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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Why I’m Limiting My Holiday Cheer This Year

It’s not often that I talk about alcohol here on NTTC, but considering my weekend and considering the holidays are just around the corner, I wanted to talk about it.

Confession:  I don’t really like drinking.

To begin, I don’t drink very often.  I just don’t.  On most nights out with friends, I am responsible for driving myself… so, it’s just not a good idea.  Having a glass of wine at home?  That doesn’t really happen either.  While I’m sure many of my NTTC meals would pair well with a lovely glass of wine, I usually don’t feel like it.  I really just crave water on most days…

Wine | No Thanks to Cake

But… there’s something inherently social about consuming alcohol… when I get together with friends and family, that’s when I’ll pour a glass.  And, at Christmas time, my parents and I start opening the wine around 5pm most days… it’s just become a thing we do.

In addition to being a total lightweight when it comes to booze, I also live a mile above sea level.  If you’ve ever spent time at higher elevation, you may have noticed you’re a cheap drunk.  Allegedly, consuming one drink here in Colorado can feel more like you’ve had 2 or 3, which makes it a little dangerous.  Fitbloggin friends who will be here next year, take note!

Cosmopolitans | No Thanks to Cake

And, I kind of hate being drunk… When regular life things need to be done, being drunk and/or having a hangover really get in the way… This weekend, I got together with friends and was poured a magically endless glass of wine.  I doubt I had that much wine (see lightweight comment above,) but I was certainly over-served.  My sleep was impacted… I woke up exhausted, and not as sharp as I like to be on a busy Saturday.  And, completely dehydrated.

Thankfully, I wasn’t painfully hungover the next morning, but through this process, it has me once again thinking about my drinking habits and how they align with my health goals.  

In reality, drinking does not belong in my healthy living plan.  For example, the average 6 oz. glass of wine clocks in at about 150 calories… for something you drink!   A 12 oz. light beer will cost you about the same.  Drinking hard alcohol really varies quite a bit, depending upon what kind of mixer you’re using…

Beer | No Thanks to Cake

Bottom line:  We’re talking 150 calories for a BEVERAGE.  And, once you have one, you’re likely to consider a second, and depending upon the night, a third, a fourth… and for some reason, then you get hungry… and suddenly it’s a calorie explosion.  As I explain this process, I realize that it sounds a lot like a food binge from a calorie perspective, which is something I work to avoid.

All of this has me thinking about the holidays and how I want to handle drinking this year… and, I think it’s time to make a change. Just like that… I’ve decided to become a single beverage lady.

Yes, I’m officially a one wine woman.  A single spirit sister.  A no-refill Nancy.  This is happening…

Why I'm Limiting My Holiday Cheer this Year | No Thanks to Cake

I say this today, fresh from an overindulgent weekend in the booze department, but it’s been something I’ve been thinking about for a while.  I recognize it will get extra tricky over the holidays, but I think it’s important.  And, if I can do this during the holiday season, I am unstoppable.

I fully expect that my decision to limit alcohol this season will be greeted similarly to how my healthy eating plan went.  There will be tons of support by most, and others will think I’m a spoilsport, a grinch, a party pooper, etc… but it’s the right thing to do for my body, for my health, and to assure I can capture all of my goals moving into 2015.

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A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia

Ever since we celebrated Beth’s 39th birthday in Vegas last year, we’ve been planning her 40th birthday outing.

A Birthday Weekend at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

And, it was a pretty easy decision on where we wanted to go.  Beth chose one of my favorite places on the planet… Montelucia.  For the past 5 years, my friend Donna and I have been traveling to Montelucia a few times a year to unwind and relax.  It’s become a very special place to me… and I was so excited to have an opportunity to share it with Beth.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Together, we were a group of 10…. all the ladies in Beth’s family, myself and my mom.  Such a fun group of ladies.  It was so nice to see everyone after so much time had passed.

We spent our days at the pool, laughing and catching up, and soaking up the beautiful sun that Phoenix offered us that day.  The weather was in the 90s all weekend long!  How does it get any better than that??  Perhaps with this pretty, pretty cocktail.  Yum!

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Beth is an amazing cook and when she and the ladies in her family go on these types of “girls’ trips”, they take advantage of the fine dining in the area.  So, we ate very well during the trip, enjoying some of Scottsdale’s best restaurants.

And, leaving the property at night gave us an opportunity to get prettied up and head out…

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Saturday was my favorite day of the trip, and Beth’s 40th birthday!  We spent the entire day on property, and most of the day at the beautiful Joya Spa.  This place never get old.

Joya Spa | No Thanks to Cake

We spent the day getting beautiful, being pampered, and relaxing.  BEST.  DAY.  EVER.

Joya Spa Crystal | No Thanks to Cake

Joya Spa | No Thanks to Cake

After a lovely day at Joya, we had to celebrate the birthday girl, and the folks at Prado were amazing and made sure the birthday girl was spoiled properly.  Actually, everywhere we went made sure that Beth got the VIP treatment.  There weren’t many meals that didn’t include a special birthday dessert with “Happy Birthday, Beth” written on the plates… super fancy, Scottsdale.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

The weekend was just perfect, if you ask me.  Lots of laughs, lots of time with people who adore Beth, and a great getaway.

A Birthday Getaway at Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

And, best of all… I got to celebrate my favorite sister-in-law.  I’ve described her in the past as “my rock,” and she’s one of my favorite people on the planet.

Birthday Getaway to Montelucia | No Thanks to Cake

Thanks for including all of us on your fabulous birthday adventure!  Looking forward to celebrating the next landmark birthday in a few years!  xoxo

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Old-Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

With Easter less than a week away, it was time to bake a tasty treat for my Gramps.  Knowing that he loves peanut butter more than anything, I wanted to go with a PB cookie for this year’s easter package.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

During my trip to Nashville, I tried these cookies for the first time and they were awesome.  Jaede’s neighbor made them as a gluten-free treat for her husband.  It’s hard to believe that these cookies don’t have any flour in them, but you won’t miss it at all!  They have a strong peanut butter flavor and taste perfect paired with a glass of milk.  Enjoy!!

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies

From Real Simple

Makes 18 cookies


Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

1 cup creamy peanut butter (I used Jif Natural)
3/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1 large egg
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. vanilla paste
1/4 tsp. kosher salt


1.  Preheat oven to 350° F.

2.  Using an electric mixer, beat the peanut butter and sugars on medium-high speed until fluffy, 2 to 3 minutes.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Reduce speed to low and beat in the eggs, baking soda, vanilla, and salt.

IMG_3049Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

4.  Roll heaping tablespoonfuls of the dough into balls and place on silpat-lined baking sheets, spacing them 2 inches apart. Note:  I used a 1 Tbsp. Pampered Chef scoop to form the cookies.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

5.  With a lightly floured fork, press the dough to a ⅜-inch thickness, making a crisscross pattern on top of each cookie.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

6.  Bake, rotating the baking sheets halfway through, until the edges are set, 10 minutes. Cool slightly on the baking sheets, then transfer to wire racks to cool completely.

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Old Fashioned Peanut Butter Cookies | No Thanks to Cake

Per cookie:

CAL 133; CARB 15g; FAT 7g; PROT 3g; FIB 1g; WW Points Plus: 4

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