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Staying Sane and Healthy During the Holidays

Is anybody else on overdrive this week?! We are, which is why we’re so excited to bring you this week’s guest blog & recipe guide- just for mamas trying to keep it healthy through the holidays. Meet Molly Koenig! Molly is a passionate mother of two who enjoys preparing fun, healthy meals and snacks for her kids. She loves to exercise daily and include her children as well so that they can understand what it means to live a healthy lifestyle. Molly is a corporate wellness consultant and health educator. She markets and educates for an online wellness company to help consumers shop for wellness on a budget, create a healthy environment in their home and make daily changes to prevent disease. In Molly’s experience as a wellness consultant, she created wellness, prevention, and disease management strategies for large employers across the country. 


As mothers, we are created to multitask and get more accomplished in a single day than anyone on this planet.  We wear so many hats, have multiple people (little and big) depending on us, and our jobs are so important and even more rewarding.  Many of us have careers alongside of our careers as a mother and we have learned to manage our time wisely.  On a daily basis, we manage it all, but why is it that over the holidays we get overwhelmed and lose focus on the important aspects of our daily lives, like nutrition? We can take professional family pictures, create beautiful Christmas cards and mail them by November 30th.  We can take the kids to see Santa multiple times, shop for every person in our family, wrap each gift, attend every holiday and gift exchange party, volunteer for our children’s school programs and class parties, and work all day, but we just cannot find the time to cook healthy, nutritious meals for ourselves and our kiddos over the holidays?  We decide to give ourselves a break in this regard and chalk it up to the holiday parties and the fact that everyone does this, right?  We decide that nutrition will be our focus in January.  

What if we decided to prepare our week of nutritious meals just like we prepare for everything else in our lives.  What if we included the kids and their holiday activities consisted of making healthy holiday snacks for themselves?  What if I told you that you and your family could enjoy the week of Christmas indulge, and relax, but still eat nutritious foods and not gain one ounce?  How great would it feel to start the new year now and not 5 from now.

Here is a great guide for the week that is easy, fun, healthy and keeps the kids occupied:

Breakfast

  1. Ready Made Muffins or Pancakes- Have a go to, easy and healthy muffin or pancake mix that can be thrown together within minutes and last you for the week.  They are great to freeze and use daily for the month. The same base can be used to make snowman shaped pancaked on Christmas morning.  

  2. Options:  1 cup fresh spinach, .5 cup canned pumpkin and .5 cup cooked sweet potato or 1 cup cooked zuchinni or 1 cup cooked and pureed beets or 1 cup cooked and pureed carrots (if you have picky eaters cauliflower does not have much taste and you cant see it)

  3. 1 cup cottage cheese

  4. 1 cup cooked veggie puree  

  5.  2 mashed banana

  6. 1.5 cups dry oats

  7. 2 eggs

  8. 1 TBL melted coconut oil

  9. 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice, cinnamon, or nutmeg

  10. 1 tsp vanilla

  11. 2-3 Tbs honey or pure maple syrup (taste batter to see if more is needed.  We do not add much because my kids add it on top of the pancakes or muffins to eat)

Blend all ingredients in blender or food processor until well mixed.  If batter is not thin enough, add a touch of water or milk to get it the consistency of pancake batter.  Use silicon muffin liners (this is a must.. will never stick).  Bake in liners on 350 until baked all the way through (use tooth pick to test).  About 15-25 min. or use as pancake batter.

  1. Oatmeal Bar- Another option is an oatmeal Bar.  Small mason jars or bowls with measuring spoons or small scoops for your kids to enjoy “making” their own breakfast. Have the bowl of oatmeal cooked and ready to go.  You can use organic instant oatmeal or make rolled oats or muesli whole grain cereal on the stove.   Set out 2-3 choices from each section below for them to make their own oatmeal parfait.

  2. Sliced nuts- walnuts, almonds, cashews, pumpkin seeds, chia seeds, sunflower seeds

  3. Fruit- fresh fruit cut into bite size pieces (apples, blueberries, raspberries, strawberries), smashed frozen fruit, or dried fruit l(cranberries, raisins, peaches).  

  4. Fairy or pirate dust: Brown sugar, honey, cinnamon, palm sugar

Snack time is activity time

My daughter attend a culinary camp for kids of Thanksgiving and had an absolute blast!  She got to make her own breakfast, snack and lunch while singing and making crafts between meals.  This really made me realize that I don’t have to feel guilty being in the kitchen instead of playing with my kiddos.  I can make the kitchen a fun place and still accomplish my healthy meals for the week. With the three options below I am using almost the same ingredients, therefore it is easy to keep on hand and it is three days’ worth of snacks and activities.  

  1. Owl Rice Cakes- rice cakes, nut butter, apple slices, banana slices, blueberries, cheese and raisins or yogurt covered raisins.

  2. Caterpillar snack- nut butter, celery stick, apple slice, raisins, pretzel sticks

  3. Banana Snowmen- sliced bananas, raisins, pretzel sticks, apple slices, sliced baby carrots, grapes and sucker sticks

Dinner

I love using a crock pot because I can throw it together on a Sunday or in the morning, it is ready for the week and makes a ton of food.  I usually make 1 crockpot meal a week and freeze what we don’t eat to use later in the month or if we ever need of something quick.  Making one crock pot meal, one casserole and having a couple of options for quick meals keeps us eating healthy over the holidays or a normal busy week.

Crock pot options:

Butternut Squash Turkey Chili

Ingredients

  1. 2 TB olive oil

  2. 1 onion, diced

  3. 7 cloves garlic, chopped

  4. 1 tsp sugar

  5. 1 TB chili powder

  6. 1 TB ground cumin

  7. 1 tsp ground cinnamon

  8. 2 tsp oregano

  9. 2 tsp ground coriander

  10. 1 lb ground turkey

  11. 3 TB tomato paste

  12. 2 green bell peppers, chopped

  13. 2 cans (14.5 oz each) fire-roasted tomatoes, with juices

  14. 2 cups chicken or turkey broth

  15. 2 (14 oz each) cans black beans, rinsed well and drained

  16. 1 medium butternut squash, peeled/seeded, and cubed into ½ inch pieces

  17. kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper

  18. shredded cheddar cheese for topping, optional

Instructions

  1. In a large heavy pot heat olive oil until hot. Add onion and garlic, stirring until fragrant, about 30 seconds. Add sugar, chili powder, cumin, cinnamon, oregano, and coriander. Stir to combine, 10 seconds.

  2. Add ground turkey to pot and sprinkle 1 tsp salt over it; cook/stir to break up into small pieces. When turkey is cooked through, add tomato paste and stir 30 seconds.

  3. Add bell peppers, fire-roasted tomatoes with juices, and broth. Scrape bottom of pan while stirring. Bring chili to a simmer; simmer covered for 20 minutes. Add beans and squash. Bring chili back to a simmer and simmer covered another 20 minutes or just until squash is tender but not mushy. Remove from heat. Add additional salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste. Serve warm, with shredded cheddar if desired.

Ground Turkey Veggie Soup

Ingredients

  1. 2 pounds ground beef or turkey, optional

  2. ½ medium onion, diced

  3. 2 cups fresh or frozen mixed vegetables

  4. 2 cups fresh or frozen Lima beans

  5. 2 cups carrots, sliced

  6. 4 pounds of peeled and diced whole tomatoes or 4 (15-ounce) cans diced tomatoes

  7. 2 cups fresh or frozen okra

  8. 1 cup chopped kale

  9. 2 cups water

  10. Salt and pepper to taste

Instructions

  1. Cook ground meat if using, and onions until browned. Add to slow cooker along with all other ingredients.Cook in slow cooker for 4 hours on low.

Noddle Free Butternut Squash Lasagna

  1. ½ pound chicken sausage (remove from casing) and ½ pound ground turkey or beef • ½ onion, chopped • 3 cloves garlic, minced • 1 (28 oz can) crushed tomatoes • 2-3 cups fresh Spinach (optional) – I didn’t use but will next time • 2 tbsp chopped fresh basil • black pepper, to taste • 1 large butternut, peeled • 1 cup part-skim ricotta • 1/4 cup Parmigiano Reggiano • 2 tbsp fresh chopped parsley • 1 large egg • 3-4 cups shredded part-skim mozzarella cheese 1. Brown the meat then Add onions and garlic and cook until soft. Then Add tomatoes, basil, and black pepper. (add spinach is using) Simmer on low, covered 15 to 20 minutes. 2. Preheat oven to 375°F and Slice butternut squash into thin slices 3. In a medium bowl combine ricotta cheese, parmesan cheese, parsley and egg, mix. 4. In a deep 9×12 casserole dish spread 1/4 of sauce on the bottom and layer butternut slices to cover. Spread 1/3 of the ricotta cheese mixture, then top with 1 cup of the mozzarella chees. Second Layer: 1/3 sauce , lay more butternut, ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella and 1 cup sauce. Third Layer: remaining sauce (save about 1 cup) , butternut squash, ricotta mixture, 1 cup mozzarella then remaining sauce. . 5. Bake covered 35 min 6. Remove foil, cook uncovered 30 minutes- (until squash are completely soft)

Need quick – Spaghetti squash taco boats

Ingredients

  1. 3 small spaghetti squash (24 oz each)

  2. olive oil spray

  3. 1 lb 93% ground turkey

  4. 1 tsp garlic powder

  5. 1 tsp cumin

  6. 1 tsp kosher salt

  7. 1/2 tsp chili powder

  8. 1/2 tsp paprika

  9. 1/2 tsp oregano

  10. 1/2 small onion, minced

  11. 2 tbs bell pepper, minced

  12. 1/2 cup water

  13. 4 oz can tomato sauce

  14. 3/4 cup part-skim shredded Mexican cheese blend (omit for W30)

  15. 1 cup Pico de gallo 

  16. 2 tbs Cilantro

Instructions

  1. Preheat oven to 400F degrees. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper (or two if they don’t fit). Cut the squash in half lengthwise, and use a spoon to scrape out the seeds and soft yellow strands. Spray the inside of the squash with olive oil and sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Place the squash facedown on the baking sheet and bake for 50 minutes or until the flesh easily pierces with a fork.

  2. Meanwhile, brown turkey in a large skillet breaking it into smaller pieces as it cooks. When no longer pink add dry seasoning and mix well. Add the onion, pepper, water and tomato sauce and cover. Simmer on low for about 20 minutes.

  3. Once the squash is cool enough to handle, use a fork to scrape the inside so the strands appear. Spoon scant 1/2 cup meat inside each squash bowl. Top each with 2 tbsp cheese and transfer them to the oven and bake another 5 minutes, until the cheese is melted. Remove from the oven, top with pico de gallo and cilantro.

Mini Pizzas-

  1. Wheat tortillas

  2. Bite sized pieces of cooked chicken

  3. Organic pizza sauce or tomato sauce

  4. Cheese for topping

  5. And veggies (diced bell peppers, mushrooms, onion, spinach, artichokes, cauliflower pieces)

Spread sauce over tortilla, add chicken and veggies.. do not overload. Add cheese and cook on the stove until heated through and cheese melted.

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