One of the best parts about the holiday season is the food. There’s nothing better than treats like shortbread cookies and gingerbread. Not to mention a big holiday feast with all the trimmings, washed down with a cold glass of eggnog. Even if we’re not having the large gatherings that we normally would this time of year, food can always bring a sense of holiday cheer. The challenge is how to stick to healthy choices while still indulging a little. Here are a few great tips on how to find a healthy holiday balance.
Don’t Wait to Eat
The holiday season is a hectic time. Before you know it, it’s time for a big dinner and you haven’t eaten anything all day. It may seem a bit counterintuitive, but try to have some healthy snacks or a small healthy meal before the big dinner. This allows you to take care of your hunger in advance so that you can eat a reasonable amount when the big dinner arrives.
It’s All About Your Plate
Pay attention to your plate. The first thing to do is go for a smaller one if you can – less room means less opportunity to take more food than you need. From there, divide up the plate into sections. Half should be fruits and veggies, one quarter whole-grain foods and the last quarter should be protein.
The holiday season is filled with sweet treats and heavy meals, so it isn’t the best time to be kicking off a diet. Go into this season with the goal of staying as healthy as you can. It’s okay to treat yourself, but try to keep everything balanced.
Stop When You’re Full
Those holiday meals can seem like an opportunity to let loose. Resist that temptation! Enjoy every moment and go slow. This way you can sense when you’re full. You can always pack up some of the food and have it the next day or throughout the week – there’s no need to have it all in one sitting.
Health experts recommend to stay healthy, people should aim for at least 30 minutes of physical activity every day. It can be challenging to stay motivated during the holidays. Look for everyday activities to keep moving, take a walk with your family to check out all the holiday lights or shovel a neighbours drive way. Everything counts!
Make Your Own Healthy Holiday Treats
Another great way to stay healthy during the holidays is to create some nutritious treat options. Here are a few dishes you can make that are delicious and healthy.
Healthy Holiday Cookies
Vegan Molasses Cookies (via Healthier Steps)
- 1 cup all-purpose gluten-free flour,
- 1/2 cup almond flour
- 1/2 cup organic brown sugar
- 1 teaspoon baking powder
- 1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
- 1/2 teaspoon cinnamon, or 1/4 teaspoon cardamom plus 1/4 teaspoon coriander
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 cup non-dairy butter, softened
- 3 tablespoons molasses
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- extra sugar, for rolling
- Combine flour, brown sugar, baking powder, ground ginger, cinnamon, and salt in a large bowl and set aside
- In a separate bowl mix the butter, molasses, vanilla and mix with dry
- Cover dough and place in the refrigerator for 1/2 hour or until the dough is completely chilled
- Preheat oven 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper and spray with oil
- Remove dough from the refrigerator and divide dough into about 12 pieces. Roll each piece into a round ball then dip in the extra sugar
- Transfer cookies onto a baking sheet, flatten cookies gently with your fingers. Bake for about 10-12 minutes. Remove from oven and allow to cool on baking sheet for about 10 minutes before carefully transferring them to cooling rack or serving platter
Healthy Holiday Snacks
Watermelon Shaped Trees (via One Handed Cooks)
- ¼ of whole seedless watermelon
- 1/3 cup favourite yogurt
- Cut the watermelon into slices, and then cut each slice in half
- To make the base of the tree, slice the watermelon rind into thirds and then trim off the pieces from either side so you are left with one “tree trunk” in the middle
- Place your trees on a lined tray that will fit in the freezer
- Add yogurt to a piping bag and decorate your trees. If you don't have a piping bag, simply fill a snap lock plastic bag with yogurt and cut a very small piece from the corner
- Place tray in the freezer and allow the yogurt to freeze for 1-2 hours
Healthy Holiday Treats
Raffaello and Rum Coconut Bliss Balls (via Cinnamon and Coriander)
- 200 g coconut cream * from a refrigerated can
- 125 g unsweetened shredded coconut + more for rolling
- 50 g maple syrup
- 1 Tbsp vanilla extract
- 3-4 drops of each almond and rum extract
- 100 - 150 g dark chocolate depending how many Bounty you want - 100 g for 10 pieces
- Combine the first four ingredients, adding a pinch of salt to heighten the flavour, and process until well combined.
- Divide the batter into two equal portions. Add the almond extract to the Raffaello batch and the rum extract to the bounty batch. Process again or use your hands to combine it.
- Using a heaping tsp of batter at a time, roll the coconut mixture into neat little balls and refrigerate. Try not to keep rum and almond flavoured bliss balls separate.
- Melt chocolate in the microwave or over a hot water bath and cover the rum-flavoured balls with the chocolate. Sprinkle some coconut on top, if desired. Roll the Raffaello ones in the shredded coconut. Store the Bounty and Raffaello Coconut Bliss Balls in a sealable container in the fridge.
It’s possible to enjoy some great food this holiday season and stick to your wellness goals. Hopefully, these tips help you and your family have a balanced and healthy holiday season!