Ho-Ho-Holiday Healthy Meals

By Jamie Truppi, MSN, CNS

Holiday events, tree trimming, shopping for gifts, end-of-year work deadlines, carving out time to ski – during the busy holiday season, how do we find time to plan wholesome meals?

Leaving meal prep for the last minute and eating on the fly are a recipe for poor nutritional choices and overindulgence. It doesn’t take long for processed frozen meals, pizza delivery and leftovers to leave us feeling under-nourished.

Instead, when we devote a fraction of the time spent on party-and-present-planning to coordinate balanced meals, we eat more nourishing foods, consume smaller portions, and feel motivated to skip (some) treats.

Try these simple, nutritious meal-planning ideas to support you through the holidays and into the New Year.

BREAKFAST

Be intentional; it’s is a great way to start the day mindfully. Preparing breakfast the night before means the only morning task is to enjoy it.

One healthy and nourishing family favorite is overnight oats. Prepare oats in two small jars – one for the next day and one for later in the week. In the first jar, add ingredients that complete the meal (nut butter and milk), then store overnight in the fridge. The second set (less anything that needs to be refrigerated) can wait patiently in the pantry until you’re ready to prepare for the next day.

Because the versatility of overnight oats begs for experimentation, it’s easy to be festive (and not bored!). Try adding:

  • pecans, dried cranberries and cardamom
  • dried apples, orange zest and cashew butter
  • pumpkin puree, nutmeg and eggnog (or soynog)
Vanilla-Date Overnight Oats Recipe
½ cup oats (quick cook or regular)
⅔ cup almond, coconut or cashew milk
1 tbsp. chia seeds
1 tbsp. almond butter
1 tbsp. whole milk Greek Yogurt
2-3 dates, pitted and finely chopped
½ tsp. pure vanilla extract

Place all ingredients in a jar and stir well. Regrigerate overnight or up to 5 days. For more sweetness, add a splash of maple syrup. Enjoy!

 

LUNCH

Healthy, sustainable packed lunches need not be a chore. One simple way to create easy lunches is to ensure that you have enough leftovers to top off a pile of greens. This season, holiday party leftovers make amazing ingredients. For example,

  • Chop up what’s left of the veggie, cheese and meat platters, and you’ve got a lovely smattering of ingredients for a mixed green salad adorned with cherry tomatoes, broccoli, olives, artisan cheese, cubed salami.
  • At home, prepare extra roasted Brussels sprouts and poached salmon, then add them along with goat cheese and candied nuts atop arugula.

The possibilities are endless provided that you have on hand:

  • A variety of greens
  • Dressing of your choice and
  • Accompaniments such as nuts, seeds and sauerkraut.

DINNER

Often the most daunting meal for busy parents, dinner may be more challenging this time of year. But a healthy home-cooked meal doesn’t have to be time consuming! It’s possible to please kiddos and keep life easy.

Think bowls. Call them something fun – “dragon” bowls, “Buddha” bowls, “burrito” bowls; they can be simple, creative and delicious. Quinoa, which cooks quickly, provides a nutrient-dense base, adapts with the flavor of many cuisines, and is an easy choice when time is limited. Next, layer veggies, other protein sources, and sauce or garnish – literally, add whatever in the fridge is calling you!

At my house, here are some common combinations:

  • Sautee chopped onion in a cast iron pan with extra virgin olive oil. Add small elk steak strips and seasoning of your choice, plus fresh garlic. Finally, toss in a bundle of Swiss chard ribbons and leftovers from taco night (maybe sweet potatoes, cauliflower and herbs). Build the bowl atop the quinoa and add a scoop of sauerkraut.
  • Mix brown rice with black beans and steamed kale. Top with avocado slices, wakame and a 2-minute sauce made of tahini, olive oil, lemon juice, Worchestershire, a dash of coriander or cumin, and a hint of maple syrup.
  • Forbidden rice (black rice) with spinach, roasted delicata squash, a hard-boiled egg, avocado slices, microgreens and a creamy miso sauce (white miso paste, tamari, rice wine vinegar, water, peanut and/or sesame oil,  and a hit of something sweet, such as honey or cane sugar).

DESSERT

YES, we get to savor dessert! It’s the holidays, after all. So when you’re feeling well-nourished and merry, please enjoy your favorite holiday treat or libation. Cheers!

TRY A MEAL PLANNING MEMBERSHIP
If you appreciate these simple meal ideas and would like more from Jamie Truppi, join her new Monthly Meal Planning Membership, launching in January! Designed to help busy parents – and keeping whole foods at the forefront of the meal plans – this community platform will help simplify meal planning with recipes, shopping lists, modifications for special diets and health needs, skill-building, stories from the field, and more!

For information and to sign up for six months ($150 January – June 2020), visit: https://www.jamietruppinutrition.com/meal-planning-membership

To change your fitness and exercise outlook this coming holiday season and beyond, consider joining Zenergy Health Club and Spa.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR
Jamie L. Truppi is a functional nutritionist who guides individuals and families toward optimal health through whole foods, plants and mindset. To learn more about Jamie or to schedule a consultation, visit her website.