9 Helpful Tips To Avoid Weight Gain on a Cruise

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I just returned from a 10-day cruise and set out to avoid the usual weight gain associated with cruising. I actually lost weight on this cruise and am sharing some helpful tips on how I did it...

My family and I just returned from a 10-day cruise aboard the new Carnival Vista which started in Barcelona and ended in Athens. What an incredible experience sailing and eating my way through the Mediterranean. Like most people, gaining weight on a cruise is incredibly easy. I put on 5 pounds during my first cruise a few years back and losing those pounds was a challenge so I made it my mission this time around not to repeat those mistakes and can happily report that my efforts were a success (I actually lost 1 pound!).

This doesn’t mean I sacrificed enjoying great meals and cocktails while on vacation, after all I was there to taste authentic European cuisine (yes, I ate mozzarella, gelato and pizza in Italy, wine and macarons in France, spinach pie in Greece, etc.) and have lots of fun. If avoiding the dreaded weight gain while cruising is a high priority for you I’ve created a few simple strategies to help you find balance as you navigate the abundant sea of buffets, restaurants and watering holes available during your cruise.

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Photo Credit: Andy Newman

1. Balance is key.

There are certainly lots of temptation on a cruise – buffets, cocktails, dessert, pizza, cheeseburgers, ice cream, lava cake! But there are also tons of healthy options, so it’s about making the best choices and keeping your portions under control. The dining room on most cruise ships usually serves smaller portions, and may even offer a low calorie dessert option. Sharing dessert is also a great way to have a taste without overdoing it. The buffets also offer plenty of healthier options such as carving stations, salad bars, fresh fruit, oatmeal and omelet stations, whole grain breads, eggs, vegetables, soups and more. Load up on salads, veggies, soup and lean proteins. Don’t rush through your meals, relax you’re on vacation! If you eat at a moderate pace while enjoying the company you are with, before you know it you will be full and satisfied and wont be as tempted to go back for seconds.

2. Eat off the spa menu.

salad bar

Rather than indulging in burgers and fries for lunch I opted for the salad bar. Many ships have a spa menu such as the Vista’s Serenity Salad Bar which had all the fixins such as a variety of fresh lettuce and herb options, quinoa, chia, veggies, etc. Yum!

3. Eat fresh local seafood.

seafood

Take advantage of the fresh fish and shellfish both on and off the ship whenever possible. This was easy to do on the Vista, in my travels in Greece at Rhodes and Crete, I ordered grilled octopus and grilled calamari at quaint restaurants. Back on board the ship, the dining room often offered a catch of the day from the Port of Call. Carnival’s Bonsai Restaurant has incredible sushi for a low price and new to the Vista, their Seafood Shack also offers the local catch of the day prepared fresh and served anywhere on board, anytime, any style, any sauce. My oldest daughter loves Bronzino so we ordered this earlier in the day (fresh from Naples) and it was prepared, grilled perfectly and conveniently sent to our dinner table.

4. Avoid the all-you-can-drink package and skip the sugary drinks.

Greece

Cocktails are calorie-ridden and they add up quick. When you purchase the drink package, the mentality is that you need to get your money’s worth and chances are you’ll order a drink even if you don’t want one. Many cocktails, especially the umbrella drinks are loaded with sugar, fruit juice, creams, etc. Instead opt for a wine with dinner, and if you really want a pina colada, treat it more like a dessert and stick to just one. For those who love carbonated sugary sodas my husband says the best kept secret is simple….”Get the seltzer with fresh lemon”! All the effervescent, bubbly goodness without all the sugar.

5. Pack your sneakers and your gym clothes.

Carnival Gym

Again, I do believe in balance so enjoying a cocktail or dessert with dinner isn’t the end of the world. Instead, hit the fitness center and work it out! Where else can you work out while enjoying those beautiful ocean views while sweating off those calories. Take advantage of the on-board gyms and fitness centers.

6. Use the track.

Skytrack

On most cruise ships you’ll find an outdoor track on the promenade deck where you can walk or jog laps. What can be better than a track with an ever changing ocean-view landscape! On the Carnival Vista, 7 laps around the track was equal to a mile.

7. Skip the elevator and take the stairs.

I did a ton of walking on the ship in order to get from my room to the pool, spa, dining, kids camp, shows, comedy clubs, the bars, etc. front to back, bottom to the top. Taking the stairs whenever possible is a great way to get to your destination while burning some calories along the way.

8. Track your steps and set a goal.

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Using a Fitbit, pedometer or a phone app that tracks your steps (my iPhone comes with a free Health App that does this) set a goal for yourself and stick to it. Traveling through Europe I did a ton of walking (especially in Rome), so take advantage of excursions that allow you to get in some exercise enjoying your destination.

9. Burning calories while having fun aboard.

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Photo Credit: Andy Newman

Ping pong, the sky course, the pool, sky ride, basketball, mini golf, the sport square – there’s so many ways to stay active while on board, take advantage of everything the ship has to offer and most of all don’t forget to have fun. Bon Voyage!

I hope you find these tips useful for your next cruise! Have you been on a cruise? Do you have additional tips you can share on how you navigate the seas while watching your waistline?

CarnVistaSkyRide1

Photo Credit: Andy Newman

Disclosure: Carnival Cruise invited me as Press to experience their new ship, the Carnival Vista. Thank you for supporting the brands that make Skinnytaste possible. All thoughts are always my own.

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Chicken and Avocado Ranch Burritos

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These come together with just 15 min prep! You can also make this ahead of time and bake right before serving. SO EASY!

Chicken and Avocado Ranch Burritos - These come together with just 15 min prep! You can also make this ahead of time and bake right before serving. SO EASY!

Living in Los Angeles for the last 16 years, it’s no surprise that I love a good burrito. And when I say a good burrito, I mean one of those burritos from a street vendor – the ones where they pile on the cheese, the sour cream and the avocado.

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Mini Chicken Meatballs with Crispy Potatoes and Romesco

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Mini Chicken Meatballs?! You mean they’re tiny and bite-sized and perfectly loaded with Parmesan cheese?! Yes, friends. That’s exactly what I mean.

Mini Chicken Meatballs - super easy recipe made with chicken, breadcrumbs, Parm, garlic, eggs, salt. Served with crispy potatoes and a 5-minute Romesco sauce! | pinchofyum.com

A few days ago I posted a recipe for that super quick 5 Minute Romesco Sauce. You were happy, I was happy, our blenders were happy – in general we all liked what was going on with that sauce .

But then I went and made lots of things with the sauce, one of those things being Mini Chicken Meatballs, and I was convicted – what kind of food blog friend would I be if I didn’t also show you the most delicious way that this sauce has manifested itself into a full blown dinner recipe? Not a good one. This is Deliciousness Level: Shout From The Rooftops and so that’s exactly what I’m going to do except my rooftop is more like a little corner of the internet and my shouting is more like nerdy-fast fingers flying across a keyboard. BUT WE’RE DOING THIS.

Mini Chicken Meatballs (plus crispy potatoes plus two kinds of sauce not even sorry), here we come.

Mini Chicken Meatballs - super easy recipe made with chicken, breadcrumbs, Parm, garlic, eggs, salt. Served with crispy potatoes and a 5-minute Romesco sauce! | pinchofyum.com

I’m not going to lie to you – we made these a few times and I started to get a little sick of them after a while. It was mainly for two reasons – 1) they were in my life for like 8 meals in a row, and 2) they were too big.

Enter: Mini Concept.

I wanted them to keep their round shape better than the large ones, and I also wanted them to have a higher surface area to inside ration (these are the crazy things I think about when it comes to food). So we made them into these little mini two-bite meatballs and BOOM. Just like that, all was right in the chicken meatball world.

They get perfectly golden brown (with a good balance per bite of outside to inside textures) and they can be eaten in just two bites with a fork – no need to cut anything in half just to get a good amount of sauce coverage.

Speaking of sauce coverage.

Crispy Potatoes and Mini Chicken Meatballs | pinchofyum.com5 Minute Romesco Sauce | pinchofyum.com

I’ll just tell you what I did and you can work with it however you want:

I pan-fried the mini chicken meatballs and the potatoes. I topped it all with Romesco Sauce which I had simmered for a while with some water to make it the right consistency. I added some leftover chimichurri from our arepa party the night before. Topped with parm and parsley? Doneso.

Other ideas for these Mini Chicken Meatballs:

  • Cook it all in the crockpot. Meatballs won’t get as pretty, but it will work. We tried it.
  • Bake it. Also tried this. Again, the Mini Chicken Meatballs will be more of a pale-ish color situation vs. that nice golden brown, but think of the Instagram surfing you could get in with all that saved time.
  • Freeze it. Either freeze the fully cooked meatballs or freeze them raw so they can be popped into the oven or the crockpot at a hangry moment’s notice.
  • Use a different sauce. I adored this Romesco sauce with it (especially when turbo boosted with a few spoonfuls of chimichurri) but you could quite easily use another sauce with excellent results. The meatballs shall forgive. If you’ve got a good jar of something or another favorite homemade sauce recipe, feel free to use and DEFINITELY leave me a comment to tell me about it.

So there it is – kind of an unusual one for Pinch of Yum maybe -> a big bowl of beautiful golden browned Mini Chicken Meatballs + Crispy Potatoes all loaded with Romesco Sauce and Chimichurri.

Mwah.
Mini Chicken Meatballs - super easy recipe made with chicken, breadcrumbs, Parm, garlic, eggs, salt. Served with crispy potatoes and a 5-minute Romesco sauce! | pinchofyum.com

Mini Chicken Meatballs with Crispy Potatoes and Romesco
Author: Pinch of Yum
Serves: 8
 

Ingredients
Mini Chicken Meatballs:
  • 2 lbs. ground chicken
  • 2 eggs
  • 1 cup Parmesan cheese (grated very finely)
  • 1 cup breadcrumbs
  • 4 cloves minced garlic
  • pinch of dried oregano
  • ¼ cup olive oil
  • 1½ teaspoons salt
Other Stuff:
  • 1½ lb. baby golden yukon potatoes, cut into small bite sized pieces
  • additional olive oil for pan-frying
  • Romesco sauce
  • Chimichurri sauce if you wanna get REALLY punchy
  • salt to taste

Instructions
  1. MEATBALLS: Combine all the meatball ingredients in a large bowl until well-mixed. Roll into small 2-bite balls and place on a large baking sheet. Add more breadcrumbs if necessary to get the mixture to hold its shape when rolled. Heat a little bit of olive oil in a large non-stick or heavy bottomed skillet over medium heat. Add the meatballs in batches and turn every few minutes until the exterior is golden brown and the inside is fully cooked.
  2. POTATOES: In the same pan that you fried the meatballs, pan-fry the potatoes for about 10 minutes with a little more olive oil and salt. They should be golden brown and crispy when finished.
  3. Serve the meatballs with the potatoes and any and all sauces you love. Namely, ROMESCO SAUCE. You can do the sauce hot or cold, and you can compliment it with a bright and herby finish like chimichurri or just a little extra lemon juice, salt, pepper, and Parmesan. If you do the sauce hot, I recommend simmering it first with a little bit of additional liquid to help it loosen up.

3.5.3208

 

 

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Crockpot Chicken Wild Rice Soup

 

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Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 30)

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Skinnytaste Dinner Plan Week 30. Healthy dinners for the week!

Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 30)… I am working hard to get back into my normal routine after an AMAZING trip to Europe on my Carnival Cruise but it is so hard after visiting so many beautiful countries! As soon as I returned, I was off again this weekend to shoot some videos with Delallo in Jeanette, PA which I will be sharing in the months to come.

Monday is Memorial Day and that means it is the unofficial start of summer!!!!! I am ready for some sun and sand! I know some schools are already out for the summer so the countdown really is on!

Pictured below is The Skinnytaste Meal Planner where I plan my dinners for the week (you can of course use any meal planner). Meal planning is a great way to get organized before heading to the supermarket to get ready for the week! My breakfast is usually something quick like eggs with fruit, a smoothie or avocado toast. We’re a family of four, so if a recipe serves more, it’s either packed up for everyone’s lunch or eaten the next day as leftovers. If you would like to see some of the previous week’s dinner plans, click here

mealplan

Skinnytaste Dinner Plan (Week 30)

Monday: Spicy Black Bean Burger with Chipotle Mayo with Quick Cabbage Slaw

Tuesday: Grilled Chicken with Black Bean Mango Salsa and Salad

Wednesday: Mediterranean Boneless Pork Chops

Thursday: Grilled Pesto Shrimp Skewers with House Salad

Friday: Dinner Out

Saturday: Dinner Out

Sunday: Balsamic Chicken with Roasted Vegetables

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Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes

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Crisp-tender chicken cooked low and slow with baby red potatoes for a full meal! So easy and effortless!

Slow Cooker Garlic Parmesan Chicken and Potatoes - Crisp-tender chicken cooked low and slow with baby red potatoes for a full meal! So easy and effortless!

Happy almost Memorial Day!

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Best Chocolate Brownies

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Best Chocolate Brownies

If one is going to take the trouble to make chocolate brownies, and incur the wrath of the Fat-god for eating them, one may as well make them right. Brownies from a box? No thank you.

Continue reading “Best Chocolate Brownies” »

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8 Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes

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No more boring chicken dinners! With the help of your crockpot, set it and forget it for the BEST/easiest chicken dinners!

8 Slow Cooker Chicken Recipes - No more boring chicken dinners! With the help of your crockpot, set it and forget it for the BEST/easiest chicken dinners!

Winner winner, chicken dinner!

Say goodbye to those boring chicken dinners. Seriously. From meatballs to pot pies, I have you covered. Just set it and forget it. Boom.

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