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Harness Holiday Indulging

Harness Holiday Indulging

The hustle and bustle of the holiday season – from office parties to family gatherings – often leads to over-indulging and deviating from a healthy lifestyle; luckily, it’s still possible to enjoy many of your favorite holiday dishes while reducing carb and sugar intake.

And the numbers don’t lie – numerous studies show that low-carb eating can be a healthy lifestyle option for people who want to lose or maintain their weight. When you control your carbohydrate intake, you start burning stored fat as your fuel source instead of carbohydrates.

Low-carb eating results in more effective weight loss and better health markers, such as a decrease in your risk of heart disease and diabetes. Plus, a low-carb lifestyle, such as Atkins, can be customized to your individual needs to help you lose weight and keep it off.

In fact, with the wide variety of foods to choose from in a low-carb lifestyle, it’s easy to find plenty of the festive foods and recipes you like so you can skip the stress this holiday season and simply focus on celebrating.

These recipes – favorites of actress Alyssa Milano, who started her own journey on the Atkins program – show how easy it is to make and enjoy low-carb dishes packed with flavor. Find more low-carb recipes to share this holiday season at atkins.com.

Chicken Parmesan with Garlic Sauteed Baby Broccoli

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Cook time: 30 minutes

Net carbs: 7.9 g

  • 20 ounces boneless, cooked chicken breasts
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste        
  • 4 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
  • 15 ounces canned tomato sauce
  • 1/2  teaspoon ground dried basil
  • 1/4  teaspoon leaf oregano
  • 1 teaspoon sucralose sweetener (sugar substitute)
  • 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1 cup shredded whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 20 cups baby broccoli florets
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic

Heat oven to 350 F.

Using meat mallet, pound out chicken breasts until they are about 1/4- to 1/2-inch thick. Season with salt and freshly ground black pepper, and place into preheated skillet over medium-high heat with 2 tablespoons oil. Cook until brown on both sides, about 2 minutes per side, then layer into 8-by-8-inch baking pan.

In small bowl, combine tomato sauce, basil, oregano, sucralose and Parmesan cheese. Mix with spoon and pour over chicken. Layer mozzarella on top and bake 25-30 minutes, until cheese is melted and sauce is bubbly.

During last 10 minutes of cooking chicken, use same skillet to saute baby broccoli. Over medium-high heat, add garlic and broccoli to 2 remaining oil. Saute until broccoli is crisp-tender, about 5 minutes. Serve immediately with chicken.

Fresh Mozzarella Salad with Basil Pesto

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Prep time: 10 minutes

Net carbs: 1.7 g

  • 4 cups arugula
  • 1/4  cup basil pesto
  • 2 pounds sliced whole milk mozzarella cheese
  • 2 small whole red tomatoes, sliced

Basil Pesto

  • 24 ounces basil
  • 1/3 cup dried pine nuts
  • 1/3 cup grated Parmesan cheese
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • 1/3 cup extra virgin olive oil

To prepare pesto, combine basil, pine nuts, Parmesan, garlic and salt in food processor or blender; pulse until finely chopped. Add oil in slow and steady stream with machine running; process until fairly smooth but not pureed. Serve immediately, refrigerate in airtight container for up to 3 days or freeze for up to 1 month.

Toss arugula with 2 tablespoons of pesto. Mound onto serving plates. Top with alternating slices of mozzarella and tomato. Drizzle with remaining pesto and serve.

Cauliflower-Cheddar Mash

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Prep time: 5 minutes

Cook time: 8 minutes

Net carbs: 3.5 g

  • 1 cup cauliflower
  • 1/4  cup shredded cheddar cheese
  • salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste

Steam cauliflower in steamer basket over boiling water in medium covered sauce pot until tender, about 5 minutes. Remove to bowl and mash with fork. Top with cheese and season to taste with salt and freshly ground black pepper.

Recipes courtesy of Atkins.

The Dish on Low-Carb Eating

If sticking to a low-carb diet seems like a lofty goal, you may find it helpful to focus on all the foods you can eat with confidence while watching your carbs:

  • High-fiber vegetables
  • Protein (fish/seafood, poultry, beef, pork, eggs, plant-based)
  • Healthy fats (olive oil, avocados, nuts, butter)
  • Dairy (cheese, Greek yogurt)
  • Low-glycemic fruits (berries, cherries, melon)

Photos courtesy of Getty Images