Here they come—big family dinners and football games, cocktail parties with clients, office holiday treats, and a regular rotation of festive gatherings with friends and neighbors. It’s a special, magical time of year - but it can also be busy and hectic causing some of our healthier routines to fall off the sled.
The secret to participating in holiday cheer without losing sight of your fitness and wellness goals is simple: include healthy choices and exercise in your celebrations. The RefreshinQ team pulled together our favorite stay-fit tips and recipes to help you through the holidays.
Let’s be honest. You may not be able to get to the gym as often as you like during this flurry of activities and social commitments, but there are plenty of opportunities and creative ways to enjoy the season that include exercise.
- Run: From Turkey Trots to Ugly Sweater Races and Santa Runs, communities across the country host 5k, 10k, and family fun run events with a holiday twist. Burning off calories before those big meals boosts your energy and starts your day with health in mind.
- Play: Whether you’re tossing a frisbee in the park, playing flag football in the backyard, or climbing that best sledding hill in the neighborhood, gather your friends and family together for a little competition, exercise, and fun.
- Skate: Wherever you live, temporary ice skating rinks are becoming increasingly popular—and include twinkle lights and hot chocolate!
- Chop: If you or a friend owns a fireplace, chop some wood! It’s powerful strength training and will impress your friends. It’s also a good reason to pop outside and channel the stress of family politics into a useful activity.
You don’t have to deprive yourself of your favorites! Just swap out a few of the heavier dishes. There are plenty of delicious recipes that use traditional ingredients in lighter ways. So we looked to InsideTracker for healthier alternatives to high-calorie dishes, ensuring a spot on your plate for Grandpa Bill’s signature cream pie or Aunt Sharon’s homemade bread.
- APPETIZER - Arugula Hummus:
Ingredient List (4 Servings):
1 cup cooked (or canned) garbanzo beans
2 tbsp arugula
1 tbsp tahini
1 tbsp lemon juice
1/2 clove garlic
2 tsp olive oil
In a food processor, combine the garbanzo beans, arugula, tahini, lemon juice, and garlic. Pulse until the garbanzo beans are chopped. While blending, slowly add the olive oil until a smooth, creamy consistency is reached. Season with salt and pepper.
- SIDE - Roasted Sweet Potatoes: Unless they’re your ultimate favorite, ditch the marshmallows for this rustic savory alternative packed with fiber, vitamins A and C and a healthy crunch.
Ingredients (4 to 6 Servings):
4 sweet potatoes
1 cup onions
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tsp thyme
½ cup almonds
Preheat the oven to 425 degrees. Chop potatoes and onion into small cubes. Mix all ingredients except sliced almonds in a large bowl. Toss ingredients together. Spread ingredients across a lined or nonstick baking sheet. Cook for about 30 minutes or until potatoes are fork tender. Remove baking sheet from oven and top with silvered almonds.
- DESSERT - Hazelnut Chocolate Granola Bar: Take out the word “granola” and cut them into squares like a brownie. The kids (and your friends) will never know the difference. They’re the perfect energy-boosting snack and make great gifts too—wrapped up with a bow on a pretty plate. Ask/warn about nut allergies before serving, of course.
Ingredients (1 Serving—adjust for more as desired):
1/4 cup pitted dates
1 tbsp almond butter
1/4 cup hazelnuts
1/4 cup Old Fashioned Rolled Oats
1 tbsp dark chocolate chips
2 tbsp cocoa powder
Preheat oven to 350F. Spread the oats on a small baking sheet and toast the oats in the oven until they are golden brown. In a food processor, process the dates until it is possible to form a ball. Transfer it to a mixing bowl. To the mixing bowl, add the hazelnuts, oats, and chocolate chips and cocoa powder. In a separate, microwave-safe bowl, warm honey and almond butter in the microwave for 10-15 seconds. Quickly, transfer the warm honey and almond butter to the bowl containing dates, hazelnuts, oats, and chocolate chips, stirring quickly to form an even mixture before it solidifies.
Line a shallow bread pan with parchment paper and pour in the mixture. Place a second piece of parchment paper on top of the mixture and press into a bar shape. Place in the freezer for 10 minutes to let set. Remove from the freezer and remove the parchment paper.
Find more healthful, delicious recipes on InsideTracker.
Wine will be flowing and cocktails aplenty during this celebratory season. Watching your alcohol intake is always advised, but it’s easy to lose count at parties or while cooking. Try these tips and slow down.
- White Wine Spritzer: This classic is so easy and can be made with less calories! Just pour less wine and top with water. Using club soda is the norm, but your favorite fruit-flavored fizzy water gives it a twist.
- Club Soda Over Ice with Lime: Sometimes well-meaning hosts are determined to keep your glass full. This option hydrates, settles a queasy stomach after too many Santa cookies, and can pass for a hard drink.
- Champagne Cocktails: Ring in the New Year right with a clear head and a Poinsettia: pour three ounces of cranberry into a champagne flute, along with a half-ounce of Cointreau. Top with Champagne.
- Make it a Mocktail: Use the same recipe above, but switch out the champagne with seltzer water and fruit juice. For more mocktails tailored to any occasion, visit MixThatDrink.
De-stress and Enjoy
While making merry this season, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed and stressed by the neverending to-do lists and social obligations. Try these quick fixes when your blood pressure starts to rise.
- Walk: Take the dog out for a walk (or go on a short stroll around the block solo).
- Breathe: Can’t get away? Step outside for a moment for some deep breaths, fresh air, and a little sunlight. Try some simple yoga moves as you breathe.
- Kiss: Get your sweetheart under that mistletoe! According to WebMD, kissing relieves stress by releasing endorphins.
- Support: Manage your stress before it starts with magnesium, L-theanine (from green tea), and B-complex vitamins. Our Stress Supporting Pack has these organic, gluten-free, stress-relieving ingredients and many others.
Ready to learn more about reducing stress and staying healthy? Take the RefreshinQ Quiz - it will help you customize a plan for your goals and lifestyle this holiday season and in the year ahead.
We hope you’ll follow these tips and recipes this holiday season because your health is the best gift you can give yourself every day.