Whether you are baking for the next festivity or planning a special holiday meal, we’ve got some dishes for you. From better-for-you chocolates, to those golden, crisp Latkes, you can still enjoy the best of the season and stay healthy, too.
With lights being strung, trees popping up and December clearly here, so come the fanciful holiday eats. Are you ready for Chanukah, Christmas (or both)!?
Think chocolates and latkes, custards and gratins, gingerbreads, tortes and honey-baked hams. Candle lights flickering, holly and pine needles, berries, fresh chutneys and specialty jams. Embedded in our traditions and certainly our taste-buds, the holidays can evoke quite an appetite (and perhaps the fear of added pounds).
Stay grounded and reign in desire, without deprivation. Here are some tasty “Eats & Treats” along with great tips that are fitting for the holidays (and your waistline, too).
Enjoy a little Better-for-you Chocolate and “Stick to your routine as much as possible during the holidays,” says Elizabeth Ward of Better is the New Perfect. “If you miss a day of exercise, don’t make it two days, because then it’s more difficult to get back on track. Do as much exercise as you’re able, even it it’s half of what you usually do,” she adds. Ward’s homemade chocolate treats are a healthier option. They’re festive, and pretty, and certainly yummy.
“Downsize desserts. I serve small bites desserts like my Cranberry N’Custard Minis. While these minis help keep portion size in check, they are satisfying (too),” says Diane Boyd of Cape Fear Nutrition. Fresh cranberries and raspberry liqueur come together in this delightful treat. Served over a light custard, the sweet and tangy cran-raspberry syrup makes it a festive option you can certainly can enjoy while watching your portions.
It’s always a great idea to add in more veggies! And here’s a great twist on a Hanukkah favorite. “Cauliflower Latkes are a delicious, veggie-packed dish for Hanukkah or any day,” says Lauren Harris-Pincus of Nutrition Starring You. Check out her recipe for Cauliflower Latkes.
Kelli Shallal of Hungry Hobby says you should save up for the good stuff. And I agree. “It can be tempting to grab at everything that comes in the house,” says Shallal. But she says to keep in mind that there will be homemade cookies, pies, cinnamon rolls and lots of other unique treats. “Don’t waste calories on (something like) Oreos that are available anytime throughout the year.” Try her 3-ingredient Vegan Creamy Chocolate Pudding. It’s dreamy and so simple to make.
And for another homemade, fanciful treat, you won’t want to miss out on E.A. Stewart’s Gingerbread Cookies with Sea Salt Carmel Rum Raisin Filling. Stewart, also known as the Spicy RD, says these are naturally sweetened, vegan and gluten-free.
Shallal also recommends you get a good night’s sleep. “The number one thing you can do to keep your health in check over the holidays is sleeping enough and sleep well,” says Shallal. “The more sleep you get, the more energy you will have for workouts and the fewer cravings you will have.” Try her Garlic Dill Baked Salmon with Lemon Herb Butter for a lovely holiday meal. Rich in mood-enhancing omega 3’s (and tryptophan, a natural sedative), salmon may help promote more restful sleep.
And once you’ve had a good nights sleep, start your day well with an energizing breakfast like this holiday-inspired Pomegranate, Chocolate Chip and Pepita Baked Oatmeal. It’s low in refined sugars, gluten-free and vegan too! “Swap out ingredients to boost nutrition and cut down on refined sugars,” says Audra Zimmer of And a Dash of Cinnamon. Try to sweeten things naturally with cinnamon, vanilla and/or whole fruits!”
Sharon Palmer, the Plant-Powered Dietitian, recommends you fill your plate with at least half vegetables. “This will be keep you from indulging in too many energy-rich foods on the holiday table.” To help fill half your plate, try her Broccoli Walnut Au Gratin, a veggie-rich dish that is sure to satisfy.
And Because 8 Isn’t Enough (lol!) we’ve added one more!
“My tip is to always have lots of fruit and/or vegetable dishes at your holiday events,” recommends Laura Murray of Making Healthy Choices. “There are always plenty of sweets and rich appetizers, so I try to provide some balance.” Try Murray’s colourful holiday dish for a festive plant-based option — Roasted Squash with Hazelnuts and Pomegranate. She suggests you bring the squash and other components separately and assemble when ready to serve.