30 Days of Giving & Receiving: Melissa Rycroft’s Healthy Christmas Recipe (EXCLUSIVE)

For Dancing With the Stars: All Stars winner Melissa Rycroft, the holidays are the best time of the year.

“I love the music, the lights, the food, the family time — everything,” she tells Celebuzz. “I feel like everyone just walks around in a better mood when it’s holiday time. It is such a great time to reflect on all that has happened throughout the year, and to get excited about a new chapter and a new year to begin.”

To set 2013 out on the right foot, the star is sharing some of her tips and tricks for staying slim during all those holiday parties as part of our 30 Days of Giving & Receiving.

Looking for a low-cal dessert? Rycroft has peppermint ice cream cake that will let you satisfy your sweet tooth without ruining your diet.

“It is so hard to stay healthy during the holidays,” Rycroft says. “With all the parties, good food, sugary drinks and desserts, it’s almost impossible! But there are tricks that I’ve learned to stay a bit healthier during the holidays, and not regret the food binges quite so much.”

“Split a plate of dessert with a friend or family member,” she suggests. “[My husband] Tye and I do this every year. My mom’s pumpkin cheesecake is to die for — but is so not healthy so we cut a small slice and share it. Gives a cure to the craving without going overboard.”

See her favorite holiday recipe below.

Melissa Rycroft’s Peppermint Ice Cream Cake

·  3/4 cup unsweetened cocoa
·  3/4 cup boiling water
·  6 tablespoons butter, melted
·  1 cup packed dark brown sugar
·  1/2 cup granulated sugar
·  3/4 cup egg substitute
·  1 1/2 cups all-purpose flour (about 6 3/4 ounces)
·  1/2 teaspoon baking powder
·  1/2 teaspoon baking soda
·  1/2 teaspoon salt
·  2 teaspoons vanilla extract
·  3 cups low-fat peppermint ice cream, softened
·  3 cups frozen fat-free whipped topping, thawed
·  1/8 teaspoon peppermint extract
·  8 peppermint candies, crushed

Directions:

Coat 2 (8-inch) round cake pans with cooking spray. Line bottom of each pan with wax paper.
 Combine cocoa, water, and butter, stirring with a whisk until blended. Cool.
 Combine sugars in a large bowl, stirring well until blended. Add egg substitute; beat 2 minutes or until light and creamy. Add cocoa mixture, and beat for 1 minute.
Lightly spoon flour into dry measuring cups; level with a knife. Combine flour, baking powder, baking soda, and salt. Gradually add flour mixture to bowl; beat for 1 minute or until blended. Stir in vanilla. Pour batter into prepared pans. Bake at 350° for 28 minutes or until a wooden pick inserted in center comes out clean. Cool in pans 10 minutes on a wire rack. Remove from pans. Wrap in plastic wrap, and freeze for 2 hours or until slightly frozen.
 Spread ice cream in an 8-inch round cake pan lined with plastic wrap. Cover and freeze 4 hours or until firm.
To assemble cake, place one cake layer, bottom side up, on a cake pedestal. Remove ice cream layer from freezer; remove plastic wrap. Place ice cream layer, bottom side up, on top of cake layer. Top with remaining cake layer.
Combine whipped topping and peppermint extract, and stir until blended. Spread frosting over top and sides of cake. Sprinkle with crushed peppermints. Freeze until ready to serve. Let cake stand at room temperature 10 minutes before slicing.

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30 Days of Giving & Receiving: ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Winner Melissa Rycroft Shares Her New Year Plans (EXCLUSIVE)

Melissa Rycroft is ending her year with a bang.

After defeating Olympic gold medalist Shawn Johnson and General Hospital star Kelly Monaco on Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars in November, and finally won that mirror ball trophy that alluded her in 2009, the 29-year-old says she’s looking forward to enjoying a holiday feast with her family.

“I look forward to the special family time every year,” she told Celebuzz. “Everyone is in such great spirits. It’s such an amazing time.”

For our 30 Days of Giving & Receiving, we spent some time with the star to talk about her favorite Christmas memories, ways to stay healthy this season and why she’s looking forward to the year ahead.

Read on for our exclusive one-on-one interview with the former Bachelor contestant.

Celebuzz: What’s your favorite Christmas memory?

Melissa Rycroft: When I was eight, I wanted a pet so badly for Christmas. I remember being disappointed after we had finished unwrapping all our gifts and there was no pet. My mom asked me to help her throw the trash bags away in the garage, and while I was walking down the hallway to the garage, I saw a small cage with a guinea pig in it! To say I was excited was an understatement! I loved it. I still to this day remember how happy I was to have my own pet.

CB: How do you spend the holidays?

MR: We spend it with the entire family! Christmas Eve is spent with my parents and siblings. We always eat fajitas for dinner and have our gift exchange. Christmas morning is spent just me, [husband] Tye Strickland and [daughter] Ava, where we do our own family gift exchange. I make a big breakfast: eggs, sausage, toast, pancakes….we go all out! We spend Christmas evening with Tye’s family and have a huge feast. My favorite dish is sausage and cornbread stuffing.

CB: Why is it important to make resolutions this time of year?

MR: I’ve always loved this time of year — how one chapter closes with the end of another year, and a new one is about to begin. I’ve always believed that the start of a new year is the perfect time to start a new you, or at least an updated you. We should always be striving for more — to be the best we can — and to even try to beat our best. Resolutions, while silly to some, are such a great way to start a new year off with new goals. They should definitely be realistic so that they stay attainable.

CB: What resolutions have you made and stuck to in the past? Are you making any this year?

MR: Last year, I made a resolution to stay more organized. I tend to feel a little chaotic most of the time, so I made a plan to slow the chaos down, take a deep breath and enjoy the little things in life more. And that’s exactly what I did this year. I didn’t do anything life-changing. I just set my mind to it and I realized how much happier I was! Although my chaotic life didn’t slow down, I developed a different outlook on it and learned to enjoy it! I’m partnering with Extra gum this New Year because I believe that living a healthy lifestyle isn’t about giving up the things you love, it’s about moderation and making good, maintainable decisions.  I love swapping instead of feeling like I’m sacrificing. I’m adding something new into my life.

CB:Speaking of the new Give It Up For Gum program you’re working on, which focuses on swapping high calorie options for healthier choices, what tips do you have for staying calorie-conscious during the holidays?

MR: First of all, don’t be afraid to try everything. The more you restrict yourself, the more you’re going to want that bite. So do it! But, just make it a bite. When grabbing your food, get a helping of everything — but just a small taste of everything. Don’t overload the plate with the potatoes or mac’n cheese. Just take a small spoonful. Also, start eating the healthier food first: the turkey, ham, chicken, veggies and fruit. Fill up on the healthy stuff first, and you’ll be less hungry to devour the unhealthier food.

A simple swapping solution is passing up a higher calorie snack for a stick of gum instead. I have a sweet tooth and at five calories per stick, Extra is a great way to satisfy a craving. Something else we do is take a walk around the neighborhood after dinner. It just makes us feel better to get in some sort of exercise after eating a large meal.

Stay tuned to Celebuzz as we celebrate 30 Days of Giving & Receiving with the stars this holiday season!

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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Winners Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani Reflect on Their Big Win: ‘It Was Unreal’

It was a shocking turn of events on Tuesday night’s finale of ABC’s Dancing With the Stars: All Stars as former Bachelor contestant Melissa Rycroft and her pro dance partner Tony Dovolani were crowned champions. Appearing on Wednesday’s Good Morning America for a Dancing With the Stars after party, both contestants were unbelievably elated with their big win.

“[It was] unreal,” said Rycroft. “This whole season, I think Tony and I kind of underestimated ourselves. [We] thought we were underdogs and [it was] totally unexpected and such a surprise.”

Not only was this the first mirrorball trophy for Rycroft, but it was also the first win for Dovolani, who has danced on the show since Season 2.

The finalists, Shawn Johnson and Kelly Monaco, had both won in their respective seasons.

“I guess it took 14 seasons for me to get there. It was worth every bit of it,” he said. “It couldn’t have come at a better day. It was my wife [and I’s] anniversary, 13 years, so it was pretty great and an amazing moment for all the Albanians in America because it’s the 100 year anniversary [of the country’s independence] today so it’s just unreal.”

Dovolani, who had his daughter with him while appearing on GMA, told the anchors that this win was for her.

“Everything I do, I do for my kids,” he said.

Rycroft’s husband and daughter Ava congratulated her via a special recorded message on GMA.

Appearing with Rycroft and Dovolani were fellow finalists Johnson and Derek Hough and Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy, who both discussed their final performances as well as their time on the show. In addition to their interviews, the morning program hosted DTWS themed segments throughout the broadcast, including one final dance by all three pairs on GMA’s makeshift dance floor.

Do you think Rycroft and Dovolani should have won the mirrorball? Let us know in the comments below!

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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Season Finale: Who Will Win the ‘All-Stars’ Title? (POLL)

It’s down to the wire as Melissa Rycroft, Shawn Johnson and Kelly Monaco are hours from finding out who will be crowned the first ever Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars champion.

It’s been a tough journey as returning contestants and past season winners from the beloved ABC series — including Apolo Ono and Emmitt Smith — competed in the show’s all-stars season. After 10 weeks, history was made as the show saw its very first female-only finale.

So who will be the first woman to win the coveted mirrorball trophy?

Former Bachelor contestant Rycroft is the clear frontrunner as she and partner Tony Dovolani have racked up an overall season total of 391.5 points — the highest out of anyone in the competition.

Meanwhile, returning champs Johnson and Monaco are looking to seek a second win, both proving that they truly deserve mirrorball trophy.

Who do you think will win? Sound off in our poll — above.

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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Finalists Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani Call ‘All-Stars’ Journey, ‘The Time of Our Lives’ (VIDEO)

With the first ever all-female Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars finale just hours away, contestant Melissa Rycroft and her dance partner Tony Dovolani are taking a look back at their journey to (potentially) winning the fame mirrorball trophy on the ABC competition.

“We’re having the time of our lives,” Rycroft, 28, told Celebuzz. ”We would — without a doubt — would not be here without our fans,” the former Bachelor contestant continued. “I feel it. We embrace it.”

Likewise, Dovolani is grateful for the massive support fans have showen the couple throughout the season, where the twosome have racked up an overall season total of 391.5 points and a score average of 28 out of 30 per dance.

“And thank you for the Twitter comments and all that stuff — that just means so much to the both of us because we are the ones that actually read it and reply,” he added.

The dancing duo are going head-to-head with Shawn Johnson and Derek Hough and Kelly Monaco and Val Chmerkovskiy for the first ever Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars champion title this Tuesday night.

So, what’s next for Rycroft once the winner’s been announced? According to the current mom-of-one, she’s not looking to have any more children right now.

“I’m so happy with my one little one right now,” Rycroft, who welcomed daughter Ava in 2011 with Tye Strickland, told us. “I’m not done with being selfish with her.”

Watch more of our interview with the DWTS finalists above.

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‘Dancing With the Stars’’ Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani Have ‘Bachelorette’ Advice for Cheryl Burke (VIDEO)

With recent rumors placing Cheryl Burke as the next Bachelorette, Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani provided some much needed advice to their Dancing With the Stars pal.

“The thing with Cheryl is that she falls in love very easily, and really with any guy that has the potential to be good,” Rycroft told Celebuzz.

“I would just tell her, play it cool . . . don’t fall in love with all of them . . . think with your head, don’t think with your heart.”

Dovolani, who is heading into this week’s semi-finals as one of five teams, had something more straightforward to say about Burke’s potential TV future.

“This is a message to the guys: she has a lot of friends on Dancing With the Stars. We may be dancers, but we have a lot of friends, so make sure you treat her well.

 

While the pair have been hard at work for Monday’s show, Rycroft and Dovolani are still scratching their heads as to why they’ve made it so far.

“I never in a million years thought I would outlast Kirstie Alley on the show,” Rycroft said.

In the end, it seems that Rycroft is going into the semi-finals with the right attitude.

“We don’t feel like we have anything to lose, which kind of makes us able to go out on Monday nights and dance with no fear . . . I don’t necessarily feel like it’s our trophy to lose. I think it’s ours to win.”

Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars airs Monday at 8PM ET on ABC.

For more of our chat with Melissa Rycroft and partner Tony Dovolani, check out the video, above.

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‘Dancing With the Stars’ Contestant Melissa Rycroft Hospitalized With Head, Neck Injury

Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars contestant Melissa Rycroft suffered a head and neck injury during rehearsals for Monday’s episode, a rep for the reality TV star confirmed Sunday to PEOPLE.

“Melissa was taken by ambulance to a local hospital where she is currently being examined,” the rep said. “She was accompanied to the hospital by her husband, Tye Strickland, and her dance partner, Tony Dovolani. Everyone is taking all necessary precautions at this time.”

Rycroft — who previously competed on season 8 of ABC’s top-rated show — “fell while doing camera blocking for Monday’s group number at CBS studio,” according to the report.

Her future with the show remains to be seen. An update is likely to be made during Monday night’s telecast, which will have each contestant perform two different routines.

This isn’t the first time Rycroft — who has a daughter, Ava Grace — has suffered a Dancing-related injury; in season 8, she hurt her ribs, preventing her from performing during an episode.

Eight All-Stars remain on this season of Dancing, which airs its latest episode Monday night at 8PM ET.

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‘Bachelor’ Stars Jason and Molly Mesnick Expecting a Baby

From bachelorhood to fatherhood: Jason and Molly Malaney Mesnick have announced that they’re expecting their first child together in late March.

The couple met on season 13 of the hit ABC reality show when Jason actually chose Dancing with the Stars contestant, Melissa Rycroft, as his bride-to-be. He later faced intense media scrutiny after one of the most controversial After the Final Rose episodes in the show’s history when he broke up with Rycroft and later proposed to Molly.

What does Molly have to say about their new arrival?

“Our family is getting a little bit bigger,” the 28-year-old revealed to People.

“I’m into my second trimester and I feel really good.”

Jason, 36, who’s already a father to 7-year-old Ty from a previous marriage, says Ty has already expressed excitement about his little brother or sister.

“He’s been so excited to be a big brother,” Jason revealed. ”He’s been asking me for years. He’s always wanted to be a big brother.”

The happy couple, who wed in 2010, decided to spring the news onto Ty in an unconventional way — by playing a game of hangman.

“The answer,” Jason explained, ”was ‘Tyler is going to be a big brother.’”

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“We played the game and he looked at Molly and I and said ‘Really?’” he happily confessed, “Molly made him a t-shirt that says ‘Big Brother’ on it and he’s really proud. He wore it to school.”

Send your well wishes to Jason and Molly in the comments section below.

Melissa Rycroft: My Daughter Has No Idea I’m on ‘Dancing With the Stars’ (EXCLUSIVE)

Melissa Rycroft is one of the most recognizable faces on Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars — to everyone, that is, except her 20-month-old daughter, Ava Grace.

“I think when she sees me in the costumes with the makeup, it kind of weirds her out a little bit,” Rycroft, 29, revealed to Celebuzz last week. “She recognizes my voice, but she doesn’t recognize me in the sparkles and the outfits.”

“My only wish is that she was a little older,” she continued. “But I am making her a collection of the bracelets that I wear on Monday nights. So, hopefully it’ll be something I can show her one day and she’ll be proud of.”

In the meantime, Rycroft says that while Ava is totally clueless to Dancing With the Stars, she’s already showing signs of becoming a dancer herself. In fact, Ava will often march around the house whenever there is music playing.

“When the music ends, she claps and says, ‘Yay!’” Rycroft said.

“She can be whatever she wants, but my heart would burst if she were a dancer.”

On Monday night, Rycroft and her Dancing partner, Tony Dovolani, enter week three of Dancing With the Stars: All-Stars. So far, she says the reunited pair are “hanging in there” amid the heavy competition.

“The competition came out so strong, and I don’t think anyone was prepared for what we saw week 1 and then definitely in week 2,” she said. “There’s some phenomenal talent out there. There are some great personalities. We are working to find our footing and find out our own ways to stand out amongst the powerhouses of this season.”

“Our biggest challenge has been getting me back in shape — not physically but in dancing terms,” she continued. “My body is not quite moving in the same way that it used to, and it’s not moving as easily as it used to. I guess that’s because it’s been through a lot in the last three years.”

“It’s also been difficult to reinvent ourselves. Being [one of] the few couples that has been paired again, we have to make each of our dances so much different than they were in season 8 to keep the audience interested and keep it fresh.”

Rycroft welcomed Ava Grace in February 2011 with her husband, Tye Strickland.

Dancing With the Stars airs Monday night at 8PM on ABC.

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The Daily Buzz: Exclusive Anne Hathaway Wedding Details. Plus, ‘Dancing With the Stars’ Pro Kym Johnson Is In The Studio (VIDEO)

On Monday’s The Daily Buzz exclusive details inside Anne Hathaway’s fairytale million-dollar wedding.

The Les Miserables star often wears Valentino on Hollywood’s red carpets so it was no surprise she chose the designer to create the most important gown of her life.

Held in Big Sur, Calif. on Saturday, Hathaway’s ceremony was a lavish affair with a focus on white and with a rustic feel.

The couple spent more than $100,000 on flowers alone.

“The floral arrangements and wedding décor were simple and rustic,” a source told Celebuzz.

The flowers were arranged by The Velvet Garden, a floral design studio that specialized in high-end one of a kind designs. The florists previously created arrangements for the weddings of Drew Barrymore, Reese Witherspoon and Natalie Portman.

And, TDB gives you all your Dancing with the Stars news. In today’s episode The Buzz goes inside Helio Castroneves and Melissa Rycroft‘s dance rehearsals.

“Her attention span is quite different now,”  partner Tony Dovolani jokes about Rycroft. “It used to be like a mosquito, now actually, she pays attention.”

“Tony’s calmed down, a little bit,” Melissa says.

Plus, on Monday’s TBD before DWTS’s pro Kym Johnson hits the ballroom floor with Joey Fatone, she’s dishing about the All-Star season. Will the two-time champ survive the much anticipated second week of tv’s favorite dance competition?

‘Dancing With the Stars’ Partners Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani Talk New Judging System, Dance Diet (EXCLUSIVE VIDEO)

It’s been three years since Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani have hit the Dancing With the Stars floor.

Now, one week into the All Stars edition, the team has a newfound respect for the show — and each other.

Celebuzz caught up with the pair during a recent rehearsal, where Rycroft and Dovolani were prepping for the jive.

“Her attention span is quite different now,” Dovolani joked of Rycroft. “It used to be like a mosquito, now actually, she pays attention.”

“Tony’s calmed down, a little bit,” Melissa fired back.

And she was serious.

“He has such a more relaxed approach this season, and I think on Season 8 he was thrown into it as fast as I was . . . now he is the king of saying, ‘You can’t control what you can’t control,’” she added.

What else did Rycroft and Dovolani dish on, and what do they really think of the new judging system?

Unlike previous seasons of Dancing With the Stars, the judges on the All Stars edition have the option of using half-points when tabulating the scores of each performance.

“I like it, but it’s really hard to do the math that quick,” Rycroft told us.

“I like it for a season like this, when the scores are going to be so close. I’m not sure in a regular season that you need the halves,” she added.

With demanding dance practices back in full swing, Rycroft and Dovolani are also back on a strict diet.

“When you are dancing this much, all we do is down protein bars and oatmeal . . . you feel it, we’re doing the jive this week, and after a couple times, if you haven’t eaten right, you get the shakes,” she said.

The next episode of Dancing With the Stars: All Stars airs on Monday at 8PM on ABC.

For more of our chat with Melissa Rycroft and Tony Dovolani, check out the video above. Who is your favorite to win on this season of ‘DWTS?’ Share your thoughts below!