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Lean Plate Club
Talk About Nutrition and Health

Sally Squires
Washington Post Health and Nutrition Writer
Tuesday, December 18, 2007 1:00 PM

Confused about nutrition? Wondering how to fit in more physical activity? Welcome to the Lean Plate Club. Ask Sally Squires, nationally syndicated Lean Plate Club columnist for the Washington Post, about eating smart and moving more every Tuesday at 1 p.m. ET. Sally draws upon her master's degree in nutrition from Columbia University to preside over the lively Lean Plate Club web chat. Whether you're trying to reach a healthier weight or simply maintain it, you'll find plenty of tips and strategies.

Share your own food finds, creative workouts and secrets for healthy, great tasting meals. We'll cheer your successes and help with your setbacks. (None of this, of course, is a substitute for medical advice.) E-mail Sally, author of the newly published Secrets of the Lean Plate Club (St. Martin's Press) at leanplateclub@washpost.com.

Or just sign up for the free Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter. The Lean Plate Club column appears Tuesdays in the Washington Post Health section and is nationally syndicated by the Washington Post Writers Group. Find other Lean Plate Club members at www.frappr.com/leanplateclub.

The Archives:

Sally Squires's Recent Columns

Discussion Transcripts

A transcript follows.

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Sally Squires: Welcome to the Lean Plate Club Web chat. We've got a lot going on in this busy holiday season. And just a quick note: The Live-Online Web chats take a holiday break next week and the week after. So this will be our last Web chat of 2007. But you can join me daily at the new Lean Plate Club Discussion Group at www.leanplateclub.com/group.

We also have a Lean Plate Club Bonus today for you from B. Smith, the celebrity chef, author and restaurant owner. She re-made a family cheesecake recipe for Gail Rutter of Frederick, Md. We'll post it in a few minutes.

So, how are you all doing on the Holiday Challenge? This marks week five and now the going gets really interesting.

We'd love to hear about your progress--or your slips. We all experience them, me included. What really counts is how you get back on track. So tell us that too.

My food finds this week are some wonderful teas made specially for the holdiays.

I found:

Celestial Seasonings Sugar C0okie Sleigh Ride tea

Bigelow's Eggnogg'n

Celestial Seasonings Nutcracker Sweet

Bigelow's Ginger Snappish

Celestrial Seasonings Candy Cane Lane

Stash Christmas Morning

Celestrial Seasoning's Gingerbread Spice

These are great ways to soothe a holiday craving without extra calories, but lots of amazing flavor.

Also, thanks to the Lean Plate Club member who called me a few weeks ago and asked us to do a round-up on non-alcoholic beer and wine. My colleagues at the Post have helped in this effort. Read the results in next week's Lean Plate Club column, our holiday gift to you for a healthier holiday. Plus you'll find info on healthier alcoholic beverages.

Now on to the chat!

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Sleep Question: I read your article about sleep and I have a strange question. Can what you eat or drink affect your dreams? I was never one for remembering my dreams, but in the last few weeks I have had very vivid and bizarre dreams. I haven't changed any medicine and I don't drink alcohol. It just seems strange.

Sally Squires: You may be experiencing more REM sleep. We'll post some links in a minute.

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washingtonpost.com: Information about Sleep (nih.gov)

Sally Squires: As promised about sleep.

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washingtonpost.com: Inner Workings of Dreams Revealed (nih.gov)

Sally Squires: As promised.

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washingtonpost.com: Sleep and Dreams (csun.edu)

Sally Squires: As promised.

washingtonpost.com: B. Smith Low-fat Cheesecake Video

Sally Squires: See B. Smith and Gail Rutter in action on this video.

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washingtonpost.com: B. Smith to the Rescue (Post, Dec. 18)

Sally Squires: Read more about what B. Smith and Rutter made. Plus find two more recipes--and plenty of other healthy options--in our searchable, on-line Recipe Database, where all the recipes have been tested by our Food section.

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Bluffton, S.C.: For the chatter who is asking for rice recipes -- I love Forbidden Rice, which is a black rice sold by Whole Foods/Lotus Foods. The flavor is wonderful and does not need a sauce. It's very unique, and a beautiful dark purple color when cooked. I like it plain with a dab of Smart Balance "butter".

Sally Squires: For those who have not yet read their Lean Plate Club e-mail newsletter today, I included a request from a Lean Plate Club member for healthy whole grain side dishes. Thanks Blufton.

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Baltimore: Lack of sleep definitely makes a difference in how much I eat: When I'm tired at work, I make an extra stop in the cafeteria or a convenience store in the afternoon to buy a cup of coffee. Inevitably, when I see the other food for sale, I also buy an (unnecessary) snack to go with my coffee. That's one small way that lack of sleep interferes with my health.

Sally Squires: And your experience not only fits well with scientific research, but also with my experience at working late last night and feeling those hunger pangs strike too! Sleep does wonders doesn't it! Let's give ourselves this free gift for the holidays.

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Tampa, FL: My husband and I married in August. He was in the habit of working late several times a week and grabbing fast food or snacks for dinner. I love cooking and have been enjoying making healthy dinners for us. He's been coming home in time for dinner and taking walks with me a couple times a week. (We just moved to Florida and love walking around to see the holiday lights in our neighborhood). So far my husband has lost almost 20 pounds! I've found that by lightening up breads -- I can round out salad or soups and fill us up with a limited amount of calories. Following is my version of cranberry bread -- it comes out really moist.

Cranberry Bread

1 c. whole wheat cake flour

1/2 c. white flour

3/4 c. white sugar

1 1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/4 tsp salt

1/2 tsp baking soda

3/4 c eggbeaters (equiv 3 eggs)

3 tbsp skim milk

3 tbsp corn oil or shortening

1/4 c. maple syrup

1 1/2 c cranberries (blueberries also work great)

1/2 c. chopped nuts (I use hazelnuts & walnuts)

Preheat oven to 350. Mix eggbeaters, milk, oil & maple syrup in small bowl with a whisk. Mix dry ingredients together in larger mixing bowl. Stir in wet ingredients & fruit & nuts. Bake in greased bread pan for 45 minutes or until knife inserted in center comes out clean.

Sally Squires: Wow, Tampa. That's great! And thanks very much for sharing the recipe. We'll be celebrating Christmas in nearby St. Petersburg. The lights are beautiful down there. Happy Holidays!

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washingtonpost.com: washingtonpost.com Recipe Finder

Sally Squires: For those who want to find more healthy, great tasting recipes, here's our searchable database. And yes, it's free.

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Little Rock, Ark.: RE: "do you or chatters have good recipes for brown rice side dishes that are flavorful on their own (and don't need to be under a saucy main dish)?"

I shop at Wild Oats/Whole Market exclusively for their bulk foods department. My favorite item is their Wild Rice Blend, It has between 7-10 different rices and it is amazing. I cook 1 cup of the rice blend with 3 cups chicken stock. Add sea salt, pepper and minced garlic to taste and you have an amazing dish. It takes about 45 minutes to cook but is absolutely worth every minute. I pair it with baked chicken and sometimes serve it on its own!

Sally Squires: Yum. Sounds like another great option. I make batches of wild and brown rice, then freeze individual portions. They last a long time and you can pop them into soups, serve as side dishes, etc. Very easy, delicious and of course nutritious. Thanks Little Rock!

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Holiday goodies: Would have liked to start losing the weight I gained while writing my dissertation, but I'm pleased to say that I've been enjoying the holidays and haven't gained a pound. Thanks for the reminder that this is a good thing!

One tip that's worked again this year is finding a food "specialty" that I'm drawn -towards- instead of focusing entirely on things that I want to avoid. This year it's a curry cashew carrot soup (from a soup-disliker, no less). It's warm with some zip and makes a great lunch with some bread and lo-cal sides.

My challenge will be vacation the week after New Year's when I'll be eating meals in restaurants and have less control.

Sally Squires: Weight maintenance is absolutely to be applauded, especially this time of year when there are so many tempting options. So congratulations on what you're doing. And for those who haven't yet joined the Holiday Challenge, it's never too late to start. We'll post a link in a minute to the home-page, including a weight chart.

And to help with that week when you are eating out at restaurants: consider loading up first on a first course of clear soup and a side salad (with dressing on the side.) Those are great ways to eat high-volume low calorie food that will help you feel full with fewer calories.

Drink alcohol only with the meal if you can. And next week, look for some healthy, lower calorie alcoholic beverages that may also help in your efforts.

Fruit and vegetables are always wise choices. And unless they are slsthered in sauce or fried are generally low in calories. Then fish and other lean protein are smart too, as are whole grains.

And we will try to post a link in a minute to our growing list of nutrition information for restaurants. It's on the home-page of the Lean Plate Club and is readily accesible from PDA's with Web access.

Happy Holidays!

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Fairfax, Va.: Hi Sally,

Submitting early because of a meeting. I found today's article interesting. Did you find any information that indicates how long the sleep deprivation needs to go on before it is likely to lead to higher risks, and if there is a point at which those risks can't be reduced by getting enough sleep again?

I am thinking about the chronic sleep deprivation of new parents who must go back to work, and parents of little ones who get sick and are up in the night.

Thanks!

Sally Squires: As a matter of fact, one of the researchers that I interviewed last week said that she hopes to look at that very topic. Studies have shown, however, that missing just one hour a night for six nights, produced some pretty significant effects. So you could guess that new parents likely are effected--one reason it's great to sleep when the baby sleeps--if that's possible.

Hope that helps. I suspect that we'll see more findings from this growing field of scientific research.

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washingtonpost.com: Restaurant Calorie Counts

Sally Squires: As promised, here's the nutritional facts list for restaurants.

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Winona, Minn.: To help me sleep at night, I use very heavy blankets for the weight on my body especially my legs and middle area. Also my husband and I each have our own blankets to avoid waking each other with shared blankets. Now if someone could help me sleep through his snoring. Happy Holidays everyone. Peace!

Sally Squires: If he hasn't tried those Breath Right strips, he might give them a whirl. Also, if his snoring persists, it might be worth checking with the doctor. Not only does it interrupt your sleep, but sleep apnea is emerging as a growing risk for health problems. Last year, one of our Lean Plate Club members who participated in the Holiday Challegen told me how much getting his sleep apnea diagnosed and treated helped with his sleep and weight loss. Something to consider...

Happy Holidays to you too!

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washingtonpost.com: Lean Plate Club's Holiday Challenge

Sally Squires: As promised, here's the info about the Holiday Challenge.

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Rockville, Md.: It was nice to watch the video of the low-fat/low-sugar cheesecake, but an ingredient list and baking time would be nice to have. Can that be provided?

Thanks.

Sally Squires: You bet. Here's a Lean Plate Club Bonus this week.

This cheesecake recipe was adapted by B. Smith from a family favorite provided by Gail Rutter of Frederick, Md. Rutter was recently diagnosed with type 2 diabetes so Smith re-made the recipe with low-fat cheese and nonfat yogurt and sweetened it with the sugar substitute, Splenda.

Poppy Seed Cheesecake

8 servings

This cake can be made a day in advance, although we found it tasted best the same day it was made.

From restaurateur B. Smith; based on a family recipe from Gail Rutter of Frederick.

For the base

1 1/4 (approximatly 6-7 whole crackers) cups fine whole grain graham crackers

2 tablespoons margarine, such as Promise brand, melted

1 tablespoon sugar substitute, such as Splenda for Baking

For the filling

8 ounces low-fat fat cream cheese, at room temperature

1/2 cup sugar substitute, such as Splenda for Baking

1 large egg, plus 1 large egg white

1 1/2 cups nonfat vanilla-flavored yogurt, such as Yoplait 99% Fat Free French Vanilla Yogurt (three 6-ounce containers)

2 tablespoons flour

1/2 to 1 teaspoon poppy seeds

1 tablespoon finely grated orange zest

For the candied orange peel

1 large orange

1 1/2 cups water, plus 1/3 cup water

2/3 cup sugar substitute, such as Splenda for Baking

POSITION A RACK IN THE MIDDLE OF THE OVEN; preheat to 325 degrees. Lightly

grease a 9-inch springform pan with nonstick cooking oil spray.

For the base: Pulse the graham crackers in a blender or food processor until

finely ground. Combine the graham cracker crumbs, margarine and sugar in a

medium bowl until well mixed; press evenly onto the bottom of the pan (not the sides).

For the filling: Combine the cream cheese and sugar substitute in a medium bowl; use a handheld electric mixer to beat on medium speed until creamy. Add the egg and egg white, beating until well combined. Stop the mixer; gently fold in the yogurt, flour, poppy seeds and orange zest, stirring to combine. Pour the filling over the base. Bake for 1 hour, or until the cheesecake is set. Transfer to a wire rack to cool completely, then cover loosely and refrigerate until ready to serve.

Meanwhile, make the candied orange peel: Use a sharp vegetable

peeler to remove the zest, making sure to discard any white pith. Cut the

zest into 1/4- inch-wide strips; place them in a saucepan and cover with 1

1/2 cups of the water. Bring to a boil over high heat and cook for 10 to 12

seconds, then drain in fine-mesh strainer and rinse under cold running

water. Return the zest to the saucepan and add the sugar substitute. In a

saucepan cover the strips with 1 1/2 cups of water, bring to a boil and cook

for 10 to 12 seconds. Drain in a strainer, rinse under cold water. Return the

zest to the saucepan with sugar substitute and the remaining 1/3 cup water.

Bring to a boil and cook, uncovered, until the mixture thickens and the zest

is coated. Transfer the strips to a plate. Let stand at least

1 hour, turning occasionally until dry. Store in the refrigerator in an

airtight jar.

To serve, transfer the cheesecake to a platter and remove the springform pan; garnish the top of the cheesecake with the candied orange peels.

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Baltimore: I just found a new soup recipe that has been added to my favorites. Saute an onion, add 1.5 pounds of cut up carrots (I used bags of shredded carrots to save time) and 4 cups of chicken broth, simmer for 30 minutes, and blend in the blender. The recipe calls for 1/4 c. of whole milk, but I don't know if it's necessary. This recipe was recommended in a parenting magazine as a good toddler soup, but I ended up eating way more of it than my toddlers! It's easy, tasty, healthy and low-calorie.

Sally Squires: Yum! Sounds great. Have you ever added fresh dill? I bet it would be great too. Thanks very much.

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Holiday Tea, Fairfax, Va.: Sally, I've been loving the holiday teas too! The first thing I do when I get home from work is make myself a hot mug of tea, and it's also the first thing I do later when I'm craving dessert!

Have you tried the Eastern Shore teas (made in Lutherville, Md.)? I have no affiliation with the company, but the tea has been on sale at Wegman's -- I love the Gingerman, Jack Frost, and Pumpkin Spice, but my very favorite is the Starry Night, which has chocolate and hazelnut flavored black tea! Yum.

Sally Squires: No, I haven't tried those. But they're now on the list! They sound great. Thanks very much.

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Arlington, Va.: Lost 5 pounds from Thanksgiving to Dec.10. Have maintained weight since then. Am increasing exercise to lose one or two more before Christmas.

Sally Squires: Good for you Arlington. And remember, the goal of the Holiday Challenge is to maintain your weight. The idea is not to take away holiday pleasure, but also avoid any holiday regret come 2008. If you do better than that, it's a wonderful holiday bonus. Congratulations!

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Houston: Yes, when I get less than 7 or 8 hours of sleep, I seem to feel hungrier, sooner. I have learned to cope by (1) drinking water soon after I wake up, which helps clear the cobwebs and stabilize my stomach, (2) remembering to make good food choices with my head even though my stomach may want a cinnamon roll, and (3) eliminating from my apartment, desk, car, etc. all unwise food choices -- and not replacing them, ever.

Sally Squires: All wise strategies, Houston. And a smart way to get back on track when things go awry as they are bound to do. Thanks.

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Morrisville, N.C.: I have been lifting weights (primarily for abs and arms but also some legs) for about three months. I see a slight change in my abs, none in my arms or legs. I feel better though, so I won't give it up, but I don't know if I'm doing something wrong. Also, is it worth doing this without some kind of cardio exercise?

Sally Squires: Yes and no. Cardio is always a good thing to add to your exercise routine to keep your heart and cardiovascular system strong.

But the weight training is very good for muscle tone as you are discovering. If you aren't gradually increasing the weight that you lift, you may want to try that. Different muscle groups take different loads to build. William Kraemer at the University of Connecticut told me during an interview that they have the best success in their human performance lab with having subjects lift three levels of weights. One is light, one moderate and one heavy--but not too heavy to produce bad form.

So you might try that as well and then hope you'll let us know how it goes. Thanks!

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Baltimore : Here is another tip. Don't get too tired shopping...if I do that I will grab the first thing I see...even in a department store I will grab Godiva!!!! I know that it is not good to shop when you are hungry but the fatigue that builds up can be challenging.

I have found that sleep definitely affects my well-being.

Also, I was on medication that raised my weight 40 pounds. After a while I stopped caring about what I ate since I was gaining weight anyway. Coming off the meds was great, of course, and I cared more about what I ate. I managed to lose the entire gain in about 9 months. Sometimes just asking the doctor for another med works wonders!

Re. nonalcoholic beers etc. People who cannot have alcohol (eg recovering alcoholics or those on certain medications)may not be able to drink them because they do have small amounts of alcohol. Vanilla and other extracts are loaded with alcohol, as are most mouthwashes. At Christmas time some ice cream manufacturers use real rum -- which quality-wise is great -- in rum raisin ice cream, etc. I even found that some liquid multi-vitamins have alcohol which is awful not for people who cannot have alcohol but also for users such as seniors who would be more likely to use the liquid because of difficulty swallowing. Alcohol has increased effect as one ages.

Some ideas: juice and seltzer, pineapple juice and ginger ale makes a wonderful punch, sparkling cider and sparkling grape juice, lots of other sparkling juices now available in stores -- peach, strawberry, etc.

I have gone to dinners at which the only alternative to wine was tap water. I would recommend all hosts and hostesses have nice alternatives ready. Not only do recovering people want those but there are many folks who just do not drink or will not drink at all if driving.

Have wonderful holidays!

Sally Squires: Congratulations on shedding those 40 pounds, Baltimore. And you raise an excellent point: do consult with your doctor about medications that cause weight gain. There may be smart options that can side step those added pounds.

The nonalcoholic beer and wine may not be appropriate for people who are recovering alcoholics since they do contain small amounts of alcohol--about 0.5%. But they also involve popping the cork, opening the bottle, etc. that is part of the alcohol scene. Again, probably not the right option for many recovering alcoholics.

But for those who don't want to drink and drive, or are watching calories, or have diabetes or other health problems that may make drinking alcohol dangerous, these can be possible options. And yes, to all those hosts and hostesses out there: do think of providing some options to your guests who may not want to drink alcohol.

Thanks

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New York: I love waffles and pancakes and have found a few good recipes using whole wheat for them.

I am wondering if there are any tasty but healthy syrup options? I know there are a few sugarfree syrups out there, but I really don't like the taste.

Thank you for your help!!

Sally Squires: Fresh fruit, small amounts of powdered sugar--I'm channeling my grandmother who made Swedish pancakes--yogurt might be other options for you. Even so, small amounts of maple syrup are hard to beat. You could measure them to be sure that you don't overdo it.

There are syrups with sugar substitutes to be sure. But I just happen to be one who can detect them. Not everybody can and they can certainly be another option.

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Capitol Hill: To answer the question you posed in the LPC newsletter today, when I miss out on sleep, I try to drink as much water as I can! (Still and sparkling.) It helps me feel refreshed and it really cuts down on food cravings that I'm more likely to indulge in when I'm tired. Dark and gloomy weather tends to make it harder to stick to my usual healthy eating, but missing out on sleep definitely makes it even more challenging. Here's to warm weather in just a few months!

Sally Squires: Yes, it won't be long. In fact, we are about at the Winter Solstice, and by early January will already be experiencing a few extra minutes of light every day. I look forward to that too! Thanks

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Chevy Chase, Md.: Dear Sally,

I find the idea of drastic recipe makeovers -- and that cheesecake recipe is nothing like the original -- to be unsatisfactory ... you still won't have had that one thing you really, really wanted. I think it is better to eat right on a daily basis and then when you really want that something special, go ahead and have it. And make sure someone takes the leftovers home with them so it isn't sitting around on your kitchen counter, calling your name all night. There is no reason why we can't occasionally haven't something special or decadent. I think it makes it easier to eat right most of the time if you don't feel that you are depriving yourself of your favorite foods or that some foods are permanently off-limits. That's just unrealistic. No one is that perfect. And I'll bet that most people who deny themselves that one thing they really want end up compensating by eating three or four things instead!

Sally Squires: You raise an excellent point. It reminds me of when people used to eat a whole box of Snackwell cookies because they were fat free. But, having said that, there are some whose health problems make it difficult if not verboten to eat certain foods. And in that case, recipe make-overs can help them have their cheesecake and eat it too. It's all about finding out what works best for you, don't you think?

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Washington, D.C.: Hi Sally,

These cookie exchanges are doing me in. I'm living off cookies and wheat pasta and I now grunt when I bend over. I feel old and I don't have the energy to keep up with my toddler. And don't even get me started on my lacking sex drive. Ugh. But it's too cold to walk outside, so my exercise level has gone down, and my cookie load has skyrocketed. What's the first step? Maybe giving up all sweets? What kind of indoor activities can I do? I need to start slowly to build up my stamina. Please inspire me.

Sally Squires: You have come to the right place. Inspiration is the Lean Plate Club's mantra. So is moderation. So here are some thoughts. First, if you have cable tv, consider checking out some of the free on-demand excercise shows. You can workout right next to your toddler.

Don't have cable? No problem. Check Netflix or Blockbuster or another video store for exericse DVDs. Leslie Sansone and Prevention magazine both do some walking videos that will help you do 1 to 5 miles in the comfort of your own home. Also look for the 10 minute tapes that are perfect for a busy mom with a toddler to chase.

And don't forget to just get out some music and dance with your toddler. You'll likely be surprised how much better that makes you feel.

You might check out some of the holiday teas mentioned in this chat. They're quite good and can help you soothe those holiday cookie cravings.

Stock up on fruit, veggies and soup. You need healthy food to eat when those craving hit. And if you can, bundle up that toddler in the stroller and get around the block. You'll both feel better for it. Or head to the playground and move as much as possible with your little one.

Sleep--probably in short supply in your household if you're like most--is another place where you can really help yourself out of the over-eating and under exericisng routine. Trade off with your husband or partner. That way at least one of you has s good night's sleep at a time.

Happy Holidays! Find small steps. They will add up to big rewards. Lean Plate Club members prove that day after day.

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Crock-Pot Oatmeal??: I'm not sure if it was this chat that had "Crock-Pot oatmeal" -- 4 cups water to 1 cup oatmeal. I tried it, and what a disaster! Glop. Soupy glop. I used real oats -- not instant -- left it overnight, and oh my, what a soupy glop. What?? Any ideas??

Sally Squires: Hmm. Very sorry to hear that. Yes, we talked about making this oatmeal on last week's Web chat. I make it on my stove top frequently with great success. But have not yet tried it in the slow cooker. Will make it a point to do that over these coming holiday weeks.

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Omaha, Neb.: Hey Sally. My boyfriend and I are adjusting our diet to change our couch-potato physiques. My biggest challenge will be staying away from holiday goodies and cookies -- his is eating more whole grains. He prefers the whitest breads and pasta, doesn't like beans, and oatmeal is awful unless it's the kind that comes with a lot of sugar pre-mixed in. He really dislikes my whole wheat pasta and brown rice. Any suggestions for more subtle sources of whole grains/fiber? If he gets most of his fiber from fruits and veggies, how many servings will he need a day? Thanks for your help.

Sally Squires: Mypyramid.gov will let you and your boyfriend figure out exactly what you need to eat. It's a great site. There's special info for this holiday season.

Bottom line: the recommendation is for men to get 38 grams of fiber daily, women about 25. You'll find some high fiber options on our Holiday Challenge Web site, posted above. See the produce galleries from last week for some potential options.

There is a Winter White Wheat Flour by King Arthur that is a whole grain if you want to try to make white bread yourself. It would also be good for baking or for pizza dough.

You might try making dishes with just a little bit of brown or wild rice and more white rice. Then slowly adjust the proportions. Most people like the heartier whole grains once they get used to them. But it can take a little time. Same thing for the pasta. (And that probably means you'll have to cook separate pasta and then mix after cooking.)

Whole grain cereall--Cheerios, shredded wheat, bran flakes, Wheaties--would be other options. Here again, mixings with sweeter options and then slowly increasing the whole grain unsweetened is a way to adjust to the taste. What counts is the long-term goal.

Hope you'll let us know how it goes. Happy Holidays!

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Winona, Minn.: I work in a group home with four developmentally disabled men (ages 24, 31, 63, & 70 years old) and found a new favorite supper they love. I can't remember where I found it...searching the Internet for new Crock-Pot recipes. Enjoy!

Wheat Berry Stew (Crock-pot)

5 cups marinara sauce

1 1/2 cups dried Great Northern beans

1 cup wheat berries

6 small potatoes, cut in half

1 large onion, diced

4 garlic cloves, minced

5 teaspoons ground cumin

3 teaspoons turmeric

1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

2 green peppers, diced

Mix together all ingredients in Crock-Pot, adding water as needed to fully cover.

Cook at HIGH for 8-10 hours. Serves 6.

Sally Squires: Thanks very much, Winona.

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Sally Squires: Thanks to all for a great chat and another wonderful year with the Lean Plate Club. It's your inspiration, tips, help and more that has enabled us to continue to grow. Thanks to Paul Williams, Rocci Fisch, Stacey Palosky, Jonathan Forsythe, Jacqueline Refo, Adam Kippel and Nuzhat Naoreen for all their help at Washingtonpost.com and to Kathleen Hom at the Health section.

In 2008, we plan to add to our list of Successful Losers. If you have lost 30 pounds or more and kept it off for at least a year and would like to share you story and pictures, I'd love to hear from you. Please e-mail me at leanplateclub@washpost.com and please include your name, address, phone and best times to call as well as a few details about what you have achieved.

Look for the Lean Plate Club column next week on beverages to help you get through the New Year. A special edition e-mail newsletter should hit your electronic in-boxes on Monday, Dec. 24.

Join me throughout the holidays at the Lean Plate Club Discussion Group, where we can keep each other motivated and entertained. Find us at www.leanplateclub.com/group

In the meantime, I wish you all a healthy and happy holiday.

This chat returns on Jan. 8. Cheers!

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Sally Squires: Winnners today are:

Blufton, Tampa, Little Rock and DC (who needs inspiration with that toddler.) Please e-mail me your name and address to leanplateclub@washpost.com. Include winner in the subject line.

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