By: Carmen Berry, MPH, RD, LD
With the holiday season upon us, you may find yourself indulging in some of your holiday favorites at parties and family functions. It can be difficult to make healthy choices when you are surrounded by endless appetizers and sweet treats. Here are some tips to help you avoid overindulging this year while still enjoying the holiday festivities!
- Include fruits and vegetables in holiday meals: Add in some seasonal favorites such as apples, broccoli, sweet potatoes, winter squash, citrus, and kale. Take charge and bring along a healthy produce packed side dish or appetizer to family gatherings or holiday parties.
- Don’t skip meals: eat breakfast, eat evenly-spaced meals, include nutrient rich snacks, and don’t skip meals to save room. Eat something healthy at home before going to holiday parties so you don’t over indulge when you show up with an empty stomach.
- Try a new tradition: instead of meeting for happy hour or throwing a cookie exchange party, consider hosting a non-food focused celebration. Make crafts, go hiking, or volunteer your time at a local non-profit! If you do find yourself at a food focused event, move away from the appetizer table and focus on socializing with your friends and family.
- Exercise: step it up a notch! Add in 10 extra minutes each day to what you normally do. Consider starting a new holiday exercise program with co-workers or family members, look for holiday themed 5k or walks, use the stairs when shopping, and consider parking farther away from the stores!
- Eat mindfully: Mindful eating means paying attention to every aspect of eating such as taste, smells, textures, and sensations so you can savor each bite and get more enjoyment out of your food. Some tips to eat mindfully include slowing down the pace of eating, avoiding eating out of a bag or box, using smaller plates, and sitting at the table without the TV, computer, or cell phone in front of you. Mindfully eating a smaller portion can give you more satisfaction than mindlessly eating a large portion.
- Make your holiday favorites a little healthier! Use whole wheat ingredients, sneak in fruits or vegetables, and make smaller portions. For a delicious and healthy dessert recipe, check out these black bean brownies!
Black Bean Brownies
Delicious, moist, chocolate fudgy brownies… healthy? These brownies made with black beans are a clever way to sneak in some healthy fiber and plant based protein all while providing a delicious dessert! Simply use a blender or food processor to blend the beans into the brownies, I promise you can’t even taste them!
1 15-oz can black beans, drained and rinsed
1/2 cup vegetable or canola oil
1/4 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
2/3 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup mini chocolate chips, divided
1/3 cup all-purpose flour
1/2 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp salt
powdered sugar for dusting, optional
1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F. Grease an 8×8 inch square baking pan with spray oil.
2. In a blender or food processor, puree the black beans with the oil, about 2 minutes or until there are no large chunks and it is relatively smooth.
3. Add in the eggs, cocoa, sugar, and vanilla. Melt half of the chocolate chips in the microwave and add to the blender. Process until smooth.
4. In a small bowl, stir together the flour, baking powder, and salt. Add to the mixture and pulse until just incorporated (do not over mix!). Stir in the remaining whole chocolate chips.
5. Pour into the prepared pan and bake until the surface looks somewhat matte around the edges and a bit shiny in the middle, about 20 minutes. Let cool at least 15 minutes before cutting and removing from the pan. Dust with powdered sugar if desired.
Estimated nutrition information: (Yield 12) 211 calories, 12 g total fat, 25 g carbohydrate, 3 g protein, 2 g fiber, 18 g sugar