By Rachel Reid, RD
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.
- Don’t skip meals. Skipping breakfast and/or lunch in anticipation of dinner could lead to overeating.
- Don’t forget the veggies. Make holiday meals full of different colors.
- Be mindful of beverages. Holiday beverages such as eggnog and apple cider can add extra calories to your meal.
- Often, holiday meals have an overwhelming amount of options. Try a couple bites of everything instead of getting a full portion of each.
- Avoid “fat talk,” diet talk, or controversial food topics that may be upsetting.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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
- 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)
- Preheat oven to 400°
- Lightly grease two separate foil-lined baking sheets each with 1 tablespoon olive oil.
- Toss trimmed and halved Brussels sprouts in a bowl with 2 tablespoons olive oil.
- Place on one of the foil-lined baking sheets.
- Toss cubed butternut squash in a bowl with 1 tablespoon olive oil, 3 tablespoons maple syrup and ½ teaspoon cinnamon.
- Place squash in a single layer on the second foil-lined baking sheet.
- Bake both baking sheets for 20-25 minutes, until squash is softened and Brussels sprouts look nicely charred, but not blackened.
- 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!
- 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)
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!