Santa’s Holiday Secrets

Trying to LOSE weight during the holiday season can set you up for failure. Focus instead on MAINTAINING your current weight. This can be hard especially since everywhere you look there are all kinds of wonderful food and snacks. If you are diabetic (gestational, Type 1, Type 2) it is an even larger challenge to keep your blood sugars normal. Hopefully, by following some of these tips we can get through this season and maintain our current weight.

Use a small plate

  • This makes the amount of food appear more than it is
  • Eat slow and savor the flavors
  • Wait at least 20 minutes before going back for seconds
  • Before going back for seconds, figure out if you are really hungry or only craving the foods

Catch up on the neighborhood gossip away from the kitchen

  • Focus on the conversation or other activities that are going on around you
  • This helps keep attention away from the food
  • Makes you put out an effort to get food, takes you away from the conversation (which may cause you miss juicy tidbits)

Avoid keeping the extra leftovers on hand

  • Package leftovers in portion sizes and freeze for later
  • Freezing may get you out of preparing a future meal (especially after a full day of shopping)
  • Freezing portions may also provide you with a quick lunch for work later in the week
  • Send leftovers home with guests (these make great gifts and they can take a break from cooking)

Review recipes and make healthier substitutions

  • Use a low-fat butter
  • Use a sugar substitute instead of granulated sugar
  • Avoid casseroles (tend to have hidden calories or carbohydrates)

Make healthier beverage choices

  • Switch to sugar-free soft drinks
  • Try water with lemon or lime
  • Try sugar-substitute drink mixes
  • Avoid those delicious fruit punches and eggnog
  • There are approximately 100 calories per serving of wine, so be careful with drinks containing alcohol

Keep your exercise schedule

  • Remember to keep moving
  • Walking is a great activity and can be fun for the whole family, including the family dog
  • You only need about 20 minutes (great way for the kids to break in that new bike or new pair of roller blades)

Plan ahead for your meals

  • Find out what is going to be served before arriving to your destination
  • Pack your own healthy food choices such as low-fat/calorie items (I tell my gestational diabetic patients to do this)

Make sure you keep your regular eating schedule especially if you are diabetic

I already know what will be served for our holiday meals and that I plan on enjoying them. I also know that, when it is all said and done, there will be lots of goodies passing through my house. I try to really watch what I eat a couple of days before the feast and am very careful for a couple of days after the feast.  I enjoy the sinfully delicious as well as the healthy. However, in regards to the sinfully delicious, the portions are very small and I really take my time eating them. I don’t have seconds and don’t partake of those leftovers the next day.

Here are some recipes for some holiday cookies and bread that have healthier alternatives. My kids and some of the office staff taste tested several experiments and these were the favorites. Remember that when decreasing the amount and/or type of fat you put in your recipes and when you change to a sugar substitute, the texture changes and your products do not taste as sweet.

Gingerbread Cookies

¼ cup butter
¼ cup 50% to 70% vegetable oil spread (lower fat margarine)
½ cup packed brown sugar
2 tsp. ground ginger
1 tsp. baking soda
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
¼ tsp. ground cloves
¼ cup molasses
¼ cup refrigerated liquid egg product (or 1 egg)
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour

In a large bowl, combine butter and vegetable spread. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed for about 30 seconds. Add brown sugar, ginger, baking soda, cinnamon, and cloves. Beat until well mixed, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in molasses and egg. The mixture will look curdled. Add all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour, beating just until combined. Divide dough in half. Cover and chill for 2-3 hours until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Lightly spray cookie sheet with non-stick cooking spray. On lightly floured surface, roll dough, half at a time, to 1/8 inch thick. Using a 2-3 inch gingerbread cookie cutter or cookie cutter of your choice, cut out shapes. Reroll dough as needed. Place cutouts about 1 inch apart on cookie tray. Bake 4-6 minutes or until edges are firm and set. Cool. Makes 36 3-inch cookies.

Nutritional Information Per Serving

Calories 73
Total fat 2 grams
Carbohydrates 12 grams (1 serving)
Cholesterol 3 mg


Soft Snickerdoodles

1 ½ cups sugar or sugar substitute
3 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup butter, softened
¾ cup liquid egg product
2 tsp. vanilla
2 cups all-purpose flour
¾ cup whole wheat flour
2 tsp. cream of tartar
1 tsp. baking soda
1 cup chopped peanuts
1 cup dried currants
1 cup dried cranberries (6 oz.)

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. In a small bowl combine 2 tbsp. of sugar or sugar substitute and 1 teaspoon cinnamon; set aside.

In a large bowl, combine butter and the remaining sugar or sugar substitute. Beat with an electric mixer on medium speed until combined. Add egg product and vanilla. Beat until combined.

In a medium bowl, combine all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, cream of tartar, baking soda, and the remaining 2 teaspoons cinnamon. Add to beaten mixture, Beat until well mixed. Stir in peanuts, currants and cranberries. Drop by rounded teaspoonfuls 2 inches apart onto a cookie tray sprayed with non-stick cooking spray. Sprinkle with the cinnamon-sugar mixture.

Bake for 78 minutes until lightly browned. Cool. Makes about 60 cookies.

Nutritional Information Per Serving (Sugar)

Calories 96
Total fat 5 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 9 mg
Carbohydrate 13 grams (1 serving)

Nutritional Information Per Serving (Sugar Substitute)

Calories 89
Total fat 5 grams
Saturated fat 2 grams
Cholesterol 9 grams
Carbohydrates 10 grams


Walnut-Raspberry Thumbprints

¼ cup butter, softened
¼ cup granulated sugar or sugar substitute
¼ cup packed brown sugar or brown sugar substitute blend
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp ground cinnamon or cardamom
1/8 tsp. baking soda
2 egg whites or 6 tbsp. liquid egg white product
½ tsp. vanilla
½ cup all-purpose flour
1 cup quick-cooking oats
1 egg white or 3 tbsp. liquid egg white product, lightly beaten
¾ cup finely chopped walnuts and/or pecans
¼ cup low-sugar or sugar-free strawberry, apricot, raspberry preserves

In a large bowl, beat butter with an electric mixer on medium to high speed for 30 seconds. Add granulated sugar, brown sugar, baking powder, cinnamon, and baking soda. Beat until combined, scraping side of bowl occasionally. Beat in the 2 egg whites or liquid egg white product and the vanilla until combined. Beat in as much of the all-purpose flour and whole wheat flour as you can with the mixer. Using a spoon, stir in any remaining flour and the oats. Cover and chill dough about 2 hours until easy to handle.

Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Spray cookie sheets lightly with non-stick cooking spray. Shape dough into ¾ inch balls. Roll balls in the 1 egg white or liquid egg product, roll in the nuts to coat. Place on prepared cookie sheets. Using your thumb, make an indentation in the center of each cookie.

Bake for 7-8 minutes until edges are golden brown. If indentations puff during baking, gently press the back of a measuring teaspoon into indentations when cookies are removed from the oven. Cool on cookie sheet for 1 minute then transfer to wire rack and continue cooling.

Just before serving, spoon preserves into indentations in cookies. Makes about 36 cookies.

To store: Layer unfilled cookies between waxed paper in an airtight container. Cover and seal.  Store at room temperature for up to 2 days or freeze for up to 3 months. To serve, thaw cookies then fill indentations with low-sugar or sugar-free preserves.

Nutritional Facts Per Serving (Granulated Sugar)

Calories 60
Carbohydrates 7 grams
Total fat 3 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram

Nutritional Facts Per Serving (Substitute Sugar)

Calories 55
Carbohydrates 5 grams
Total fat 3 grams
Saturated fat 1 gram


Squash Tea Bread

(This is equivalent to pumpkin bread. Tastes like gingerbread.)

2/3 cup all-purpose flour
½ cup whole wheat flour
½ tsp. baking powder
¼ tsp. baking soda
½ tsp. ground cinnamon
½ tsp. ground ginger
1/8 tsp. ground allspice
1/8 tsp. ground cloves
¾ cups winter squash
½ cups sugar
¼ cup honey
¼ cup canola oil
1 large egg or ¼ cup liquid egg substitute
1 large egg white or 3 tbsp. liquid egg white product

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Coat a 9-by-5 inch loaf pan with non-stick cooking spray. Whisk all-purpose flour, whole wheat flour, baking powder, baking soda, cinnamon, ginger, allspice, and cloves in a medium bowl until combined. Set aside. Beat squash puree, sugar, honey and oil in a large bowl with an electric mixer at medium speed until smooth, about 1 minute. Beat in egg or liquid egg product and egg white or liquid egg white product.

Turn off mixer, add dry ingredients, beat at low speed until combined. Scrape into prepared loaf pan. Bake about 45-50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted in center of loaf comes out clean.

Cool for 10 minutes then turn onto wire rack. Cool for about 30 minutes. Serve warm. Serves 8


  • I like the taste of the spices so I tend to be a little heavy handed with those.
  • I used the egg and egg white products

Nutritional Facts Per Serving:

Calories 225
Saturated fat 1 gram
Total fat 8 grams
Carbohydrates 2.5 servings

Preparation of Squash:

I used a large butternut squash and got enough squash to make 4 loaves. Wash squash. Cut squash, with peel, into small chunks, scrape out seeds, and place in large saucepan. Cover completely with water. Bring to boil, reduce heat to medium and continue to cook until squash is soft. Drain and cool completely. When cool, peel squash like you would an apple. Mash with electric mixer or in food processor. Squash can be packaged in ¾ cup portions and frozen in plastic baggies until ready to use. To use, thaw squash and drain.