‘Tis the season … for some of the best food options of the year (in my opinion, of course!).
We’ve got pumpkin, we’ve got turkey, we’ve got winter squashes and rich, savory stews.
We’ve got, well, cozy-yum.
However, we’ve also got our gains and health to consider, which will have many of us re-thinking our favorite holiday recipes.
But not to fear! Many holiday classics can be hella healthy with a few tweaks, and there may also be options you haven’t considered to get your traditional cravings fulfilled.
This is why below, I’m doing a roundup of some of my healthy holiday favorites I’m noshing on this year!
Before we dive into that, however, let’s review some basic “rules” for keeping it clean this season (well, any season really, but you get the drift!).
Healthy Holiday Reminders
1. Avoid sugar. If anything is going to interfere with your goals, it’s sugar. It wreaks havoc with your insulin and blood sugar levels, which can easily lead to excess fat storage and interrupt efficient fat burning.
Check labels and avoid “added sugars,” as well as artificial sugars and things like agave and corn syrup.
2. Choose whole foods. Focus on meals made of whole foods, and avoid anything processed like cookies, cakes, granola bars, flours, breads, pastas, etc … these are extremely high in simple carbs and sugars that can spell disaster for fat gain.
3. Read labels. The shorter the label and more filled it is with words and ingredients you know, the healthier the food.
4. Choose healthy proteins. Make sure your proteins (chicken, beef, turkey, etc …) are grass-fed and organic, or at the very least free of antibiotics and hormones. Also reach for fish that are wild and not farmed, such as an Alaskan salmon, and those low in mercury, such as haddock and trout.
5. Buy local. Besides supporting your community, you support your health and knowledge, as you’re able to ask everything you need to know about the farmer’s practices and harvests.
6. Eat seasonally. When you eat foods that are seasonal, they are fresher (and therefore taste better) and healthier, because they are almost farm-to-table – think no preservatives, no shelf life, and a longer time on its parent plant, which can equal more nutrients.
Healthy Holiday Recipe Ideas
Before we get into the recipe roundup, keep in mind these seasonal ingredients to focus on this time of year!
- Pistachios (perfect standalone snack!)
- Sweet potatoes
Now … on to that good and healthy eatin’!
There’s a popular term going around nowadays, “NOatmeal,” to signify a class of “oatmeal” that doesn’t include oats! This is perfect for those of us doing low-carb, or who are sensitive to grains.
So, if you’ve missed that daily bowl of warming oatmeal, dig into this!
- 1 cup riced cauliflower, packed
- 1/3 cup full fat coconut milk
- 2/3 cup sweet apple cider
- 1 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/4 tsp freshly grated nutmeg
- pinch Himalayan salt
- 2 tbsp raisins (optional, omit for less sugar)
- 2 tbsp pecans, chopped
- 2 large eggs, beaten
- 2 tbsp flaxseed meal
- An easy way to rice cauliflower is in the food processor. Simply cut the cauliflower into very small florets, throw them in the bowl of the food processor without overcrowding it and pulse a few times until the cauliflower has the desired coarseness.
- Once your cauliflower has been riced, add a cup of it to a medium saucepan, along with raisins and pecans.In a measuring cup, mix the the coconut milk, sweet apple cider, salt and spices and add that to the saucepan.
- Bring to low boil over medium heat and cook until cauliflower is tender and cooking liquid is almost completely absorbed, about 10 minutes or so.
- Remove from heat and pour the eggs in a steady stream while whisking constantly so they don’t cook and curdle on you. Add flax seed and resume whisking until completely incorporated.
- Serve right away, garnished with more coconut milk and a few pieces of nuts.
Lunch and/or Dinner
Beanless Butternut Squash Chili
- 2 pounds ground beef
- 1 green bell pepper, finely chopped
- 1 large yellow onion, finely chopped
- 2 14.5 oz cans diced tomatoes
- 2 cups diced butternut squash
- 1 6 oz can tomato paste
- 2 cups beef stock
- 1 1/2 tablespoon chili powder
- 1 1/2 teaspoon paprika
- 1 1/2 teaspoon onion powder
- 1 teaspoon garlic powder
- 1 teaspoon ground cumin
- 1 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1 teaspoon black pepper
- 4 tablespoons garlic, minced
Greens and veggies are an easy and delicious way to fill yourself up at the holiday table, so make enough for seconds!
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts
- 3 slices organic bacon, diced into small squares
- 1 red onion, chopped
- 2 Tbsp olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat oven to 350ºf.
- Cut Brussels sprouts bottom stem off, then cut in half lengthwise.
- Toss bacon, Brussels, chopped onion, salt, pepper, and olive oil in a bowl until thoroughly combined.
- Add to a foil-lined baking sheet and bake for 35-45 minutes, or until edges are browned.
A classic, and perfectly acceptable for making gains AND indulging.
- 3 to 4 pound beef bottom round roast, at room temperature
- 8 garlic cloves, peeled
- 2 teaspoons sea salt
- 1 tablespoon dried parsley
- 1 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1 teaspoon dried rosemary
- 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- Using a mortar and pestle, turn the garlic cloves and sea salt into a paste. Stir in the dried parsley, dried thyme, dried
rosemary, ground black pepper, and olive oil.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees (F).
- Remove the beef bottom round roast from its packaging. Do not cut off the butcher’s twine tied around the roast.
- Place the roast in a 10-12 inch baking dish (I recommend using a cast iron skillet, because it can also be used later to make the gravy) and rub down with the garlic and herb rub (all sides). When finished, place the roast in the pan with the fatty side up.
- Bake for about 18-20 minutes per pound, or until the internal temperature reaches 125-130 degrees (F), for medium-rare (or until the roast is at the desired temperature).
- Remove the roast from the baking dish and place it on a platter. Cover loosely with foil, and allow the roast to rest for at least 15-20 minutes before slicing.
Is a holiday even a holiday without eggnog? This one is sans-dairy, and you if want sugar-free, swap maple syrup and coconut sugar for your desired amount of stevia.
- 4 pasture raised eggs, yolks and whites separated
- ¼ cup coconut sugar (or a few drops of liquid stevia
- 1 tablespoon maple syrup (optional)
- 1 can full fat organic coconut milk
- 1 cup unsweetened almond milk or other non-dairy milk (see notes)
- 1 teaspoon freshly ground nutmeg
- optional: 3 ounces dark rum, brandy, bourbon or a mix
- Separate the eggs from the egg whites.
- In a large bowl, beat the egg yolks until they lighten in color. Gradually add the sweetener(s) and continue to mix until it is completely dissolved, about 2 minutes. The yolks should be ribbon-y.
- Add in the coconut milk, almond milk and freshly ground nutmeg. If you are adding liquor, add that now. Mix until well combined and creamy. Move to a large mixing bowl. Give the bowl from the stand mixer a quick clean.
- Place the egg whites in the bowl of a stand mixer (or use a handheld mixer or hand blender with a large bowl) and beat the egg whites to soft, not quite stiff peaks, about 90 seconds.
- With a handheld whisk or rubber spatula, fold /whisk whipped whites into egg yolk/milk mixture until completely incorporated.
- Chill until ready to serve. This will continue to thicken as it chills. Give it a good shake or whisk before serving, as a little separation is natural. Ladle or pour into goblets, and serve garnished with grated nutmeg.
- Store in the fridge up to 3 days.
We’ve got to finish out pumpkin season ahead of the game, am I right?
- 1 cup fine almond flour
- 2 tablespoons either coconut sugar or granulated stevia
- 1/4 cup coconut oil, melted
- 3 eggs
- 1/2 cup almond milk
- 2/3 cup granulated stevia
- 15 ounces canned pumpkin puree
- 1.5 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
- 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
- Dollup of canned coconut cream (this is a dairy-free version of the original recipe using heavy cream)
- Preheat oven to 350ºf.
- Prepare the crust. In a small bowl, mix together almond flour and granulated stevia.
- Pour in the melted coconut oil and mix well until you have a crumbly mixture.
- Tip the mixture into a 9-inch shallow pie pan. Use your fingers to pat the pie crust evenly into the bottom and then work your way up the sides.
- Once the mixture is evenly spread through the pan, use the tines of a fork to prick the bottom of the crust.
- Now prepare the filling.
- Whisk together 3 eggs. Add almond milk, granulated stevia, canned pumpkin purée, pumpkin pie spice, vanilla extract and whisk it all together.
- Pour it into the formed pie crust and bake at 350F for 40-50 minutes.
- The center will still be a little jiggly. You may need to cover the sides with foil if the sides of the crust start to brown too much.
- Chill for 6-8 hours and serve with additional whipped coconut cream.
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