The holidays offer many opportunities for eating with friends and family: parties, restaurant get-togethers, fast food pick-ups and more! Here are ideas to expand culinary options without expanding waistlines. Guess the test below for calories saved using these eating tips.

1. Pre-Party or Meal: Have a serving of fresh fruit or vegetables before leaving or to eat en route to the party to take the edge off your hunger. You will get a good dose of nutrition, as well, which may be in short supply. How many calories saved by eating an apple in place of three additional hot wings?

2. Appetizer: Eat two veggie choices for every appetizer hitting your plate. The veggies will help fill you up and slow you down. Don't think there will be any veggies? Then pick up a package of hummus dip and bags of fresh baby carrots and fresh sugar snap peas to plate out your contribution to the table. Calories saved by eating six baby carrots, six pea pods and one tablespoon hummus instead of three extra meatballs?

3. Main Dish: If you prepare it, dilute the calories and fat by adding veggies to the dish. Adding fiber, vitamins and healthy plant chemicals is a great way to push down the calories, fat and sodium. Add zucchini, carrots, broccoli, or spinach to pasta dishes to expand the volume while decreasing calories per portion. Add extra veggies to pasta salads, casseroles, soups, chicken or tuna salads and pizza toppings. The number of calories saved per portion by adding two cups mixed veggies to a quart of tuna casserole?

4. The Bread Basket: Be aware of the magically refilling basket full of French bread, cheddar biscuits, or tortilla chips. Order a side salad with light dressing or a broth-based soup to consume your attention. Calories saved by having a cup of vegetable soup in place of 20 tortilla chips?

5. Carry-out: Arm yourself with a lunch pack of healthy snacks as you head out on shopping trips - light yogurt, reduced fat cheese sticks, whole grain crackers, roasted almonds, a sectioned orange or other fruit - nourishing treats that will slip into your purse or pack easily as you shop - a truly refreshing break from the starchy, sugary items that rob you of energy. What saved from two mozzarella sticks and two tablespoons almonds instead of a kiosk cinnamon pretzel?

6. Dessert: Fill your plate from the buffet with fruits, leaving only enough space for a small serving of your favorite dessert cake or pie. You will be giving your body what it needs, and reducing empty calories. How about 10 grapes, ½ cup fresh pineapple, and six luscious strawberries with ½ slice apple pie? Compare it to a whole slice of apple pie, two chocolate mini-brownies, with 3/4 cup of soft serve? How many calories saved?

Calories Saved: 157 calories saved in the pre-party option. Appetizer strategy saves 107 calories. Main dish method saves 75 calories per portion and Bread Basket substitution cuts 140 calories. Carry-out snack tastes great and cuts 224 calories, while the dessert option saves 422 calories and allows you to continue shopping for your bargains with renewed energy. Use smaller plates and bowls for portion control - studies show we feel satisfied when we have consumed what we consider to be a portion, whether that portion is standard or extra-generous. Cook foods in healthy ways, and be sure to include vegetable side dishes to complete your meals. With all your calorie savings, you will feel energetic and trim as you sail through the holidays.

Rayna Cooper is a Registered Dietitian and Family & Consumer Sciences/Nutrition Educator serving Penn State Extension in Adams County. Penn State Cooperative Extension of Adams County is at 670 Old Harrisburg Road, Suite 204, Gettysburg, call 717-334-6271, email