dulan for the National Honey Board, are all designed with the party game plan in mind. For more recipes, visit honey.com.


Honey Guacamole

Makes eight servings



2 ripe avocados, peeled, pitted and mashed

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1 tablespoon honey

1/4 cup fresh cilantro, finely chopped

Sea salt


Mash avocados. Stir in lemon juice, honey and cilantro. Add sea salt to taste. Serve immediately with multigrain tortilla chips.


Nutrition facts: 80 calories, one gram of protein, six grams of carbohydrates, seven grams of fat.


Honey Glazed Shrimp

Makes eight servings



2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce

1/3 cup honey

1/4 cup lemon juice

2 pounds shrimp, peeled and deveined



Mix together soy sauce, honey and lemon juice in a small bowl. Brush shrimp with half of the glaze and set aside remaining glaze. Grill shrimp over medium-high heat for about three minutes on each side or until pink. Remove from grill and baste with remaining glaze.


Nutrition facts: 168 calories, 23 grams of protein, 14 grams of carbohydrates, two grams of fat.


Chicken Lettuce Wraps

Makes 12 servings



1 tablespoon walnut oil

1 1/4 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into bite size pieces

2 tablespoons rice wine vinegar

2 tablespoons reduced sodium soy sauce

2 tablespoons honey

1 cup shredded carrots

1/3 cup sliced almonds

12 leaves of Boston Bibb or butter lettuce leaves



Rinse whole lettuce leaves and pat dry. Add 2 teaspoons oil to a large skillet over medium heat, then sautee the chicken until cooked thoroughly, about seven to 10 minutes. In a medium bowl, whisk together remaining oil, rice wine vinegar, soy sauce and honey until thoroughly mixed. Add chicken, carrots and almonds. To serve, allow guests to scoop chicken mixture onto a lettuce leaf. Wrap the lettuce around the meat like a burrito.


Nutrition facts: 120 calories, 16 grams of protein, five grams of carbohydrates, four grams of fat.

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