Have a Happy Healthy Holiday

by Sharon Quercioli

The holidays are a great time of year. No matter what holiday you celebrate, this time of year is usually filled with family, friends and great food. All that great food can come at a price, however. On average, people gain around a pound during the holidays. People who are considered overweight or obese gain about five pounds of extra weight this time of year.


Don’t use the holidays as a reason to splurge and put your health at risk. You can still have all those great meals and sweets without having to worry about what that may mean to your waistline or your blood pressure. Today, I’m going to give you a list of simple things that you can do to stay healthy through the New Year.

  1. Why wait to start your New Year’s resolutions?

Come up with your list now, and start incorporating some of those small habits into your everyday routine. If you can keep that up through the holidays, next year will be a breeze. Not to mention, you’ll get a head start on your 2018 goals.

  1. Portion control is the key to maintaining a healthy weight – especially around the holidays.

We all like to splurge a little bit. The problem is when we splurge on a regular basis and needlessly. Having one extra sugar cookie won’t hurt, but, before you do, consider what your personality type is (and be honest with yourself). What is your weakness? I know that my weakness is my sweet tooth and my penchant for potato products. Because of that, I try to stay away from the mashed potatoes and replace the sweets with healthier versions. Instead of regular sugar cookies, I have a serving of strawberries. Instead of mashed potatoes, I have mashed sweet potatoes.

  1. Fill up on vegetables and water.

Drink a glass of water before you begin a big meal. Not only will this help you stay hydrated, it will make you feel a little fuller so you won’t fill up on simple carbs. In addition, try to fill half of your plate with healthy, clean vegetables.

Now that we’ve covered a few things that you can do, I want to share my favorite healthy holiday recipes with you.

Brussel Sprouts and Apples


What You’ll Need:

  • A couple pounds of Brussels sprouts
  • A fourth of a cup of butter
  • A half a teaspoon of salt
  • Two small apples, cored and sliced thinly
  • Two tablespoons of thyme
  • A fourth of a cup of walnuts, chopped
  • A fourth of a teaspoon of crushed red pepper

What You Need to Do:

  • Wash, halve and trim the Brussels sprouts. Bring a pot of water to boil and use it to cook the Brussels sprouts, uncovered for two minutes. Drain and plunge the Brussels sprouts into a bowl of ice water. Leave it alone for three minutes. Drain. Pat dry.
  • Melt the butter over medium heat in a large pan. Cook, stir, until it smells nutty and starts to brown. Reduce the heat to medium low and add the Brussels sprouts. Cook, stir, for about five minutes. Add the salt, thyme, and apples. Cook for seven minutes. The Brussels sprouts should be brown, and the apples should be tender. Place in a serving bowl and sprinkle with the walnuts and crushed pepper.

Heart Healthy Potatoes with Cheese


What You’ll Need:

  • A ten ounce can of cream of reduced fat and reduced sodium cream of chicken soup
  • A cut of reduced fat sharp cheddar cheese
  • A half of a cup of fat free milk
  • A cup of light dairy sour cream
  • A third of a cup of chopped onions
  • A half of a teaspoon of ground black pepper
  • Thirty ounces of potatoes cut julienne
  • A half of a cup of whole wheat breadcrumbs
  • (Optional) One cup of a mixture of your favorite vegetables. Suggestions would include: chopped carrots, chopped kale, spinach (or any other dark leafy green), chopped cauliflower, chopped broccoli, or sweet potatoes.

What You Need to Do:

  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Grease a two-quart baking dish. In a large bowl, mix all the ingredients (except for the potatoes and breadcrumbs) together. Mix in the potatoes. If you want to mix in vegetables that aren’t some kind of leafy green, mix it in now.
  • Cover and bake for 45 minutes. Stir the potatoes (and leafy greens, if you choose to add some in). Sprinkle on the breadcrumbs. Bake (uncovered) for 25 minutes, until it is bubbly. Let stand for 10 minutes.

Healthy Sugar Cookies

Instead of all that sugar, this recipe replaces some of the unhealthy ingredients with healthier options like honey, lemon zest, and whole wheat flour.


What You’ll Need:

  • Two cups of all-purpose flour
  • Two thirds of a cup of whole wheat flour
  • A teaspoon and a half of baking powder
  • A fourth of a teaspoon of salt
  • A half of a cup of canola oil
  • Four tablespoons of butter
  • A half a cup and a tablespoon of sugar
  • A large egg
  • Zest of a medium lemon
  • A fourth of a cup and a tablespoon of honey
  • Two teaspoons of vanilla
  • A teaspoon of lemon extract

What You Need to Do:

  • Whisk all the flour, baking powder and salt together in a medium bowl. Mix and beat the oil, butter, sugar, egg and lemon zest in a mixing bowl with an electric mixer on low speed until blended. Mix in honey, vanilla and lemon extract until incorporated.
  • Beat about half the flour mixture into the wet mixture. Beat in the remaining flour mixture until incorporated. Don’t overbeat or the cookies will be tough and hard.
  • Divide into thirds, wrap each third with parchment paper and put in the freezer for at least a half an hour (and up to twenty-four hours).
  • Preheat oven for 350 degrees while you line a baking sheet with parchment paper. For cookies that are about three inches in diameter, bake for approximately 8 minutes (all ovens are different so watch the first batch and time the rest accordingly). Make sure that the cookies are brown on the bottom.

No matter what you celebrate this year, have a happy, healthy holiday!


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