Low-cal holiday alternatives

Here are Cheryl's Suggested Swaps:

French Onion Dip and "Chips"

Whether it's used as a garnish or in a sauce, sour cream adds a shot of saturated fat to otherwise heart-healthy meals. To cut out that excess fat without sacrificing taste or texture, swap the sour cream with no-fat Greek yogurt-one of the world's healthiest foods. Just about any recipe that calls for sour cream can be made with Greek yogurt instead

Makes 12 servings

It takes a little time to simmer the onions, but the result is worth waiting for. This tastes just like "the real thing" but has a fraction of the calories and fat. Serve with jicama chips instead of potato chips and you have a double swap!


  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 21/4 pounds yellow onions, peeled, halved vertically, and sliced horizontally into 1?8"-thick half-rounds
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon onion powder
  • 4 ounces low-fat cream cheese, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup plain, fat-free Greekstyle yogurt
  • 2 teaspoons Italian parsley, chopped
  1. In a large skillet or Dutch oven, heat the oil over medium heat. Add the onions and salt. Stir well and cook for 2 to 3 minutes.

  2. Continue to simmer, stirring regularly, for 20 to 30 minutes, scraping up any browned bits with a wooden spoon. The onions will be light to medium golden brown (not dark brown) and caramelized. Cool the onions completely.

  3. Place the onions in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse a few times, until they're slightly chopped. Remove half of the onions and transfer them to a mixing bowl.

  4. To the remaining onions in the food processor, add the onion powder and process until completely pureed.

  5. Add the cream cheese and yogurt and process just until smooth. Add this mixture to the chopped onions in the mixing bowl and stir well.

  6. Taste and adjust the seasonings as desired, then chill completely.

  7. Transfer to a serving bowl. Garnish with Italian parsley leaves and serve with jicama slices or your favorite baked chips.
Per serving (1/4 cup dip with 1/2 cup jicama slices): 80 calories, 4 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 5 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 230 mg sodium

Chili lime tortilla chips (to go with the dip)

Instead of snacking on processed carbohydrates like crackers and chips, try making your own chips. Chili Lime Tortilla Chips are baked (not fried) made from whole grain (non fat) corn tortillas. They have only 70 calories per serving.

I used to buy fried tortilla chips that were seasoned with chili and lime. They were absolutely addictive. My local grocery store seems to have stopped carrying them, so I've been forced to invent my own version. I think these are just as delicious and they are much lighter in fat and calories.

Makes 12 servings

  • 12 (6") corn tortillas
  • 2 teaspoons chili powder
  • 2 teaspoons True Lime powder (see note)
  • Salt, to taste (optional)
  1. Preheat the oven to 300°F. Stack the tortillas and cut into eighths to make chips.

  2. Transfer to a baking sheet. In a small bowl, combine the chili powder, True Lime powder, and salt (if desired).

  3. Mist the chips lightly with olive oil cooking spray and toss with the seasonings. Spread out the chips in a single layer on two large baking sheets.

  4. Bake for 30 to 35 minutes, or until light golden and crisp, rotating the baking sheets once about halfway through. The chips will get crisper as they cool.
Note: To find True Lime powder in a store near you, go to www.truelemon.com True Lime is typically found in the baking aisle with the artificial sweeteners.

Per serving: 70 calories, 2 g protein, 12 g carbohydrates, 1 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 2 g fiber, 50 mg sodium

Smoked Salmon Spread on Whole Grain Crackers

While they have less saturated fat than red meat, turkey and chicken aren't entirely without cholesterol. One of the best strategies for reducing cholesterol through diet is eating more fish, which is very low in fat and contains heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids.

At your next holiday party, swap a bacon-wrapped chicken liver or a beef satay for a scrumptious (and healthy) appetizer made with salmon)

Move over, cream cheese. This light and full-flavored spread is great on a toasted whole grain bagel with tomato slices and capers. It can also be thinned (with more yogurt) and used as a dip. Smoked salmon has a richer color and flavor, but canned pink salmon works well, too.

Makes 6 servings

  • 1 cup (8 ounces) plain, fatfree Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup (2 ounces) low-fat cream cheese
  • 4 ounces finely chopped smoked salmon or drained, canned wild salmon
  • 1/3 cup finely chopped red onion
  • 1 tablespoon prepared horseradish
  • 1/2 teaspoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper
  • 1 tablespoon chopped chives
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt and cream cheese until smooth.

  2. Stir in the salmon, onion, horseradish, lemon juice, salt, pepper and chives.

  3. Refrigerate for at least 1 hour. Stir before serving.

Per serving: 60 calories, 7 g protein, 3 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (1 g saturated), 10 mg cholesterol, 0 g fiber, 500 mg sodium

Spicy Crunchy Chickpeas

These flavorful baked chickpeas make an excellent snack and are a great swap for oil-roasted nuts. They are also a delicious source of fiber and protein sprinkled on your favorite veggie salad.

Makes 4 servings

  • 1 (15-ounce) can chickpeas or 11?2 cups cooked chickpeas, drained, rinsed, and patted dry
  • 1 teaspoon olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1/2 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon red chili flakes (optional)
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground blackpepper
  1. Preheat the oven to 375°F. In a small bowl, toss the chickpeas with the oil, coriander, curry powder, chili flakes, salt, and pepper.

  2. Arrange in a single layer on a baking sheet. Bake for 45 minutes, or until crisp and slightly browned. Serve warm or allow to cool.

Per serving: 110 calories, 6 g protein, 17 g carbohydrates, 3 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 5 g fiber, 150 mg sodium

Tangy Turkey Wraps (mini sandwiches)

Swap in whole grain Low-carb tortillas to wrap your sandwich while swapping OUT: White-flour tortillas White-flour tortillas pack 150 calories and zero fiber. whole grain Low-carb versions offer antioxidant-packed grains plus eight grams of fiber for just 90 calories.

This protein-packed turkey salad makes a satisfying lunch and is also delicious on top of salad greens,without the wrap. If you prefer, boneless, skinless chicken breast can be substituted for the turkey.

Makes 6 small wraps

  • 1/3 cup plain, fat-free Greek-style yogurt
  • 1/4 cup low-fat mayonnaise
  • 2 tablespoons chutney
  • 1 teaspoon lime juice
  • 1 teaspoon curry powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground coriander
  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • 3/4 cup diced yellow onion
  • 1 teaspoon chopped garlic
  • 1 pound boneless, skinless turkey breast, cut in short, 1?2"-thick strips
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/2 cup chopped prunes or dried berries (such as cranberries)
  • 3 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped
  • 6 (7") whole grain tortillas (I use La Tortilla Factory)
  1. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the yogurt, mayonnaise, chutney, lime juice, curry powder, cumin, and coriander. Set aside. In a nonstick skillet, heat the oil over medium-high heat.

  2. Add the onion and cook for about 4 minutes, or until soft and just beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook for 1 minute longer.

  3. Don't allow the garlic to brown. Add the turkey and cook, stirring frequently, for about 4 minutes, or until just cooked through.

  4. Remove from the heat and season with the salt. Add the turkey mixture to the dressing in the mixing bowl. Add the prunes and cilantro.

  5. Stir to combine. There will be approximately 3 cups of turkey salad. Place about 1?2 cup turkey salad on a warmed tortilla. Roll it up, burrito style, and serve immediately.

Per serving: 270 calories, 23 g protein, 32 g carbohydrates, 6 g fat (2 g saturated), 33 mg cholesterol, 11 g fiber, 350 mg sodium

Mini Apple Gingerbread Cupcakes

'I m often asked the question "If there was just one thing I could do as a first step to get the scale moving downward and put my health back on track, what would that be?" There's no doubt that exercise would make a difference.

But as a chef and nutritionist, I have a simple answer: Lose the white stuff. In other words, stop eating refined sugar and flour! Foods like snack cakes, cookies and soft drinks are all high in calories but very low in nutrition.

They affect your blood sugar and insulin too quickly. And unlike their wholegrain counterparts, these foods lack antioxidants and fiber, which are good for your digestion and can help prevent some types of cancer.

In fact, these foods don't offer much of anything, other than calories. And remember, the quality of your calories is as important as the quantity. Here's a guilt free sweet indulgence that contains no white stuff!

These irresistible little cakes are spicy but not too sweet. For sweeter flavor, you can add an additional tablespoon of your favorite sweetener to the batter.

Makes 30 mini-muffins

  • 2 cups stone-ground whole wheat flour
  • 1 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon salt
  • 2 teaspoons ground ginger
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 2/3 cup low-fat buttermilk
  • 1/2 cup molasses
  • 1/3 cup canola oil
  • 1 large egg
  • 1 large egg white
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 1 cup finely chopped apple (sweet apple such as Fuji or Delicious, not Granny Smith)
  1. Preheat the oven to 350°F. Lightly coat 30 mini-muffin cups with cooking spray. Set aside.

  2. In a medium mixing bowl, combine the flour, baking soda, salt, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. Set aside. In another bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, molasses, oil, egg, egg white, and vanilla extract.

  3. Make a well in the dry ingredients and pour in the liquid mixture. Stir until just combined. There will be about 3 cups of batter.

  4. Divide the batter between the prepared muffin pans. Bake on the center rack for about 15 minutes, or until a toothpick inserted in a muffin comes out clean. Cool for about 10 minutes before removing from the pans.

Per serving: 70 calories, 1 g protein, 10 g carbohydrates, 2 g fat (0 g saturated), 0 mg cholesterol, 1 g fiber, 90 mg sodium

About Cheryl Forberg:

Cheryl Forberg, RD, is the nutritionist for The Biggest Loser and co-creator of the eating plan. A James Beard Award-winning chef, she is the author of Positively Ageless (Rodale 2008) and The Biggest Loser: 30-Day Jump Start (2009). She is on the Advisory Board for Prevention magazine and is a graduate of the University of California, Berkeley.

If you think the only way to lose weight is to be on The Biggest Loser, think again. Yes, losing weight and creating a healthy new lifestyle can feel like a daunting challenge-but you don't need to overhaul your life all at once.

The road to wellness starts with small decisions and better choices and every great journey begins with one small step-or, in this case, 100 simple swaps that cut calories, save money, and provide better nutrition.

Now, with The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps you can get healthy by simply swapping your old food, habit, and lifestyle choices for healthier versions every day. And with more than 30 mouthwatering recipes that put these swaps into action, getting fit and healthy has never been easier.

Throughout the book, you'll find recommendations and advice from the show's nutritionist Cheryl Forberg, as well as tips from the contestants themselves, who know firsthand how tough it can be to fit lifestyle changes into a busy schedule, and who have incorporated these swaps into their weight-loss efforts.

Whether you're looking to shed just a few pounds, lose a significant amount of weight, or simply maintain a healthy weight, these Simple Swaps will not only help you keep fit, but also ensure that you're getting the nutrients you need for optimal health and wellness. Swapping one unhealthy food, habit, or lifestyle choice for another, better one is where it all begins.

>> Buy this book on Amazon: The Biggest Loser Simple Swaps: 100 Easy Changes to Start Living a Healthier Lifestyle (Paperback)

For more information about Cheryl Folberg, RD, visit www.cherylforberg.com

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