Tips to eat healthy during the holiday season

To call the holiday season hectic would be an understatement.

We over-commit ourselves to social obligations, and more often than not, we overextend our bodies by indulging in unhealthy meals or snacks because it’s Thanksgiving, or because you’re stressed out from shopping, or because the kids are driving you crazy.

Whatever it is, there’s always an excuse to stray from the healthy lifestyle you’ve established and embraced – until now.

This year, keep yourself sane and satiated at the same time by preparing ahead with simple, organic meals and snacks your whole family can enjoy from Thanksgiving through New Year’s Day, and into 2013.  Here are some tips and easy recipes you can throw together on the go, and rely on in a pinch during this most delicious time of year:

• Juice a bunch of oranges put them in glass jars. I save pickle jars to use for this. They fit perfectly in my fridge, and don’t take up too much room. Using around 25-30 oranges, I'll fill up four to five jars at a time using a citrus juicer. It takes about 10 minutes, and you've got fresh orange juice for breakfast on Thanksgiving morning, and beyond. Serve it with some organic gluten free granola, cut up fresh fruit, and coconut milk.

• Nuts are another great – and easy – snack for people to grab on the go. I love raw walnuts, almonds, Brazil nuts, pumpkin seeds and sunflower seeds. Place them in glass mason jars to store in the fridge or dry pantry area. Your family and guests can graze on these nutrient-packed little gems rather than stuff themselves full of bloat-inducing, fatty or fried alternatives.

• For dinner in a pinch, make 16 ounces or more of penne pasta, and pour organic tomato sauce over the pasta. Store it in a glass container in the fridge. Shred a glass container full of organic cheddar cheese, and leave that in the fridge too. When they’re really hungry, your family can heat up the whole dish in 5 minutes, sprinkling the shredded cheese on top of the pasta, or melting it over the pasta and sauce in a pan. Yum!

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    • When it comes to fruits and veggies, remember to wash them well – no need for anyone to get an unnecessary stomach bug this time of year! A great way to draw kids to nutritious snacks is to cut up some strawberries or pineapple chunks, and store them in glass jars. The pretty visual of deep red strawberries in a glass container is much more appealing to kids (and everyone else) than fruit left in plastic baggies or containers.

    • Salad is the perfect option for lunch, dinner, a snack or an appetizer. In my house, we often use dark, leafy greens like spinach, kale and romaine. After a good washing, I’ll rip it up into pieces, cut up scallions and tomatoes, grab a handful of those walnuts and pumpkin seeds I mentioned earlier, and toss it all together. Add your favorite healthy salad dressing, and within moments you’re done preparing a complete meal for yourself and your family.

    Making a meal or snack in minutes doesn’t have to mean compromising your health. Not only is this the holiday season, it’s also prime time for a cold or the flu. When you’re tired and worn out from parties and planning and packing gifts into the car, you’re even more prone to getting sick. Eating well-rounded, nutrient-packed meals and snacks will keep your entire family feeling good all winter long.