The winter holidays bring magic to the end of the year. It’s a wonderful time to connect with family and friends, most often over rich, delicious and indulgent meals. Of course, the surge of socializing and decadent temptation often distracts us from daily life and healthy practices.

How can we enjoy the happiest time of year without sacrificing our family’s health? Consider the following suggestions.

Easy Tips to Eat Well

  • Choose fresh whole foods over processed. When in doubt, crudités and fresh fruit are great choices. Fresh whole foods are rich in essential nutrients and lower in calories than crackers and packaged pastries.
  • Have a light, nutritious snack before parties and big meals. Savoring an apple, plain or with nut butter, helps to fill you with healthy fiber, making it easier to pass on unhealthy options.
  • Load up on greens. Green vegetables play an important role in health year-round. These power veggies are attributed with the highest concentration of vital nutrients, including iron, calcium, magnesium, potassium and vitamins C, E and K. Green vegetables also support our immune system, which can be especially important during the busy holiday shuffle. Kale, mustard greens, cabbage, bok choy, collard greens and broccoli are all smart choices. To ensure you and your family get your fill of green veggies, bring along your own side dish, such as the kale salad or collard greens recipes in this article. Your host appreciates the contribution, too.
  • Don’t skip dessert. Celebrations are always sweeter with treats. Try incorporating desserts derived of whole foods. Baked apples are easy, nutritious and delicious. Simply core an apple and stuff with dried fruits, nuts and spices. Add a little water to the pan and bake until tender. If cookies are a family favorite, try my Peppermint Snowballs recipe.
  • Stay hydrated. Our bodies are primarily comprised of water, making proper hydration essential to our health. Try drinking water with a squeeze of lemon, lime or orange to add some zest and extra health benefits to your daily drinking. If your family prefers fizzy beverages, splash some juice in sparkling mineral water or club soda. Either way, with water you have the perfect complement to a nutritious meal whether you’re relishing the holidays with loved ones near or far.

Raw Kale with Warm Coconut Curry Dressing

Serves 6-8

1 bunch of kale (5-6 stems)
¼ c. unsweetened cranberries
¼ c. walnuts
2 Tbs. coconut oil
1 Tbs. apple cider vinegar
½ Tbs. curry powder
Salt to taste

Cut kale into bite-size pieces, including stems. Warm oil in a sauté pan until hot. Whisk in curry powder and remove from heat when incorporated. Add apple cider vinegar to coconut curry oil and immediately pour over kale mixture. Next add salt to taste. Serve warm or at room temperature.

Garlicky Collard Greens

Serves 6

1 bunch of collards (4-6 stems)
5 cloves of garlic
Extra virgin olive oil

Chiffonade collards and thinly slice stems. Heat water in a sauté pan and add collards when hot. When collards begin to wilt, grate garlic with a microplane into the pan. Continue to sauté collards until tender. Add salt to taste and liberally coat with extra virgin olive oil.

Peppermint Snowballs

Yields 20 snowballs

2½ c. unsweetened shredded coconut
1 c. almond flour
1/3 c. maple syrup
1 Tbs. peppermint extract

Preheat oven to 325°F. Mix all ingredients together. Scoop with a small ice cream scooper onto a lined sheet tray. Bake for 20 minutes, rotating after 10 minutes.

Gingerbread Pancakes

Perfect for breakfast or brunch gatherings, these gingerbread pancakes will fill your home with the irresistible scent of the holidays.

Brownie Eggnog Cheesecake Bars

Indulge in the exquisite blend of rich, chocolaty brownie and creamy cheesecake in this delight.

‘Tis the Season for Saving

Keep your holidays happy and financially in check with these simple tips for staying cost conscious throughout the season.

Saving Kids From Processed Foods

We live in a world of fake, fast, and junk foods, which are easy, convenient, and cheap. But now we’re paying a price— and so are our kids.