Healthy Holiday Tips

I recently started writing wellness articles for my family’s company monthly newsletter. My latest article is all about staying healthy during the busy holiday season. Checkout my go-to tips below!

HEALTHY HOLIDAY TIPS

Even though the holidays are often a joyous time of year spending time with family and friends, it can also be quite challenging for your health habits. We are are often short on time, a bit stressed, and constantly tempted with decadent dishes that can lead us down a regrettable path. But that doesn’t have to be the case! Here are a few of my go-to tips to staying healthy over the holiday season.

Get Creative with Healthy Recipes: Pinterest and many bloggers out there have so many healthy alternatives to our favorite holiday comfort foods, so do some research or check out my blog: www.kaleighwalker.com/blog or Pinterest page for some of my favorites!

Preparation is KEY: When you know you are going into a situation that could possibly lead to bad nutritional choices, do some preparation beforehand. If it’s at a restaurant, skim the menu and pick out a dish that you know will be the healthiest option. If you are going to a party, eat a healthy snack beforehand or offer to bring a healthy dish you know you will eat.

Plan Time for Exercise: No matter how busy you get, stay committed to your exercise regimen! It will not only help you maintain your weight, but it will help alleviate stress and fatigue that can happen over the holidays.

Use a Smaller Plate: A salad plate or even a large napkin is the perfect way to keep your portion sizes smaller.

Fill Up On Veggies: Veggies are a great source of fiber, which provide that feeling of fullness or satiation. I like to think of veggies as my main dish, with everything else being a side.

Bring Mints, Gum, or Your Toothbrush to Avoid over-eating

Be Present: We are often doing 80 different things at once when we are eating. Try to slow down and really be mindful of what you are putting into your body every time you eat.

Stay Hydrated And Well-Rested: Often times our minds think we are hungrier than we are because we are dehydrated. On top of that, studies have shown that a bad night’s sleep = cravings for bad foods.

Out of Sight, Out of Mind: If it’s not in your house, you’re not going to eat it! I know it’s hard when friends give cookies, chocolate, or candy as gifts, but it’s better to enjoy a few bites and then share with co-workers or neighbors.

Take a Probiotic: Try taking a Probiotic before going to bed to help with digestion, elimination, gut health, and immunity.

Moderation And 80/20 Rule: Allow yourself to enjoy indulging every now and then. Remember, it’s all about moderation! When you eat plenty of fruits, veggies, grains, healthy fats, and lean meats 80% of the time, you don’t have to feel guilty splurging on an occasional piece of pie, mac & cheese, or that extra glass of wine. The holiday pounds don’t come on because you had a couple of bites of dessert, they come on when you overindulge consistently. It takes around 500 extra calories per day (or 3500 per week) to gain one pound, so consider that when making choices.

Take the Focus off Food: Holidays are definitely a time to celebrate friends and family, but try to find different ways to enjoy time together that doesn’t center around food. Make wreaths, go on a tour of decorated homes, do a Holiday 5k, decorate the Christmas tree or make homemade ornaments, sing Christmas Carols, go to a holiday movie or play, literally the list is endless!

Gluten-Free Chocolate Chip Brownies

I love finding new, healthier recipe ideas to enjoy dessert without the guilt! I tried a new Brownie recipe yesterday & must say, it was FANTASTIC! The recipe is gluten-free, refined sugar & oil free, & is super easy to make. They tasted so rich & gooey – I had to share with friends so I wouldn’t eat all of them myself! Check out the recipe from One Lovely Life below and let me know what you think!

Ingredients:

  • 2 Eggs (I used organic, free-range, cage-free)
  • 5 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Melted)
  • 2/3 cup Dark Chocolate Chips
  • 1 tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 2/3 cup Almond Flour
  • 1/2 tsp Baking Soda
  • 2 Tbsp Cocoa Powder, unsweetened
  • 2/3 cup Coconut Sugar
  • 1/4 tsp Celtic Sea Salt
  • Additional Chocolate Chips (Around 1/2 cup to 2/3 cup)

Directions:

Pre-heat oven to 350. Line an 8×8 baking pan with parchment paper.

In a small saucepan, gently melt 2/3 cup chocolate chips with oil over low heat until smooth and glossy. Remove from heat and set aside to slightly cool.

In a small bowl, whisk together sugar and eggs until slightly lighter in color and until they pass the ribbon test (when you lift the whisk the mixture should stream down evenly in “ribbons”). Set aside. In a medium bowl, whisk together the dry ingredients — almond flour, cocoa, baking soda, and salt.

Working slowly, whisk the egg/sugar mixture into the saucepan of melted chocolate/oil until smooth. Stir in the vanilla and mix well. Fold in the dry ingredients until just mixed. Fold in the additional chocolate chips.

Pour batter evenly into the prepared baking pan and bake for 20-22 minutes. Allow brownies to cool before slicing.

 

Nutrition Workshop at Grit Fitness

Have you tried diet after diet with lack luster success? Are you confused about what to eat & when? Are you just ready to create easy, life-long nutritional habits that will make you look & feel your best? Then this workshop is for you! We will discuss:
  • The importance of how & what to eat throughout your day
  • How to assess how many calories to eat on a daily basis
  • Top foods to incorporate (and avoid) in your diet
  • Top supplements to enhance your health & wellness goals
  • What is Protein? Fat? Carbs?
  • Kaleigh’s favorite recipes & go-to’s for every meal
  • List of additional Nutritional Resources (books, documentaries, web sites)
  • Complimentary healthy snacks & drinks to enjoy during our discussion!

Wednesday, August 30th at 8pm
Grit Fitness, Design District
$25 ($60 for all three workshops)
Sign-up: http://tinyurl.com/gritworkshops

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes & Vegan Pesto

So I’m OBSESSED with this recipe! It’s a great meal if you are having a craving for pasta, without the guilty side effects & calorie overload. I’m so excited to hop on the spaghetti squash band wagon & try many more recipes with this yummy veggie!

Spaghetti Squash with Roasted Tomatoes & Vegan Pesto

pesto-spaghetti-squash-with-roasted-tomatoes-6
Roasted Tomatoes:

  • 1 large spaghetti squash cut in half & de-seeded
  • 1 cup cherry tomatoes
  • Extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & minced
  • celtic sea salt & pepper to taste
  • parmesan (optional)

Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees. Place the spaghetti squash cut-side up on a baking sheet. Drizzle with olive oil & bake for 40-50 minutes, or until squash is tender and slightly brown on the edges.

Place cherry tomatoes, garlic, sea salt & pepper into a baking dish. Drizzle with olive oil and mix together. Bake until tomatoes are tender and start to shrivel. (Around 10-15 minutes.) After cooked, cover with foil to keep warm.

Once the squash is cooked, let cool slightly. Use a fork to pull out spaghetti strands & place in a large bowl. Toss with the pesto. Plate with the tomatoes and optional grated parmesan. YUM!

Vegan Pesto:

  • 3 cups basil (moderately packed)
  • 2 garlic cloves, peeled & roughly chopped
  • Juice of one medium lemon
  • 3/4 tsp celtic sea salt
  • 1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
  • 1/3 cup pine nuts

In a food processor, combine all ingredients except the olive oil. Pulse until evenly chopped. Slowly add in the olive oil through the top of the processor. Pulse until evenly combined, but not completely smooth.

Prana Del Mar Wellness Retreat

I was so fortunate to have the opportunity to attend & guest teach at Rachel Kane’s Wellness Retreat at Prana Del Mar in Cabo San Lucas. Rachel & I met nearly 5 years ago in Los Angeles when she attended one of my yoga classes. She was a devoted yogi & soon became a certified pilates & barre instructor. She’s continuously built an amazing following in Northern California, so I was super excited to meet & teach some of her students! Check out some of the amazing views, food, classes & activities we got to participate in on the 5-day Retreat below. Also, check out Rachel’s web site for additional info on her: http://www.lovefitnessloveyoubyrachel.com

image6

The beautiful view from the rooftop of the community building.

image3

Early morning sunshine on the last day of our Retreat.

image1-2

Sunset from the first night.

yoga retreat pool

Yes, we did a lot of sun bathing, reading, journaling & relaxing!

image7

Horseback riding on the beach!

image2

Sweaty Savasana after a yoga flow class.

 

 

image5

The ladies stepped outside of their comfort zones & I taught a cardio dance class – everyone had a blast!

yoga retreat

Rachel sculpting our backsides!

 

image4

We enjoyed dinner at a local farm in Cabo – Flora Farms!

image8

Homemade Mole & Tortilla Soup we made at a cooking class with Chef Daniel at Prana Del Mar.

image9

 

Nutritious Blueberry Muffins

image1(11)

Checkout this YUMMY blueberry muffin recipe I made for my Nutrition Workshop this past weekend. They are flour-less, refined sugar-less, dairy-free & are a perfect post-workout snack!

Flour-less Blueberry Muffins

  • 2 ripe medium-size bananas
  • ½ cup almond butter
  • ¼ cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk
  • 2 eggs (or egg replacer if you would like to go vegan)
  • ½ cup pure maple syrup
  • 1 tablespoon vanilla extract
  • 2 ¼ cup rolled oats
  • 1 teaspoon baking powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • ¼ teaspoon salt
  • ½ cup fresh blueberries
  • Coconut sugar to sprinkle

Instructions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grease or line muffin tin(s). (I was able to make 16 muffins)

Place all of the ingredients except for the blueberries into a food processor & blend for about 30 seconds or until smooth. Using a spoon, gently fold the blueberries into the batter. Pour the batter into the muffin tins, filling each about 3/4th the way full. Bake for 20 minutes, or until light golden brown. Sprinkle with Coconut Sugar & cool for 10 minutes. Enjoy!

 

Healthier Holiday Cookies

We are all in the midst of holiday gatherings and gift exchanges. That can always be challenging for not only your wallet, but also your waistline. I’ve found a few yummy cookie recipes that are perfect gifts for friends & family. They are super simple to make, healthy, easy on the budget and SO delicious! I guarantee you will be asked for the recipes 🙂

image1(8)

Flourless Peanut or Almond Butter Brownie Cookies

  • 1 Large Egg
  • 1 Cup All-Natural Peanut Butter or Almond Butter (room temperature)
  • 1/3 Cup Brown Sugar packed
  • 1 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 Cup Unsweetened Cocoa Powder
  • 1/2 teaspoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Line a large baking sheet with parchment paper.

In a small bowl beat the egg. In a medium mixing bowl add the beaten egg, peanut/almond butter, brown sugar, baking soda, cocoa powder, & vanilla extract. Mix everything very well. Fold in the dark chocolate chips.

Roll a heaping spoon full of the dough into a ball and gently flatten onto the baking sheet. Bake for 8-10 minutes. They will look soft and under-baked, but I guarantee they will be yummy! Allow them to cool for about 10 minutes and ENJOY 🙂

IMG_3815

Gingerbread Cookie Dough Balls

  • 2 Cups Raw, Unsalted Cashews
  • 10 – 12 Medjool Dates (pitted & halved)
  • 1 Tablespoon Cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon Powdered Ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon Ground Cloves
  • 1/8 teaspoon fine Sea Salt
  • 1 Tablespoon Water (if needed)
  • Coconut Sugar &/or Unsweetened Cocoa Powder

Directions: Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Lightly toast the cashews for 8-10 minutes, stirring once. Let cool.

Place the cooled cashews, dates, spices, & salt into food processor bowl. Whiz until the nuts are finely ground and the mixture starts clumping. If it seems too dry, add the tablespoon of water until the dough forms into a ball. Place in the fridge for 30-60 minutes.

Place the coconut sugar &/or cocoa powder into a bowl. Make small balls out of the dough & roll them into the sugar &/or cocoa powder. Store in a covered container in the fridge & ENJOY!

Here are a couple of other Holiday-inspired cookie recipes I will definitely be trying over the next few weeks!

http://lexiscleankitchen.com/2013/11/26/linzer-torte-thumbprint-cookies-a-note-to-my-readers/

http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2012/12/18/grain-free-sugar-cookies/

 

Healthy Halloween-Inspired Treats

My husband & I are so excited to finally have trick-or-treaters this year! We’ve also decided to have a few friends over for some Halloween-inspired appetizers, so thankfully Pinterest prevailed! Check out some HEALTHY Halloween treats that will leave your guests grossed out, but reaching for seconds. 🙂 For additional ideas, check out my Pinterest page: https://www.pinterest.com/kaleighl/halloween-party/

Homemade Guacamole “Throw-Up”

  • 4 Ripe Avocados
  • 1/4 Cup diced Tomatoes
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped Red Onion
  • 1 Jalapeno or Serrano, seeds removed & finely chopped
  • 1 Tablespoon finely chopped fresh Cilantro
  • 2 Garlic Cloves, finely chopped
  • Juice of 1/2 Lime
  • 1/2 teaspoon Cumin
  • 1/2 teaspoon Chili Powder
  • Sea Salt & Pepper to Taste

Mix all of the ingredients but the Avocados, Sea Salt & Pepper. Mash the Avocados & fold in additional ingredients. Finish with Sea Salt & Pepper to taste!

b820a99eccefa770a1403272e451b026

Date Stuffed “Cockroaches”

  • Pitted Medjool Dates
  • 1 log of Goat Cheese
  • Marcona Almonds
  • Rosemary Sprigs
  • Plastic Cockroaches

Directions:

  1. Pre-heat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Slice the dates length-wise to insert a dollop of goat cheese, one almond, and several rosemary sprigs. Re-seal the dates as best as you can.
  3. Bake for about 8-10 minutes just to soften the cheese & dates. Garnish with plastic cockroaches! Yum!

ee0481916f619379308b90288d9dde30

Raw Cookie Dough Cake Pops

Cookie Dough Ingredients:

  • 1 1/2 Cups Cooked, Rinsed and Drained Chickpeas (Canned is fine)
  • 3 Tbsp Coconut Oil (Room Temperature)
  • 1/4 Cup Natural Maple Syrup
  • 1 Tsp Vanilla Extract
  • 1/4 Tsp Sea Salt
  • 1/2 Tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/3 Cup Mini Vegan Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate Chips
  • About 2 Cups Vegan White Chocolate Chips
  • Additional 1/8 cup Vegan Chocolate Chips or Dark Chocolate Chips

Directions:

  1. Place all Cookie Dough Ingredients excluding the chocolate chips into your food processor and blend until completely smooth stopping to scrape down the sides.
  2. Mix chocolate chips into your batter using a spatula.
  3. Place ingredients in a glass baking dish or loaf pan and place in the freezer for 1 hour.
  4. Remove from freezer and using a melon baller or spoon roll into 1 inch cookie dough balls and place on a plate.
  5. Place in the freezer for 2 hours.
  6. Melt white chocolate chips in the microwave or double boiler.
  7. Remove cookie dough balls from the freezer and dip each ball or coat evenly with melted white chocolate. Place in the freezer for another 30 minutes.
  8. Melt additional chocolate chips & decorate the cake balls like a skeleton or ghost (see below)
  9. Enjoy immediately or place in a sealed tight container in the freezer

69c84b63fd519d5ea93850e56963428d

 

 

Yummy & Healthy Dark Chocolate Almond Butter & Lentil Blondies

Even though I thoroughly enjoy eating healthy, I also LOVE a sweet treat! My go-to is basically anything with DARK CHOCOLATE & ALMOND BUTTER in it, so I thought I would research a healthy alternative to a classic BLONDIE recipe. I found one on Pinterest that I tweaked a bit & must say it was quite satisfying!

Check out the healthier BLONDIE recipe below & be prepared to be amazed at how good these sweet treats are 🙂

image1(6)

DARK CHOCOLATE ALMOND BUTTER BLONDIES: Adapted from the Ambitious Kitchen

  • 1/2 cup Red Lentils
  • 1/2 cup All-Natural Almond Butter (I used Crunchy. Make sure the only ingredient is ALMONDS!)
  • 1/3 cup Pure Maple Syrup
  • 1 tablespoon Pure Vanilla Extract
  • 3/4 cup Oat Flour
  • 1/2 teaspoon Baking Soda
  • 1/4 teaspoon Celtic or Himalayan Sea Salt
  • 1/3 Cup Dark Chocolate Chips (at least 70% or darker), plus a handful for sprinkling on top

Instructions:

In a small saucepan, combine lentils and 1 cup of water; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 10-15 minutes or until lentils are soft. Transfer lentils to a food processor, add a few tablespoons of water, then process until lentils are a smooth puree; set aside.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Spray 9×9 inch baking pan with coconut oil spray.

Whisk oat flour, baking soda & salt in a bowl. Set aside.

In a large bowl or electric mixer, mix together almond butter, maple syrup, and vanilla until smooth. Add in lentil puree and mix until well combined.

Fold in oat mixture then gently fold in 1/3 cup of dark chocolate chips. Pour batter into prepared baking pan and sprinkle remaining chocolate chips over the top. Bake for 20 minutes. Let cool & inhale! 😉

Benefits of some of the above ingredients!

  • Lentils: Are packed with protein, fiber, minerals & vitamins which helps lower blood cholesterol, reduces risk of heart disease, increases gut health, & stabilizes blood sugar.
  • Almond Butter: Almonds are jam-packed with vitamins, minerals, protein, fiber, iron, & healthy fats.
  • Oat Flour: Is a better option than unbleached white flour because it is gluten-free, has protein, fiber, minerals, B Vitamins, iron, vitamin E, & calcium. Oats are known to aid in heart health, lowering the risk of Type 2 diabetes by balancing blood sugars & lowering cholesterol.
  • Pure Maple Syrup: Is loaded with the powerful antioxidants, Polyphenols, that helps reduce the risk of inflammatory diseases. Maple syrup is a natural sweetener that releases into the blood stream slower than processed sugars, so the blood sugar is balanced. It also reduces bloat, is high in zinc, iron, calcium, potassium & manganese,
  • Dark Chocolate: Can help lower your blood pressure by improving blood flow, helps reduce risk of stroke, helps control blood sugar, is full of antioxidants, vitamins, & minerals. Dark chocolate is also known to release endorphins in the brain to make you happier

A Greens Juice a Day Keeps the Doctor Away!

I started incorporating a Greens Juice into my day several years ago after reading Kimberly Synder’s “Beauty Detox Solution.” And let me tell you, it was one of the best “health-related” decisions I’ve ever made! Raw vegetables & fruits have the vitamins, minerals, enzymes, antioxidants and nutrients our bodies need to look, feel, and function at an optimal level. However, it would take pounds of greens & fruit to get the same amount of benefits in just one 16 oz. fresh juice, so that’s why it’s so important to add it into your daily routine!

I choose to drink my Greens Juice as my breakfast in the morning because I have an empty stomach so I can absorb the most nutrients & it’s easier to digest, plus the juice can be utilized as “quick energy” for my morning workouts. Some of my clients or friends ask “Well what about the all the sugar in juices?” I remind them that fruit contains natural sugars that our bodies digest differently than processed sugars, so if you aren’t overindulging in fruits all day long and you are getting enough exercise, you will have nothing to worry about! You can also choose a juice that only has greens or only has one kind of fruit as well.

Some of the benefits I’ve experienced from having my daily Greens Juice include: clearer, more vibrant skin; more energy; weight loss (I’ve been at the best weight of my life over the past couple of years – I’m 32!); regularity, boost in my immune system (I might get a cold once a year if that!); less aches & pains; boost in my metabolism; stronger, thicker hair; and I just overall FEEL BETTER! Remember when choosing your Greens Juice, it’s best to get a freshly squeezed or pressed, organic brand. Skip anything that can last more than a couple of days, because it’s usually pasteurized, has additives and loses all the positive health benefits that fresh juices have. That being said, here are my FAVORITE Dallas-based Juices that you need to try ASAP 🙂

CENTRAL MARKET: (Kale, Pineapple, Apple, Ginger) www.centralmarket.com

VIM+VIGOR: NO. 9 (Kale, Spinach, Romaine, Celery, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger) www.vimvigorjuice.com

Vim+Vigor_bottles

BOOM JUICE: GREEN MONSTER (Kale, Pineapple, Ginger) wp.boomjuice.com

green-monster1-300x300THE JUICE BAR: SKINNY GREENS (Cucumber, Green Apple, Kale, Spinach, Lemon, Ginger, Cayenne) www.thejuicebardallas.com

IMG_1952.jpg-pressed-skinny

THE GEM: GREEN GLOW (Kale, Cucumber, Lemon, Ginger, Apple) www.insidethegem.com

5cc72c1af423db3cd4cfeff55cd68a86

Contact me