Healthy Food Bites To-Go: 12 Days of Holiday Health – Tips to Keep the Weight off This Holiday Season
The most wonderful time of the year has a tendency to throw us off of our healthy eating game. With school, work and a mounting holiday shopping list, we can easily be derailed BY an endless barrage of holiday cookies, nogs and traditional family comfort foods. Relax, we’re human. There’s plenty of time to celebrate and be nourished too.
This guide to a healthier holiday season includes simple self-care tips, , delicious, holiday-ready recipes and of course food (bites)for thought.
‘tis always the season to be healthy — and for making spirits bright(ER).
Day 1: Jumpstart Your Daily Routine
Who doesn’t love a meal that has the power to fire metabolism, boost brainpower, increase energy and support happy thoughts. Try new ways to fuel your day. EAT WITHIN AN HOUR OF OPENING YOUR EYES.
Good Morning Bowl: Frozen blueberries, cherries, raspberries, mango and grapes topped with a heaping spoonful of plain Greek yogurt, a drizzle of pure maple syrup, grain-free granola, nuts and seeds.
Avocado Toast: Sprouted whole grain bread, mashed avocado + fresh lemon juice + coconut oil and crumbled Nori (sheets), a pinch of salt or paprika (optional and brain-booting walnuts and chia seeds.
Day 3: Raise a Glass to Healthy Holiday Cheer
WATCH OUT FOR LIQUID CALORIES in Egg Nog, Caramel Lattes and takeout Hot Chocolate. At least you know what’s going in when you make it from scratch. Whip up a dairy-free feel-good Nog this year.
Healthy Almond Nog
1 cup almonds soaked 10‐12 hours in filtered water
4 cups filtered water
OR if not making almond milk from scratch us 3 cups of unsweetened almond milk (or cashew milk) + 2 cups water
2-3 Medjool dates, pitted
½ vanilla bean, scraped (use just the scrapings)
1 teaspoon cinnamon
Pinch of large crystal salt
Topper: fresh nutmeg, grated
In high speed blender, blend almonds and water until smooth. Pour milk mixture into nut milk bag or cheesecloth. Squeeze out liquid. Put milk back in blender and blend with remaining ingredients. If using packaged almond milk just blend with water and the rest of the ingredients. Serves 4-6.
Superfood Hot Chocolate
2 cups almond, hemp, cashew or soy milk, unsweetened
2 tablespoons raw cacao powder, unsweetened
1 tsp coconut oil
½ cup of soy, almond or cashew milk (unsweetened) + ½ cup water, warmed on top of the stove
1 tablespoon coconut oil
½ teaspoon vanilla
Pinch of both sea salt and cayenne pepper (for kick!)
Optional: honey or real maple syrup (1 teaspoon), ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon maca powder
Heat the milk over stovetop on low flame. Add other ingredients and whisk them together.
Day 4: Dress Your Greens in Their Holiday Best
NOURISH GUESTS WHILE ENTERTAINING IN STYLE. Enhance your greens and offer more bang for your nutrient buck by adding toppers including fruit-sweetened cranberries, no-sugar added raisins, a squeeze of fresh citrus or toasted nuts.
To toast nuts, spread them in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often, Use the cooking times below as a guide but keep a close watch so they don’t burn. When you can smell them they are done.
Almonds and cashews: 6 to 8 minutes
Hazelnuts, Pecans and Walnuts: 8 to 10 minutes
Day 5: Take Your Vitamin L and Share Some
PUSH THE RESET BUTTON AND SCHEDULE ‘ME’ TIME.
Relieve stress by doing activities that make you happy.
Spend some quiet time during the holidays without technology. #mindovermatter #worthit
Give lots of hugs during the holiday. Did you know a 20 second hug releases the bonding hormone and neurotransmitter oxytocin, which is nature’s antidepressant and antianxiety?
Download the CALM app at Calm.com. It’s free.
Day 6: Stuff A Bird Or A Vegetable
Load nutritious seasonal squash with a mixture of sautéed onions, red bell pepper, corn, kidney beans, herbs and whatever is in the produce bin screaming to be eaten before the nutrient load goes south! Optional: Melt cheddar cheese over the stuffed squash under the broiler.
Day 7: Energy Boosters
INHALING THE SCENT OF CITRUS IS KNOWN TO IMPROVE MOOD AND ABILITY TO FOCUS. Unplug from seasonal stress by sniffing a Clementine orange! The skin of this in-season fruit is bursting with the delicious scent of orange oil. Carrying a pure citrus-infused essential oil around with you at holiday time will also do the trick. Then bring the bottle back to school in January for a stress-buster while studying.
DON’T SKIP MEALS TO CUT CALORIES. You can eat more if it’s the right stuff. Take the edge off hunger before meals with a snack including protein, fiber and healthy fat. A dried fig stuffed with walnuts or a Medjool date filled with almonds will prevent you from arriving at a holiday party ravenous. Healthy snacks are a pre-emptive strike against mindless overeating.
Day 8: Sweeten Things Up Naturally
YOU DON’T HAVE TO SACRIFICE YOUR SWEET TOOTH TO BE HEALTHY AROUND THE HOLIDAYS. The traditional Thumbprint Cookie made from flour eggs and butter gets a makeover here with this No-Bake version. At 6 grams of protein per serving and zero cholesterol or refined sugar, this cookie inspired by Dr. Joel Fuhrman, author of Eat for Health is a great way to pack more nutrients into dessert!
No-Bake Thumbprint Cookies
¼ cup pitted Medjool dates
3 cups rolled oats
1 ½ cups almond butter, smooth
½ cup shredded, unsweetened coconut
Zest and juice of 1 orange
½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
¼ teaspoon sea salt
¾ cup 100% all-fruit preserves (I use cherry.)
Put dates into a medium bowl, cover with hot water and set aside to let dates soak for 10 to 15 minutes. Reserve ½ cup of the soaking liquid, and then drain dates well.
In a food processor pulse the oats until coarsely ground; transfer to a large bowl and set aside. Transfer dates and reserved ½ cup soaking liquid to food processor and puree until smooth. Add date mixture, almond butter, coconut, orange zest and juice, cinnamon and salt to bowl with oats and knead together to make a dough.
Roll dough into 24 balls, transferring them to parchment paper-lined sheet tray. Make an indentation in the middle of each cookie by pressing down with your thumb. Spoon fruit preserve into each indentation and chill for at least 1 hour before serving.
DAY 9: Make Time to Move
Establishing a daily exercise routine during the holiday season will elevate your spirit, reduce stress and compensate for small indulgences. Go for a brisk walk before or after sitting down for a holiday meal. Studies show that fitness after a meal helps to balance blood sugar and keep you on an even keel.
Day 10: Come Prepared
Bring a healthy dish for pot lucks, parties and holiday meals. This way you will be guaranteed to have a great dish to keep you on the healthy eating track – feeling energized, light and motivated to be mindful and selective about your holiday food choices around friends and family. Visit Instagram and Pinterest for healthy holiday eating ideas. Be inspired!
Day 11: Give Gifts from Your Kitchen
My favorite gifts to gift come straight from my oven.
3 cups raw pecans, soaked for a few hours to soften
½ tablespoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon nutmeg
½ cup maple sugar
¼ teaspoon chipotle powder
1 teaspoon sea salt
Olive oil to grease baking pan
Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Strain the pecans and toss well with other ingredients. Brush pan with oil and spread mixture evenly. Bake 15-20 minutes. Stir occasionally for best results. Roast a couple more minutes, or until crisp. Cool. Toss into a festive tin and make someone happy.
Day 12: Plan Ahead
Instead of the usual cookies and milk for Santa, leave him this plant-powered sandwich made with whole grain gluten-free bread, celery, raisins and peanut or nut-free sunflower butter. Be sure the ingredient list on the nut or seed butter jar contains only nuts or seeds – no added sugar. This will ensure that Santa stays fueled all through the night!
PACK HEALTHY FOOD FOR TRAVEL. Think high fiber, 100% whole grain, healthy fat, no sugar and lean protein. At holiday parties and family dinners scan the buffet and the hors d’oeuvres table before digging in and make a conscious plan about what you’re going to eat. Then enjoy every bite.
Forget turtledoves, French hens, or even golden rings; the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is the gift of good health. New beginnings always start today.
Happy holiday eating to all and to all plenty of healthy food bites!