Earlier this week, we shared some novel, intriguing ways to have a healthier holiday season — from engaging in regular winter exercise to cutting back on your sugary holiday treats. In today’s recipes, we’ll share three healthy winter-themed dishes. The first is perfect for a hearty, healthy breakfast and to fuel your winter workouts. The second is a delightful Christmas treat that’s ideal for bringing to holiday parties (or indulging on your own, we’re not judging!) yet low in sugar. And finally, we round out the recipes with a slow-cooked roast that will wow your Christmas dinner guests while taking just minutes to prep and offering loads of delicious flavors in every bite (without any of the guilt around trans fat, high sodium content, etc.). Put together, you have a meal plan that prepares you for a healthier holiday season!
1. Christmas-Themed Energy Balls for a Healthier Holiday Season
Before embarking on your regular winter exercise (whether that’s snowshoeing, skiing, or just going for a frosty walk around the neighborhood after dinner), fuel up your body with these easy-to-make energy balls. They’re portable and easy to take on winter hikes or outings, while offering high amounts of healthy fats and protein. The seeds are especially powerful, providing lots of antioxidants that will bolster your immune system during the cold and flu season. And you don’t need to only enjoy them before a workout — they’re also great for an energizing breakfast or a healthy snack whenever you have a sweets craving!
3 tbsp honey (ideally local and organic)
1/2 cup peanut butter or your favorite smooth seed butter
3 tbsp chia seeds
4 tbsp flax seeds
4 tbsp unroasted, salted pumpkin seeds
1/2 cup old-fashioned oats
1/4 cup dark chocolate chips
Combine the chia seeds, flax seeds, pumpkin seeds, peanut butter, and honey. Mix well, then fold in the chocolate and oats.
Scoop with a spoon or an ice cream scooper and mold into small balls (this recipe makes approximately a baker’s dozen). Chill in your fridge for a few hours, then enjoy!
2. Keto-Friendly Sugar Cookies
The average adult eats nearly 6,000 calories during Christmas day, and a lot of that comes from sugary side dishes (think cranberry sauce or sweetened casseroles) and sugary treats. Yet Christmas is also a time of festivities and joy, and you shouldn’t have to feel worried about being a health martyr and not being able to enjoy the holidays. Unfortunately, too much sugar can impact your immune system, trigger even more sugar cravings, increase your risks of numerous diseases and even impact your mood.
With these keto-friendly sugar cookies, you can have your cookies without worrying about your blood sugar so much. Each serving of one cookie has approximately 1g of net carbohydrates, whereas the typical sugar cookie can easily have 10 times that amount. Plus, it’s made with healthy ingredients like almond flour — a great source of fiber, protein, healthy fats, and vitamins and minerals!
2/3 cup almond flour, ideally organic
3 tbsp coconut flour
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
1/8 tsp sea salt
5 tbsp granulated monk fruit sweetener (it’s a healthier alternative to sugar and has a lower level on the glycemic index)
3 tbsp butter, ideally grass fed
2 tbsp cream cheese
1 egg, ideally local, organic, and free-ranged
1 tsp vanilla extract
Combine the almond flour, coconut flour, xanthan gum, and salt in a bowl.
In a separate bowl, mix the cream cheese, butter, egg, vanilla extract, and monk fruit sweetener. Whisk until well combined.
Pour the moist ingredients into the bowl with the dry ingredients, and stir well. Place the entire bowl in your fridge to chill for 20-30 minutes, allowing the batter to set.
While the batter is being refrigerated, preheat your oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
Form the cookie dough into small balls, then press them flat on a lined baking sheet. Leave as is, or use a cookie cutter to cut out your favorite Christmas shapes.
Bake for 15 minutes or until golden brown. Allow them to cool on a cooling rack, then enjoy for a sugar-free healthier holiday season!
3. Slow-Roast Leg of Lamb
Forget a Christmas ham or turkey. If you want a healthier holiday season without sacrificing a stunning Christmas dish that will fill your friends and family with awe, try this leg of lamb. Lamb has exceptional nutritional qualities for numerous reasons. For example, it’s rich in immune-boosting vitamins and minerals like zinc and niacin. It’s also a great source of monounsaturated fats and conjugated linoleic acid, which have been shown to help people maintain a healthy weight or even reduce their cholesterol levels.
Best of all, this fancy Christmas dish doesn’t require a lot of prep work or ingredients!
4.5 lb bone-in leg of lamb
2-3 tsp of both salt and pepper
1 1/2 tbsp olive oil or avocado oil
2 whole garlic heads, unpeeled, cut in half horizontally
1 yellow onion, cut into fourths
3 springs of fresh rosemary sprigs
3 cups low-sodium beef stock
2 cups water
Preheat your oven to 335 degrees Fahrenheit.
While your oven is heating up, take a large roasting pan and place the rosemary, garlic, and onion chunks around its edges.
Season the leg of lamb with the salt and pepper, then place in the middle of the roasting pan. Drizzle the meat with avocado oil or olive oil, then pour in the broth and water and cover with foil. Leave the foil slightly loose so that steam can escape.
Roast for 4-5 hours, or until tender and well-cooked. Take off the foil, flip the lamb over, and let it roast for another 45-60 minutes or until golden brown on the surface.
Let it rest for 10 minutes before carving. Enjoy!