It’s certainly very easy to go a little too hard and overindulge a bit during the holidays. We’ve all been there. You may feel the guilt of not following your usual, more conscious way of eating, but usually more-so you end up feeling the actual physical pain of loosening up a little and not being mindful of the type of food you are consuming.
I am a big fan of balance, having your fun and letting go, but not at the cost of your health, or the healing you work so hard to maintain the rest of the year. I think with the holidays coming but once a year, it’s important to be kind to yourself, honoring your health and your hard work, while also acknowledging that depriving yourself isn’t the real answer. While it can be easy to use this time of year as an excuse to overindulge, it is also very important to cultivate and hone that same balance you honor throughout the rest of the year. To pick your battles wisely, yet to still allow yourself to indulge a little in your favorites. Rather than spending the first few weeks of the new year detoxing, cleansing and working to reverse any damage caused by going too far during the holidays, I find it helps to simply reach for healthier versions of your favorites, whenever possible. Less sugar, less refined, processed foods and instead more nourishing, whole foods.
I compiled a list of some of my favorite holiday-inspired and seasonal recipes sure to keep you on-track and in-balance this holiday season.
20 Healthy Holiday Recipes to Keep You On Track This Season
This salad is chock full of winter goodness. A great compliment to any meal or add your favorite protein to make this simple, quick salad complete on it’s own.
Winter is synonymous with citrus and this salad is the perfect way to celebrate all that bright, fresh goodness. A great side for most any meal or a light fresh lunch on it’s own, this salad will bring the sunshine inside.
Roasted Beet and Persimmon Salad with Goat Cheese and Toasted Walnut Vinaigrette
We absolutely love salads over here at TY headquarters, but this is possibly one of my own personal favorites. Just on the vibrant colors alone this salad is a show stopped, but in flavor it’s second to none.
Drinks and Cocktails:
The chain coffee shops are all boasting and pushing their specialty, holiday drinks pretty hard this time of year, but the sugary syrups and scary “natural” flavors personally always concern me. Drop those red cups and whip up your own, instead. Opt for the java-filed mocha or leave out the Joe for a simple hot chocolate, either way it tastes like holiday in a mug!
Why choose between your favorite hot drinks when you can have both? This spicy, heart-warming drink brings subtle hints of spice from the chai which so beautifully compliments the silky chocolate. It’s rich, creamy and comforting and it’s only sweetened with a couple of dates. It contains no dairy and it’s nut-free. So it’s paleo-friendly and vegan.
Whether or not you are vegan, this classic holiday beverage will leave you in awe that there’s no dairy or eggs to be found. There is nothing like sipping on a thick, creamy, luscious glass of that spiced goodness, with a shot of some spicy warming liquor, by the glow of the Christmas lights, with my favorite holiday tunes playing in the background. Opt for spirits, if you’d like, but the nonalcoholic version is just as incredible.
It wouldn’t be the holidays without gingerbread cookies, but this takes that classic tradition, one step closer. This cocktail is spicy and has a strong molasses flavor, it tastes just like a traditional gingerbread cookie. The fresh ginger and a splash of high quality ginger beer is the key to this cocktail’s burst of holiday flavor, perfect for any holiday gathering.
Those quintessential holiday flavors make their appearance once again, this time in a breakfast-worthy recipe! This super tasty gingerbread smoothie celebrates all of the classic flavors of this traditional Christmas cookie, without the mixing, cutting out and baking!
Cranberries aren’t just for sauces and can-shaped holiday sides, they are loaded with nutrients and vitamins and their flavor is perfect in this smoothie. The cranberries bring an amazing and unique flavor with a little tartness, much like the tartness you would get from adding yogurt to a smoothie. The subtle sweetness from the banana and the dates offset it nicely and the hint of cinnamon is so warming and pleasant. As a self-proclaimed Christmas junkie, I especially liked the flecks of red from the cranberries paired with the green from the kale.
This holiday-inspired smoothie is sure to get you in the Christmas spirit. It’s quick to throw together, sweetened only with a banana and celebrating the classic, warming spiced flavors of eggnog without the heaviness and sugar.
With the abundance of oranges in the winter, here in California, it only seems natural to start your day with a bright, cheerful smoothie like this one. The creaminess of the coconut milk really compliments and offsets the tartness from the cranberries and the fresh orange juice and the cinnamon is so perfectly warming and comforting, the perfect addition. Besides being super beautiful and delicious, this smoothie is loaded with antioxidants, vitamins and other goodness, so it’s food you can feel totally good about during the season of indulging.
Snacks and Small Bites:
Toast is one of my favorite special occasion, small bites and this particular recipe makes for a perfect start for the day, especially on your favorite sprouted bread or in my case, gluten-free sourdough bread. A little sweet and a little savory, it’s the perfect holiday shopping fuel.
Clearly we have a thing for the flavors of gingerbread, if you couldn’t already tell. This granola can be made with gluten-free rolled oats or for a grain-free option skip the oats, swap in more nuts and seeds. The best part is, this granola makes for an awesome handmade gift for the foodies on your holiday list.
During the hustle and bustle of the holidays, it’s fair to assume you don’t always have the patience or time to make a full batch of gluten-free cookies, especially not the kind you have to roll and cut out, then decorate. These no-bake cookie balls are an amazing way to enjoy the unique flavor of gingerbread cookies without the work and the guilt! Plus, between the protein from the nuts and the iron from the molasses, one could even argue these cookies are extra good for you!
Another tasty, giftable recipe these truffles are simple to make and they are naturally both gluten-free and vegan. Additionally, they are low in sugar and only take a few ingredients and a few minutes at the stove – that’s about it. You can even play around with the recipe and leave out the peppermint and roll them into other goodies, like chopped nuts, coconut, melted chocolate or chocolate bits, etc. Make this recipe your own and customize it for whomever will be receiving it.
Cookies and Sweets:
This flavor combo of pomegranate and chocolate is one I wish I had discovered a long time ago. These cookies happen to be vegan, relying on flax seeds as a binder, which is also a great way to get more omega-3 fatty acids. These beautiful cookies are chewy and they have an amazing burst of bright flavor whenever you bite into the pomegranate seeds.
Skip on the store-bought boxed chocolates this holiday season and instead create your own custom blend of toppings and add-ins, by making your very own dark chocolate bark. Homemade chocolate bark is probably one of my most favorite edible homemade gifts to make. Whether it’s a gift for a hostess of a holiday party or your dish to share, homemade chocolate bark is super simple to make and you can customize it to no end. The possibilities for flavors and toppings is endless and you can really create something super special for whoever will receive it. It is super easy to make your chocolate bark allergen friendly, too. Easy to make gluten-free, vegan, nut-free, soy-free and so on.
Another take on those classic gingerbread flavors, these soft and chewy, grain-free cookies are a hit at holiday parties, for those with dietary challenges and those without. Those soul-warming spices are what the holidays are all about. Lay these out with some homemade nut milk for Santa you’ll secure yourself a permanent spot on the Nice List and he may not make it to the next house on the list.
Biscotti always make for an incredible Christmas cookie option, but especially so when they are grain-free and vegan. Rather than starchy grain-based flours, these are made with almond flour, highlighting dried cranberries and finally taking a bath in dark chocolate, with a light dusting of sea salt, these biscotti are perfect for dunking into your favorite hot, wintery beverage.
Forget rolling out pie dough and all the fuss, you are probably too busy decorating the tree and wrapping gifts, to make a pie anyhow – instead opt for these Grain-free Cranberry and Orange Spiced Mini Tarts. They have all the flavors of the season without the heavy grains or refined sugar.