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Published: Tuesday, 1/7/2003

After holidays, thoughts turn to cutting calories

After Christmas, a lot of us are looking for low-calorie tips for the New Year.

Most are common sense, such as those advised in the December issue of Fitness magazine: ax the alfredo sauce on pasta - opt for a simple marinara instead; ease up on high-calorie cheeses and salad dressings; don't eat during television commercials, and discover the joy of single servings.

Simple substitutions recommended by the University of Texas Southwestern Medical Center are also a way to enjoy delicious yet healthy meals:

Use broth to saute instead of butter (savings of 104 calories per tablespoon).

Substitute 1/3 cup mayonnaise and 1/3 cup non-fat yogurt for 2/3 cup mayo (480 calories saved).

Use nonfat milk instead of whole milk (60 calories saved per cup).

When Men's Health magazine measured menus at America's biggest restaurant chains with the help of a registered dietitian, they calculated that a nine-ounce sirloin was a better choice than a riblet platter; a grilled chicken dinner was more healthy than a hearty breakfast; bourbon-glazed salmon was lower in fat than fish and chips; shrimp primavera had fewer calories than fettuccine Alfredo, and a six-ounce filet was a wiser choice than prime rib. Hidden calorie dangers lay in grilled chicken club, grilled chicken Caesar salads, baked potatoes with everything, bread bowl chili, and lobster bisque.

Also, Center for Science in the Public Interest says that Cr me Frappuccinos are the highest-calorie drinks Starbucks sells, with 870 calories in a 20-ounce venti. In comparison, Iced Caf Latte with skim milk is just 110 calories.

In place of apple pie, make a cinnamon-spiced apple; pass up one breadstick for one cup fresh veggies; substitute two tablespoons hummus for two tablespoons spinach dip; skip the biscuit for one whole-wheat dinner roll, and say “no” to four ounces red or white wine - drink a four-ounce white wine spritzer.

The interest in low-calorie recipes and healthy eating extends to cookbooks as well.

The Holly Clegg Trim & Terrific Cookbook by Holly Clegg (Running Press, $24.95) has healthier versions of Tex Mex Dip, Crabmeat au Gratin, and Crawfish Etouffee. The final chapter is Kids in the Kitchen, with Burger Soup and Ham and Cheese Breakfast Bake for slumber parties.

For high-protein diets, 500 Low-Carb Recipes by Dana Carpender (Fair Winds, $19.95) has Italian dishes such as Saltimbocca made with chicken, Italian Bean Bake, and Simple Low-Carb Stuffed Mushrooms.

Dietitian Evelyn Tribole gives 200 recipes makeovers in More Healthy Homestyle Cooking (Rodale, $17.95) including Senate Bean Soup and Roast Turkey Breast with Apple Stuffing.

From Linda Gassenheimer comes More Low-Carb Meals in Minutes (Bay Soma, $18.95). Her Three Stage Plan for keeping weight off includes Quick Start; Which Carbs, and Right Carbs. The stages include breakfast, lunch, and dinner recipes such as Pepper and Olive Snapper, Antipasto Salad, and Jamaican Jerk Pork with Hearts of Palm Salad.

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