Happy Hanukkah, Merry Christmas, and a Joyful Solstice and Kwanzaa, everyone! I was trying to beat everyone to the down-pour of december-holiday excuses but I was too late. I’ve been incredibly busy and had forgotten to put this list together until I already began seeing the early signs of winter holiday binge-eating & binge-drinking allowances litter the social media and interwebs. So back the f—up and slow your roll. No one said there are rules that any holiday which lands on ONE DAY must be celebrated with sugar and alcohol for THIRTY DAYS.
Take a deep breath. Let it out. Go take a few yoga classes, do some meditations, get on your bike, lift & press some barbells, get to sleep early, do things that make you happy and for the love of Moses, please eat some healthy food and nourish your body the way it deserves.
Look! I’ve made it easy for you. Below is a list of my favorite holiday recipes for you to plan on this year, and it’s ALL YOU NEED. Click the links, print the recipes, and make your shopping lists. Done.
1. Slow Roasted Lamb Shanks
It doesn’t matter which holiday you’re celebrating, I think we can all agree that turkey was over-utilized a month ago and ham is boring. Let’s eat some nutrient & protein-dense meat for a change. Hang up the “bacon is everything” hat and seek food enjoyment outside of the hype. Especially food that will serve you in health & fitness.
2. Sweet Potatoes with Pecan Crust
The first two words are “sweet potatoes”. I don’t have to really explain why this is in my top 10, do I? But if you’re seeking holiday recipes to simultaneously fuel your body’s mitochondrial needs for health and performance… well then… here you go.
3. Caramelized Cauliflower & Sauteed Kale Bake
Don’t give me shit because I’m not listing a bunch of “paleo-ized” mint-flavored chewy brownie concoction or chocolate-covered cinnamon pumpkin cakeball recipes. Think of where you’re at right now. Stressed a little? Extra long to-do list? Worried about the winter layer around your midsection? Then shut up and eat your veggies.
4. Veggie Stuffed Acorn Squash
Like I said. Eat your damn veggies. Lots of them. Including acorn squash which is like dessert anyway. Fill your body with enough nutrients, and you won’t crave the stupid crap.
5. Pumpkin Chili
You want to “eat all the pumpkin things” like that creepy drawing meme says? Then try eating actual pumpkin. Better yet, put it in your chili because it’s pretty amazing. I’ve fiddled with this recipe a lot and personalized it many times. You can, too. You can’t really do anything wrong once you’ve combined (a) pumpkin, (b) broth and (c ) beef. Seriously… throw some cinnamon in there. I dare you. Minced kale, bacon bits, chopped asparagus. Whatever. Do it and don’t regret it.
6. Potato & Turkey Stew
Do you love the “eat out of a bowl” theme here? Isn’t that what you’re supposed to do in the winter when it’s cold? Just my advice, though… don’t fill your bowl with something from a can. Don’t you love your family? Your kids? Yourself? This is packed with healthy carbs and protein that you’ll need to restore yourself from lifting, workouts, training, stress, hormone and/or autoimmune issues. Just be sure you source yourself a healthy turkey. Remember, you can’t eat a sick animal and expect to be healthy as a result.
7. Parmesan Spinach & Mushroom Bake
Again. Vegetables. I wasn’t done with you. Spinach is high in fiber, as well as niacin and zinc which both boost the immune system and keep you healthy. Mushrooms, my dear lovers, are packed with vitamin D which you are not getting enough of from lack of sunlight in the winter.
8. Sausage & Sweet Potato Breakfast Casserole
Breakfast casserole. Again, this is another recipe you can customize and fiddle with to your picky specifications. Have fun with it. If you do use sausage, then I remind you to carefully select healthy options. This is a perfect “make ahead” meal you can put in the crockpot and have ready on Christmas morning. Or any morning.
9. Gingerbread Cookies
This is how nice I am. I will, actually, suggest a couple of traditional cookie recipes for the stubborn-minded person who believes holidays do not exist without cookies. (aka: me). With that said, you don’t have to go all crazy with fancy, complicated desserts like Ladies Home Journal would have you believing all your life, and then stress how you’ll possibly pull it off as paleo, or gluten free, or AIP etc. I’m not a fan of taking whole foods, turning them into processed foods, and still calling them “whole foods”. But this recipe is decent, and has good ingredients to help you stay on track, avoid other indulgences due to lack of options and satisfy the little craving.
10. Grain-Free Cut-out cookies (Paleo & SCD)
I am sharing this one as well because if you’re like me and you have kids, this is a life-saving recipe to appease the anxiety of your children diving into piles of frosting and marshmallows during their classroom holiday party. Decorating Christmas cookies was a major part of our household traditions growing up, and some traditions I like to keep alive because of how the memories make me feel. And if you agree, then this is a great recipe that will help perpetuate the clean-eating continuum, as well as provide your friends/co-workers/family/kids healthier options.
Now go plan your meals, prepare and set your mind to the right dials. That is; don’t go blowing it with a mountain of excuses and then comfort yourself with the ‘ol “I’ll start after New Years” allowance. Your body doesn’t have a calendar. It doesn’t matter what month or day it is. It still needs nutrition.
And a reminder (all of my clients are about to roll their eyes right now because I say this too often): Every living cell in your body is a representation of the food you eat. Therefore, if you eat a diet consisting of a majority of processed foods, sugar, caffeine, alcohol, and soda, then that is the representation of your living cells. So complete this sentence: If I eat a lot of shit, then I am – by my own design – ____________.