Tag Archives: Holidays

Better-for-You Chocolate Holiday Treats

I love combining chocolate with dried fruit, or nuts, or both! My friends and family seem to like the idea, too.  They’re always so appreciative when I present them with these super simple, better-for-you treats, which make great holiday gifts.

fullsizeoutput_1e2c

How to make healthier holiday treats

There’s no formal recipe for my healthier holiday treats. For each batch, melt 10 ounces of dark chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips)  in a double boiler. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to make room for other ingredients.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

When the chocolate has melted, add 2 cups whole or chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or a combination directly to the double boiler, mix thoroughly, and drop by large tablespoons onto waxed paper.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

Top with festive sprinkles, if desired!

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

My latest obsession is macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, and white chocolate. Yum!

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

I prepare several batches of treats with a variety of ingredients.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

When I need to be mindful of nut allergy, I make the dried fruit treats first and package them up so that they don’t come into contact with nuts. These are a raisin and coconut combo:

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

Dip the apricots halfway in the melted chocolate.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

Allow the treats to set for about 2 to 3 hours before packaging.

www.betteristhenewperfect.com

Would it be better to forgo the chocolate and eat plain nuts and dried fruit? Yes, that would be perfect, but not nearly as much fun.  I think my friends and family would be disappointed, and so would I!

Happy holidays!

 

13 Holiday Survival Tips from Nutrition Pros

It’s baaaack! The holiday season is fun, but overeating, drinking too much, and skimping on sleep is draining.  I speak from experience, of course, as my own self-care often takes a backseat to entertaining, cleaning, and shopping for gifts.  If you’re in the same boat, read on for advice from my nutrition expert friends on how to stay energized until New Year’s Day.

christmas-dinner-1926937_1920

What to do when you struggle with the urge to splurge

Ellie Krieger, MS RDN, TV personality and award-winning cookbook author:

At a holiday buffet, before you dig in, scan and plan. Check out everything that is being served and decide which options look best to you and which to pass up. Grab a plate and fill it mostly with healthy options (vegetables like crudite and salads, and healthy proteins like shrimp cocktail or chicken skewers) plus small portions of one or two must-have indulgent dishes. This way you will leave the party satisfied, not overstuffed.

Lindsay Livingston, RD, blogger at www.theleangreenbean.com:

Don’t put holiday foods off limits. In my experience it only serves to make you want them more. Instead, focus on moderation, and when you do choose to indulge, make sure you’re not doing it mindlessly. Sit down, focus on what you’re eating, chew slowly and enjoy the treat! You may find you’ll be completely satisfied with just a small amount!

chocolate-1081089_1920

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go:

The holidays are filled with all kinds of delicious food. Instead of going to any extreme– whether it’s avoiding everything or indulging in it all — choose two or three high-calorie dishes that you really love and serve yourself two heaping tablespoons of each. This way you can enjoy the amazing holiday food without feeling guilty for going overboard.

Katie Morford, MS, RD, blogger at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook:

For me, overdoing it leads to less enjoyment, not more, since it inevitably ends with a belly ache or a hangover. Yuck. I definitely indulge in holiday treats, but I’m choosy about which ones, and I keep the portions moderate. I also keep tabs on the cocktails, because it’s easy to lose track. I sometimes try to kill two birds with one stone and combine my exercise with holiday socializing, such as taking a walk with family after a holiday brunch, going ice skating with the kids, or taking the sled out for a spin.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap:

I still enjoy my favorite holiday desserts on actual holidays, but for all the days in-between, I satisfy my sweet tooth with dessert flavored teas. They have no calories and come in all sorts of delish seasonal flavors. Right now I’m loving: Chocolate mint, apple cinnamon and gingerbread. Do they really taste like dessert? No. Do they help control my sweet tooth? Yes. Plus, dessert teas make a great host/hostess gift!\

teacup-2325722_1920

What to do when you need a break from the seasonal chaos

Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition, The Domar Center for Mind Body Health:

Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s not necessary to attend every holiday event you’re invited to, nor is it your responsibility to host a party if it’s too much for you. Saying no allows you more time to relax, sleep, exercise, and cook healthy foods, and to get other holiday tasks accomplished. Plus, when you avoid some seasonal parties, you’ll probably eat fewer higher-calorie foods during December.

Read this if you’re feeling sad during the holidays

cup-2884058_1920

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MS, RD, owner, BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It:

To beat stress I highly recommend taking a bath with a side of candles and music. When was the last time you took to the tub? We all lead such hectic lives that often include a quick dip in and out of the shower in the morning before moving on to a busy day. By taking the time to submerge in warm water, you’ll sooth sore muscles and relax your mind. You’re worth this indulgent break!

Janice Bissex, MS, RDN, Cookbook Author and Holistic Cannabis Consultant at JaniceCooks.com:

To reduce stress, get outside every day during the holidays for a brisk walk. Bundle up if you need to and get moving! I also suggest yoga, whether it’s power yoga or more of a meditative class.

mandarin-2939720_1920

What to do when your eating is out control 

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, blogger at Real Mom Nutrition:

Make your home a safe haven. You can’t control what will be at parties, at your in-law’s house, or at the office. You know there will be dishes of candies and plates of cookies and buffets of rich foods and generally loads of goodies elsewhere. At home, make tempting healthy foods, like washed whole fruit, readily available–the fruit bowl on the counter is truly effective!

Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University and author of Nutrition & You:

Move up the holiday dinners to earlier in the day. Having your bigger meal during the earlier part of the day can help you avoid becoming so ravenous at the end of the day that you end up eating anything that isn’t moving. Eating earlier means you can also go for a walk after the meal, and before the sun sets.

Elisa Zied, MS, CDN, author of Younger Next Week:

How I survive and thrive during the holidays is by trying to stick to my regular eating and fitness routine as often as possible. When I treat myself, I keep the portion of indulgences such as cookies, cake and chocolate small. I also keep guilt out of the equation, because it’s a useless emotion. I also make sure to exercise during the holidays—and try to engage family and friends in physical activities so we can stay fit together. I walk outside often, even if it’s chilly, and try to fit in things like stair climbing, jumping jacks, lunges, squats and crunches whenever I can. Staying active aids digestion, keeps me feeling energized and strong and keeps stress at bay. It also helps me feel more productive and stokes my creativity so I can write better.

child-1058286_1920

What to do when you want to drink less alcohol 

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Director of Nutrition, WebMD:

Nobody has to know what you’re drinking. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a mocktail, such as sparkling water with sliced lime. When a drink looks like a cocktail, no one notices, and at the end of the night you will have reduced your alcohol and calorie intake by half. The best part is that you wake up in the morning feeling terrific because you didn’t ‘tie one on,’ and looking good because you’re well-hydrated. It’s a win-win!

oranges-210618_1920

Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, author of  Body Kindness:

Forgive yourself! Just like every other human, you sometimes make mistakes. We tend to feel guilty over things we would tell our friends is no big deal. Let all the comfort, joy, and happiness in during the holidays; savor the moment and leave your calorie counters at home. Count hugs and special memories instead!

 

29 Ways to Use Up Holiday Leftovers

When you host holiday dinners, you have more than leftover turkey to deal with, and if you’re like me, you hate to waste cranberry sauce, vegetables, pie, and other festive food. Here are 29 ways to use up nearly everything you have in your fridge after entertaining.

Cranberry Sauce/Cranberries

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• Stir into warm oatmeal that’s been microwaved with milk (milk for extra protein, calcium, and other minerals, and vitamins). Top with chopped walnuts or pecans.

• Add a tablespoon or two to fruit smoothies and eliminate sugar or other sweeteners.

• Combine with plain Greek yogurt and make a parfait with whole grain ready-to-eat cereal.

• Warm 2 tablespoons in the microwave for 10 seconds and put it on top of vanilla ice cream or frozen yogurt.

• Use in place of jelly in a peanut butter sandwich, and add to turkey sandwiches as a spread.

• Use instead of syrup on French toast, waffles, and pancakes.

Stuffing/Dressing

• Prepare stuffing “pancakes” and top with a fried egg.

• Stir stuffing or dressing into turkey soup.

• Use as a topping on turkey pot pie.

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Vegetables

• Make a vegetable strata from leftover bread, chopped vegetables, eggs, and cheese, or make quiche.

• Puree cooked broccoli, cauliflower, or carrots and add milk or cream to make soup. Mix butternut squash and sweet potato together for soup, and add coconut milk for a change.

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• Add cooked sweet potato or beets to smoothies.

• Stir plain pumpkin or mashed or sweet potatoes into turkey soup for a thicker, more flavorful soup.

• Stuff a cooked baked sweet or white potato with 1/4 cup cooked diced turkey or 1/4 cup black beans, and top with cranberry sauce or salsa.

• Top turkey pot pie with mashed sweet or white potatoes instead of pastry crust.

• Smash (gently!) whole cooked small potatoes, roast in 400˚F oven for 10 minutes, and top with a dollop of sour cream or Greek yogurt and fresh chives.

• Chop cooked veggies and add to omelettes along with leftover cheese or make into a calzone.

• Puree cooked cauliflower and mix with milk or cream and grated Parmesan cheese to the desired consistency for a side dish.

• Prepare potato pancakes with white or sweet potatoes.

Bread and Rolls:

• Make French toast, pancakes or scones with leftover cream or eggnog.

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• Make croutons from cornbread, rolls, or other leftover bread. Cut into large pieces and roast in oven.

Turkey

• Prepare turkey pot pie with sweet potato, white potato, or stuffing for the topping.

 

• Add chopped turkey to your favorite macaroni and cheese recipe.

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• Make a white bean and turkey chili and include leftover vegetables.

• Prepare quick quesadillas using whole wheat tortillas, leftover cheese, and sliced turkey. Serve with cranberry sauce for dipping.

Sweets

• Eggnog: Use eggnog in place of milk when you prepare French toast, vanilla cake mixes, pancakes, waffles, and bread pudding.

• Combine eggnog and fruit for a delicious smoothie.

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• Scoop pumpkin pie out of the crust and combine with plain fat-free Greek yogurt for a creamy pudding, or add some milk and make a smoothie.

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Wine:

• Freeze red wine in ice cube trays to use later in stews.

What’s your favorite way to use leftovers?

 

 

Better-for-You Chocolate Holiday Treats

I eat dark chocolate nearly every day, and especially during the holidays. Combining chocolate with fruit and nuts satisfies my cravings and improves nutrition. My friends and family seem to like the pairings, too.  They’re always so appreciative when I make these super simple, better-for-you treats as holiday gifts and for when I entertain.

fullsizeoutput_1e2c

How to make healthier holiday treats

There’s no formal recipe for my healthier holiday treats. For each batch, melt 10 ounces of dark chocolate (I use dark chocolate chips)  in a double boiler. You can also melt the chocolate in the microwave. Use a large glass bowl to make room for the other ingredients.dsc_0460

When the chocolate has melted, add 2 cups whole or chopped nuts, dried fruit, shredded coconut, or a combination directly to the double boiler, mix thoroughly, and drop by large tablespoons onto waxed paper.

DSC_0102-2

Top with festive sprinkles, if desired! fullsizeoutput_a79

My latest obsession is macadamia nuts, dried cranberries, and white chocolate. Yum!

fullsizeoutput_1e21

I prepare several batches of treats with a variety of ingredients.dsc_0050

When I need to be mindful of nut allergy, I make the dried fruit treats first and package them up so that they don’t come into contact with nuts. These are a raisin and coconut combo:

DSC_0048-2

For the apricots or other whole fruit, dip them into the chocolate half way.

DSC_0100

Allow the treats to set for about 2 to 3 hours before packaging.

fullsizeoutput_a77

Would it be better to forgo the chocolate and eat plain nuts and dried fruit? Yes, that would be perfect, but not nearly as much fun.  And I think my friends and family would be disappointed!

Happy holidays!

 

13 Holiday Survival Tips from Nutrition Pros

Holiday festivities are fun, but they drain your energy when you overeat, drink too much, and skimp on sleep. I speak from experience, of course. As December wears on, I am less motivated to take care of myself in favor of baking, entertaining, cleaning, and shopping for gifts.  Most of us, including me, could use some support to make this month better. I asked my nutrition expert friends for inspiration to make it to New Year’s Day with no regrets about my behavior, and here’s what they told me.

christmas-dinner-1926937_1920

What to do when you struggle with the urge to splurge

Ellie Krieger, MS RDN, TV personality and award-winning cookbook author:

At a holiday buffet, before you dig in, scan and plan. Check out everything that is being served and decide which options look best to you and which to pass up. Grab a plate and fill it mostly with healthy options (vegetables like crudite and salads, and healthy proteins like shrimp cocktail or chicken skewers) plus small portions of one or two must-have indulgent dishes. This way you will leave the party satisfied, not overstuffed.

Lindsay Livingston, RD, blogger at www.theleangreenbean.com:

Don’t put holiday foods off limits. In my experience it only serves to make you want them more. Instead, focus on moderation, and when you do choose to indulge, make sure you’re not doing it mindlessly. Sit down, focus on what you’re eating, chew slowly and enjoy the treat! You may find you’ll be completely satisfied with just a small amount!

chocolate-1081089_1920

Toby Amidor, MS, RD, author of The Healthy Meal Prep Cookbook: Easy and Wholesome Meals to Cook, Prep, Grab, and Go:

The holidays are filled with all kinds of delicious food. Instead of going to any extreme– whether it’s avoiding everything or indulging in it all — choose two or three high-calorie dishes that you really love and serve yourself two heaping tablespoons of each. This way you can enjoy the amazing holiday food without feeling guilty for going overboard.

Katie Morford, MS, RD, blogger at Mom’s Kitchen Handbook:

For me, overdoing it leads to less enjoyment, not more, since it inevitably ends with a belly ache or a hangover. Yuck. I definitely indulge in holiday treats, but I’m choosy about which ones, and I keep the portions moderate. I also keep tabs on the cocktails, because it’s easy to lose track. I sometimes try to kill two birds with one stone and combine my exercise with holiday socializing, such as taking a walk with family after a holiday brunch, going ice skating with the kids, or taking the sled out for a spin.

Dawn Jackson Blatner, RDN, author of The Superfood Swap:

I still enjoy my favorite holiday desserts on actual holidays, but for all the days in-between, I satisfy my sweet tooth with dessert flavored teas. They have no calories and come in all sorts of delish seasonal flavors. Right now I’m loving: Chocolate mint, apple cinnamon and gingerbread. Do they really taste like dessert? No. Do they help control my sweet tooth? Yes. Plus, dessert teas make a great host/hostess gift!\

teacup-2325722_1920

What to do when you need a break from the seasonal chaos

Hillary Wright, MEd, RD, LDN, Director of Nutrition, The Domar Center for Mind Body Health:

Don’t be afraid to say no. It’s not necessary to attend every holiday event you’re invited to, nor is it your responsibility to host a party if it’s too much for you. Saying no allows you more time to relax, sleep, exercise, and cook healthy foods, and to get other holiday tasks accomplished. Plus, when you avoid some seasonal parties, you’ll probably eat fewer higher-calorie foods during December.

Read this if you’re feeling sad during the holidays

cup-2884058_1920

Bonnie Taub-Dix, MS, RD, owner, BetterThanDieting.com, and author of Read It Before You Eat It:

To beat stress I highly recommend taking a bath with a side of candles and music. When was the last time you took to the tub? We all lead such hectic lives that often include a quick dip in and out of the shower in the morning before moving on to a busy day. By taking the time to submerge in warm water, you’ll sooth sore muscles and relax your mind. You’re worth this indulgent break!

Janice Bissex, MS, RDN, Cookbook Author and Holistic Cannabis Consultant at JaniceCooks.com:

To reduce stress, get outside every day during the holidays for a brisk walk. Bundle up if you need to and get moving! I also suggest yoga, whether it’s power yoga or more of a meditative class.

mandarin-2939720_1920

What to do when your eating is out control 

Sally Kuzemchak, MS, RD, blogger at Real Mom Nutrition:

Make your home a safe haven. You can’t control what will be at parties, at your in-law’s house, or at the office. You know there will be dishes of candies and plates of cookies and buffets of rich foods and generally loads of goodies elsewhere. At home, make tempting healthy foods, like washed whole fruit, readily available–the fruit bowl on the counter is truly effective!

Joan Salge Blake, EdD, RDN, Clinical Associate Professor, Boston University and author of Nutrition & You:

Move up the holiday dinners to earlier in the day. Having your bigger meal during the earlier part of the day can help you avoid becoming so ravenous at the end of the day that you end up eating anything that isn’t moving. Eating earlier means you can also go for a walk after the meal, and before the sun sets.

Elisa Zied, MS, RDN, CDN, author of Younger Next Week:

How I survive and thrive during the holidays is by trying to stick to my regular eating and fitness routine as often as possible. When I treat myself, I keep the portion of indulgences such as cookies, cake and chocolate small. I also keep guilt out of the equation, because it’s a useless emotion. I also make sure to exercise during the holidays—and try to engage family and friends in physical activities so we can stay fit together. I walk outside often, even if it’s chilly, and try to fit in things like stair climbing, jumping jacks, lunges, squats and crunches whenever I can. Staying active aids digestion, keeps me feeling energized and strong and keeps stress at bay. It also helps me feel more productive and stokes my creativity so I can write better.

child-1058286_1920

What to do when you want to drink less alcohol 

Kathleen Zelman, MPH, RD, Director of Nutrition, WebMD:

Nobody has to know what you’re drinking. Alternate every alcoholic drink with a mocktail, such as sparkling water with sliced lime. When a drink looks like a cocktail, no one notices, and at the end of the night you will have reduced your alcohol and calorie intake by half. The best part is that you wake up in the morning feeling terrific because you didn’t ‘tie one on,’ and looking good because you’re well-hydrated. It’s a win-win!

oranges-210618_1920

Rebecca Scritchfield, MA, RDN, HFS, author of  Body Kindness:

Forgive yourself! Just like every other human, you sometimes make mistakes. We tend to feel guilty over things we would tell our friends is no big deal. Let all the comfort, joy, and happiness in during the holidays; savor the moment and leave your calorie counters at home. Count hugs and special memories instead!

 

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