Eat, Drink & Be Merry -- on a Diet

No need to be a Scrooge about your diet. Our plan lets you indulge and still lose weight.

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Your Holiday Diet Plan

Rolls of wrapping paper have hijacked your dining room table. Your calendar is crammed with work, school, and social events. You'd like to eat right this time of year, but who has the time? Surprise: We've got an easy-to-follow holiday diet plan for you. Stick to this menu all week and you can eat what you want come party time! Harley Pasternak, a celebrity weight-loss expert and author of The 5-Factor Diet (Meredith Books), thinks it's sad when someone refuses pie and ice cream. "What good is your health if you aren't enjoying life?" asks Pasternak, who has worked with stars like Alicia Keys, Eva Mendes, and Mandy Moore. So go ahead and enjoy eating with this menu plan — developed with Pasternak's help, using great recipes from his book — and lose weight while you're at it!

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Focus on the Number 5

Eat five times a day. Besides three main meals, have two substantial snacks so you never get hungry.

Try to include these five components in every meal:

—A lean protein, such as chicken, fish, egg whites.
—Filling carbs, like sweet potatoes, beans, brown rice, or oatmeal.
—Healthy fats (olive oil or nuts).
—Strive for 5 grams of fiber, from fruits, vegetables, or whole grains.
—A sugar-free beverage: water, sugar-free soda, tea, coffee, or an unsweetened energy drink.

Exercise five days a week. Find 25 minutes to hop on a treadmill, take Pilates or walk with a friend.

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Monday: Breakfast & Morning Snack

Breakfast: Filling Cereal
One cup of high-fiber cereal with protein, with 1/4 cup berries and 1 cup nonfat milk.
Per serving: 298 calories; 4g fat (0g sat.); 18g protein; 53g carbohydrate; 9g fiber; 226mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol.

Snack: Apple with Peanut Butter
Combine 2 teaspoons peanut butter with 1/4 cup nonfat cream cheese and dip one sliced apple.
Per serving: 183 calories; 7g fat (2g sat.); 11g protein; 22g carbohydrate; 4g fiber; 368mg sodium; 5mg cholesterol.

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Monday: Lunch & Snack

Lunch: Chicken Fingers and Fries


—1 sweet potato, cut into sticks
—5 1/2 ounces skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into strips
—3 egg whites
—4 slices stale whole-grain bread, ground
—4 cups broccoli florets

Heat oven to 375 degrees F. Spread sweet potato sticks on a sheet pan coated with cooking spray. Season with cinnamon, salt, and pepper to taste. Bake for 25 minutes.

Dip chicken strips into egg whites and then coat with bread. Spray a nonstick skillet with oil and heat on the stove. Cook chicken until brown, turning once. Leave on medium heat for 5 minutes.

Place the broccoli in a bowl with a little water and salt. Microwave for 2 minutes and season with Mrs. Dash. Serves 2.

Per serving: 341 calories; 3g fat (0g sat.); 33g protein; 53g carbohydrate; 13g fiber; 440mg sodium; 50mg cholesterol.

Snack: Edamame with Cheese
1/4 cup edamame with one stick part-skim string cheese
Per serving: 125 calories; 8g fat (4g sat.); 11g protein; 4g carbohydrate; 2g fiber; 244mg sodium; 20mg cholesterol.

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Monday: Dinner

Dinner: Seared Halibut with Brown Rice and Creamed Spinach

—5 ounces halibut fillets
—1 teaspoon lemon pepper
—1 pound spinach leaves
—1/2 cup nonfat cream cheese
—1/4 cup nonfat sour cream
—1 tablespoon onion powder
—2 teaspoons garlic powder
—1 2/3 cups cooked instant brown rice

Season the halibut fillets with lemon pepper and some salt. Coat a nonstick skillet with cooking spray and heat. Add the halibut and sear on each side. Then cover the pan and cook until the fish flakes when tested with a fork. Set aside.

Cook the spinach in a nonstick pan over medium heat until wilted. Transfer the spinach to a strainer and press out as much liquid as possible. Return the spinach to the pan. Add the cream cheese, sour cream, onion powder, garlic powder, salt, and black pepper. Cook and stir over medium heat until hot. Microwave the brown rice for one minute. Serves 2.

Per serving: 398 calories; 5g fat (1g sat.); 33g protein; 57g carbohydrate; 8g fiber; 1,198mg sodium; 30mg cholesterol.