Easy Tips & Recipes to Stay Healthy this Holiday Season

By Rachel Reid, RD
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Holidays are a time for family, fun, festivities, and memory-making. Even with all the joy and thanksgiving, this time of year can be stressful. Here are 10 healthful eating tips to reduce stress and improve wellness this holiday season.

  1. Don’t skip meals. Skipping breakfast and/or lunch in anticipation of dinner could lead to overeating.
  1. Don’t forget the veggies. Make holiday meals full of different colors.
  1. Be mindful of beverages. Holiday beverages such as eggnog and apple cider can add extra calories to your meal.
  1. Often, holiday meals have an overwhelming amount of options. Try a couple bites of everything instead of getting a full portion of each.
  1. Avoid “fat talk,” diet talk, or controversial food topics that may be upsetting.
  1. Limit TV and electronic distractions during the meal (yes, that means taking a break from watching football) to allow for mindfulness and to enjoy your company.
  1. For those recovering from an eating disorder, have a plan in place for the meal and identify a support person to reach out to if/when needed.
  1. Take a break before having a second helping of food. This allows you to check in with your appetite and body’s signals. Keep in mind that it takes 20-30 minutes for your brain to receive fullness signals from the stomach.
  1. Clear the table after the meal. Clearing the food will limit unnecessary snacking. One suggestion is to set up a board game to play after the meal.
  1. Plan time for something active. Take a brisk walk, play catch, or go for a bike ride.

Here is an easy holiday side dish that is delicious, colorful, and packed full of holiday flavors. This can be served either hot or cold and makes a great complement to traditional holiday dishes.

Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts Medley

Makes 6 servings

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and cut in half
  • 1 ½ pounds OR approximately 4 cups raw butternut squash, peeled, seeded, and cubed into 1-inch cubes
  • 1 cup cranberries, dried
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 5 tablespoons olive oil
  • 2 cups pecan halves (can substitute ½ cup pumpkin seeds)

Directions:

Preparation:

  1. Preheat oven to 400°
  2. Lightly grease two separate foil-lined baking sheets each with 1 tablespoon olive oil.

Brussels sprouts:

  1. Toss trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
  2. Place on one of the foil-lined baking sheets.

Butternut squash:

  1. Toss cubed butternut squash in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
  2. Place squash in a single layer on the second foil-lined baking sheet.

Roasting:

  1. Bake both baking sheets for 20-25 minutes, until squash is softened and Brussels sprouts look nicely charred, but not blackened.

Assembly:

  1. In a large bowl, combine roasted Brussels sprouts, roasted butternut squash, pecans and cranberries. Mix to combine. (Optional: for more sweetness, you can add 2 tablespoons of maple syrup if desired, toss with mixture to combine.)

Butternut Squash Soup with Coconut Milk

Makes 6-8 servings

This is a great recipe for people who love the richness of butternut squash soup. The coconut milk adds a different twist of flavors and results in a silky texture – so yummy!

Ingredients:

  • 1 tablespoon olive oil
  • ½ cup thinly sliced shallots
  • 1 tablespoon minced garlic
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup canned coconut milk
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Two 12-ounce packages fresh cubed butternut squash or fresh organic butternut squash
  • Cilantro leaves (optional)

Directions:

Heat a large heavy saucepan over medium-high heat. Add oil to pan; swirl to coat. Add shallots; sauté 3 minutes or until softened, stirring occasionally. Add garlic. Sauté 1 minute. Add 2 cups water, coconut milk, salt, red pepper, and squash; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 20 minutes or until squash is tender, stirring occasionally.

Place squash mixture in a blender. Blend until smooth. Serve with a sprig of cilantro!