7 Ingredients for a Healthy Holiday Season

The holiday season is all about giving, family and close friends and of course, food. This time of year is full of rich, delicious meals that are both comforting and frequent at parties and on our dinner tables. Incorporating certain foods into your feast can benefit you long after your New Year’s resolution.
I received a monthly newsletter from registered dietitian Adrien Paczosa noting the following top seven foods to incorporate during your holiday and I wanted to pass along!
1. Pomegranates: A pomegranate a day can keep the doctor away. The old adage uses apples, but during the holidays, we say pomegranates are the way to go. This delicious fruit is bursting with Vitamin C which keeps the free radicals at bay and is believed to prevent some types of cancer. So add a splash of pomegranate juice to a cup of hot tea and enjoy OR add some pomegranate arils to these stuffed endive and goat cheese appetizers for some added nutrition with a festive flare!
2. Nuts: Nuts contain both poly- and mono unsaturated fatty acids.  These are healthy fats that can lower cholesterol and reduce your risk of heart disease by lowering the amount of inflammation of the arteries. Nuts are also a good source of protein and fiber that can help keep you full. This can keep you from over indulging and keeping the holiday pounds in check. Finally, nuts are a rich source of vitamin E which is good for the skin. Who doesn’t need a little holiday glow?
As you may have guessed, I am 100% on board with this ingredient! A few ways to incorporate more nuts:
For snacks, whip up a batch of honey roasted snack mix or protein nut butter balls
If you’re in the mood for a savory main dish try turkey chili with almond butter or healthy kung pao chicken or tofu
Is dessert calling your name? Try flour less chunky monkey cookies or vegan maple almond spice biscotti
3. Chocolate: Nothing is more comforting on a cold winter day than a cup of hot chocolate. If you make that a cup of dark hot chocolate you could be enjoying more than just guilty pleasure. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids and polyphenols. These are antioxidants that can help prevent arterial damage from cholesterol as well as lower your blood pressure over time. So join the kids for a cup of my (dairy-free) hot cocoa and drink to your health.
This is good news for us chocolate lovers, but eat in moderation of course! You can also make your own chocolate bark/fudge 🙂
4. Olives: Extend the olive branch through the season and reap the nutritional benefits. Olives are a low calorie way to get in your healthy monounsaturated fats. Using extra-virgin olive oil to create your culinary masterpieces during the holidays can lead to an increase in HDL (good) cholesterol. You can use the olives to add a little salt to your meals, just be sure to watch your sodium intake. 10 small green olives have about 451 mg of sodium. *According to new recommendations by The American Heart Association sodium intake should be limited to 1500 mg or below per day.
*Although I mention olives, unfortunately I am not a fan (I should give them another chance) — do as I say not as a do because they do have nutrition! For a delicious recipe using olives, hop on over to The Healthy Foodie for Sonia’s green bean and goat cheese salad 🙂
Photo courtesy of The Healthy Foodie
5. Cinnamon: The smell of cinnamon in the air is a sure sign that the holidays are near. This time of year is a time for giving and also a time for indulgence. When we over indulge on rich foods it can leave us feeling a little out of the holiday spirit. Adding cinnamon to your holiday treats can help curb the effects of overindulgence by reducing heartburn and bloating. Studies have also found that 1 tsp a day of cinnamon can help better manage insulin and blood sugar levels.
Add a dash of cinnamon to your morning coffee, cup of oatmeal, or for an extra nutrient packed snack serve plain non fat Greek yogurt with dried cranberries, nuts, and a dash of cinnamon. Try some spiced pumpkin dip or cherry walnut oat muffins as well!
6. Peppermint: Candy canes are a signature of the holiday season.  Sometimes used for decorating the trees or enjoyed in tea or hot chocolate. This holiday treat can soothe heart burn and nausea. It also kills bacteria in the mouth that leads to bad breath. This will come in handy when meeting under the mistletoe.
Add peppermint oil to this rich and creamy hot cocoa, indulge in dairy-free mint chocolate ice cream or treat yourself to a small candy cane 🙂
7. Cranberries: The holiday spread would not be complete without cranberry dressing or our favorite cranberry oatmeal cookies! Cranberries are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. They also provide antioxidants which help prevent some types of cancer and promote the formation of visualpurple pigment which is essential in color as well as night vision.
Bonus – try my fruit-sweetened cranberry yum bars and you have two of the top seven ingredients listed – nuts and cranberries! I give you permission to dig in 🙂
I can’t believe there are only FOUR days left before Christmas! Love to all and I hope you are enjoying this holiday season so far : )

4 thoughts on “7 Ingredients for a Healthy Holiday Season

  1. Oooooh! My salad looks good on here! 😉 You should definitely give olives another go…

    What a great post this is. Packed with great information. But I had totally forgotten about those cute little chocolates of yours, and now that I have seen them again, I, of course, want some! 😉 Oh, and your stuffed endives. I have to go look up the list of ingredients. I was right in the middle of making my grocery shopping list. How convenient!

    • Your salad is gorgeous, thanks for letting me borrow your photo to complete my post! I’ll have to give ’em another shot..for me and for you 🙂
      Guess I had pretty good timing for this one 🙂 You’ll love the endives…so easy and festive!

  2. My step mother made a Chinese Chicken Salad for my birthday and put thinly sliced ginger in it and instead of mandarin oranges, used pomegranate seeds. It was the best thing I ever tasted. Not sure what that has to do with this post but I read pomegranate seeds and that is where my mind went to 🙂
    You should be a nutritionist… Just saying.

    • ohhhhhh can I have that recipe?!?!? I like where you mind went with that one! do share 🙂
      Aww thanks for the compliment, I’ve definitely considered being a nutritionist/RD in the past..but now frozen yogurt came my way – who knows what the future holds for me though! XO

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