Holiday season is here and so are the beautiful Christmas lights, the decorated trees, the ringing holiday bells, the gifts, and time spent with family. The holidays also come with plenty of delicious meals and food traditions! However, it is important to maintain balanced food and nutrition habits to ensure the holidays are healthy and not a time for unnecessary weight gain or lack of nutrients.
Here are some tips:
- Choose real foods and healthy ingredients when cooking holiday meals, and avoid buying pre-made items high in sugar
- Plan ahead by eating healthier before the holidays
- Choose healthier options first to avoid overeating other foods, like desserts
- Do not skip any meals, especially breakfast, and avoid being hungry during the day to ensure you don’t overeat later
- Do not restrict yourself from your favorite foods: having a little bit of everything is key to maintaining a healthy balanced diet
- Get enough sleep every night and exercise whenever you can
- Concentrate on your meal through mindful eating; eat slowly to get the best of each food and flavor, which helps prevent you from eating too much without realizing!
Healthy Holiday Meal Ideas You Can Try
- Dried Fruit and Nut Platter
- With almonds, walnuts, cashews, raisins, dried apricots, dried cranberries, dates, whole grapes, and anything else!
- Cranberry Balsamic-Roasted Chicken or Ham
- Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranates and Hazelnuts
- Peppermint Fudge Energy Bites
- With almonds, dates, cocoa powder, vanilla, coconut oil, dark chocolate chips, and crushed peppermint
- Homemade Eggnog
- With egg yolks, vanilla, low-fat milk and nutmeg
Spotlight on Gingerbread
Gingerbread is a common food item during the holidays and a healthy option for a snack, made with these powerful ingredients:
Ginger has antioxidant and anti-inflammatory effects to boost the immune system during the colder weather.
Molasses are dark sweetener syrups concentrat-ed with vitamins and minerals, like copper, man-ganese, calcium and potassium.
Nutmeg is a rich spice with anti-microbial and anti-inflammatory effects, helping with digestion and healthy gut, and may act as a pain reliever.
Cinnamon is high in antioxidants, helps fight infections, and has been shown to improve blood sugar and insulin resistance.
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies Recipe
- 3 cups whole wheat flour
- 2 tsp ground ginger
- 2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1/2 tsp ground cloves
- 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1/4 tsp baking powder
- 1/2 cup molasses
- 1/2 cup coconut sugar
- 1 large egg
- Combine flour, ginger, cinnamon, cloves, and baking soda / powder in a bowl and mix.
- Combine coconut oil and molasses in separate bowl and whisk until blended. Add egg and mix again.
- Pour liquid mixture into dry mixture and mix until dough forms. Divide dough in half and chill in fridge for 1 hour.
- Preheat oven to 350 F and line two baking sheets with parchment paper. Flour a surface and roll out dough until 1/4 inch thick.
- Cut out cookies using a cookie cutter and place on baking sheet. Bake for 8 to 11 minutes.
By: Camila K. F. Isern , Pepperdine Dietetic Intern
Reviewed by: Yoolim Hong, MS, RD
- Mashhadi et al. Anti-oxidative and Anti-Inflammatory Effects of Ginger in Health and Physical Activity. Int J Prev Med. 2013
- Periasamy et al. Essential Oils in Food Preservation, Flavor and Safety. Chapter 69—Nutmeg (Myristica fragans Houtt) Oils. 2015
- Grover et al. Pharmacological studies on Myristica fragrans. Methods Find Exp Clin Pharmacol. 2002
- Qin et al. Cinnamon: Potential Role in the Prevention of Insulin Resistance, Metabolic Syndrome, and Type 2 Diabetes. J Diabetes Sci Tech-nol. 2010