How to host a healthy holiday

December 11, 2018

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Tis’ the season to indulge. 

The holidays tend to be a time for sugar, and spice, and everything nice, but for those diligently working toward a healthier lifestyle –– where there’s a will there’s a way! Here’s how to host a healthy holiday for you, your friends, and loved ones. 

First, there are three ways to ensure you and your family stay on track throughout the holidays without feeling like you can’t indulge in holiday treats. If you can manage to maintain these three practices you will feel healthier, have more energy, and will have a little more wiggle room to splurge at the family get-together.

Three golden rules of healthy holidaying 

  1. Portion control: Research shows that the more you have on your plate, naturally, the more you’ll consume. Be mindful of selecting an appropriate portion so that you feel full and satisfied without being unable to button your pants. 
  2. Drink in moderation if at all: In most cases, it’s safest to avoid alcohol altogether. But, it’s the holidays, and a glass of red wine is probably okay. Prospective research suggests that moderate consumption may provide potential health benefits for some people, although there is no officially recommended intake of alcohol. Moderate consumption is no more than one drink daily for women and no more than two for men. This is not the same thing as recommending that you should drink at all.
  3. Don’t skip exercise: There is no need to take the holidays off from exercise. Stick to your usual workout routine if possible — the American Heart Association recommends a half-hour of moderate aerobic activity at least five days per week. 

If you’re racking your brain for some delicious, but nutritious, holiday recipes, try these three alternatives to more traditional, calorie-packed holiday meals:

White Chicken Chili

From BroccYourBody

Ingredients

  • 2 organic chicken breasts
  • 2 10 oz cans black beans drained and rinsed
  • 2 10 oz cans fire roasted tomatoes with green chilies
  • 1 4 oz can green chilies
  • 2 cobs corn (or 1 can - drained) kernels cut off
  • 1/2 white onion diced
  • 4 cloves garlic minced
  • 2-3 cups chicken broth depends on how thick you want it
  • 4 oz cream cheese
  • 1-2 cups kale de-stemmed
  • 1 tbsp chili powder, salt and pepper
  • 1 tsp paprika, oregano, and cumin

Toppings

  • green onion
  • jalapeno
  • avocado
  • Greek yogurt
  • crackers or chips
  • mozzarella cheese

Instructions

  1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker. 
  2. Top with cream cheese. Trader Joe’s offers a “light” cream cheese with less fat and calories, but I opted for regular since the ingredients were much cleaner! 
  3. Cook on high for 3-4 hours or low for 7-8, stirring once every hour or so.
  4. Shred the chicken, add one cup of kale (de-stemmed), and season to taste. 
  5. Top with green onion, jalapeño, avocado, Greek yogurt, cornbread crisps or tortilla chips and some mozzarella cheese. 

Roasted Chicken Dinner

From Lexi’s Clean Kitchen

Ingredients

  • 3 medium potatoes, cut to same size
  • 9 cloves garlic, divided
  • 1 red onion, sliced  
  • 2 large carrots, cut to same size
  • 1 tablespoon avocado oil 
  • 1 teaspoon fine sea salt 
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper 
  • 1-3 lb. whole chicken
  • 1 small bunch of thyme, divided
  • 3 scallions, divided
  • 2 sprigs sage, divided
  • 3 tablespoons grass-fed butter, softened
  • fine sea salt and fresh ground black pepper 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 425º F.
  2. Place the potatoes, 8 garlic cloves, onion, and carrots, in a large cast iron pan or roasting pan. Toss with avocado oil, salt, pepper and spread out on pan. Make a small hole in the middle for the chicken to be placed. 
  3. Prepare the butter spread by finely chopping 1 teaspoon of both the fresh thyme and the sage, and 1 tablespoon of the scallion, and mincing 1 garlic clove. In a small bowl add fresh herbs, garlic and softened butter to combine.
  4. To prepare the chicken remove the giblets and remove any excess fat or feathers. Salt and pepper both the outside and the inside of the chicken. add remaining scallions, thyme and sage to the cavity. Tie the legs together with kitchen string and tuck the wing tips under the body of the chicken. Place chicken in the middle of the vegetables and spread the herb butter all over the skin of the chicken.
  5. Place in the preheated oven and roast until chicken registers 165, or until juices run clear, about 1 hour and 10 minutes. 
  6. Let chicken rest for 15 minutes before slicing and serving.

Overnight Oats with Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Jam

From Love and Lemons

Ingredients

Overnight Oats (this makes 2 servings)
  • 1 cup whole rolled oats
  • 1 cup almond milk
  • Pinch of salt
  • Drizzle of maple syrup, optional for sweeter oats
Strawberry Rhubarb Chia Jam (makes almost 2 cups)
  • 2 cups chopped strawberries
  • 1 cup chopped rhubarb (about 1 stalk, ends trimmed)
  • ½ teaspoon lemon juice
  • Pinch of salt
  • 1 ½ to 2 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons chia seeds
For serving (optional)

Instructions

  1. Make the jam. In a small saucepan over medium heat, simmer the strawberries, rhubarb, lemon juice, and salt for 10 minutes, stirring often so that the fruit doesn't burn to the bottom of the pot. Remove from the heat and stir in the maple syrup and chia seeds. Let cool to room temperature, 20 to 30 minutes (the rhubarb will continue to soften). Transfer to a jar and chill for at least an hour.
  2. Make the oats. Divide the oats into 2 glass jars, pour in the almond milk, a pinch of salt, and maple syrup, if desired. Stir, cover, and chill overnight.
  3. In the morning, assemble oat jars with a generous scoop of the chia jam.
  4. If desired, serve with granola, (the crunch is a nice contrast to the soft oats), maple syrup for extra sweetness, and coconut cream for a decadent breakfast.
And although it seems like every holiday’s focal point is the food, that’s not necessarily true! Instead of hosting a dinner, here are some activities to keep your guests entertained:
  • Board games
  • Gift exchange
  • Holiday movie 
  • Caroling 
  • Snowball fight
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Are you feeling symptoms of a seasonal cold or flu and need to see a provider today? Swedish Express Care offers same-day appointments at neighborhood clinics, video visits on your smartphone, and house calls for when you need to stay at home.

This information is not intended as a substitute for professional medical care. Always follow your health care professional's instructions.