How to plan a healthy holiday season

The holiday season is quickly approaching. This is probably the hardest part of the year to stay on track with health goals. But there are tips, tricks and recipes to help. This doesn't mean you shouldn't indulge. After all, one of the great things about the holiday is the indulgences. Such as eating foods you don't normally eat or cooking a recipe that reminds you of a loved one who has passed. These are important aspects of the holiday season that help us create and keep memories alive.

How to stay healthy during the holidays

One of the easiest things to help you stay healthy during the holiday season is to buy organic food. You may not be able to find every ingredient you are cooking with as organic but if you strive for 80% organic, that will help you stay healthy and help you avoid holiday weight gain. Why? Organic food is higher in nutrients and that allows you to stay fuller longer. That means you will eat less as long as you consistently buy organic. How great is that?

In addition to buying organic, focus serving more vegetables and fruits in your holiday menu. For example, instead of serving only one vegetable side dish with meat or fish, serve two. I often serve broccoli and mushrooms or zucchini and corn or cauliflower and asparagus. Incredibly, most people will simply eat the veggies without noticing that there isn't rice, pasta or potatoes. This keeps meals on the lighter side. A side salad is an easy way to incorporate sweet fruits into dinner. An arugula salad with organic dried cherries, cranberries or apricots give a sweetness to major meals. Another idea is to serve cooked fruit such as baked apples or poached pears with the meal.

Now, how do you deal with invites to holiday parties by people who are not willing to depart from calorie laden meals or appetizers that can easily derail anyone's efforts to stay healthy? I have two suggestions. First, bring your own dish. This way you know there will be at least 1 healthy dish that you can eat with other unhealthy foods. Second, plan for the indulgence. If you know you are short on time and cannot make something healthy to bring with you, plan for it. If it is a dinner party, eat light throughout the day and focus on eating mostly vegetables. If it is a cocktail party, eat a protein bar before going to the party so you will be less likely to overeat. This will allow you to indulge smartly because you are already somewhat full from the protein bar.

Finally, change your mindset. This has only happened for me in the past month. I went organic about 6 months ago. I now find that when indulgences are placed in front of me, I simply don't want it. I don't even want to try it. I am so satisfied from eating organic foods that taste phenomenal, that I simply don't even want to eat foods that I know are not organic. Also, my sweet tooth has definitely declined. I think this is because I am eating really great tasting fruit as a snack so I am satisfying my sweet tooth with fruit.

Below are some healthy recipe ideas whether you are hosting or attending holiday parties. If you would like to receive healthy living tips and recipes for free, follow my blog on Bloglovin.

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Sweet Potato Avocado Bites from Blissful Basil. This healthy finger food is a great example of how you can stay on track with your health goals during the holiday. This recipe only takes 30 minutes to make and looks so festive on a platter. When you make this, friends and family won't believe it is a healthy option among all the unhealthy options. Click here for the recipe.

sweet potato avocado bites

Roasted Butternut Squash Hummus from The Healthy Maven. Butternut squash is so versatile! You can make soup, use it as a substitute for a cheese sauce or spaghetti and now, hummus. This recipe is so creamy you won't want chickpea hummus ever again. Serve this with sliced organic veggies and crackers or pita chips. Click here for the recipe.

roasted butternut squash

Easy Rice Bowl with Black Beans and Avocado from Cookin Canuck. This is an easy recipe for dinner or lunch that helps to simplify cooking during all the demands of the holiday season. In only 30 minutes, you can have dinner on the table. While this recipe is vegetarian, you can make sauteed chicken or turkey to put on top for those who must have meat. Click here for the recipe.

easy rice bowl with avocado

Sheet pan Honey Garlic Shrimp and Broccoli from Peas and Crayons. This recipe uses one sheet pan and is ready in 30 minutes. I always keep a bag of shrimp in the freezer because it is very easy to defrost and cooks really fast. Simply put the shrimp in a bowl of room temperature water and while you prep the other ingredients, the shrimp will defrost in no time. Click here for the recipe.

shrimp and broccoli on a sheet pan

Turkey Avocado Burgers from The Kitchn. Burgers are always a crowd-pleaser and when you use turkey instead of beef, you reduce the amount of saturated fat. Plus, you will save a few pennies since ground turkey is often less expensive than ground beef. Even when shopping organic. This recipe uses Greek yogurt to keep the burgers moist. But if you are lactose intolerant like me, I simply skip that ingredient. I find ground turkey to be very moist and doesn't need the additional creamy liquid added. Serve with a side salad for extra veggie goodness. Click here for the recipe.

turkey burger with avocado

Healthy Zucchini Lasagna Recipe from Thirty Handmade Days. This lasagna recipe does not use pasta. That's right! The pasta is substituted with zucchini. So if you are watching your carb intake or you can't find organic lasagna noodles, use zucchini instead. The recipe calls for ground beef like a traditional lasagna but if you are having a Meatless Monday dinner, simply leave out the beef. Click here for the recipe.

zucchini lasagna recipe

I hope this post has inspired you to keep to your health goals even when the holidays are here. If you have any additional tips and tricks to stay healthy during the holiday season, let me know! I'd love to hear about it.

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