Which must-have foods will reign in your home this holiday season? Will they be foods and drinks that give you instant energy but later leave you feeling like that quirky sweater heaped in a gift box in the corner? Will it be foods that sit in your stomach, expanding slowly and making you feel like the new slime blob your kids can’t keep off the couch and walls?
Latch quickly onto healthier must-have foods for your holidays!
If you’d like to change up your holiday routine a bit this year – maybe feel more energetic, more composed or calm, more joyful – run to your nearest grocery store and begin embracing healthier go-to foods now.
Forget perfection. Remember, it’s not about aiming for perfection. It’s not about giving something up cold turkey or completely. It’s just about eating healthier.
Here are 5 of my favorite must-have foods that help keep me out of trouble during the holidays, and year-round for that matter.
Apples make hearty snacks, either plain or with healthy nut butters (not peanut butter). Slice them and add them to a salad for crunch. Bake them with cinnamon for a warm, sweet dessert or smash them into a delicious applesauce for any time of day. Apples provide fiber and vitamin C while helping to alkalinize an acidic digestive system.
I love to crunch – it helps me feel more satisfied and full. Grate them for a salad. Steam them. Add them to stews or soups. Known to aid your eyes, immune system and skin, carrots provide lots of nutrients including vitamin A and vitamin K. Chewing carrots can also help clean your teeth while encouraging bone growth in your jawbone.
Slice them, dice them, spear them, smother them – for mini sandwiches, salads, unpickled “pickles” or beholders of your favorite hummus or nut butter. Twist one through your veggie spiral cutter for a fun effect. Sauté them with other veggies. Cucumbers give you flavonoids, lignans and triterpenes, which help reduce inflammation and fight off disease. If not a fan of cucumbers, try zucchini instead, which is also tasty raw.
- Sweet potatoes
Grilling or baking sweet potatoes is key. I never liked the traditional sweet potato recipes and only started tolerating them a few years ago after having them grilled – not too mushy and not too hard, with just a little olive oil and Himalayan salt. Use them as buns for a breadless burger. Eat them mashed if you’d rather. Make fries or chips out of them – it takes practice but they are a healthier, delicious alternative to regular potatoes. At least steam them, because eating them raw can be hard on your digestive system. Sweet potatoes offer lots of vitamin A and have become one of my favorite must-have foods since cutting back drastically on the grains.
- Dark Chocolate
Let’s be realistic! My sweet tooth still sounds off even though I’m eating healthier. I keep a stash of organic dark chocolate with 70% or more cacao content and minimal other ingredients. Usually a small square of a bar will satisfy my craving. You could also shred it for a topping or eat it with nut butter. Dark chocolate contains serotonin and stimulates production of endorphins, both of which can help improve your mood. Maybe that’s why my boys and husband gift it to me so often! Just remember, moderation is a must!
Open your mind to positive change
If you don’t love these must-have foods, prepare them a new way and give them a couple more tries. Or find other healthier choices. Make them staples in your home, starting with this holiday season. Reach for your trusty go-tos instead of all the usual chips, cookies, breads, salt-covered nuts and candy.
Your body might function better. Your immune system might stave off more sickness. Your mood might remain more positive. And you’ll feel happier you made healthier choices.
Go ahead – put your new list of must-have foods in your pocket or on your phone and head to the store. If you’re super charged to make small changes, check out my book, Digested – eating healthier made easier 3 ways, for more suggestions. Start embracing your healthier habits now!
*This blog is intended for use as a source of information and should not be used as a substitute for professional medical care or advice.