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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Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes

I love mashed potatoes, especially with yummy gravy.  Mashed potatoes were always the dish at the holiday table that I wanted seconds and thirds of… that creamy goodness gets me every time!!!

When I found this recipe in a Weight Watchers cookbook, I knew I had to try it…

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Laughing Cow Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Not only are these taters completely easy to make, but they’re incredibly tasty, cheesy, and beyond creamy!!

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Laughing Cow Cheese

Adapted from Weight Watchers

Serves 6


Cheesy Creamy Mashed Potatoes | No Thanks to Cake

1 (20-oz) package country style mashed potatoes

4 wedges Laughing Cow Cheese – Garlic and Herb flavor

1/4 tsp. freshly ground pepper.


1.  Heat potatoes per package ingredients.  Once warm, move to a large bowl.

2.  Stir in the Laughing Cow Cheese and the pepper.

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes | No Thanks to Cake

3.  Serve and enjoy!  Note:  My potatoes are shown below with Slow Cooker Turkey Breast and Gravy.  I’ve also made them with my Beef Tenderloin with Mushroom Gravy.

Creamy Cheesy Mashed Potatoes with Laughing Cow Cheese | No Thanks to Cake

Per 1/2 cup serving:

CAL 93; CARB 14.4g; FAT 2.9g; PROT 2.2g; FIB 1.6g; WW Points Plus: 2

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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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Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup

We’re just a week out from Thanksgiving, and like the rest of America, you’re probably planning your Thanksgiving strategy.

To get you ready for the biggest meal of the season, I thought I’d share some of my favorite healthy options that you can incorporate into your festivities!  I’ve only made a turkey (breast) once, so I’m probably not your expert in that area… but, I have plenty of apps, salads, sides and desserts that you can make for your special feast.

Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup | No Thanks to Cake

Click on any of the images below to see the full recipe, taste-tested and recommended by yours truly!


Appetizers tend to be a dangerous territory.  So, I always try to bring something that I can munch on.  Something that I know is somewhat safe.  Here’s a few of my top picks…

Veggie Appetizer Pizza | No Thanks to Cake

BLT Stuffed Cherry Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Holiday Chex Mix | No Thanks to Cake

Spinach Cheese Ball Appetizers | No Thanks to Cake


Salads are another way to fill your plate.  I usually try to fill my plate at least half with salad and fresh, healthy veggie sides.  These salads will help you get to your goal of having a healthy Thanksgiving for sure!

Broccoli Cranberry Salad | No Thanks to Cake

Individual Layered Salads | No Thanks to Cake - - Great idea for entertaining.  So easy, and so impressive to your guests!

Summer Pasta Salad with Baby Greens | No Thanks to Cake


Other “sides” tends to be my danger zone.  That’s where you find the mashed potatoes, the sweet potatoes, the stuffing… all the things I want to load my plate up with.  These lightened up sides can be a great alternative.

Baked Creamed Spinach | No Thanks to Cake

Cheesy Broccoli Quinoa Casserole | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Carrots with Honey Mustard Glaze | No Thanks to Cake

Roasted Turmeric Cauliflower and Tomatoes | No Thanks to Cake

Maple Orange Brussels Sprouts | No Thanks to Cake

Lightened Up Green Bean Casserole | No Thanks to Cake


The Thanksgiving meal isn’t quite finished until the desserts roll out… for years, I’ve gone with dessert “minis” as a way to control my portions.  I’m also including this year one decadent dessert… the oreo bars, because they’re just that dang good!

Pumpkin Spice Cheesecake Mousse Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

Gooey Pumpkin Oreo Bars | No Thanks to Cake

Pumpkin Spice Cake Ball Turkeys | No Thanks to Cake

Pumpkin Butterscotch Mini Desserts | No Thanks to Cake

Whatever you’re eating this Thanksgiving, consider how you can make it healthier… and consider your strategy before you step up to the buffet table.  You can do this!!

What food are you looking to enjoy most this Thanksgiving Day?

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