The day that we have all been waiting for has finally come. Thanksgiving is right around the corner! Better yet, it is the official beginning of holiday season! Holiday season is my favorite time of the year. A time filled with family, friends, holiday music, cold weather, twinkly lights all throughout the city (I have an obsession with any kind of twinkly/sparkly lights), and FOOD. C’mon. We know everyone’s favorite part of the holiday season is the food that comes along with it. Starting with Thanksgiving, we all put on our big baggy sweaters and stretchy pants so we can fit as much of Grandpa’s pumpkin pie in our stomachs as we can. Holiday season is also a time when a lot of us fall off track with our healthy eating. We allow ourselves to indulge (maybe sometimes too much) in relatively unhealthy foods and treats, alcoholic drinks, and lack of exercise. This is not all bad. The holiday season is a time to enjoy oneself, so if you take some time off from going to the gym to spend a little extra time with family, don’t beat yourself up about it. There are plenty of ways to balance the indulgences of the holiday season with your normal healthy lifestyle. Part of a healthy lifestyle is allowing yourself to have that slice of pie at Thanksgiving, or an extra glass of wine at the dinner table at Grandmum’s Christmas party. A healthy lifestyle is just that: a LIFESTYLE. It is not a diet, so when you have that slice of pie, you’re not cheating. You’re simply allowing yourself to have a little extra something sweet on a day that should be filled with laughter and delicious food, not counting calories in your head.
With that being said, this does not mean that you need to gorge yourself with everything on the dinner table and go back for seconds and thirds. All I am saying is that there is a way to enjoy yourself throughout the holiday season without setting yourself back. Here I have created a few tips to staying healthy during the holidays, and a recipe for a delicious Brussels Sprout Quinoa Salad that is sure to be a hit on Thanksgiving!
Tip 1: Allow yourself to enjoy, but not too much. What do I mean by this? If you really want some of your Grandpa’s famous Potatoes Al Gratin, go for it! But don’t go back up for seconds and thirds. Allow yourself to enjoy the savory, decadent, “I-know-this-isn’t-good-for-me-but-I-don’t-care” side dish, and then head over to the vegetables and load up on green beans, brussels sprouts, salad, and squash. By choosing more veggies on your plate, you’ll fill yourself up in no time and be satisfied knowing that you got to enjoy one of your favorite dishes without going overboard and feeling gross.
Tip 2: Bring a healthified version of your favorite dish to the table! One of my favorite dishes at Thanksgiving is my mom’s Broccoli Casserole. It’s ridiculously good, so much so that she has now had to make double the batch because my dads family can’t keep themselves away! Being that the casserole contains mayo, cheddar cheese, cream of mushroom soup, and crushed up cheese itz (oh, and broccoli, but the other stuff is what makes it so good), it is definitely not the healthiest of dishes at the table. Now that I am a proud vegan, the majority of the ingredients are a no-go. So my goal this year is to make a vegan, healthy version of her broccoli casserole! Will it be as decadent as hers? No probably not, and it most likely will not be as popular on my Grandmum’s table. However, this healthier, animal-friendly version will have it’s own spotlight.
Tip 3: Keep on running! I’m an avid runner; it is one of my absolute favorite things to do. It keeps me healthy and fit, while clearing my mind and allowing me to relax. When wintertime comes around and it starts to get colder outside, it is always a little harder to put on my long sleeve pullover and gloves and head out for an hour long run. However, during the holiday season, keeping up with your fitness routine is SO important. If you are allowing yourself to indulge, great! You should. But don’t put exercise on the back burner too. By continuing to go to the gym or getting out for a run or going to a power yoga class, we can keep off that holiday fluff while still enjoying ourselves!
Tip 4: Enjoy the drinks, but don’t go overboard. Drinking alcohol inevitably comes along with the holiday season. Whether it’s mimosas on Christmas day, eggnog at the holiday party, or red wine with your Thanksgiving feast. The same goes for alcohol as it does for food. Enjoy a few drinks! Try to avoid the drinks with lots of syrup and added sugars, because all that means is extra unnecessary calories. But a few glasses of red wine are fine. Red wine, when consumed in moderation, is actually healthy for you! So go ahead, pour a little Cabernet in your glass and toast with family and friends.
Overall, enjoy yourself! Don’t go over board, and continue with your exercise routine. By following the tips above, you’ll be on your way to a wonderful holiday season, without having to make that New Year’s Resolution to loose the holiday pounds ☺
Brussels Sprouts Quinoa Salad
(Recipe from www.EmilieEats.com)
- 1 pound Brussels sprouts, halved
- 3 cups butternut squash, cut into ½-inch chunks
- ⅔ cup dry quinoa
- 1 medium pomegranate, deseeded
- ½ cup pecans, chopped
- 1 small orange, juiced (about ¼ cup)
- 2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar
- 1 tablespoon hemp seeds (optional)
- ½ teaspoon salt
- ¼ teaspoon pepper
- Preheat oven to 375F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper or grease with cooking spray.
- Place Brussels sprouts on one side of the pan and butternut squash on the other side, or you can use two pans.
- Bake for 25 minutes; remove Brussels sprouts and place into a large bowl. Return squash to the oven; bake for 15-20 more minutes, until tender. Add to the bowl with Brussels sprouts.
- While the vegetables are baking, rinse quinoa in a small mesh strainer. Heat a small saucepan over medium heat; add quinoa. Cook for 1-2 minutes until lightly toasted. Add 1⅓ cups water; turn heat to high. Once boiling, cover and cook for 13-15 minutes, until fluffy.
- In a small bowl, add orange juice, balsamic vinegar, hemp seeds, salt, and pepper. Whisk to combine.
- In the large bowl with the vegetables, add quinoa, pomegranate seeds, and pecans. Stir to combine. Pour in the dressing; stir.
- Serve as a side dish and enjoy!