7 Secrets to Surviving Any Holiday Party

‘Tis the season of holiday parties and celebrations.  Family get-togethers and friendsgivings parties.  Work Christmas parties and neighborhood gatherings.  And to someone who is on a fabulous healthy living streak, these parties can be a little stressful.  I mean, how are you supposed to resist Aunt Susie’s cheese ball that is just staring at you??  Or those saucy meatballs that your friend makes every year that are so delicious???

When I joined Jenny Craig 4 years ago, the holidays were my biggest fear… I had to get through them.  The first year, I avoided them, but I realized in the years that follow that I had to figure out a way to attend the functions in a way that met my healthy living goals.

Having conquered this several years in a row now, I thought it was prime time to put together some of my secrets to share with all of you…

7 Secrets to Surviving Any Holiday Party (While Staying on Track) | No Thanks to Cake

1.  Don’t Show Up Starving

I’ll start with the most important of the tips – – Don’t show up hungry!!  Have a healthy breakfast and a sensible dinner and if needed, a little snack before you leave the house.  I like to enjoy an apple or a pear before I head to a party.  It has crunch and a sweetness that steers me clear of temptation.  Bottom line:  If you show up starving, you’re more likely to overeat.  Plan ahead!

2.  Insist on Bringing a Dish

If you’re going to someone’s house, you can always bring something additional to add to the party.  When you’re picking your contribution, pick something you enjoy eating, something you’ll feel guilt-free eating, and perhaps a healthier version of your usual favorite treat!

Here’s a few ideas from NTTC, including recipe links below.

Healthy Appetizers | No Thanks to Cake1.  BLT Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes

2.  Veggies and Roasted Red Pepper Dip

3.  Veggie Appetizer Pizza 

4.  Lightened Up Holiday Chex Mix

5.  Caprese Salsa

6.  Spinach-Cheese Appetizer Balls

3.  Veggies are your FRIEND

Every party has a veggie tray, and that veggie tray just became your BFF.  There are plenty of GUILT-FREE pretties staring right back at you!  And, you can pair them with so many other things on the table… the cheese and meat tray, that decadent spinach and artichoke dip that you want just a bite of.  Using veggies as the vehicle to taste these other items makes it a little less concerning… and then move quickly to step 4!

Veggie Platter | No Thanks to Cake

 4.  Find a Food-Free Zone

Step away from the table!  Oh so often at a party, we all end up standing right near the food table.  Hovering over the food, and staring at all the decadent food.  When you’ve filled your plate, move away from the buffet and head to a more comfortable food-free zone.  This is a great way to make sure you don’t go back for seconds, or thirds…

5.  Pick a Petite Plate

Picking up a tiny cocktail plate has never been a better idea.  Going for the smallest possible plate assures that you will take a smaller amount of food.  You can only pile a small plate so high, so this assures your portions will be in check.

Appetizer Plate | No Thanks to Cake

Before you fill your plate, commit yourself to not going back for a refill.  This will make sure that you’re going for the flavors you want most, in the portions you can live with the next day.

6.   Go Light on the Libations

Once you’ve had a few cocktails, it’s amazing how your willpower slowly starts to lessen.  Don’t let a few drinks ruin your plan!

Plan to have one drink (pick your favorite), and then immediately switch over to water.  You can even swipe some fruit from the fruit tray to flavor it up, if you’d like.

Wine | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Remember, it’s Just One Night

You made a plan, and maybe you didn’t stick to it 100%.  You had three of those tasty Buckeye candies that your stepmom brought, and you just couldn’t say “no thanks” to the petit fours.  It’s okay!!

The key to remember is that you get to start over tomorrow.  Every single day, you have the opportunity to get right back on track and I highly encourage you to do that.

What’s your best tip for surviving indulgent holiday parties?

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A December to Remember: Part I

At the end of November, I mentioned that I had a heck of a December coming… lots of travel, lots of events, and just a TON on my plate.

As a result, I’ve taken a step back from my regular blogging schedule to keep up with all the craziness that’s been going on.  Today, I’m going to give you a little peek into my crazy month…

Grandpa’s 90th Birthday

I kicked off the month with a trip to Ohio.  While I lived in Tennessee the longest and tend to associate Nashville with home, I was born and lived the first part of my life in a tiny town just outside of Cleveland, Ohio.  To this day, most of my aunts and uncles, cousins, and my grandpa still live up in that part of the country.

2014 marked a tremendous landmark birthday for my grandpa, and I couldn’t resist flying up to Ohio to celebrate with the whole family.  It’s not often that we all get together, nor that my dad travels from Florida to Ohio in December!  So great to see him too!

A December to Remember | No Thanks to Cake

My Gramps turned 90 this week!!  I can’t even imagine all the changes he’s seen through his lifetime, and I hope I’m as lucky as he is to be in good health at such an age.

A December to Remember | No Thanks to Cake

This visit was particularly great for me.  The last time I saw him a few years ago, I was startled by how much he had aged.  Not physically, but his mind.  My grandpa has lost all of his short term memory, and it devastated me the last time I saw him.  I was literally fighting back tears the whole trip, for example.

This trip, my Grandpa was doing SO MUCH better!  And, by better, I don’t mean that his memory has come back, because that’s certainly not the case.  Instead, his progress has come in the form of him living in an assisted living community and being able to socialize with so many others on a daily basis.  Last time I saw him, he just seemed lonely and sad… this time, he seemed like his old self!

While he may not be able to recall what he had for breakfast, he can tell you about his time in the navy, tell stories about my dad as a kid, and still gives the greatest hugs.  So thankful to have spent this weekend with him!!!

My brother, Beth, and the kiddos also traveled to Ohio for the festivities, so I also got to snuggle up with these two!  They are getting so grown up… and the “little” one on the left is 11 going on 24… seriously, what a difference a year makes!

A December to Remember | No Thanks to Cake

 

Day Trip to Cali

You might remember my amazing summer, when I won the Rockstar contest for work.  Well, my Rockstar reign is coming to a close, as the 2015 competition kicks off in January.

To promote the new competition, I needed to be in California this week for a videoshoot. Um, who gets to say that?

December to Remember - Rockstar  | No Thanks to Cake

 

To keep things interesting, they only needed me for about an hour.  So, I packed up my backpack with a few different clothing options… and caught my early morning flight to Cali.

December to Remember - Rockstar | No Thanks to Cake

 

My video shoot took a whole 30 minutes.  Who knows what the final product will look like, but it was awesome to represent my team and our region in this video.  And, finishing early made it possible for me to grab a quick lunch with my friend Crystal!

December to Remember - Rockstar | No Thanks to Cake

 

Crystal works close to our area office, so she was able to swing by and pick me up for a quick lunch before I had to head back to Denver.  It was so great to catch up with this lady, even if it was just for about an hour!

With that, she dropped me off at the airport and I flew home!  Beautiful (and exhausting!) day to say the least… but a great one!

December to Remember - Rockstar | No Thanks to Cake

I’m gearing up for my next trip next weekend… This one is a totally fun, friend-filled trip.  Can’t wait to share the details!

How’s your December?

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Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits

Having bacon in the house from making the Smoky Bacon Chili this week, I needed something to make with that leftover bacon… you just can’t let that stuff go to waste.

When it comes to breakfast, there are only a few things that I eat on the regular.  When I started to make my Lightened Up Biscuits and Gravy a few days ago, an idea popped in my head about how my friend Jen used to love a good bacon biscuit.  I was sure I could replicate this biscuit for breakfast… and lighten it up a little.  Here’s what I came up with…

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

The bacon matched with the creamy Laughing Cow cheese was the perfect combination, and (importantly) kept me full until midday…

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits

Serves 1

INGREDIENTS

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

1/3 cup Bisquick Heart Smart mix, plus more to knead with

2 Tbsp. skim milk

2 slices center-cut bacon

1 wedge Laughing Cow Cheese – Garlic and Herb flavor

INSTRUCTIONS

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Remove to paper towels and pat to remove excess grease.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Meanwhile in a small bowl, combine your Bisquick and milk with a fork.  The texture will be slightly crumbly and doughlike.

Grilled Tomato Biscuits with Laughing Cow Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Grilled Tomato Biscuits with Laughing Cow Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Knead the mixture 8-10 times just inside the bowl.  Adding more Bisquick atop the bowl to make it less sticky to the touch.  To knead, if you have never done it before, simple using a folding technique  where you are folding the dough in half and pressing down against the bowl firmly and repeatedly until you’ve folded it over 10 times.

Grilled Tomato Biscuits with Laughing Cow Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Form your dough ball into a flat circular shape and place it on an unprepared baking sheet.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

 

7.  Bake for 10-12 minutes until fully cooked.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Split the biscuit with a knife, and top with Laughing Cow cheese.

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

 

9.  Add one slice of bacon per side, and breakfast is served!

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

 

Cheesy Bacon Breakfast Biscuits | No Thanks to Cake

Per entire recipe serving:

CAL 249; CARB 30g; FAT 9g; PROT 9g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 6

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Smoky Bacon Chili

While on most days, I am FAR from paleo… I couldn’t resist making this paleo recipe from PaleOMG when I spotted it on Pinterest.  She totally had me at bacon…

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

This chili.  OMG… there’s a reason Juli calls herself PaleOMG… This bean-less, bacon-full chili is a big ol’ party in your mouth.  I ended up modifying the recipe a little bit, adding the sweet potatoes to the mix and thinning it out with a little extra water… but I promise you’re going to love my version below and all that bacon.

Smoky Bacon Chili

Adapted from PaleOMG

Serves 7

INGREDIENTS

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

6 slices center-cut bacon, cubed

1 garlic clove, minced

1 yellow onion, diced

1 red pepper, diced

1 green pepper, diced

1 lb. extra lean ground beef

1 Tbsp. garlic powder

1 Tbsp. chili powder

2 Tbsp. smoked paprika

2 tsp. ground cumin

1 tsp. cayenne pepper

1 (14-oz) can fire roasted tomatoes

1 (8-oz) can of tomato sauce + 1 1/2 can water

2 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed

INSTRUCTIONS

1.  In a large pot, add the cubed bacon and let cook.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

2.  While the bacon is cooking, chop all the veggies.  Note:  My knife skills are not this good.  I used this veggie chopper, which you should seriously add to your Christmas list.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

3.  In a separate pan, brown your ground beef.  If desired, grind your meat in a food processor – –  I always do this.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

4.  When the bacon has browned and is a bit crisp, add garlic clove and veggies.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

5.  Let cook for about 6 or so minutes, then add your ground beef and all the spices.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Add your tomato sauce, water, sweet potatoes, and fire roasted tomatoes.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

7.  Mix well and let all the flavors meld together, cooking on low for the next 30-40 minutes or so, stirring occasionally until the sweet potatoes are tender.

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

8.  Serve and enjoy!

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

Smoky Bacon Chili | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1 cup serving:

CAL 225; CARB 19g; FAT 9g; PROT 19g; FIB 5g; WW Points Plus: 6

- See more at: http://www.nothankstocake.com/2014/11/18/gingerbread-overnight-oats/?utm_source=feedburner&utm_medium=feed&utm_campaign=Feed%3A+NoThanksToCake+%28No+Thanks+to+Cake%29#sthash.4NF7vITF.dpuf

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