The holiday season is a great time of year to see your family, enjoy festive meals, and relax. It is also a time when people are typically less active and eat more food. In order to maintain a healthy lifestyle and avoid seasonal weight gain take a proactive approach. Here are some tips to help you stay healthy and active during the holidays.
1. While you are on break, plan family walks in your neighborhood.
Walks can help lower blood pressure, improve cardiovascular health, and provide a fun activity for family bonding. If you do them in the evening it is also a great opportunity to see holiday decorations and lights! Additionally, make sure you stay hydrated and get enough rest. This may seem like an easy one, but all too often people neglect drinking water and stay up later than normal. Good hydration levels and adequate rest will help decrease the chance of overeating during a holiday meal, reduce your stress, and improve your overall health. Since you have time during the holidays, take it and get some rest!
2. Make nutritious substitutions for unhealthy ingredients in your meals.
The following are simple ways to make a recipe a little healthier while keeping it just as delicious.
- When baking cookies or sweets replace half of the sugar with festive spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg. This will make your house smell great and provide a healthier alternative.
- Unless your recipe calls for yeast, you can completely eliminate salt or exchange it for potassium salt.
- Exchange half of the oil in your recipe for all-natural applesauce. If you are making something rich like brownies or chocolate recipes try using pitted prune puree instead.
- Instead of using full-fat dairy products opt for 2% or non-fat options instead.
- Try smoked paprika in place of bacon to add flavor and smokiness to your dish.
- Replace mayonnaise or sour cream with Greek yogurt.
Any of these changes will decrease your fat and sugar intake and increase the amount of vitamins and minerals in your food.
3. Focus on making healthier choices when designing your dinner party menu.
Prepare side dishes focused around seasonal vegetables and limit the amount of sugar and fattening foods you serve. Vegetables provide many important micro-nutrients, are full of fiber to help keep you full, and make your table more visually appealing with all of the different colors. Here at RivalHealth we want you to have a happy and healthy holiday! Try these delicious and nutritious recipes with your family!
Cranberry Roasted Winter Vegetables
4 large carrots (about 1 1/2 lb.), halved lengthwise and cut into 1-inch pieces
3 large turnips (about 2 lb.), peeled and cut into 1-inch pieces*
1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved (quartered, if large)
1 tablespoon minced fresh rosemary
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1 cup fresh or thawed frozen cranberries
Preheat oven to 400°. Lightly grease 2 large jelly-roll pans; place carrots and turnips in one pan and Brussels sprouts in second pan. Divide rosemary and next 3 ingredients between carrot mixture and Brussels sprouts; toss each to coat.
Bake both pans at 400° at the same time. Bake carrot mixture 30 minutes, stirring once; add cranberries, and bake 5 minutes or until carrots and turnips are tender and browned and cranberries begin to soften.
Bake Brussels sprouts 15 to 20 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring once.
Remove vegetables from oven, and combine in a large serving bowl.
Butternut Squash Bake
1 small butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed (about 2 cups)
½ c Greek yogurt
½ c finely chopped onion
1 egg, lightly beaten
Dash of honey
Pepper to taste
Place squash in saucepan and cover with water. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until tender. Drain well and place in a large bowl. Mash the squash.
In another bowl, combine the yogurt, onion, egg, honey, and pepper. Add mixture to the squash and mix well. Transfer to 1-qt greased baking dish.
Bake, uncovered at 350° for 30-40 minutes or until heated through.
2 lb. pumpkin chopped into large chunks (remove skin and seeds)
2 medium onions, sliced
4 cloves of garlic
2 cups of chicken or vegetable stock
1 cup of 2% milk
2 springs of Rosemary
Salt and pepper
Combine all ingredients (except salt, pepper and rosemary) in a saucepan and bring to boil, then reduce heat and let simmer until pumpkin is tender.
Remove from heat and use a stick blender to blend until smooth. If you don't have a stick blender, use a blender.
Add rosemary. Season to taste with salt and pepper
Optional garnish: Dollop of Greek yogurt
Garlic & Rosemary Mashed Cauliflower
1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
Fine sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
2 cloves of garlic
2 springs of Rosemary
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well. Transfer cauliflower to a food processor.
Add oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and purée until smooth. (Or, mash cauliflower with a potato masher).
In a separate small pan, heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil on med-low heat and cook garlic until it’s translucent. Add the garlic to the mashed cauliflower. Add trimmed rosemary and season with salt and pepper.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Balsamic Vinegar & Honey
1 lbs brussels sprouts, halved
3 tbsp olive oil
3 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp ground black pepper
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tsp honey
Preheat oven to 425°. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, kosher salt and freshly cracked black pepper to coat thoroughly.
Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add remaining tablespoon olive oil, balsamic vinegar and honey and toss to coat evenly. Taste and season with kosher salt if necessary and serve.