Enter the Holidays With a Healthy Mindset and Recipes

Best Healthy Christmas Treats

Happy Holidays!  Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa, it’s the perfect time to rest and spend quality time with loved ones.

December can be a time of festivities, family, fun, and, best of all, food. However, it can also be a time for anxiety and less-than-ideal eating behaviors. There are messages to eat everywhere you look, from mouthwatering dessert recipes to low-calorie holiday guides when it comes to holiday food. Then there are the weight gain jokes and restrictive dieting tips. 

These constant messages can be a recipe for disaster. The average American gains the most weight around the holiday season. So, if you feel anxious about food during the holidays, approach this time with mindfulness, moderation, and balance to maintain your mental and physical health and wellbeing.

You Can Eat Mindfully During the Holidays

Mindful eating can help you prevent overeating and increase your satisfaction with your holiday meals. Here are some tips for practicing mindful eating during the holidays: 

  • Honor your cravings. Restriction may lead to more bingeing.  
  • Slow down. It takes about 20 minutes for you to get your brain’s fullness cue. 
  • Listen to your hunger and fullness cues. Eat until you’re satisfied, not stuffed.
  • Enjoy every bite. When you eat with all five senses and tune into the experience, you’ll be able to identify your “satisfaction threshold.” Then stop when your food doesn’t seem quite as delicious as it did on the first bite.  
  • Set boundaries. You may feel pressure from your family to eat beyond your comfort. It’s okay to set boundaries. “I’d love to eat more, but that would make me physically uncomfortable. Can I pack it for leftovers?”
  • Be easy on yourself!

Check out our post “The Mindful Eating Movement – What is it and Should You Do it?” for more information.

Nutrition Tips to Stay on Track over the Holiday

Mixing “gentle nutrition” with mindful eating ensures your diet stays balanced, nourishing, and delicious over the holidays. Here are some nutrition tips: 

  • Don’t “save your calories.” If you’re not adapted to stricter fasting protocols and skip meals in anticipation of a large dinner, it could backfire and make you eat more. 
  • Eat protein at regular intervals to help you stay satiated and energized throughout the day.
  • Stay hydrated. Water is still essential during the holidays! Alternate your eggnog or cocktail with a glass of water. 

Listen to your body and make room for the foods you enjoy. Desserts and baked goods can fit into the picture. Check out these Five healthy and festive recipes – they’re sure to be a crowd-pleaser!

5 Healthy and Festive Recipes

No-Bake Gingerbread Energy Balls (Vegan and Gluten-free)

Time: 10 minutes

Yields: 18 balls

No-Bake Christmas Gingerbread Treats

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup Medjool dates, pitted  
  • 1/2 cup almond flour
  • 3/4 cup rolled oats
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp nutmeg
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 1/2 tsp cloves
  • 1 tbsp icing sugar 

Directions

  1. Blend all ingredients, except for dates, in a food processor. Blend until the consistency becomes similar to flour.
  2. Add half of the dates into the processor. Blend to combine the dates into the mixture thoroughly. Add in the remaining half of the dates. Blend until a dough forms.
  3. Scoop out 2 tbsp of dough and roll it into a ball.
  4. Roll balls into icing sugar. 
  5. Enjoy!

Chocolate Thin Mints (Paleo)

Time: 50 minutes (15 minutes prep)

Yields: 14 thin mints

Paleo Christmas Chocolate Thin Mint Cookies

Ingredients

  • 1 1/4 cup almond flour
  • 1 tbsp tapioca flour
  • 1/4 cup cocoa powder 
  • 5 tbsp butter, soft at room temperature 
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tbsp peppermint extract
  • 3 tbsp honey, agave, or maple syrup

Chocolate Coating

  • 1 cup dark chocolate, chopped
  • 1/4 tsp peppermint extract
  • 2 tsp coconut oil 

Directions

  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.
  2. Combine the almond flour, tapioca four, cocoa powder, and sugar in a bowl. 
  3. Mix in the butter, vanilla extract, peppermint extract, and honey. Continue until you form a dough.
  4. Roll the dough into a ball, wrap it in plastic wrap. Refrigerate for 30 minutes. 
  5. Place the chilled dough onto parchment paper. Roll out until 1/4 inch thick.
  6. Cut into shapes using a cookie cutter. Gently lift with a spatula and place onto a baking sheet. 
  7. Bake for 15 minutes.
  8. Melt chocolate and coconut oil over a double boiler. Alternatively, melt by microwaving in 20-second increments. Add peppermint extract.
  9. When cookies are done baking, let cool. Dip cookies into chocolate until fully coated, place back on parchment paper. 
  10. Chill the thin mints in the fridge for 10 minutes. 
  11. Enjoy!

Nutty Chocolate Cranberry Cookies (No Bake)

Time: 15 minutes

No Bake Christmas Nutty Chocolate Cranberry Cookies

Yields: 12 cookies 

Ingredients

  • 1 cup almond butter, cashew butter, or peanut butter
  • 1/4 cup maple syrup, honey, or agave 
  • 1/2 cup coconut flour
  • 1 tsp vanilla extract 
  • 1/4 cup dried cranberries
  • 1/4 cup chocolate chips (white, milk, or dark)

Directions

  1. Combine all the ingredients except the cranberries and chocolate in a bowl. 
  2. Add the cranberries and chocolate. Mix well to form a dough.
  3. Scoop out 2 tbsp of dough and roll into a ball. Press the ball until it is semi-flat.
  4. Refrigerate for 30 minutes until firm.

 Festive Rice Krispie Balls

Time: 15 minutes

Yields: 30 balls

Ingredients

No Bake Christmas Festive Rice Krispie Balls
  • 5 tbsp butter at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup peanut butter, almond butter, or cashew butter 
  • 1 bag mini marshmallows (10 oz, about 24 mini marshmallows)
  • 6 cups Rice Krispies cereal 
  • 1 1/2 cup white chocolate chips
  • Sprinkles (optional)

Directions

  1. Melt butter in a pot over medium-low heat.
  2. Add marshmallows and nut butter. Stir until the mixture is melted. Remove from heat.
  3. Add Rice Krispies. Mix thoroughly, and let cool for 5 minutes.
  4. Scoop out 2 tbsp of the mixture and roll it into a ball. 
  5. Optional: dip the ball into melted chocolate.
  6. Place on a baking sheet, add sprinkles.
  7. Refrigerate for 15 minutes.

Cheesecake Stuffed Apple Bake

Time: 45 minutes (15 minutes prep)

Yields: 4 servings

Christmas Cheesecake Stuffed Apple Bake Dessert

Ingredients

  • 4 tbsp unsalted butter, melted
  • 2 tbsp brown sugar
  • 1 tbsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp vanilla extract
  • 1 cup cream cheese (2 blocks)
  • 4 apples
  • 3/4 cup graham crackers (optional)

Directions

  1. Preheat oven to 400 F.
  2. Slice and remove the top of the apples. Hollow out the inside of the apples with a melon scoop. Mix the melted butter, brown sugar, and cinnamon in a small bowl.
  3. Brush the apples with butter mixture. Bake for 20 minutes.
  4. Beat together the cream cheese, sugar, and vanilla in a large bowl. Mix until creamy. 
  5. After 20 minutes, remove the apples from the oven. Spoon the cream cheese mixture into apples—Bake for 10 minutes. 
  6. Garnish with cinnamon and graham crackers. 
  7. Enjoy!

Author's bio

Trista Chan, RD, MHSc

Trista Chan, RD, MHSc

Trista is a Registered Dietitian with her Master of Health Science in Nutrition Communication at Ryerson University, Toronto, and holds an Applied Human Nutrition degree and a graduate certificate in Workplace Wellness. Trista has diverse work experience in organizations both big and small. ...