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Kicking It X

“T’was the night before Christmas” and everywhere I look someone is offering cookies, pies, cakes and See’s candy. Holiday cocktails abound. What’s a good girl to do?

Actually, here is one idea to keep a reign on the sweet tooth. My favorite dessert is to put a pecan half on half a dried apricot. They’re only 34 calories each.

Of course, there is always dry popcorn. At 20 calories per cup. Add 1 tablespoon of melted butter and it’s another 100 calories. But really, what else can you eat five cups of for only 200 calories?

To cut calories at dinner time, my husband came up with a new salad which has become our favorite. One theory is he was cleaning out the vegetable bin; the second, he was having a moment of inspiration. You decide.

Start with 4 cups of rough chopped green cabbage and add a large chopped carrot, 1 cup of chopped celery, 1/4 cup of dried cranberries, 1 large chopped apple rinsed with lemon juice, plus 1/4 cup of pecans.

If you add 2 tablespoons of fat free ranch dressing before serving, one cup of salad is only 68 calories. The salad can be stored without dressing in a sealed container for up to three days, if it lasts that long.

If you wish to add kick to the salad, sprinkle crumbled blue cheese over the top. While it’s over the moon in taste, the calories jump dramatically since blue cheese will add 55 calories per tablespoon.

Here is a recipe presented by “America’s Test Kitchen.” It is not a diet dressing since it’s about 220 calories for 2 tablespoons. Yet I think it’s worth the indulgence. Mix one cup of Best Foods mayonnaise, 1 cup of whole sour cream, 1 cup of crumbled blue cheese, 1 teaspoon garlic powder and a splash of milk. Smash together. If you like it chunky, it’s done. I usually thin it out a bit more to spoon over a salad.

My perfect meal is blue cheese dressing spooned over a lettuce wedge alongside a medium-rare steak, it is heaven. By the way, we’re talking 4 ounces of lean steak and not a 10 ounce ribeye.

For the most part, I have started eating either one meal a day or two smaller ones: one midmorning and the other midafternoon. Either way, usually the dishes are done by 5:30 p.m. every day. We do our best not to eat after 7 p.m. If you are still working, that routine may not be an option. Try cooking enough to have more than one meal from each recipe.

Up next is New Year’s and resolutions for the upcoming year. Imagine when you were in sixth grade and the thought of still being alive in 2020 was mind boggling. What will you decide to do about your well-being?

Are you ready to be your best self? As Ralphie’s friend Schwartz said to Flick in “A Christmas Story,” “I triple dog dare you.” And there you have it. I am not daring you to stick your tongue to a flagpole. I am daring you to change your life. Only 74 days left before I head out.

Elizabeth Youngman Westphal can be reached by email at [email protected].


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