Tips to slash sugar but still enjoy holidays

LOS ANGELES "What you don't want to do is celebrate the New Year with a new you - 10 pounds heavier," said nutritionist JJ Virgin.

Virgin said we should reacquaint ourselves with what is naturally sweet. Try heating up a bag of frozen berries.

"When you start to heat fruit up, it intensifies the flavor, and it intensifies the sweetness," Virgin said.

Virgin suggests a spoonful of vanilla protein powder mixed in and topped with nuts. It's like pie without the crust.

You can also fill a parfait glass with frozen berries and microwave for about two minutes.

Virgin is also a fan of baking an apple until it is golden and topping it with cherries, walnuts and cinnamon, which helps elevate sweetness.

Parfaits are fun with the various tastes and textures. Boil a bag of dried fruit, and you will get a super-sweet compote.

Take that compote and layer it with plain fat-free Greek yogurt and nuts for a dessert that is low in fat, high in fiber and protein.

To make compote, take a bag of chopped dried fruit and cover with water in a sauce pan. Put on the stove and bring to a boil. Turn off the heat and let them sit. They will be soft and sweet, ready to make the parfait.

Another fun idea is to crush graham cracker in the bottom of a pretty glass, and add fat-free chocolate pudding and top with low fat coffee yogurt.

Or make a Nutella pear panini on thinly sliced bread for those who want a sweet crunchy finish to the meal.

To make the pear and Nutella Panini, choose two slices of "light" or thinly sliced bread, spray with Pam or olive oil spray and spread a teaspoon of Nutella on each piece. Then slice up a pear - thin slices are best.

Put the bread in a waffle iron or George Foreman-type griller, oil side down on grill with pear sandwiched in between the slices.

Let it toast or grill for about 3-5 minutes. This may be done in a skillet as well.

And when it comes to all those holiday drinks, go with two ounces of juice, like pomegranate, and fill the rest of the glass with sparkling water. It's plenty sweet and tasty without all the calories.

People will simply assume you've got a fancy cocktail.

"And if you don't tell them, they won't know," Virgin said.

And if by chance you aren't in control of the party, a smart rule when eating your favorite sugar treat is to just have three bites.

"Three polite bites, as if you're being taped on TV, and then push it away. Go brush your teeth," Virgin said.

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