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Happy, Healthy Holidays

The holidays are filled with warm comfort foods, holiday cookie baking, and cups of cheer. These times of celebration can make it difficult to maintain healthy habits. Often, people will eat their way through the holidays with the expectation of getting back on track in the New Year. Sarah Chesky, RDN, LDN offers tips for staying on track through the holiday season and into 2021:

  • Be mindful of your plate. Whether you are enjoying a physically distanced cocktail gathering with friends or having a home-cooked holiday meal with your family, try to make a colorful plate that includes a fruit, vegetable, grain, and protein for a well-balanced meal. When picking at appetizers, it is a good idea to fill your plate with lighter veggie options in addition to the richer, more savory options.
  • Alternate your beverage choices. Whether you prefer spiked egg nog or a holiday punch, these beverages add unnecessary sugar and calories. In addition, the Dietary Guidelines for Americans recommend consuming alcohol in moderation, which means up to one drink per day for women and two per day for men. If you choose to go beyond this, Chesky recommends alternating alcoholic beverages with a drink that will help you stay hydrated. “This does not have to be boring,” says Chesky. She recommends trying seltzer water with fresh lime, cranberries, and a splash of cranberry juice for refreshing flavor and antioxidants to help you stay hydrated and reduce your alcohol intake.
  • Savor the cookies, and the memories. The holidays are all about spending time with our loved ones and making memories together, many of which take place in the kitchen. Chesky says, “Bake the cookies, enjoy the experience, and of course eat a few along the way. One cookie, or even five, will not completely ruin any progress you have made toward a healthier lifestyle. Just try to balance the rest of your day with some vegetables and lean protein.” Consider sharing the cookies you make with others to spread holiday cheer, and reduce the amount you are left to eat on your own. As Chesky highlighted in her Thanksgiving article, finding “better for you” replacements to certain ingredients can be a fun experiment. See one of Sarah’s favorite cookie recipes by to see how alternative ingredients can be used in classic chocolate chip cookies.
  • Be easy on yourself. 2020 has been a trying year, with so many celebrating the holidays apart from loved ones. It is okay to want to reach for the comfort foods or skip your workout for the day. Do things that make you happy and relax the mind. For example, take a drive to see light displays, cuddle up with a good book, call a friend, or watch your favorite holiday film. Healthy habits do not have to be strictly diet-based.

Chocolate Chip Chickpea Cookies

A Recipe from Gemma Sampson Sports Nutrition


Better for You: Original Ingredient:
15.5 ox. chickpeas Flour
1/2 cup all-natural peanut butter Butter
1/2 cup honey Sugar
2 tsp. vanilla extract no change
1 pinch sea salt no change
3/4 cup oats Flour
1 cup chocolate chips no change



  1. Preheat oven to 350°F. Cover a baking tray with grease-proof paper.
  2. Blend the chickpeas, peanut butter, honey, vanilla essence, and sea salt in a food processor or blender until a fairly smooth paste is formed.
  3. Transfer to a bowl, stir in the oats and chocolate chips, and mix until well combined.
  4. If the mixture seems extremely wet, add a little more oats or wait a few minutes to allow the oats to absorb some liquid.
  5. Roll the cookie dough mixture up into small balls, spread out evenly on the baking tray and press cookies down with a fork to flatten.
  6. Bake in the oven for 15-20 minutes until golden.
  7. EAT! Best served warm from the oven, they will store in an airtight container for 2-3 days.

Notes:  For an extra chocolate flavor add 2 Tbsp of cocoa powder to the mixture before baking.