Skinnier ways to enjoy St. Patty's Day

Tap into the “luck of the Irish” this St. Patrick's Day, and party down without getting a pot (belly) of gold.

Here are three clever ways to still be a part of the party while taking better care of your health, and no one has to be the wiser.

1. Lighten up the mood, and your calorie load by starting off with one light beer that’s around 100 calories.   But don’t let the “light beer leprechaun” fool you into thinking you’re always getting a lot less calories. Some light beer brands can actually be the same calorie count as other standard pilsners. Depending on its alcohol percentage, more alcohol = more calories. Since beers aren’t required to list calorie count, simply check the label for alcohol content – a light beer is usually under 4 percent.

2. If you’re not a light beer fan or you’re ready for the full Monty, keep in mind that color, pale or golden to dark, does matter when it comes to calories. The average 12-ounce pilsner contains around 130 calories, but ale adds an addition 20 calories, stouts an additional 30, wheat beers an additional 40.  So if you’re having more than one, blond in this case is better than brunette.

3. Who can enjoy a few pints at the pub without a tasty snack, seriously?  Well, that post-party day beer belly might not actually be from your beer. Pub snacks are murder on the waistline. Switching up your snacks means you can still have your brewskis and be healthier too. Instead of nachos smothered in cheese, order small cheese quesadillas with spinach and mushrooms or a grande quesadilla to share.

Or instead of “loaded” potato skins, try cheesy chicken pizza or flatbread. Taking the party home?  Instead of placing a delivery order for greasy hot wings try my recipe for batter-less buffalo wings with atomic hot sauce, for the same blazin’ effect, and save about 400 calories and 30-plus grams of fat. Both chicken and hot sauce can be made the day ahead and refrigerated.

Hot "Wings" with Spicy Sauce

Serves 6

1 15-ounce can reduced-sodium, fat-free beef broth
1/4 cup hot sauce
2 tablespoons no-salt-added tomato paste
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 teaspoon ground cayenne pepper (optional)
3 pounds skinless, boneless chicken breast, cut into 1-inch thick tenders
24 12-inch-long wooden skewers
6 celery stalks, trimmed and cut into thirds

First, prepare the dipping sauce: In a small saucepan, stir together the beef broth, hot sauce, tomato paste, butter, and cayenne, if using. Bring to a slow simmer and cook 20 to 25 minutes, until the mixture reduces to about 1 cup.

Thread the chicken onto the skewers. Heat a grill over high heat and cook the skewers 8 to 10 minutes, turning once, until the chicken is cooked through. Drizzle sauce over the skewers and serve the extra sauce on the side with celery sticks.

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