Enjoy these healthy holiday treats

Ah, the holidays. It’s that special time of year centered on family, togetherness and food.

Lots of food.

Sooooo much food.

From Thanksgiving through Christmas, we tend to eat more than we can burn off in the gym. Staying active during the holidays can be a challenge — for example, I recently found myself lacking the motivation to get up and go for a run to offset the giant plate of carbs curry chicken I just ate.

Anyway, there are things you can do if you feel yourself succumbing to the temptation to never leave your couch again. For one, if you’re on your way to a feast with family and friends, make sure you have a light snack first — by thinking ahead and not arriving on an empty stomach, you’ll have reduced the urge to eat everything in sight. Thus, you’ll consume fewer calories later.

Also, no one has to know that you substituted the butter in your mom’s mashed potatoes recipe with Greek yogurt! Yogurt is low on calories and high on protein, making it a really healthy replacement.

Third, get creative, especially if you’re involved in some cooking of your own. There are plenty of healthy holiday dessert ideas, from twists on classics to unconventional delights. Let’s examine some of the options:

  • While I may not be the biggest chocolate fan, there might not be a better place to start for the rest of you than with chocolate chip cookies The difference with this lighter version of the dessert staple is that the butter has been cut from the recipe completely, while the cookies are made with a healthier whole wheat base.
  • Blueberry muffins are among my favorite dessert foods on the planet, and this gluten-free versionlooks like the real deal.

You probably know people in your family who have cut back on gluten or cut it out completely. Gluten is a protein found in wheat-based products, and certain people are sensitive to this protein — if ingested, it can cause extreme fatigue and uncomfortable stomach problems.

But even those who don’t have gluten sensitivity can enjoy these muffins: under 300 calories, no sodium and 0.7 grams of saturated fat (that’s the bad kind).

  • In the mood for a fruity treat? These baked pears cook really quick (approximately five minutes) and you can load them up with cranberries, granola and even a dash of yogurt. The result: a 175-calorie dessert chock-full of antioxidants.
  • Anything with the word “marshmallow” in it is irresistible to me, so naturally this coconut chiffon cupcake with marshmallow frosting recipe piqued my interest. Simply removing the butter found in the standard cupcake mix makes this a much healthier and more guilt-free treat option. Can you believe one cupcake contains less than 200 calories??
  • “Sixty-one calories? Are you kidding me?” That’s how you’ll respond when you eat these white peppermint snowball cookies. It’s basically just cookie dough and peppermint candies, and what’s interesting about this treat is the minty element — it may make you feel more full and thus unlikely to eat more.

So there you have it. Stay healthy, stay happy and enjoy the holidays!
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