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Chocolate Can Help You -- Lose Weight!

Looking to shed some pounds in the new year?

How'd you like to reboot your body with a tasty diet that doesn't call for counting calories - but does allow chocolate every day?

Registered dietician Cynthia Sass lays it out in her new book, "Cinch!: Conquer Cravings, Drop Pounds, and Lose Inches. She shared highlights of the plan with "Early Show" viewers Monday in the first part of a weeklong series, "Lose It Early," all about healthy ways to trim down. Sass also served up some delicious sample recipes.

Sass says following her 30-day plan is as simple as putting together a puzzle -- with five easy pieces combined into four meals a day, with a chocolate treat. For those who need a jump-start to the diet, Sass has devised a five-day "Fast Forward" option that involves only five foods: spinach, almonds, raspberries, eggs and yogurt, which can help shed eight pounds quickly.

Sass notes that you don't have to resort to counting points, calories or grams to get real and lasting results. Her plan, she says, is in-sync with what consumers are looking for and get this -- it requires, yes requires eating chocolate every day.

According to Sass:
Counting calories is "out" with consumers. It's just too hard to do. According to new research, of those who are trying to lose weight only 19 percent say they keep track of calories. In another new survey, consumers ranked monitoring calories as "least likely to make a difference in their diets," and only 9 percent said it would be the easiest thing for them to do on a regular basis. Consumers want easy and that's exactly what "Cinch!" is all about.

"Cinch!" uses a simple puzzle concept: You eat four meals a day, each constructed as a unique "puzzle" made from five pieces:

Produce (fruit at the breakfast and snack meals, veggies at the lunch and dinner meals) - props of apples, pears, grapes, bell pepper, onion, carrots, mixed greens
WHY: These are not only loaded with nutrients but they're filling, and most of us aren't getting enough. If you added up all the fruit and vegetable servings the average American should have eaten but didn't over a lifetime they would fill an entire football field. With Cinch! they're included in every meal.

Whole grain - props of whole oats, whole grain bread, brown and wild rice, whole corn tortillas, whole wheat pasta
WHY: Whole grains provide fiber and slow burning carbs. In Cinch! meals the portions are enough to energize you but still allow you to lose weight.

Lean protein - props of chicken breast, salmon, nonfat yogurt, feta cheese, lentils, beans
WHY: Protein revs up metabolism and allows you to keep muscle mass, so you can stay toned and strong as you slim down.

Plant-based fat - props of extra virgin olive oil, avocado, natural peanut butter, almonds, green and black olives, black sesame seeds
WHY: Plant fats are heart healthy and boost satisfaction - they actually delay the emptying of your stomach so you stay fuller longer, and you need fat in order to absorb antioxidants.

And finally SASS, which stands for Slimming and Satiating Seasonings - props of fresh herbs such as basil and cilantro, fresh ginger, ground cinnamon, balsamic vinegar, jalapenos, chili peppers, loose green tea, lemons and limes
WHY: These seasonings add flavor and aroma to every meal with no sodium, and studies show that they pack a 1-2-3 weight loss punch. They 1) they help you burn more calories 2) boost satiety so you feel fuller while slimming down 3) they're packed with antioxidants, which aren't just disease protective - exciting new research has linked to a lower body weight, even without eating fewer calories.

Once you know what the 5 puzzle pieces are, and how much of each one to include, which will become second nature within the first week just by following the plan, you can use this strategy no matter where you are -- at home, at a restaurant, even on vacation, without counting anything.

The book includes 100 quick fix meals that follow the puzzle, as well as a chapter about how to use the 'puzzle principle' to create your own meals. And the plan is vegan, vegetarian and omnivore friendly.

Examples include:
Cherry Almond Green Tea Smoothie for breakfast
Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Jalapeno Guacamole for lunch
Pineapple Peppercorn Parfait snack
Salmon Ginger Rice Bowl for dinner

To learn about the required chocolate, the five-day jumpstart plan, go to Page 2.

And what about that mandatory chocolate?!

The Cinch! plan includes a Daily Dark Chocolate Escape. Research shows that including a small amount of chocolate in your diet every day, such as a few tasting squares, curbs cravings for both sweet and salty foods and it's one of the healthiest foods on the planet. Chocolate has been shown to reduce blood pressure and bad cholesterol and eating it produces the same feeling as being in love!

As for the jump-start plan: It's called the "5 Day Fast Forward," which includes 4 meals a day made from just 5 foods. The women who tested it lost up to 8 pounds in 5 days. In my private practice, I have some clients who need to see quick results in order to feel motivated and confident enough to keep going. But this phase is optional. Some people don't like the idea of any strict cleanse or detox, even if it's only for 5 days. I have a quiz in the book to help you decide if it's right for you.

What are the 5 foods, and why did you chose them?

Organic eggs
0 percent (nonfat) Greek yogurt, plain
Vegan alternatives (extra firm organic tofu instead of eggs, plain soy yogurt)

I chose them because I wanted to make this detox extremely simple and repetitive, which is the best way to reboot your body and get quick results. Also each of these foods is filling on its own, but can be combined to create deliciously satisfying simple meals, and each has been scientifically shown to support weight loss. Finally the group provides a combination of lean protein, carbohydrates and good-for-you fat, so you won't deprive your body during this speedy slim down.

What can of results can people expect?
Over 70percent of the real women who tested the plan lost at least one full size in 30 days without the optional 5 Day Fast Forward "detox" feeling energized, nourished, and satisfied every step of the way. And it's not just for women - my own husband has lost 50 pounds and kept it off. And best of all it's incredibly easy (hence the name)!

For Cynthia's "Core Recipes," go to Page 3.


Cherry Almond Green Tea Smoothie for breakfast

1 cup frozen pitted cherries
1/4 cup whole oats
8 oz nonfat milk
2 Tbsp natural almond butter
1 tsp green tea leaves and pinch ground cinnamon

In a blender, whip together cherries, oats, milk, almond butter, tea leaves and cinnamon until smooth.

Black Bean Tacos with Cilantro Jalapeno Guacamole for lunch

1 cup fresh mushrooms, chopped and 1/2 cup each fresh spinach and onions (any type), diced, 1/4 cup low sodium vegetable broth
2 soft taco sized whole corn tortillas
1/2 cup black beans
1/4 of a medium avocado, mashed
Dash fresh ground cracked black pepper, 1 tsp fresh, chopped cilantro and 1 small jalapeno, diced Wedges of fresh lime

Mix pepper, cilantro and jalapeno into avocado and chill. On stovetop over medium heat, sauté vegetables in broth until tender. Warm tortillas, fill with beans and vegetables (serve extra vegetables on side) and garnish with fresh squeezed lime and top with avocado

Pineapple Peppercorn Parfait snack

1 cup fresh sliced pineapple
1/4 cup dry whole oats
6 oz nonfat Greek yogurt
2 Tbsp slices almonds
3 twists of cracked black peppercorn, 3 mint leaves

Fold pepper into yogurt. Alternate layers of yogurt, oats and pineapple in a dish and garnish with almonds and mint.

Salmon Ginger Rice Bowl for dinner

1/2 cup each red pepper, sliced into strips, chopped carrots, celery and shredded purple cabbage
1/2 cup cooked wild rice
3 oz cooked wild salmon
2 Tbsp black sesame seeds
1 Tbsp 100percent orange juice, 1 Tbsp rice vinegar 2 Tbsp chopped scallions, 1/2 tsp fresh grated ginger

In a small dish, whisk together orange juice, vinegar and ginger. Add scallions. Over medium heat on stovetop using nonstick spray, sauté vegetables with ginger sauce until peppers are slightly tender. Fill bottom of a salad bowl with rice. Top with vegetable mixture then salmon and garnish with sesame seeds.