The past few years have brought new life to my extended family. Babies (including twins), new boyfriends and girlfriends, and new dogs filled our houses this year! As we gathered, new traditions mixed with old, but a few things are guaranteed every year:
· At least one squealing child will be tossed in a snow bank during the annual wrapping paper fight (all in good fun).
· A lot of euchre (card game) will be played with a bit of heckling and banter (again, in good fun).
· And there will be familiar foods and cookies made from Grandma’s recipes.
As my grandmother nears 90 years, she’s handed over her holiday recipes to the younger generations. Seeing the recipes has been eye opening (8 cups of powdered sugar?! Oh, boy! Perhaps ignorance was bliss!). But it has inspired us to look for ways to adapt the dishes and add healthier options to the table. Simple favorites among the kids are fresh cut apples, orange slices, and other fruit. Fresh avocado, found on sale, was set out as an alternative to dip and was devoured in no time. I noticed this year that there was discussion about healthier foods and recipes – and I swear, I wasn’t the one who started these conversations!
For my family, the shifting responsibilities and roles around the holidays reflects the reality that our generation is rising while my grandmother’s moves into another phase. We move through this transition together, keeping the old favorites and also making way for new traditions. As we do, there are opportunities for new traditions that make it easier to be a little healthier through the holidays – so we can celebrate many more together.
I find challenges are a great way to incorporate simple small changes into my daily routine to get me moving more or saving calories here and there. Something that works for me, is taking the stairs a few flights, at least once a day. It is something I can stick with. I feel such a sense of accomplishment in this small activity. Now taking the stairs is becoming my natural choice if I have the option. Your simple change could be parking in the farther parking ramp at work, taking a afternoon power walk with a co-worker, or having an apple or popcorn for your afternoon snack. Carrying a reusable water bottle and staying hydrated throughout the day, or walking to talk to a co-worker instead of sending an email is another good option. Whatever it is, see if maybe one small thing might be a good match for you as we ring in 2013.
And speaking of merriment, I have another favorite “small change” from 2012…soda water!!! I love carbonation and bubbles. Adding carbonated water to your festive drinks, punches, juices, teas and sodas can make a whole new tasty treat with fewer calories too! You can also make your own “sodas” by just adding a drop of food-grade essential oil to a glass of soda or seltzer water!
Below I have put together a few more tips and tricks for a healthy holiday and new year.
Healthy Holiday Tips
Have breakfast! It’s a great way to maintain weight, and no grumbling stomachs later in the day.
Eat before you go to that last holiday party. I’m a klutz, so this also helps me avoid any potential embarrassment of eating + socializing!
Add seltzer or soda water to festive drinks and punch, to add bubbles and save calories. Here’s some other ways to cut calories in drinks.
Listen to yourself. If you’re going to dream of your co-worker’s famous pie for the next two days then just have a little slice. Here are some other tips on portion size if you’re interested.
Think of something you did during the challenge that you can keep going… For me it is a few flights of stairs once a day.
Have a scheduled time for activity during holiday events. It could be a family walk to look at lights, helping grandma with all the fallen leaves or a formal group game.
You can cut calories in really simple ways, check out this chart!
Offer party leftovers to guests to take home with them. Generosity and health can be a perfect pair!
Laugh! You might find yourself in the middle of a good ab workout and a great time!
Include games or activities in your holiday gatherings so everything doesn’t center on the food. Maybe a round of holiday carols, a gift-wrapping party, or a game of charades?
Did you know you can pop plain popcorn in a paper bag in the microwave, with almost nothing added!?!? This is my new favorite snack.
Arrange chairs at holiday parties in rooms away from food to avoid grazing while chatting.
You can make any party a healthy party with a few good recipes and tricks.
Simple changes can make a big difference. Find your simple changes!
Dear 100-Calorie Packs of Almonds,
It has been a long, difficult search for a delicious, savory snack that’s 100 calories or less, but still leaves me feeling as if I have eaten something and YOU ARE THE ONE.
You are so versatile. You don’t melt or freeze or get moldy, and you are always there for me when I need you:
- In my snack drawer at work
- In my glove compartment when I get done at the gym
- In the pantry when I need something to tide me over until dinner
I love your toasty crunchiness and appreciate your protein and fiber.
In a nutshell ;) I think you’re wonderful.
I just wish they sold you at Costco.
I love the holiday season. I enjoy being with my family and I love to eat. I believe in all of the traditional dishes like sweet potato pies and cakes. Anyone that really knows me knows that I have a real weakness for sweets. I don’t want to deny myself. I feel like it’s the holiday and you should enjoy. During the Christmas/Thanksgiving dinner I eat a little of everything. I guess you could say I do my own private taste test, and this year is no exception. One thing that I have incorporated this year is a lovely fresh fruit centerpiece on my table filled with apples, bananas and cuties (OMG I love those things). My family seems to enjoy and I can’t keep it filled!
My challenge has been with the physical activity. I cannot motivate myself.
I began to wonder if I was overthinking it and I was! I love to dance and it occurred to me that I could probably get a lot of exercise from some of the dances that are out now. So that’s how I am going to fit my physical activity in and enjoy it. After Christmas dinner, the Soul Train Line is definitely on! Here is a list of my favorite line dance songs: The wobble, Cupid Shuffle, Cha Cha and Electric Slide. If you attempt some of these dances – well done- if you last through these dances – you rock- and if you can do any of them back to back – I am so impressed!
Check out this wobble tutorial:
Food is special during the holidays. For someone who loves to cook, try new recipes, and enjoy old favorites, it's a pretty exciting time.
But how to do that and stay trim is the challenge.
I have a tradition of baking this time of year. My family has come to expect my cookies. I also have traditional foods I make for holiday meals. My daughter would cry if I didn't make my Monkey Bread on Christmas morning, even though she's 30-years-old.
The key is portion control, and using recipes that limit fat and sugar while keeping great taste.
If I had one wish for every person who likes to eat healthy food and food that tastes good (who doesn't want that?) - it would be to find a magazine or website that features healthy recipes that fit your lifestyle, your cooking style and skill, and your personality.
I am a Cooking Light girl -- have been from Day One -- and that's where most of my holiday recipes come from. I do find recipes in other places and modify them myself, but if I'm pinched on time (not thyme) I go first to Cooking Light online to see what's there.
My Monkey Bread recipe is from the January/February 1995 issue (which tells you how long I have been making this Christmas-morning must-have). I serve this with baked or scrambled eggs and fruit (usually grapefruit and orange sections), which are in season this time of year. (I use butter instead of margarine - we've learned a lot about bad fats since this recipe was first published.)
My cookies are traditional recipes but I make them with half the butter. People are always amazed when I tell them this. And yet they taste as decadent. I've even had people tell me they actually taste better.
And of course, we have plenty of fruits and vegetables around for meals and snacks so we aren't tempted only by the goodies in the cookie jar. And I find ways to make those as memorable.
Here are a few other websites that have healthy recipes. Maybe from this list you can build your own repetoire of holiday treats that will become your family's traditional favorites.
Allrecipes Healthy Recipes
Epicurious Healthy Recipes