5 Tips for Healthy Holiday Eating This Year

bowl of squash soup with bread for healthy holiday cooking

The holiday season can be a tough time of year for those of us who make nutritious eating and cooking a top priority. It can feel stressful to try to fit our normal healthy habits into our lives as the holiday craziness starts to build.

I even heard someone say on the radio this week, “This is the least amount I’ll weigh until sometime in January.” 

It can be a challenge not to let things slip during the many work celebrations, holiday gatherings, and cookie exchanges of November and December.

Unfortunately for me, if I stray too far from my normal eating routine I end up with a headache, stomachache, or various other physical reminders that my body doesn’t function well with too much sugar, dairy, or heavy foods.

Over the years I’ve come up with some strategies for healthy holiday eating that help me avoid the worst of what the holiday season brings.

Because when I feel good, I can focus on enjoying my favorite parts of the season – connecting with friends and family, spending time in nature, a blanket of snow on my garden, and of course, a few chocolate chip cookies here and there.

Here are my favorite healthy holiday eating tips to help support you in maintaining your nutrition and physical well-being during this fun and festive season.

healthy-eating-cooking-tips

5 Simple Ways to Focus on Healthy Eating & Cooking During the Holidays

#1: Keep visiting the farmers market. 

Even in Wisconsin, where we have a long, cold winter and a short growing season, our farmers market continues throughout the winter. There’s no doubt about it – vegetables fresh from your local region are going to taste way better than the stuff you’ll find in the grocery store. Especially in winter when things are traveling from long distances.

And when vegetables are more flavorful you’ll want to eat more of them. So, schedule a trip to your local farmers market this weekend and stock up on your favorite seasonal veggies.

kale salad as example of healthy holiday eating

#2: Double recipes for leftovers.

When I first learned to cook way back when I lived on a farm we rotated cooking duties and often had to cook for crowds of 12 to 40 people. And, you had to serve lunch the next day as part of your shift.

I learned really quickly that there was no way I wanted to cook another meal for lunch, so I began doubling, tripling and sometimes even 10 timesing (is that a word?) each recipe.

I carried this habit forward with me as I started to cook on my own and now make it a point to have leftovers after every meal. In fact, I get annoyed when a recipe doesn’t provide us with lunches for the next few days.

I work at home and my husband packs his lunch every day, so we like to have lots of ready to go meals in the fridge. The food you cook at home is often much healthier than what you’ll eat at a restaurant, plus you’ll save money by bringing lunch to the office.

Looking for some new recipes featuring fresh vegetables? Here are some posts where I share my favorites:

10 Healthy Veggie Side Dishes Straight from the Garden

Massage Kale Salad Recipe Perfect for Any Time of Year

 

vegetable garden harvest with healthy holiday eating

#3: Increase the veggies in every recipe.

This is a trick I’ve been using for as long as I’ve been cooking. Because as far as I’m concerned, there’s no such thing as too many vegetables in a recipe!

Unless you’re making a vegetarian recipe, which often features lots of vegetables, you can probably increase the number of vegetables above what the recipe specifies.

I used this technique this last night when making a coconut lentil soup. The recipe called for two large carrots and one onion. Instead, I chopped up three carrots, two onions, and added some frozen kale.

Most of the time, adding more veggies won’t really change the recipe, especially in things like soups, casseroles, salads and egg dishes.

And if you make that weekly trip to your farmers market you’re going to have plenty of veggies in your fridge to use up!

veggies getting cooked in a pan for healthy holiday eating tips

#4: Find a favorite source for healthy recipes.

Do you have a go-to cookbook or blog for when you need recipe inspiration? It’s too difficult to create your own recipes and ideas every week. Let someone else figure it out for you.

Over the last few years, I’ve strayed from using cookbooks and now use food blogs for most of my recipe and meal planning. A major perk is that on most sites you can search by ingredient, season, or meal – it’s so awesome!

Just this week I searched for soup on Love and Lemons because I want to try one new soup a week this winter, and then looked up sweet potato recipes on Cookie and Kate because I have 115 sweet potatoes stacked in my guest room waiting to be eaten. (Correction: 111. We ate four this week.)

Find a food blogger or cookbook author whose style and recipes resonate with you. Then you can turn to them each week during your meal planning.

Besides the above two food blogs, I love Naturally Ella, Sprouted Kitchen, Smitten Kitchen, and My New Roots to help me figure out healthy meals to cook each week.

And even though I’m a voracious reader, I don’t own a lot of books. (I get most of mine from the library.) But, I do have a few favorite cookbooks on my shelf that I first borrowed from the library and liked so much I purchased them for myself. 

Discover my top picks in this post: Vibrant Cookbooks Every Gardener Should Own.

winter holiday harvest from garden

This is one of my pre-Thanksgiving harvests from my garden.

#5: Grow food for as many months of the year as possible.

When you have vegetables coming out of your garden you tend to be forced to eat more of them. It’s that, or let them go to waste!

So, the longer you can extend your harvest into all seasons the more often you’ll be inspired to go out and pick food for that night’s dinner.

I live in the cold climate of Wisconsin often in November I still have a lot of food hanging out in my home garden: spinach, arugula, salad mix, turnips, winter radishes, beets, carrots, brussels sprouts, and herbs.

Having these ready to go ingredients helps me get excited to cook dinner each week because there’s nothing quite like the feeling of running out to my garden to fill a bowl with vegetables for that night’s recipe.

Even if you live in a colder climate than mine you can be harvesting vegetables from your garden for at least eight months of the year, and possibly more. Next season, experiment with extending your harvest season into as many months as possible.

Check out my free video course below to learn how to harvest food from your garden for more months of the year.

Doubling down on your vegetable consumption will go a long way towards helping you enjoy the holidays season. This year, make a commitment to prioritize healthy holiday eating by adopting some of the suggestions above.

Making yourself sick, gaining weight, and overeating don’t have to be a regular part of your holiday season if you don’t want them to be.

gardener harvesting vegetables for healthy eating

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Additional Resources for Healthy Eating Over the Holidays

FREE MINI COURSE: My how-to video series, Harvesting Fresh Veggies in the Snow, will teach you how to keep your garden harvests going all the way into the holiday season with the use of row covers, low tunnels and cold frames. I harvest from my garden 10 months of the year every season in zone 5. You can, too! Watch the FREE mini course here.

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Comments

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    Our systems are dependant on the food we consume so eating well should be a top priority for us. Foods rich in vitamins and minerals are critical for proper functioning and without these, your body and mind will start to deteriorate much faster. Knowing what to consume is based on so many individual factors and I can help figure those factors out. I am a nutritional therapist in Cape Town, love your thoughts.

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