5 Expert Tips (+ 3 Amazing Recipes!) for Eating Clean Over the Holidays
Between Halloween candy, 20-lb. Thanksgiving turkeys and boozy holiday parties, the next few months can be a trying time for healthy eaters. There are just so many tasty traditions that can tempt you into some not-so-nutritious habits, undoing all of your hard work from the summer. But is it really possible to eat clean during the most wonderful time of the year? Most def! Haley Whitley, a holistic nutritionist, and Claudine Dagit, a natural chef, dished up some awesome advice last spring about getting into the #eatclean movement, and now they’re back to help us survive the holidays.
Haley and Claudine founded the 10 Day Health Challenge to kickstart healthy eating habits for the long haul, not just for a short-term fix. By signing up, you get an 10-day meal plan, featuring seasonal whole-food recipes and a complete grocery shopping list. You’ll also have a support network (so important when making a dietary transition like this!) and tools for setting goals and tracking progress. Once you’ve completed the challenge, your mind and body will be ready to take on the season’s
“Eating whole foods is the perfect prep for the upcoming festivities,” says Haley. “Stocking up on nourishing foods will build your stores of nutrients and allow your body to handle the lack of sleep, stress, skipped workouts and potential poor eating habits that take place during the holiday season. This will help you fight off sickness and weight gain. In other words, you’ll have a strong foundation to forge ahead into the season!”
Sounds like a solid plan to us. Ready to sign up? The next live 10 Day Health Challenge begins October 19 (Monday!), and Brit + Co’s exclusive coupon code “BritCo10” cuts 10% off (normally $45). You can also sign up for the self-guided Fall Challenge at any point through December (such as, any time you fall off the clean eating wagon and need a reset).
Without further ado, here are Haley and Claudine’s five tips for making smart choices for the next few months, both on and off the 10 Day Health Challenge. And don’t forget to check out three of their scrum-diddly-umptious clean eating recipes at the end!
Tip #1: Cook Seasonally
Fall and winter aren’t all calorific lattes and candy canes. “Fall is a great time to transition to cleansing whole food meals, seasonal veggie soups and incorporating dark leafy greens on a daily basis,” says Haley. Embrace the healthy options that come with the season, such as Thanksgiving favorites like mashed sweet potatoes, roasted root veggies and green bean casseroles. And as always, stop by the farmers’ market to see what else is fresh in your neck of the woods.
Tip #2: Eat Mindfully, Not Mindlessly
Mindless grazing is something we’re all guilty of, and it’s a big pitfall. So aim to be mindful instead of mindless. “It’s easy to get distracted by social events and gatherings where there’s always unhealthy food around,” says Haley, who suggests sticking closely to a routine of three meals plus snacks a day and sitting down when you eat. She adds that the “I’ll start my diet tomorrow” mentality is a slippery slope. Always keep good health in mind.
Tip #3: Everything in Moderation
Clean eating does not mean boring food. You can still have — and should have — healthy fats as part of your diet. Just make sure to monitor the quality and limit the quantity of these fats. Focus on omega-3 fatty acids, found in cold-water fish, walnuts, chia seeds and flax, and monounsaturated fats from nuts, seeds, olive oil and avocados. Even small amounts of saturated fat, like coconut oil and grass-fed butter, are good for your system. The most important takeaway here is everything in moderation. At a Christmas party with lots of snack plates? Watch your portions and your ratios. “Think crudités, veggies, non-cream-based dips, fresh salads and shrimp cocktail,” suggests Claudine. “When you’re approached by a cheese plate, a good serving of cheese is the size of your thumb.”
Tip #4: Never Party Hungry
Yes, your bestie is bringing her famous pumpkin cream cheese whoopie pies to the party, and yes, you are dying to try one (or ten). But unless she’s going to be there with you the next day working it off at the gym, resist the temptation by showing up to the party full. “Drinking on an empty stomach, then adding a bunch of junk food is the worst thing you can do,” says Haley. “Have a hearty lunch or make sure you have a good snack right before the party, so you’re not tempted to eat the whole bowl of chips.”
Tip #5: Fancy Up Your Water Game
Sugary cocktails, eggnog and Bailey’s abound during the holidays, but steer clear of those high-calorie traps. Claudine suggests sticking to clear alcohol, like a vodka soda with lime. Also remember that although peer pressure still totally exists in the adult world (especially when the wine is flowing), fact of the matter is that you don’t have to drink to have fun. Go incognito at a party by tossing some herbs and berries into your sparkling water holiday mocktail, and no one will be the wiser.
If you’ll be hosting this year’s festivities, you can also serve up some clean eating-approved recipes that your guests will love! Read on for a winning combo of appetizer, main course and dessert that’s sure to impress.
Stuffed Sole, Two Ways
First up, a clean-eating meal that anyone would order from the menu. “This hearty meal is great for whipping up in minutes,” says Haley. “It’s a crowd-pleaser and presents beautifully during the holidays.”
— olive oil
— 1 clove of garlic, minced
— 1/2 cup onion, chopped
— 2 cups fresh mushrooms (any kind), rinsed and coarsely chopped
— 2 teaspoon fresh thyme, minced
— salt and pepper
— 3 cups spinach
— 1/2 cup chopped sun dried tomatoes
— 2 Tablespoon capers
— 2 Tablespoon chopped kalamata olives
— 4 pieces of sole (about 5 oz. each)
1. Preheat the oven to 400°F. Rinse and coarsely chop the mushrooms.
2. In a pan over medium high heat, heat a drizzle of olive oil and sauté the garlic and onions for three to four minutes.
3. Add the mushrooms and cook for another three to four minutes. Add the thyme, some salt and pepper, stir and continue cooking for one to two minutes. Remove from heat, drain excess water and set aside.
4. Lay out the sole on a cutting board and pat dry with paper towels. Working from the wider end of the sole, place half of the mushroom mixture widthwise across the fillet. Rolling away from you, carefully roll the sole up over the mushroom. Repeat with the other fillet.
5. With the other two fillets, divide half of the spinach, sun dried tomatoes, capers and olives, season with salt and pepper and repeat the rolling process.
6. Place the sole rolls in a small baking dish, lightly oiled with olive oil or lined with parchment paper. Make sure the fish is snug so it stays intact while it bakes.
7. Sprinkle with salt and pepper, garnish with juice of half a lemon, lemon zest and more fresh thyme. Bake for 12 to 15 minutes, until the fish is easily flaked with a fork.
Who needs crackers and cheese when you can whet your appetite with these tasty, healthy bites? The 10DHC ladies say you can easily turn this into a main by throwing the lentil balls on top of spaghetti squash and marinara sauce.
(Serves 2 – 4):
— olive oil
— 1/2 onion, diced
— 1 clove garlic, minced
— 1 cup cooked lentils
— 2 Tablespoons flax meal
— 1/4 cup almond meal
— 1/4 cup frozen spinach, thawed
— 2 Tablespoons nutritional yeast
— 1/2 teaspoon Italian seasoning
— 1/2 teaspoon salt
— 1/2 teaspoon pepper
1. Melt two teaspoons of olive oil in a medium frying pan and cook the onions for several minutes. Add the garlic for 30 seconds, or until fragrant. Remove from heat.
2. In a large bowl, combine the remaining ingredients and add the cooked onions and garlic. Smash everything together using a spatula.
3. Form the lentil mixture into two-inch balls — there should be about eight. Heat another two teaspoons of olive oil and add them back to the pan. Gently turn them every few minutes so they begin to brown on all sides (it’s okay if they fall apart a bit!). Cover and cook for a total of six to eight minutes.
Pumpkin “Nice” Cream
Who’s up for dessert?! “This recipe is sooooooo good,” says Haley. “It’s sweetened mostly by natural sugars and doesn’t have any added fat, though it’s just as satisfying as regular ice cream. You can make a big batch and store it in the freezer for up to a week.”
(Serves 1 – 2):
— 1 frozen banana
— 1/2 cup pumpkin puree
— 2 Tablespoons maple syrup
— 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice
— 1/2 teaspoon vanilla
— pinch of salt
1. Combine all the ingredients together in a small food processor or high-powered blender and blend until smooth. You may need to use a spatula to scrape off the sides several times, then continue blending.
Remember, you have until October 18 to sign up for the Fall 10 Day Health Challenge using coupon code “BritCo10” for 10% off, and you can keep coming back through the end of December whenever you need a healthy pick-me-up.
What 10 Day Healthy Challenge recipes are you going to try this week? Are you going to sign up for the next challenge? Let’s talk all things nutritious in the comments below!
(Photos via Rosa Delgado for 10 Day Health Challenge)