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by Erika Albertini, PT, DPT December 13, 2023 8 min read

Simple Holiday Health Hacks - Savor the Season with Guilt-Free Recipes!


The Holiday Season is all about gratitude and family, right? But let's be real, it also comes with a bit of overindulgence, especially in the food department. I get it; celebrations call for delicious treats, but finding that sweet spot between enjoying the season and caring for yourself is crucial. Here's the deal…It's not about skipping out on these goodies; it's about savoring them with a bit of awareness. Let’s turn this Holiday Season into a celebration of yumminess without the post-feast guilt, shall we?

Picture turning this Holiday Season into a joyous celebration of flavors without the aftermath of post-feast guilt hanging over you. Exciting, right? Buckle up because we have tips on balancing celebration and well-being during this festive time with better options.

Finding Your Sweet Spot

When we talk about finding that sweet spot, it's not about giving up the good stuff or going on some crazy diet. It's about diving into those holiday feasts with a bit of mindfulness. Indulging in the richness of the season’s culinary delights but doing it smartly. Start with smaller portions; it’s the secret sauce to savoring all those holiday flavors without going overboard. Chew slowly and let the taste unfold with each bite. This intentional pace makes your meal feel like a celebration and gives your body the time it needs to say, "Hey, I'm good!" That's mindful eating, turning eating into a full-blown sensory celebration. Pay attention to the textures and tastes, and be a food critic at your table. This mindful approach enhances your dining experience and lets your body signal when it’s had enough.

Decode Your Cravings 

The holidays are a rollercoaster of emotions; sometimes, that rollercoaster leads us straight to the refrigerator or pantry for reasons beyond hunger. Stress, joy, and nostalgia are emotions that play a big role in our eating habits. According to a Mayo Clinic article, the strongest food cravings sometimes hit when you're at your weakest point emotionally. You may turn to food for comfort — consciously or unconsciously — when facing a difficult problem, feeling stressed, or even feeling bored. So, before reaching for that second helping, ask yourself, “Am I hungry, or am I eating to cope with stress or emotions?” Understanding the connection between your emotions and eating habits helps you make choices that align with your well-being.

Elevating Your Favorites.

Turning traditional recipes into healthier versions doesn't mean saying goodbye to taste. Smart swaps are where it’s at. Imagine your favorite holiday dish – the one that makes your taste buds do a happy dance. Now, imagine giving it a healthy makeover without sacrificing that incredible flavor. That's the beauty of smart swaps. So, roll up your sleeves and get creative in the kitchen.

Baking Makeovers :

  • Replace butter with equal parts cinnamon-flavored, no-sugar-added applesauce for a moist, flavorful texture.
  • Opt for low-calorie plant-based sugar substitutes instead of regular sugar to reduce calories.
  • Swap whole or heavy cream with low-fat, skim, or plant-based alternatives. This change works wonders in desserts like Christmas Yule log or Hanukkah doughnuts (sufganiyot).
  • Use a mix of half-white and half-whole-wheat flour or gluten-free options like coconut or almond flour for a nutritious twist in your Christmas cookies or Kwanzaa sweet bread.
  • Instead of chocolate chips or candies, go for dried fruits such as cranberries or cherries, adding natural sweetness and texture.

Healthier Cooking Hacks:

  • Use heart-healthy oils like olive, coconut, or avocado instead of seed oils. If using butter, choose organic, hormone-free versions.
  • Flavor your dishes with herbs and spices like rosemary and cloves, especially in savory Hanukkah brisket or Kwanzaa jollof rice.
  • Choose whole-grain bread and pasta over white versions for your festive stuffing or pasta dishes.
  • Bake, grill, or steam vegetables instead of frying to retain nutrients and reduce fat, perfect for side dishes.
  • For creamy dishes, use low-fat or fat-free/skim milk or coconut cream as an alternative to heavy cream.

These ingredient swaps offer healthier options and introduce delightful new flavors to your holiday table. 

Move and Celebrate 

Get moving, literally. Decide to leverage every opportunity to integrate movement into your daily routine.  Make it a challenge and invite friends and family to join the fun. 

One simple yet impactful way to stay active is by taking advantage of shopping excursions. Instead of searching for the closest parking spot, park further away to add extra steps to your day. Opt for the stairs over escalators in malls. These small changes increase physical activity and help manage holiday stress.

Encourage family and friends to join in a post-meal walk around the neighborhood. It's a great way to enjoy festive decorations while digesting those delicious holiday meals. For those who enjoy dancing, put on some festive music and have a mini dance party. It's a joyful way to burn calories and create memorable moments.

Even at home, simple activities can be turned into exercise opportunities. While waiting for the oven to ding or the super greens powder to mix into your smoothie, do countertop push-ups, air squats, or standing calf raises. These exercises can be seamlessly incorporated into your cooking routine, helping to keep you active. For families, make movement part of the celebration. Organizing a game, yoga, or simple stretching works for all ages and keeps the vibe relaxed.

The key to maintaining movement during the holidays is to find joy and fun in these activities. Whether it's a brisk walk in the crisp winter air, a spontaneous dance session, or transforming shopping trips into mini workouts, these practices enhance your physical well-being and add an extra sparkle to your holiday cheer.

Your Holiday, Your Way

As we embark on this festive journey, remember that the holiday season is about celebrating both indulgence and well-being. Here's to a holiday season filled with laughter, joy, and a feast that not only tantalizes your taste buds but also nourishes your body and soul. Let’s make this Holiday Season your unique celebration of well-being where every bite is savored and every moment is cherished. Cheers to a balanced and blissful holiday season!

Healthier Holiday Treats

Gingerbread Christmas Cupcakes

Gingerbread cupcakes beautifully decorated for Christmas with red and green frosting sprinkled with edible red and white pearls on top


1/2 cup coconut oil

1/3 cup molasses 

1 egg

1/2 cup real maple syrup

1/2 cup Greek Yogurt

1/2 cup non-fat milk

1 tablespoon fresh ginger paste

1 1/2 cups gluten-free all-purpose flour

1 cup whole wheat flour

1 1/2 teaspoons baking soda

1/2 teaspoon salt

2 teaspoons cinnamon


Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Grease a cupcake tray. Melt the coconut oil so it’s in liquid form. In a small bowl, whisk the liquid coconut oil with the molasses.

Whisk the eggs, maple syrup, yogurt, milk, and ginger in a mixing bowl. Let the mixture come to room temperature so that you can easily add the coconut oil.

When it’s at room temperature, add the coconut oil and molasses from step one. The coconut oil should stay liquified.

Add the flour, baking soda, salt, and cinnamon. Stir a few times until just combined. Scoop into a cupcake tray.

Bake for 17-20 minutes or until the tops are puffy and firm to the touch. Cool for a few minutes before serving.

Decorate with green and red frosting topped with edible pearls. 

Hanukkah Baked Latkes

Hanukkah Baked Latkes arranged artfully on a gleaming baking sheet surrounded by vibrant colorful lighted candles on a festive table.


4 large potatoes, grated

1 onion, grated

2 eggs

2 tbsp almond flour (instead of white flour)

Salt and pepper to taste

Olive oil for greasing


Preheat your oven to 425°F (220°C) and grease a baking sheet with olive oil.

Combine grated potatoes and onion in a bowl. Add eggs, almond flour, salt, and pepper.

Form into patties and place on the baking sheet.

Bake for 15-20 minutes until golden brown, flipping halfway.

Kwanzaa Sweet Potato Pie with Almond Flour Crust

An alluring sweet potato pie gracing the kitchen counter, adorned with a generous sprinkling of almonds.


1 ½ cups almond flour

1/4 cup coconut oil, melted

1 tbsp maple syrup


2 cups mashed sweet potatoes

1/2 cup plant-based milk

1/4 cup maple syrup

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 tsp ground cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg


Preheat oven to 350°F (175°C).

Mix almond flour, coconut oil, and maple syrup for the crust. Press into a pie dish.

Bake the crust for 10 minutes.

Combine filling ingredients and pour into the crust.

Bake for 40-45 minutes. Cool before serving.

Apple Crisps

A freshly baked apple crisp nestled in a charming ramekin, elegantly presented on the table alongside crisp, fresh apples.


3 tablespoons coconut oil

1/4 cup quick oats

2 tablespoons chopped pecans

2 1/2 tablespoons whole wheat flour 

2 1/2 tablespoons of date sugar, coconut sugar, or your preferred sugar substitute 

1/2 teaspoon cinnamon

1/8 teaspoon salt

2–3 apples (about 2 cups chopped)

Honey for drizzling


Stir in the oats, pecans, brown sugar, cinnamon, and salt. Mix until well combined.

Chop the apples and toss them with whole wheat flour.

Layer a spoonful of the oat mixture in the bottom of ramekins or mugs. Top with chopped apples and heap the remaining oat mixture over the top.

Bake until the apples are bubbling, and the whole thing will reduce in size. 

Remove and let stand until cool enough to eat. Drizzle with honey for an extra gooey kind of texture.

Rewind Grinch Smoothie

A glass of rich dark green smoothie rests upon the table, surrounded by ripe bananas and sticks of fragrant cinnamon bark, set against a festive Holiday-themed background.


1 cup unsweetened almond milk

1 banana, frozen

1 scoop Rewind Greens Super Greens Powder 

1/4 cup plain Greek yogurt

1 tablespoon chia seeds

1 tablespoon almond butter

1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

A pinch of nutmeg

Ice cubes (optional for extra thickness)


Start by adding the unsweetened almond milk and frozen banana to your blender.

Spoon in the desired amount of Rewind Greens Powder. Since it's sweet, you can start with a smaller amount and adjust according to your taste preferences.

Include plain Greek yogurt for creaminess and additional nutritional benefits.

Add the chia seeds, almond butter, ground cinnamon, and a pinch of nutmeg for a festive touch.

If you prefer a thicker smoothie, you can add some ice cubes at this point.

Blend everything until smooth and creamy.

Taste the smoothie and adjust the sweetness by adding more Rewind Greens Powder if needed.

Pour the smoothie into a festive glass or mug.

Optional: Garnish with a sprinkle of cinnamon or a few whole berries for a decorative touch.


Q1. What is the key to balancing celebration and well-being during the holiday season?

When it comes to navigating the holiday season and keeping the balance between celebration and well-being, it's all about being mindful while indulging. You don't have to bid farewell to the delightful treats of the season; instead, let's savor them with a dash of awareness. Enjoy those festive goodies with smaller portions, relish each bite mindfully, and tune in to the link between your emotions and eating habits. It's not about giving up the joy of the season but finding a sweet spot where you can enjoy every moment.

Q2. How can I practice mindful eating during the holidays without feeling deprived?

Mindful eating is not about depriving yourself. It's more like a flavor-packed journey with a few smart moves. Start by going for smaller portions, allowing you to relish the deliciousness without going overboard. Take your time with each bite, savoring the textures and tastes as if uncovering a treasure trove of flavors. Be right there in the moment, turning your eating experience into a sensory celebration. Picture yourself as a food critic, diving into the details and enhancing the dining experience. And here's the bonus – by doing this, you're giving your body the chance to signal when it's full.

Q3. What role does movement play in balancing celebration during the holidays?

Movement is your secret weapon for a well-rounded celebration. Start your day with a little calorie-burning action to soak up all that positive energy. It's great for digestion and a fantastic way to spend quality time with your favorite people. And for families looking to make movement part of the festive fun, dive into games, or exercises that work for everyone. 

Q5. How can I make this holiday season a celebration of both indulgence and well-being?

It’s all about finding the sweet spot between indulgence and well-being. No need for strict rules; just make choices that honor the festive spirit and your health goals. Savor every bite, cherish every moment, and create a celebration that's uniquely yours, a mix of joy, laughter, and a feast that nourishes both body and soul.

Take Action

  1. Cherish Every Bite. Be present, Enjoy those festive treats with a heightened awareness that turns each bite into a sensory experience. 
  2. Smart Swaps in the Kitchen. Get your creative hat on and experiment with nutritious substitutes for traditional ingredients. 
  3. Move and Celebrate. Decide to leverage every opportunity to integrate movement into your daily routine.  Make it a challenge and invite friends and family to join the fun. 



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