The 12 Days of Holiday Healthiness

A dozen ways to jumpstart your well-being routine, even in the face of cocktail parties galore.

Tips to keep the weight off this holiday season.

The most wonderful time of the year has a tendency to throw us off of our healthy eating game. With work, responsibilities at home and a mounting holiday shopping list, we can easily be derailed by an endless barrage of holiday cookies, nogs and traditional family comfort foods. Relax, we’re human. There’s plenty of time to celebrate and be nourished too.

This guide to a healthier holiday season includes simple, energizing recipes and feel-good tips for keeping spirits bright through this holiday season.

DAY 1: JUMPSTART YOUR DAILY ROUTINE

If breakfast sets the tone for your day, why not put a tiger in your tank first thing in the morning? These two healthy breakfast options are packed with vital nutrients. Try this Get Going Breakfast Bowl loaded with fiber-rich oatmeal which absorbs water and keeps you from feeling hungry through morning meetings. It also keeps blood sugar balanced and provides the body with sustainable energy.

Superfood Toast is packed with healthy fat known for boosting productivity. This hopped-up version of traditional avocado toast is prepared with 100% sprouted bread which contains the most bio-available nutrition at 6–7 grams of protein per slice. Spread it with mashed avocado and Nori. This sea vegetable is nutrient dense and supports thyroid health. Top with brain-boosting chia walnuts and chia seeds.

Get Going Breakfast Bowl

Thrive Now Tip: Eat your morning meal within an hour of opening your eyes.

DAY 2: RETHINK YOUR HOLIDAY PLATE

Get started filling 50–70% of your plate with vegetables dishes. Join the ‘Small Plate Movement’ and eat your holiday meal off of a 5-inch salad plate. The average dinner plate is inching up from 9.2 inches to 12! You are likely to eat 10% less just by shrinking your plate size. Then, make ‘Eat the best and leave the rest’ your mantra at the holiday table.

Thrive Now Tip: At holiday parties and family dinners scan the buffet and the hors d’oeuvres table before digging in and make a conscious plan about what you’re going to eat. Then, enjoy every delicious bite.

DAY 3: RAISE A GLASS TO HEALTHY HOLIDAY CHEER

WATCH OUT FOR LIQUID CALORIES in Egg Nog, Caramel Lattes and whipped-cream laden takeout Hot Chocolate. At least you know what’s going in your cup when you make it from scratch. Whip up a dairy-free Almond Nog or Hot Cacoa this year.

Plant-strong hot chocolate you can make at home and pack in a thermos for the office or serve to family and holiday guests.

Hot ‘Cacao’

2 cups nut milk (almond, cashew or macadamia) or soy milk, unsweetened

2 tablespoons raw cacao powder, unsweetened

1 tsp coconut oil

½ teaspoon vanilla

Pinch of sea salt and cayenne pepper (for kick!)

1 teaspoon honey (or agave for a vegan option)

Optional: ½ teaspoon turmeric, ½ teaspoon Maca powder

Heat the milk over stove top on low flame. Add other ingredients and whisk.

DAY 4: DRESS YOUR GREENS IN THEIR HOLIDAY BEST

Holiday Greens: Collards with red onion, cranberries and walnuts.

NOURISH GUESTS WHILE ENTERTAINING IN STYLE. Enhance your greens and offer more bang for your nutrient buck by adding toppers including fruit-sweetened cranberries, no-sugar added raisins, a squeeze of fresh citrus or toasted nuts.

To toast nuts, spread them in a skillet over medium heat, stirring often.

Use the cooking times below as a guide so they don’t burn.

Almonds and cashews: 6 to 8 minutes

Hazelnuts, Pecans and Walnuts: 8 to 10 minutes

DAY 5: TAKE YOUR VITAMIN L AND SHARE SOME

PUSH THE RESET BUTTON AND SCHEDULE ‘ME’ TIME.

Relieve stress by doing activities that make you happy.

Spend some quiet time during the holidays without technology. #mindovermatter #worthit

Give lots of hugs during the holiday. Did you know a 20 second hug releases the bonding hormone and neurotransmitter Oxytocin, which is nature’s antidepressant and anti-anxiety.

Thrive Now Tip: Download the CALM app at Calm.com. It’s free.

DAY 6: STUFF A BIRD OR A VEGETABLE

Spaghetti squash stuffed with peppers, black beans, corn, lime juice, shallots, garlic, cumin, chipotle powder and fresh herbs.

Load nutritious seasonal squash with a mixture of sautéed onions, red bell pepper, corn, kidney beans, herbs and whatever is in the produce bin screaming to be eaten before the nutrient load goes south! Optional: Melt your favorite cheddar cheese over the stuffed squash under the broiler. For a healthy holiday option, try an artisanal, dairy-free cheddar-style block or cheddar ‘shreds’ available in select markets and online. These contains zero cholesterol, are a good source of calcium and get digested more easily than traditional cheese. Easier digestion means more energy on-the-go!

DAY 7: AVOID EATING TOO MUCH AT HOLIDAY PARTIES

DON’T SKIP MEALS TO CUT CALORIES. You can even eat more if it’s the nutrient dense. Take the edge off hunger before meals with a snack including protein, fiber and healthy fat. A dried fig stuffed with walnuts or a Medjool date filled with almonds will prevent you from arriving at a holiday party ravenous. Healthy snacks are a preemptive strike against mindless overeating.

DAY 8: ENERGY BOOSTERS

INHALING THE SCENT OF CITRUS IS KNOWN TO IMPROVE MOOD AND ABILITY TO FOCUS. Unplug from seasonal stress by sniffing a Clementine orange. The skin of this seasonal fruit is bursting with the delicious scent of orange oil. Carrying a pure citrus-infused essential oil around with you at holiday time will also do the trick.

DAY 9: MAKE TIME TO MOVE

Establishing a daily exercise routine during the holiday season will elevate your spirit, reduce stress and compensate for small indulgences. Go for a brisk walk before or after sitting down for a holiday meal. Studies show that fitness after a meal helps to balance blood sugar and keep you on an even keel.

DAY 10: COME PREPARED

Bring a healthy dish for pot lucks, parties and holiday meals. This way you will be guaranteed to have a great dish to keep you on the healthy eating track — feeling energized, light and motivated to be mindful and selective about your holiday food choices around friends and family. Visit my Instagram http://instagram.com/wholefoodieronna (@wholefoodieronna) or Pinterest page http://www.pinterest.com/ronnacorlin/ for more holiday recipe ideas. Be inspired.

DAY 11: GIVE GIFTS FROM YOUR KITCHEN

My favorite gifts to give come straight from my oven.

Candied Pecans

3 cups raw pecans, soaked in water for a few hours to soften

½ tablespoon cinnamon

½ teaspoon nutmeg

½ cup maple or date sugar

¼ teaspoon Chipotle powder

1 teaspoon sea salt

Coconut or olive oil to grease baking pan

Preheat oven to 275 degrees. Strain the pecans and toss well with other ingredients. Brush pan with oil and spread mixture evenly. Bake 15–20 minutes. Stir occasionally for best results. Roast a couple more minutes, or until crisp. Cool. Toss into a festive tin and make someone happy.

DAY 12: PLAN AHEAD

Instead of the usual cookies and milk for Santa, leave him a plant-powered sandwich made with whole grain and gluten-free or sprouted bread, celery, raisins and peanut or nut-free sunflower butter. Be sure the ingredient list on the nut or seed butter jar contains only nuts or seeds — no added sugar. This will ensure that Santa stays fueled all through the night!

Thrive Now Tip: Pack energizing snacks for holiday travel. Invest in a hot/cold thermos for cold water, hot tea and warm soups. Fill a bento box with chopped veggies, veggie pate, nuts and seeds and fresh fruit.

Forget turtledoves, French hens, or even golden rings; the best gift you can give yourself this holiday season is the gift of good health. New beginnings always start today.

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