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Lean Plate Club: Holiday Challenge

Nutrition and Health

Sally Squires
Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, November 23, 2004; 1:00 PM

Welcome to The Lean Plate Club, hosted by Washington Post health and nutrition writer Sally Squires. On Tuesdays at 1 p.m. ET, Sally leads a discussion for people who want to eat healthier, move around more and otherwise get better but not bigger. We're not about fad diets or crash weight-loss plans; we're about eating wisely and living healthy for the long haul.

We want to hear from you -- your tips, strategies, meal plans, successes, warnings, setbacks and more. Of course Sally will be happy to answer questions, and turn others over to the Club. None of this, of course, is a substitute for medical advice.

Washington Post columnist Sally Squires

_____Today's Column_____
To Lose Well, Think Positive (The Washington Post, Mar 22, 2005)
The Lean Plate Club

Sally Squires has covered health and nutrition for The Post since 1984. She holds masters' degrees in nutrition and journalism (both from Columbia University), is co-author of "The Stoplight Diet for Children" and covers heart disease, cancer, psychology and many other health topics in addition to nutrition. She usually eats a salad for lunch, sits unluckily close to the Health section's legendary cookie depository and (for this phase of her ongoing battle of the bulge) swears by "The Firm" series of exercise tapes.

Health section editor Craig Stoltz will join Sally sometimes. Stoltz has none of Sally's impressive credentials but labors under a decade-long medical directive to control his weight and eat wisely, takes a statin to lower his blood cholesterol and keeps track of everything he eats on a Palm handheld computer, a fact most of his acquaintances no longer find interesting.

Sign up for the free Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter.

A transcript follows.

Editor's Note: Washingtonpost.com moderators retain editorial control over Live Online discussions and choose the most relevant questions for guests and hosts; guests and hosts can decline to answer questions.


Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club. This is week 2 of the Holiday Challenge. For those new to the Lean Plate Club, the challenge is simply designed to help you hold the line on weight gain during the holidays.

So...everybody got their plans for Thanksgiving? Tell us about how you're going to enjoy the holiday--and still not feel like an overstuffed turkey. As we like to say around here: we're not staring at the belly of the beast.

Freebies this week are:

Dieting for Dummies by Jane Kirby RD

The Rugged Walker by Patricia Kirk (Human Kinetics)

The GI Index Diet by Rick Gallop (Workman)

Healing Moves by Carol Krucoff and Mitchell Krucoff, M.D.

Here's the deal: share a food find, a healthy eating or exercise habit, a great way to fit in more activity during the holidays, a wonderful, healthy recipe. You get the idea. We're looking for ways to better instill healthy eating and physical activity to maintain weight during this joyous season. Winners are announced at the end of each chat. In making this offering we are not endorsing any exercise or eating program--simply showing you the wide range of information available as you seek to hold the line on weight gain.

Now on to the chat!


Lutherville, Md.: This the first time I have ever dieted during the holidays. I don't know how to handle the family holiday dinners. What's the best way to handle Aunt Gertie's request that I fill up my plate and in a way that won't have her take me out of her will?

Sally Squires: Hey Lutherville: No, don't diet. It's a really inopportune time to do that. You don't want to be deprivated while everyone else is celebrating, do you? And no, we're not suggesting that you throw caution to the winds either. Simply enjoy the holiday in moderation. That's what the Holiday Challenge is all about. So in today's Health section, and on line at www.washingtonpost.com/leanplateclub, you'll find plenty of tips to get you through Thanksgiving.

As for Aunt Gertie and that will--plan to budget about 1,000 calories for the Thanksgiving dinner. So go ahead, taste the holiday fare, just watch portion sizes. And if you can be sure to take a walk or get some other activity in the morning. It will help your metabolism stay revved all day.

Let us know how it goes!


New Carrollton, Md.: I tried to submit this recipe last week but ran into computer problems. It's easy, tasty and nourishing. I found it in last month's "Everyday Food" Magazine.

Peel and cube about a pound of eggplant. Place in rectangular baking dish with one chopped onion -I use the frozen pre-chopped], 1/4 cup of olive oil, salt, pepper and garlic, and one pint of grape or cherry tomatoes. Cook at 450 for about half an hour, stirring occasionally, while, on top of the stove, you boil pasta -I use ziti but whatever you like works]. Take the vegetables out, toss with halved, pitted olives -again, whatever type you like, I use regular black olives] cooked pasta, and half a cup of shredded parmesean cheese. Serve with extra cheese available for dusting if desired.

Sally Squires: Sounds great New Carrollton. And thanks for providing the citation too. We like to give credit where credit is due at the Lean Plate Club!


washingtonpost.com: Welcome to MWeek Two of the Holiday Challenge where you don't have to worry about losing weight, just maintain the status quo until New Year's. Miss Week One? No problem!


Massapequa, N.Y.: I am preparing Thanksgiving dinner this year and was wondering what sort of healthy alternative there is to the traditional stuffing.

On a side note, I weighed myself this morning and found much to my surprise, I was -1 pound from last Tuesday.

Sally Squires: And is that one pound less or more from last week Massapequa? Hope it's the former! Anyway, if you really love stuffing, I'd say there is no alternative except to enjoy a small serving. You can also cut fat in stuffing (if you're cooking) by using more broth and less added fat. Also adding plenty of lower calorie but great tasting ingredients, including apples, celery, whatever. (My favorite stuffing is by Julia Child and involves sausage, mushrooms, black olives and anchovies....but that's another story!)

You could also have "stuffing" outside the bird made with whole grains: you know wild rice, quinoa, brown rice and with plenty of added ingredients and flavorings.

Other suggestions out there?


Fairfax, Va.: Have you tried the new Kashi instant oatmeal? I'm wondering how it stacks up nutritionally. Thanks!;

Sally Squires: Haven't tried it yet, Fairfax. Let's see if anyone else has....


Decatur, Ga.: RE: Charging for plastic/paper grocery bags

not a question - just want to say...so what's the difference whether you use plastic or paper - they are going to charge you any way you look at it!;!;!;!;!;

Sally Squires: They are, aren't they Decatur? Unless you bring your own bags--which I've seen a number of people start to do. (Of course, I haven't seen any rebates for that either, I must say!) And for those who are wondering, this posting comes in reaction to a news report in today's Lean Plate CLub e-mail newsletter, which is free and comes to your inbox each week. There are also links to a number of great recipes for high volume food to help you feel full--plus a few new delicacies for Thanksgiving. Thanks!


Lemoyne, Pa.: Regarding paying for grocery bags, when I was an exchange student in the UK, all the major grocers charged for new bags. As I recall, the charge was about 15 cents per bag, and that was 20 years ago!; It's time that folks in the U.S. wise up to the fact that nothing is truly "free." Everything (consumer product, that is) has some cost that must be paid somewhere along the line.
I use the cloth bags. They hold about twice as much as either the paper or the plastic, which means fewer trips from the car to the house.

Happy holidays all!;

Sally Squires: Interesting to know that Lemoyne. I do take the paper bags and plastic bags with me to the farmer's market for re-use. But those cloth bags are also a neat idea. Thanks! Happy Thanksgiving to you too!


Utica, N.Y.: OH Sally, I just moved from DC and miss you. But luckily I can chime in via e-mail. I am sending you my tip that is keeping me motivated on the Holiday Challenge. I have been taking the steps outside my office 3 times a day, not only do I get some extra exercise but it increases my creativity and motivates me at work. Good luck to all on Thanksgiving!;

Sally Squires: Way to go on those steps, Utica! So glad you're chiming in from upstate New York. For those who don't know it, Lean Plate Club has recently been syndicated by the Washington Post Writer's Group, so you may soon be able to read it in your hometown newspaper too. Happy Holidays and continued good luck with your efforts.


Massapequa, N.Y.: That is one pound less.

Thanks for making a place open to all who need the support and like to share really good recipes.

Sally Squires: Good for you! (Disclaimer: even though weight loss is not the goal of the Holiday Challenge, it's reported to be a surprising and not unpleasant side-effect by some. )


washingtonpost.com: Just starting out on the Holiday Challenge? Watch Sally Squires' video Eating During the Holidays and start out on the right foot.


Washington, D.C.: I will be visiting family this holiday. I have found that a really great way of incorporating excercise, stress reduction, and good will into my weekend is the following: I inquire early and often if there is anything that anyone has forgotten to buy, or needs picked up. Then, when the inevitable "yes" comes, I have a great opportunity to get out of the house (stress reduction), get some excercise (walking to the store, or if I need to drive, they'll never know if I incorporate an extra few blocks walk from where I leave the car, and where I have to shop), and good will by running an errand for someone else.

It's obvious, but it's true.

Sally Squires: Great ideas, DC! Those are win-win-win every way you look at it. Thanks! ( I wonder how many others are now going to be running errands this week?)


Bedford, Mass.: There was a time (before the earth's crust cooled) that you could bring re-used bags to the grocery store, bag your groceries in the used bags, and get money off your order. However, the health laws in Massachusetts stopped that because of issues of bugs, etc., coming in to the store along with the used bags!; ICK!; Do other states prohibit this?

Sally Squires: Hmm, don't know Bedford. That's a very good point. Have to do more checking on that one. Until then, anybody out there know...


Rockville, Md.: Yep, that's what San Francisco city officials are considering. Under discussion is a $0.17 fee per plastic bag to help reduce the use of these bags. (The fee would also apply to paper.) What's your opinion?

Absolutely, we currently get them for free and take it for granted. So people will diffinitely not mind have to recycle their bags by taking them back to the store, once they are clean.

Sally Squires: I see we have a bag theme developing in this chat. Looks like it's struck a chord...Maybe we can come up with Lean Plate Club re-useable grocery bags...


Aldie, Va.: Sally,
I just want to put in a little tip on maintaining a healthy diet during the holidays. While making your big feast, make sure to drink lots of water (that way you will not eat your heart out). And if you're not cooking the meal and going to family for the meal, then just remember NOT to eat until you are completely full.

Sally Squires: Good idea, Aldie. The water will definitely help. But I also liked the idea of fixing yourself a plate that you can eat from while you're cooking. That way you stay nourished (no skipping meals, of course), you track what you're consuming (always a good idea)and you don't feel deprived. Thanks!


Hartford, Conn.: Fees for bags? The rate sounds a bit steep, but I'm -SO- glad someone is raising the issue.

I used to live in Northern VA where I used the Giant green bags - easiest bags in the world (to use for all kinds of purposes). I slowly stopped as they stopped teaching checkers how to pack them and it became a major source of consternation for them.

But at least the major chains in D.C. were active in recycling the plastic. In the Hartford area, they use tons of bags and you really have to search out the tiny areas in hidden corners of the store to return your plastic. I've only seen one person other than me recycling them -- at a local chain where the women handed her 3 bags to an employee...I don't know where the bags landed!;

Speaking of which -- why not add individual storage containers to your holiday list? They are a great way to create single-serving snacks for home or the car; take lunches to work; etc and reduce trash!;

Sally Squires: Thanks for the reminder about Giant's green bags, Hartford. Those individual bags are also a great idea. Portion control is really important at this time of year. You'll see lots more about it in next week's LPC column.


Frostburg, Md.: At what point do you stop losing weight?

I am burning an extra 150-250 calories per day since I started walking briskly for about 2-3 miles every day (thank you, 10000 steps!;), and doing some weight lifting a few days a week. I lost about 25 pounds over 6 months. I have since pretty much stopped losing weight, despite that I still eat about the same diet as before I started walking (when I was weight stable but somewhat fat) and since I've been walking.

I am moderately below 25 BMI, so I don't NEED to lose any more weight. But is there some internal mechanism that keeps my current weight stable despite a caloric expenditure that appears to be more than my caloric input? Or am I just deluding myself that I am eating the same amount of calories now as when I had all the weight loss?

Please tell me my weight has stabilized because I'm adding muscle mass while still reducing body fat. Kidding!;

Sally Squires: Hmm, Frostburg. It's a little hard to tell. My hunch--unless you're very carefully tracking every morsel you eat--is that you may be eating a little more than you think. Studies suggest that nearly everyone underestimates how much they eat. But interestingly, that perception is most out of whack for overweight and obese people. You're doing great things. I say keep it up and enjoy the results!


Falls Church, Va.: Sally:
A lot of shrimp cocktail is going to be served this holiday time and I just love it. I've heard conflicting information as to the nutritional value of shrimp. I've heard that it's high in protein and high in cholesterol. Can you give me the straight scoop on the nutrional value of shrimp?


Sally Squires: Enjoy that shrimp cocktail, Falls Church. It's low in calories, contains omega-3 fatty acids--which are good for your heart, your joints, your brain and possibly your mood--and the best part is that you love it. Yes, shrimp has a little cholesterol--but it's considered a healthy choice--unless you deep fat fry it of course! Happy Thanksgiving!


Scotland UK: Good vegetable accompanyment for turkey dinner. <br>take large frying pan with tablespoon olive oil. Two garlic cloves chopped fine. onion chopped fine. 2 x courgette cut in matchsticks, celery sliced fine.6 mini plumb tomato - quartered.Carrot grated.... turmeric and garam masala to taste, salt and pepper with a dash of balsamic vinegar. ....stir fry for 5 minutes...and serve.

Sally Squires: Yum! Sounds great Scotland. But--and this is probably just me--didn't quite understand the "courgette." Thanks!


Washington, D.C.: DO they recycle the plastic bags? I used to save my Peapod bags to send back for recycling, 'til the driver laughed and told me they just throw them out.

And why do retailers insist on using bags that have to be doubled in case they split?

Sally Squires: All good questions, DC. I feel a follow-up item coming on....


Lemoyne, Pa.: Back again on the grocery bag issue. I usually shop at Giant Foods, which I think goes by "Martin's" in some other areas. They give 3 cents per bag off your bill if you re-use any kind of bag.

Sally Squires: There's a lot of interest in these grocery bags. I can see where we LPCers have been spending out time lately! Thanks.


Rockville, Md. - re: bags: Hi Sally,

Shoppers Food Warehouse in Rockville - years ago - used to charge you for bags (I think it was 3 cents for plastic and 5 cents for paper or something like that). I remember this because growing up, my mom always used to keep plastic bags in the car so that we wouldn't have to buy them!; (SFW has since discontinued this practice)

It would seem to me that a more practical, consumer-friendly, and eco-friendly solution would be for stores to put out materials with ideas for recycling bags. For example, I re-use my plastic grocery bags in many ways -- I bought a kitchen garbage stand that uses grocery bags. It cost all of a few bucks and instead of using new white kitchen garbage bags or heavy duty black bags, I re-use my grocery bags and then put all of them out in a garbage can for collection.

Another thought is to use them instead of brown paper lunch bags for bringing your lunch to work. I put my lunch in plastic grocery bags -- the handles make them easier to carry on the metro each morning and I don't waste money on paper lunch bags. And, if something leaks, it's less likely to make a soggy mess in a plastic bag than it would in a paper bag.

Just a few thoughts.

Sally Squires: And they're good thoughts indeed, Rockville. We also use those plastic bags for something to do with our dog...Thanks!


Rockville, Md.: My healthy tidbit/guide is to remember that the quantity of food you eat will determine the quality of workout you will have to do take away the inches. Rome was not built in one day so there is any reason why you should finish all the fixing in one. Eat your regular dieting portions & fix yourself a an extra plate of everything you enjoyed so that you can savoer it longer as opposed to swallowing it all at once.

Sally Squires: Good reminder, Rockville. Also if you parse out the servings, you likely won't experience that food coma or food hangover that so many of us feel later on Thanksgiving and even the next day. And let's remember, this week is just the warm-up for the next four weeks...the pace--and challenges only increase...Thanks!


Eggplant: I love it and am plannig to make a turkey sausage and veggie dish with it to feed folks the night befor T-giving (tomorrow, but am still in denial that it is so soon). What is the nutritional value of eggplant? It tends to soak up a lot of oil, not quite the same when I substitute veg broth for the oil in a sautee. Even assuming I limit the oil, however, am I really getting much nutritional bang for the buck eating eggplant, or merely pleasure?

Sally Squires: Eggplant is a great-tasting food and obviously a vegetable, so right there it's got two good things going for it. And yes, you're absolutely right about the fact that it can soak up oil. (That's one reason why stir-fried eggplant tastes so great in Chinese restaurants.)

Nutritionally speaking a half cup of eggplant has just 14 calories and is low in fat, sodium and protein. It has about 1 gram of fiber and provide some vitamin C, A and iron. Hope that helps.


Austin, Tex.: Home of the once hippie Whole Foods (pre- "Team Member" days!;): I just called Whole Foods to confirm and they do still have the practice of giving a nickel rebate for each bag a customer brings in to use. The rep said this is indeed a Whole Foods-wide practice around the country.

When I lived in Germany and paid somewhere between 7 and 10 cents per shopping bag, I never had the problem that I fight these days of too many of these damned bags in my kitchen. I'm not nearly as consistent with bringing my own bags any more-- but that is also due to the (allowing the?!;) lifestyle being more hectic here in the States. We suddenly decide we MUST go to the store to pick up such & such-- and then we come home with much too much. We are accustomed to instant gratification. In Germany, grocery shopping was done with a bit more planning/forethought (also, because the shopping hours were limited). I always kept a canvas bag or two in my car with me. I need to return to that habit consistently. IMHO, we need to see it as OUR trash-- even after reusing those noisy litle bags, we still collectively contribute to landfills.

Sally Squires: Thanks Austin for that great reporting! Appreciate it very much as well as your thoughts.


Bags: I'd rather take my own totes to the store, but in my neighborhood won't allow it "for security reasons." They confiscate them at the door, and only give them back when you're leaving with all the stuff packed into plastic bags. I don't understand why the checker can't ask to see in the bags to verify that there are no stolen goods inside.

Sally Squires: See, there's always another side to every story, isn't there? That's too bad. Sorry to hear that. But thanks for the input.


Bedford, Mass.: Couregette are zucchini on this side of the pond.

Sally Squires: Thanks for the translation, Bedford.


Scotland, UK: Courgette...in US I think you call it Zucchini ...I googled Courgette.....

Sally Squires: I always learn something from these chats too! Thanks very much Scotland.


Scotland, UK: Oh and last week my punctuation was missing. linseed, porridge and molasses...NOT linseed porridge!!;

Sally Squires: Duly noted. Thanks again!


Alexandria, Va.: Two parts

1. I have found enlisting a buddy at thanksgiving to help you control eating is very helpful. My sister and I keep each other in check. Esp as at the familys, there is ALWAYS some snack lieing around. We also make a point to be active in some way during the day.

2. I actually reuse my grocery bags as garbage bags. They work great in smaller rooms etc. And as I live alone, they also work in the kitchen for me. I haven't bought actual trash bags for YEARS.

Sally Squires: Sounds like you've got a great sister, Alexandria. Speaking of which, I'd like to wish my sister a continued speedy recovery. She's been under the weather lately.

And I think it's really interesting the chord that this grocery bag item has struck today! Thanks.


Austin, Tex.: Oops!; Forgot to add that arm basket shopping, I found, was such a great way to shop in Europe. Granted, one needs to shop more often (the basket is only so big), but the items were typically used in that day's cooking. (I sure wish that would become vogue in the U.S.-- the baskets themselves came in a vast array of designs and linings!;)

Sally Squires: Thanks for addition, Austin!


Los Angeles, Calif.: "Courgette" is British for "smallish zucchini."

Sally Squires: Okay, so now I think we should start (for a future chat or column) a list of all the common foods that have the different names in different countries. Courgette is at the top of the list!


Netcong, N.J.: I'm one of the few people I see at my local supermarket that brings in and uses cloth bags for my groceries. I've picked up 6 or 7 cloth bags for free from conferences and other events. I don't think the checkout clerks have any more difficulty filling the cloth bags. They hold more and don't break. I get a 2 cent per bag price break for using cloth at my local Shop Rite.

Because I live in a walkable town, I'll bring my daughter's little red wagon to the supermarket on days I don't have a super long list so I get the added benefit of walking extra steps in my day. Between the wagon and the cloth bags, I'm sure the clerks think I'm a nut, but I'll take that instead of a few extra pounds. My biggest problem is people that don't clear leaves, snow and ice from their sidewalks. The wagon option is pretty much out during the winter months.

Sally Squires: And except in the winter when it's icy, think of all the great activity you're getting as well as how you're recycling. Great going, Netcong. By the way, I know your area well--my parents used to live up the road at Lake Mohawk. This sure is a pretty part of New Jersey.


Green Beans: I went and bought fresh green beans to serve as my main veggie. Does anyone have a really great low cal kid friendly recipe?

Sally Squires: Here's one that gets raves in my house: sautee those green beans in olive oil with silvers of almonds. Other suggestions out there for a kid-friendly green beans?


Arlington, Va.: Sally,
Hoping to get this in before the end... In an effort to get more exercise this Thanksgiving and Christmas, my family has offered to pet sit for my friend's dogs. This creates an opportunity to walk more several times a day when otherwise we'd be parked in front of the tv!;

Sally Squires: Now there you go, Arlington! I think you should nickname that dog, "Coach." Happy Thanksgiving!


Chapel Hill, N.C.: Today's suggestion to "rev" our engines before the meal with a walk, bike ride, etc. is only practical for those of us who are not on kitchen detail. Would a walk or bike ride after the meal have the same effect?

Sally Squires: Absolutely right, Chapel Hill. Although if you can swing it, a walk even for the cook is a good thing. And yes, a walk after the meal is always a good idea and will help you burn some calories. Of course, if you're really full you don't want to do an intense workout. Happy cooking.


Green Beans: That sounds great but how long do you need to cook the green beans for with the almond slivers? I like my beans a bit on the crunchy side.

Sally Squires: Not very long depending on how crunchy you like them and how thick the beans are. I get frozen haricot verts from Trader Joe's. Measure out a tablespoon or two of olive oil in a frying pan. Heat it a bit and throw in the beans. Cover and add some slivered almonds as they cook. It's usually ready in about 5 minutes. But if the beans are thicker, it may take a little longer.


Washington, D.C.: i would love to see a push toward re-use of grocery bags,
be they paper, plastic or cloth. It seems like a little thing
for each of us to do -- but think of the number of bags
when you add us all up!;

In my home town of Buffalo the local chain (Tops, now
owned by the same company as Safeway) sold cloth bags
with a heavy plastic bottom, and grommets on the upper
edge that fit onto the packing racks all check stands have;
these features made packing very easy for the clerk. The
bags could be washed if necessary -- they were
wonderful!; The store sold them at a low price, and may
even have given rebates for use -- I expect they still came
out ahead over the price of restocking plastic and paper.

I still use these bags for my groceries-- going strong even
after 10 years-- but I wish stores here would start a
similar program. Do grocery execs read the LPC chat?!;

Sally Squires: I dunno, but let's see if I hear from any of them, because we've certainly had a lot of interest in this topic. Thanks Buffalo!


Atlanta, Ga.: This isn't a question, but a couple of holiday recipes that I made last year when I was trying to sneak my Weight Watchers practices into Thanksgiving dinner that I was making for my family coming out of town. (PS, I got lifetime last December after losing 81 pounds!;)

Anyway, here goes...
because in my family, the entree is an afterthought...

The green bean casserole that everybody loves
- I used the normal recipe, except with the 98% FF cream of mushroom soup and, instead of the utterly wicked fried onions, I used crumbled up veggie stix, which have the same texture and salty flavor. I used Good Health brand fat free baked potato flavor veggie stix (the whole 4 oz bag is 8 points) and, like with the fried onions, baked half with the soup and the green beans and put half on the top to be crunchy for the last 5-10 minutes at the end. For WW, the whole thing comes out to 12 points total (8 for the veggie stix, 4 for the soup, green beans are 0). For 5 servings, that's 2.5 points per.

Dressing balls (In my family, dressing is a handful food that you eat while watching football. No forks needed this way, although it could be used in a fork-friendly manner if you didn't make the dressing ball shape.)
- 1 bag low fat, high fiber bread crumbs. The best one I found was Arnold brand sage and onion, which has 1.5g fat and 2g fiber per serving. For rest of recipe, I used FF chicken broth and 8 oz unsweetened applesauce instead of butter (I went with the unsweetened cranberry applesauce). Applesauce switches out 1:1 with butter, it just takes longer for the broth/applesauce/spices mixture to boil before you add the bread crumbs. For dressing balls, after you make the dressing mixture, you form it into ball shapes and bake at low heat for about 10-12 minutes. For WW, the whole thing makes 8 dressing balls at 4 points per.

The family loved it. They could tell that I tweaked the recipes somehow, but they couldn't tell how. And I didn't tell them until after dinner.

Sally Squires: Wow Atlanta! 81 pounds. That's awesome! Congratulations! And thanks for the recipes. Last week, I heard from the head of Contours Gym in McDonough, Ga. She's encouraging her whole gym clientele to participate in the Lean Plate Club Holiday Challenge. Happy Thankgiving!


New Carrollton, Md.: I use a hiking style backpack to do the grocery shopping. I can put several days of groceries in it, plus carrying it around while walking home was good load bearing exercise (excellent for the bones!;) The checkers at my old store would always insist that they could only bag in plastic or paper, and that they had to do the bagging to prevent theft. So I'd end up putting all of the plastic bags in the backpack, which defeated my environmental purposes. So I did what we consumers have the right to do... when complaining didn't help, I switched grocery stores.

Sally Squires: Voting with your feet certainly sends a message, New Carrollton. I've done that myself with a number of stores. Don't know if they notice, but it sure makes me feel better. Thanks!


Arlington, Va.: How many calories do you burn washing dishes? Scrubbing the turkey pan always feels like a cardio workout!;

Sally Squires: It certainly can, can't it, Arlington?You can find the exact answer at www.caloriesperhour.com. But to give you taste of how many calories a 45 year old woman,weight 140 pounds might burn: 12 calories in five minutes.


Alexandria, Va. Re: Green Beans: Hi there,
I have a great green bean recipe that I used at least once a week. I got it from a Betty Crocker healthy cookbook.

Per 1lb. of steamed/boiled green beans,
In separate saucepan, brown 1tbl. sesame seeds. Once brown, add 1 tbl. low sodium soy sauce, 1 tbl. rice vinegar, 1 teas. sugar, and 1/2 teas. red pepper flakes.

Pour over the cooked green beans. It has 40 calories per 1/4 lb. serving, and it tastes GREAT!;

Sally Squires: Yum. And those sesame seeds not only have great taste, but also provide calcium. Thanks!


Poolesville, Md.: I know you love smoothies, so here's one you may not have tried: pumpkin!; I blend 1/2 cup of canned pumpkin puree, 1 cup 1% milk, and a frozen banana (for sweetness and a creamier texture). Add generous sprinkles of cinnamon, nutmeg, ginger, cloves, and allspice, and it's like pumpkin pie in a glass!; Yum... and very keeping with the holiday mood!;

Sally Squires: That sounds delicious, Poolesville. And you count that smoothie towards fruit, vegetables and calcium requirements. Thanks very much!


Washington, D.C.: Sally:
I'm cooking the turkies this year for the family meal and I'm concerned about serving a bird that cooked correctly. My question is cooking multiple birds at one time. In my family everyone loves breast meat, so I've got three six pound turkey breasts (bunch of people coming to my house for the meal). My question is how long to roast them. The conventional wisdom says cook 15-20 minutes per pound at 325. so do I treat it as six pounds or eighteen?


Sally Squires: DC: To be on the safe side, check with the USDA's Poultry Toll-free hotline:

You can also e-mail them. Go to www.fsis.usda.gov/mph/


Atlanta, Ga.: Hi -- on the bag theme, Whole Foods in the metro Atlanta area refunds $0.05 per bag supplied by the customer. It may do in other areas, as well; certainly it's worth checking, if you keep the bags. (Alternative suggestion -- I use WF paper bags to keep my paper recycling: there's always one sitting in front of the garbage can, so junk mail, etc. can go straight in. And since WF's bags have handles, it's easy to carry the bags to the curb when they're full of heavy magazines and other paper goods!;)

Happy Thanksgiving!;

Sally Squires: Thanks Atlanta!


Washington, D.C.: I've lost a pound this week on my first Holiday Challenge, even though I told myself I was just trying to 'not gain'!;

I don't like the San Francisco bag-fee, even though it will help the environment, because of its possible impact on poor people's food budgets.

Sally Squires: Good going, DC.


Atlanta, Ga. and London, UK: Sally, a courgette is a zucchini. Anglicised countries use the French word; America uses the Italian one.

Sally Squires: Like I said, I learn something too each week on this chat. Thanks!


Belmont, N.C.: I think it's a great idea to charge for grocery bags. It's a crime how many are used, especially for just one item which doesn't even need a bag (like a gallon of milk or a liter of soda). I think the price should be lower than that purposed by San Francisco. It sounds a little steep.

Sally Squires: We've got a real theme going here!


Washington, D.C.: RE: Refunds for re-using bags...

Whole Foods deducts 5 cents from each bag (plastic or paper) at the check-out you bring back to the store.

The Takoma Park/Silver Spring Co-op gives shoppers a token for each bag re-used, which can then be dropped into a container for a charity.

Sally Squires: Thanks DC


Alexandria, Va.: I shop mainly at My Organic Market and they provide really high quality paper bags with handles and give a 5-cent discount if you bring your own back.

Sally Squires: Lot of good info on those grocery bags. Wonder what interest this topic has generated in SF as they think about instituting the charge on bags...Thanks!


Arlington, Va.: I would say that for me, the best way that I can contribute to people not gaining those extra pounds is to not make people feel guilty for not eating more than their share of Thanksgiving dinner. I have been to too many family dinners where, if hours in the kitchen were not met with overeating by everyone in my family, the "chefs" would be very upset. They seem to think that if you are not stuffed, like a turkey, you did not like what you ate. My advice for the "chefs" is to plan your Thanksgiving meal, keeping in mind normal portions for people. Everyone does not need 4 starch-filled side dishes, and 3 kinds of pie. If you limit your choices for family and friends, and let people eat until they feel full, they will have a much better overall impression of Thanksgiving dinner than if you overstuff all of your guests, and they leave feeling overly full and bloated. Afterall, one of the best parts of Thanksgiving dinner is having leftovers!;

Sally Squires: Thanks Arlington.


Toronto, Canada: A comment ... not a query:

I think charging for bags is a grest idea. Plastic ones in
particular are a major source of pollution and even paper
ones cause problems unless your city collects
compostable materials and uses them to generate

I've seen the problems that plastic bags create in India.
Often ruminants such as cows will eat them and slowly die
because it blocks their stomach and they can't digest their
food. I was impressed when I visited Leh, in Ladakh India,
where they have banned plastic bags altogether. Only
paper bags.

I use either string bags or else I have plastic shopping
crates which I use when I go shopping for groceries.

What does Washington do? How much recycling does the
city provide?


Sally Squires: We can recycle the paper bags with our newspapers, Toronto. And many stores have places where you can return the plastic bags. Plus, a lot of folks obviously have found creative ways to recycle them themselves. Thanks!


London, UK: Hi Sally

I have often substituted fruit for a pudding instead of calorific alternatives, but am concerned about the levels of sugar in various fruits. I tend to use seasonal fruits (apples, pears) and mix those with more exotic (mango, kiwi etc).

Is there any advice you can offer about sugar levels or good practices with eating fruit?

London, UK

Sally Squires: Yes, berries tend to have more fiber, which means they have a lower glycemic index than some other fruit. Watermelon and pineapple tend to be higher on glycemic index, which is how much your blood sugar rises after eating a food. Dried fruit is obviously more concentrated in sugar and often has sugar added. Bottom line: what you're doing sounds like a smart idea. Thanks!


Courgette: Summer squash or zuchinni. The one's I've seen in UK grocery stores seem smaller than the ones usually sold here, so they may be "baby" summer squash.

I was disappointed to learn that "vegetable marrows" are also zuchinni. I had imagined they were some kind of root vegetable.

Sally Squires: Okay, that's now number two on our new list of common foods with different names... Thanks!


Rockville, Md.: To combat the Thanksgiving blahs, I'm treating myself to a fun run!; There are a number of popular "Turkey Burnoffs" around the area and the country. My family was so inspired by my desire to go for a jog, that they entered a 2 mile walk/jog. Every little bit helps - and with that being about 30 minutes of activity, we'll be turkey burning machines!;

Sally Squires: You sure will be Rockville. And in today's e-mail newsletter, there's a list of Turkey Trots and Fun Runs in the DC region. Happy Thanksgiving!


St Louis, Mo.: Sally--re green beans. My kids love this:
Bring a large pot of water to the boil; add salt to taste. Add green beans or haricot vert and when it comes back to the boil set timer for 5 min (sometimes the haricot cert need 4 min). Drain andrefresh under cool running water. Pour into serving bowl and sprinkle with 2 Tbsp olive oil (or less depending on the amount of beans), sprinkle with oregano and 1-2 cloves crushed garlic (too much can be bitter). Stir and serve at room temp. We make this all year long, but it is especially good in summer with a tomato salad and chicken or fish.

BTW, I lost 2 pounds during first week of LPC HC!; Thanks for the inspiration.

Sally Squires: Sounds great, St. Louis. Thanks! (And good going on your Holiday Challenge, although let's underscore again, that the weight loss is the icing on the cake...the whole idea is to hold the line on weight gain!)


Sally Squires: Thanks to all for a great chat. (And for teaching me the word couregette.) Winners today are Atlanta (who has lost 81 pounds) Austin, Atlanta/London, St. Louis and Netcong. Happy Thanksgiving to all! Next week, we'll talk about energy boosters. Good luck on the Holiday Challenge. Remember--eat smart and move more.



Sally Squires: P.S. If you're a winner today, please e-mail me at leanplateclub@washpost.com. And please include your snail mail address in the message and "winner" in the subject linke. Thanks!


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