Here are some tips that will help you get through the holidays. Thanks Innocent Indulgence for the great ideas!!
1. Set a goal of maintaining your weight and/or size during the holidays, of course you don’t want to gain wait but also don’t try and go on a diet! Be realistic.
2. Be sure that you are drinking lots of water or herbal tea during the day. Drinking water will keep you feeling full longer and will help you stay healthier during the holidays.
3. By starting your day off with a great breakfast. You will be less likely to fill up on holiday treats later. Also, you can balance what you plan on eating later and indulge in moderation on foods that you would like to enjoy later in the day. Nutritious breakfast ideas include: smoothie, green juice, fruit and whole grain toast or cereals.
4. Plan what you are going to eat ahead of time at holiday parties. By preparing yourself, you will be less likely to eat everything in sight when you see the spread. Start by limiting yourself to only one plate of food. Also, try eating a small healthy meal or snack before you go, so you won’t be as hungry at the party. Eating celery, drinking a green juice or having something hearty like hummus helps to satisfy cravings.
5. Be a sweetie and bring a dish or a snack. Not only will you contribute to the spread, but you will bring your favorite “healthy version” of the treats, share the goodness and ensure that there will be at least one nutritious option.
6. Keep your body moving! It doesn’t mean you have to start training for a marathon, but this a perfect time of year to connect with friends and family and play games outside, go for a walk or jog, ice skate, join a gym, or even start home workout videos.
7. Take time for yourself! The holidays are a busy time of year and can be very stressful. Take at least 5 minutes every day for yourself. Sit or lay down, clear your mind, relax and just breathe and enjoy the true meaning of the season.
8. Watch your intake of calories from beverages. During this time of year, many will be drinking lattes, hot chocolate, hot cider, and alcohol. All are loaded with empty calories which mean they don’t have a whole lot of nutritional value. Empty calories can lead to weight gain, especially when paired with all of the other holiday goodies. Try these versions of hot chocolate and Chai lattes and indulge without guilt!
9. Cookie platters and exchanges seem to make great gifts, but they also tempt you to nibble continuously. Instead of keeping them out on the counter, place them in a glass container and freeze them or give them to someone else as a gift! Or make these delectable cookies or Vegan Chewy Chocolate Brownies for your holiday party.
10. When you are eating holiday treats, enjoy them. When you decide you want a piece of pumpkin pie or a couple ginger bread cookies, choose a reasonable portion, sit down and enjoying every bite and don’t feel guilty. It is the holidays and they only come once a year!
If you’re still looking for holiday gifts or a way to pave the path to a healthy new year, book healthy cooking classes with us. Classes are up to 40% off for only a few more weeks. So don’t miss out! Check out the many discounted classes and packages here.
Enjoy a very special and healthy holidays!
Credit for this post and these tips were so fabulously inspired by Innocent Indulgence, namely Alisha Chasey (owner) and Rachel P (intern at ASU). My favourite dessert company in Arizona! Wish they were local!
Here are some alternative options that will satisfy your desires and allow you to indulge without guilt!
Choosing some of these healthy alternatives to create your holiday meals will not only provide you with variety, but it will also give you unique flavours to create comforting meals that are sure to please your whole family!
Here are some comforting veg recipes to get you going for the holidays:
You can get more delicious knowledge by checking out Marni’s Veggin’ Comfortably e-book, available here: http://www.marniwasserman.com/ebooks/
Originally featured on Chatelaine
Don’t get overwhelmed with too many recipes when it comes to your holiday cooking this year. You may be deciding whether to stick with tradition, or just go with what is easiest and quickest to prepare. Why not go with some simple, healthy options, even if it means breaking a tradition or two? It will not only save you calories and excess fat, but you will have a colourful and balanced dinner on your plate and actually feel great afterward. Here are some ideas on how to sort through each component of your meal and how to choose wisely:
Instead of a cheesy dip, devilled eggs, or cheese puffs, serve a warming bowl of split pea soup. Soup makes a great holiday appetizer since it fills you up without giving you too many calories. It is also served warm, which means it will give you time to sip it before you eat too many bacon wrapped bread sticks!
White mashed potatoes with butter, cream, or milk are a holiday staple, but try making some squash instead this year. There are many varieties available, such as acorn, butternut, buttercup, or even spaghetti squash. All you have to do is cut the squash in half, drizzle it with olive or coconut oil, add a pinch of cinnamon, and bake it for an hour. Squash is delicious alongside any dish, and is naturally sweet with fewer calories and fat than traditional mashed potatoes.
Standard dishes like creamed spinach and overcooked veggies coated with cheese sauce have more calories than necessary for one meal. Instead, choose to lightly steam some green beans, Swiss chard, or broccoli. Be sure not to over-steam though, since you want your veggies to be crisp and green! Drizzle them with olive oil and lemon juice and top it all off with chopped almonds or cranberries for a unique flavour.
Instead of ham or roast beef, consider leaner and cleaner options like organic free-range turkey breast baked with rosemary and fresh lemon juice. Or go vegetarian and venture into making a lentil loaf or quinoa pilaf.
A good alternative to fruitcake, rich puddings, and parfaits is to opt for a homemade gingerbread loaf or cookies made with spelt flour, maple syrup, and applesauce. You will not only save calories but also actually add fibre and nutrients to your dessert tray!
It doesn’t matter whether you have something to stuff or not, because this veggie stuffing recipe tastes great all on its own or on your plate beside some quinoa, squash, or steamed greens.
This delicious recipe will be featured in my Holiday Harvest Class on Thursday! (3 Spots Left – come and join the fun)
Apple Walnut Stuffing
6 cups firmly-packed diced whole kamut bread
1/2 tablespoons light olive oil
1 1/2 cups chopped red onion
1 1/2 cups peeled, diced tart apple (granny smith)
3 bunches scallions, minced
2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley
1/2 teaspoon each: dried thyme, savory
3/4 teaspoon seasoned salt, more or less to taste
1/2 cup finely chopped walnuts
Freshly ground pepper to taste
1 1/2 cups apple juice
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
- Place the diced bread on a baking sheet.
- Bake 10 to 12 minutes, or until dry and lightly browned.
- Heat the oil in a large skillet. Add the red onion and sauté over medium heat until golden. Add the apple and sauté for another 5 minutes.
- In a mixing bowl, combine the bread cubes with the onion and apple mixture. Add all the remaining ingredients except the apple juice and toss together. Sprinkle in the apple juice slowly while stirring to moisten the ingredients evenly.
- Transfer the mixture to an oiled shallow 1 1/2-quart baking pan. Bake 25 to 30 minutes, or until browned and still slightly moist. Stir once during the baking time. Transfer to a covered serving container.
Marni’s Delicious Knowledge
Who doesn’t love stuffing? Serve this recipe at your holiday meal this year and your guests
will savour every delicious bite. Not sure what to do with leftovers? Toss them in a wrap with fresh
vegetables the next day for a filling, festive lunch or snack.
Originally featured in Chatelaine
These cold, dark evenings at this time of year seem to coax out everyone’s sweet tooth. There is just something about the winter months makes us want to load up on sweet foods, but that doesn’t mean we need to load up on empty calories!
With Christmas, New Year’s Eve, and holiday parties fast approaching, we all need to make an extra effort to stay in control not to overindulge. Holiday treats are exciting to serve, fun to make, and make us feel happy. However, they aren’t always healthy. This doesn’t mean that I’m telling you not to enjoy them, but there is no reason to give your body desserts that have no nutritional value, when you can benefit from every bite by making your own desserts with natural ingredients that don’t compromise on taste or your figure!
Most holiday desserts – including cakes, cookies, and pies – are full of:
- Hydrogenated oils and saturated fats – These are used to keep most desserts and pastries on the shelf longer (they stick to your hips longer too) and are loaded with dense fats that can cause blockages in your heart and arteries.
- Refined sugars – These can be anything from white powered sugar to table sugar or even brown sugar. Other than being overly sweet and full of empty calories that accumulate on your waistline, they are often used to make your crave more than one piece of pie or more than one cookie.
- Processed white flour – This is often used to make cakes fluffy, light, and airy but give your body no nutritional value aside from starches which equal excess calories.
Choose these wholesome ingredients to make your cakes, cookies, squares, and pies:
- Coconut oil and grapseed oil – These are pure natural oils that can be heated to high temperatures without denaturing their precious fats. They work great in a variety of recipes and are good for you too. For example, coconut oil promotes health and offers a host of nutrients that benefit our skin, hair, nails, and the organs. See here for more info.
- Sucanat, maple syrup, and dried fruit – These wholesome sweeteners can be used instead of sugar in any dessert recipe. Sucanat is dark and rich and a great substitute for brown sugar, especially for gingerbread and date squares. Maple syrup gives a nice smooth sweetness to cookies and cakes and dried fruit is a great natural way to add sweetness without sugar.
- Spelt, kamut, or oat flour – All of these are great substitutes for both white and wheat flour. They are high in fiber, protein, and vitamins and can be substituted one-for-one in any baked recipe that calls for white flour. You can even use unbleached light spelt flour, which is like all-purpose flour and works great for squares, fluffy cakes, and loafs.
To learn how to bake some delicious and guild free desserts, join one of my dessert classes!
Orange Apricot Fig-Date Squares
1 cup chopped apricots, or dates
1 cup chopped dried figs
Juice of 1 orange
½ cup water
½ cup coconut butter
½ cup sucanat, coconut or maple sugar
1 ¾ cup light spelt flour
½ tsp baking soda
1 cup rolled oats
- Preheat oven to 350 F.
- Combine dates, orange juice, and water in a saucepan. Cook, covered, on low heat for 10 minutes, stirring occasionally. Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a bowl, cream together the coconut oil and “sugar”. Stir in the flour, salt, and baking soda. Add the oats and mix using your hands. The dough will be crumbly but will hold together when squeezed.
- Press 2/3 of the dough onto an oiled 8 or 9-inch square baking pan. Stir the date mixture and spread it over the dough. Crumble the remaining dough on top.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Cool in the pan and cut into squares.
Marni’s Delicious Knowledge:
People don’t usually know that both figs and apricots are great sources of iron. But make
sure that you buy apricots that are dark brown and not bright orange (due to sulphites).
The rich and decadent taste of dark turkish apricots makes this recipe come to life! Also opt to use coconut sugar for a low glycemic option.
There is a magical little place perched in on the lake in Bancroft, Ontario and it is known as Grail Springs. I was lucky enough to first find out about it from a good friend of mine who went there for spa weekend with her mom. After hearing all the details about what this place had to offer, I knew I had to try it out for myself. I immediately booked Ryan and myself a room for Labour Day weekend last September, and it was everything I had imagined and more!
Since I had such an incredible time the first time. My friend who had told me about it, Jaime, and I went back in November on my birthday to see David Wolfe and just take a night away from the city! This was one of the best birthdays ever… (if you know what I mean)! I was so well taken care of up there. Madeleine Merentette, the founder and face of Grail Springs made me feel so welcome and special on my birthday. She is an incredible powerhouse of energy and passion. She has put her entire heart and soul into her haven at Grail Springs. She brings together the mind, body and spirit all wrapped up into one gorgeous and healing venue.
It’s not only that the property and setting of Grail Springs is amazing, so is everything that they offer. Grail is somewhere that you would escape to for a weekend, week or month away. Whether you want time for yourself, with a partner or a friend. Grail is a platform to heal, rejuvenate, relax, detox, meditate, do yoga and achieve a higher sense of well being. We are so lucky to have a place like this so close to Toronto. The accommodations are cozy, each week there is a different host or expert guiding guests through something fun, intriguing and enlightening, and the food is absolutely incredible. For someone like me who has to travel with a second suitcase or bag full of my own food, I don’t have to do this at Grail Springs. As it accommodates me as a vegetarian (as this is Madeleine’s philosophy) – being sensitive to wheat, dairy and sugar. Grail Springs has got it all. Here is just a sample of what the menu was on my birthday…if that’s not to die for, I don’t know what is!
With all that being said, there is no doubt I was made to host my very own retreat at Grail Springs. We just both have way to much in common! So on May 2nd I will be there for 4 days taking individuals through a journey in food. I will be there to talk, share and demonstrate all things plant based. Showing people how to make the transition to a more delicious lifestyle eating only the best foods nature has to offer. For more detail on my retreat and to book your spot please click here
Are you hosting the Holidays at your home this year? Having everyone over in the comfort of your home will ensure that you know exactly what is on the menu! This way you can plan a diverse menu that is hearty, healthy and delicious! Tell people what to bring, prepare the meal together or make it all yourself! Whatever works for you, make it happen and enjoy the perfect balanced holiday meal!
1. Variety –You want to make sure you have a little bit of everything so you are not left craving anything after the meal or feel like something is missing from you plate. A whole plate full of mashed potatoes, a piece of bread and turkey is not very appetizing, colourful or creative!
2. Texture – It’s always nice to experience a different sensation in your mouth with each bite – strive for a dish that is Crunchy (steamed green veggies), Chewy (cooked grains), Soft (mashed sweet potatoes) and Crispy (baked apple crisp). Those are just some ideas!
3. Colour – Choose lots of vibrant fresh colours from squash, yams, parsnips, carrots, and beets – with that alone you can create an amazing roasted root vegetable dish or a creamy soup. Always include some dark leafy greens like kale, broccoli, or spinach. Have fun with splashes of yellow from peppers or whole grains like quinoa and millet. The more colourful your plate is, the more exciting it will be to eat!
4. Shape – Every food has its own unique shape. You can choose the natural shapes you like from different foods or you can get creative by cutting your sweet potatoes and carrots a particular way. Alternatively, choose brussel sprouts, cauliflower or green beans for some variety. This makes each bite unique.
5. Flavour – It is important to balance all six of the major flavours in each meal. This means making sure you choose recipes that include Salty from sea salt, sea vegetables and tamari; Sweet from fruits, root vegetables and maple syrup; Pungent from cinnamon, ginger, cayenne cumin and garlic; Sour from lemon, lime and oranges; Astringent from legumes, fruits and vegetables and Bitter from dark leafy greens, herbs and spices.
By incorporating the suggestions above into your holiday meal, you’re sure to achieve the perfect balance and leave your palette, as well as your guests’, satisfied!
Makes 4-6 servings
1 medium onion, chopped
1 tbsp olive oil
4 cups vegetable stock or filtered water
2 cups carrots chopped
1-2 cups butternut or kabocha squash or sweet potatoes, peeled and diced
2 medium apples, cored and diced
1/2 tsp sea salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
(2 tbsp fresh ginger root)
*** For added nutrition and a balanced meal, serve with some brown rice and steamed green vegetables such as swiss chard, kale, or broccoli and top with pumpkin seeds or parsley for added texture and colour!
- In a large soup pot, sauté the onions in oil on medium heat until they become translucent.
- Add the stock, carrots, squash or sweet potatoes, apples and salt, pepper, nutmeg and ginger. Bring to a boil.
- Turn down heat and simmer for 30 minutes. Take 2 ladles’ worth of vegetables and 1 ladle of stock and blend in a blender or food processor until smooth or you can puree the entire pot. Return to soup pot and stir together before serving.
How are you going to bring balance to your meals this holiday?
This may sound like a challenge, but you can enjoy delicious food this holiday without restricting yourself (or indulging for that matter!). It is not about dieting and sitting across the table wishing you can eat something that you told yourself you couldn’t. It is about taking control. Make the right choices this year, because you can treat your holiday however you want!
Maybe this year, you offer to make some of the side dishes, desserts or goodies. Or at least have something small with you to nibble on that is healthy and tasty. You never want to be left without options that don’t suit your goals or your taste buds! You don’t have to give in to the 4-5 course rich and heavy meals and all the holiday candies, sweets, desserts that may be delivered to our door or are laying on your table. If you have to go for that “once-a-year” something, then treat yourself to a small piece and enjoy every bite. You never want to approach the holidays dreading the amount of food you are going to eat…just approach it with peace and let yourself know that you can still enjoy the holidays without guilt.
Here are a few more helpful tips:
If dinner is not at your house – have a small meal before you go (vegetable juice, smoothie, bowl of soup, veggies and hummus with crackers)
Load up on veggies - if there is a salad or steamed veggies available – double your dose of them and leave only a small space on the plate for other things.
Wait before you have dessert - sip on herbal tea, let your tummy digest dinner before you indulge in dessert. Or better yet bring your own healthy and guilt free dessert – Ginger Date Cookies!
Get to the gym or go for a long walk - you will feel better knowing that you can burn off some of those (extra) calories (even if you did cheat a little!)
Sip on wine if you must – watch the eggnog, beer and other rich holiday drinks. These all have calories that can add up!
Make time for bonding – have after dinner activities that are fun and keep you away from all-night nibbling!
Approaching the holiday dreading the amount of food you’re going to eat is no fun. So take control this year and give yourself the gift of eating good food, in moderation. If you must give in, to that second helping – do it with gratitude and pleasure not with guilt and disappointment. The only one who will be left upset in the end is you!
Date Ginger Coconut Cookies
2 ½ cups spelt, kamut or oat flour
2 cups rolled oats
2 tsp cinnamon, nutmeg or allspice
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 ½ tsp baking soda
1 cup chopped pitted dates (I like Medjool)
1 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 cup maple syrup or coconut nectar
¾ cup coconut oil
1-2 tsp grated ginger
zest of organic lemon or orange
1 tsp pure vanilla
- Preheat oven to 350F.
- Prepare baking sheet with parchment paper
- Whisk together flour, oats, baking soda, cinnamon and salt in large bowl.
- In a separate bowl add in dates and coconut and stir to combine. Add the syrup, oil, ginger and zest and vanilla and mix just until all flour is absorbed.
- Drop heaping tablespoons or large scoops of the dough onto the baking sheets, spacing them out evenly.
- Bake for about 12 minutes, until golden brown.
- Allow to cool on a baking rack for a few minutes and enjoy!
There is so much confusion between yams and sweet potatoes. They look the same, they taste the same and you never really know which you are eating at any given time.
So I am going to do my best and give you some information on why these two roots are different from each other and not to be mistaken. However you can still choose to interchange them in recipes-I always do!
Yams were first cultivated in Africa and are part of the tuber family. They are very popular in tropical regions of the world. They are round and elongated with a thick, scaly or rough skin and it’s flesh can be either white, ivory, cream, pink or purple. Yams are typically mores starchy and dry. However the most common variety has a deep orange flesh, which is why they are often mistaken for sweet potatoes. Most of the time they are also mislabeled in stores and are actually sweet potatoes!
Sweet Potatoes on the other hand, are native to South America and is part of the morning glory family. Sweet potatoes are actually not at all related to Yams or Potatoes. They are very sweet and dark and sometimes mislabeled as Yams. Sweet potatoes have a wide center and taper at both ends. They also have a thin and smooth skin. Sweet potatoes are also sometimes mislabeled when actually they are yams.
I know it can be confusing…but when it comes to their nutritional content and health benefits they are pretty much the same with a few unique qualities between the two.
They are both amazing sources of beta carotene, an antioxidant found in most orange fleshed foods such as mangoes and carrots. They are both high in vitamin A and C with a good amount of thiamine. They are nourishing to the spleen, pancreas and stomach. Yams are particularly known for it’s properties to help regulate menses and prevent miscarriages. Yams also help to treat fatigue, inflammation, spasms and stress.
For more information on the differences between Yams and Sweet potatoes you can read many articles and resources available on the web with sometimes confusing, but insightful information these root veggies. Or you can always check out Rebecca Wood’s Whole Foods Encyclopedia for a small description on the health benefits and uses for each.
So in conclusion, both yams and sweet potatoes are amazing for their own unique properties. Now you can be just a bit more aware of which varieties you are eating (if it is labeled correctly). Either way both are sure to please your palate and make wonderful ingredients for side dishes, soups, dips, pancakes or pies!
Yummy Yam Pecan Pie
1 cup almonds, ground
1 cup brown rice flour
2 tablespoon maple crystals
1/4 teaspoon baking powder
pinch of sea salt
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil
1/4 cup maple syrup
2 cups mashed or cooked yams or sweet potatoes (you can always buy canned organic sweet potatoes or yams if necessary)
1 cup vanilla almond or rice milk
3/4 cup maple sugar, coconut sugar or sucanat
1/4 cup arrowroot powder
1 tablespoon blackstrap molasses
1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
1 teaspoon fair trade vanilla
1/2 teaspoon nutmeg
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ginger
1/4 teaspoon ground allspice
1/2 cup chopped pecans, mixed with 1 tablespoon maple syrup and 1 tablespoon coconut oil and roasted for 5-10 minutes at 200F
1. Preheat oven to 350 F. Oil a 9 in tart pan or a few mini tart pans.
For the Crust:
2. In food processor, grind nuts to meal. In mixing bowl, combine nuts, flour, maple crystals, baking powder and salt.
3. In separate small bowl, whish together oil and maple syrup
4. Mix wet ingredients (oil and syrup) into dry ingredients (nut meal and flours).
5. Press crust mixture into tart pan.
For the Filling:
1. Blend all the ingredients in a vita mix or a blender until well combined.
2. Pour the filling into the pie crust and bake for 45-60 minutes.
3. Cool on rack and then refrigerate over night before serving.