Holiday Meal Game Plan

The holidays are upon us! And with celebration comes food…and lots of it! Just because it is a holiday doesn’t mean your healthy lifestyle needs to go out the window!

Here are some helpful tips in order to stay on track during the big day:

  • Eat Breakfast: Start off the day with a nutrient dense + protein packed meal, like a veggie egg white omelet or protein smoothie. This will jump start your metabolism, keep you satisfied, full and give your body steady energy throughout the day. Set the tone in the morning with something healthy. Avoid pastries and processed foods that will crash your energy levels later when you need it the most. Avoid skipping breakfast; the last thing you want to do is skip meals! You might think you are doing yourself a favor by “saving” calories for the big meal, but you will end up needless to say hungry, cranky, and most likely eating MORE than you would have in the first place. So, start the day off normally…eat breakfast!
  • Get moving! Aim to get a workout in before all the cooking and craziness starts. Something is better than nothing! A quick total body circuit, walk or run outside, etc. This will help start the day off on a healthy note and increase your metabolism so when you sit down for dinner, that meal will be replenishing your energy stores from earlier 😉 I don’t like to view exercise as a way to “eat more” or as a punishment to “burn off” what you ate. HOWEVER, getting a good sweat session in that day will help counteract some extra calories consumed that day 🙂
  • Smart Snacking: Be careful not to fill up on appetizers and mindless snacking. A handful of mixed nuts…a plate of cheese and crackers…that all adds up, and you haven’t even sat down for the meal. Ask yourself, “Am I truly hungry? Or do I want this because it is offered?”Snack only if you are hungry, and be mindful of the portion size. If you are a guest, go for a filling snack like raw nuts, fresh fruit, raw veggies and hummus, etc. and avoid heavy dips, cheeses, breads, etc.
  • Smart Beverages: Wine, beer, sparkling cider, holiday cocktails, egg nog…those all add up too! Be conscious about drinking water throughout the day to stay hydrated, ward off bloating, AND it has zero calories 🙂 For every one alcoholic/caloric beverage you have, drink one glass of water as well 🙂
  • Healthy Hosting: If you are hosting, try and substitute healthy ingredients as much as you can. If you are a guest, offer to bring a (healthy) dish. Not only will your host be appreciative, but then you know there will be a nutritious option on the table

  • Be a Role Model: Have a positive attitude about healthy eating and it will help keep you on track, while encouraging others as well! Instead of complaining about food you “can’t” have, find all the healthy options and remind yourself that you are happy with your choices. The less you complain, the less grief people will give you about what is on your plate!

  • Plan your Plate: Plan out this meal like you would any other meal; choose your protein sources first, complex carbohydrates and lots of veggies and greens. Look at your plate and make sure you have balance. There ARE tons of good healthy options at holiday meals: white meat turkey, yams and sweet potatoes (without all the marshmallows ;)) root vegetables, brussel sprouts, green beans…! Aim to have a colorful plate with lots of variety of food.

  • Play Favorites: Usually at holiday gatherings there are plenty of options (if not too many!) to choose from. Survey all of the dishes beforehand, and then choose what you really want to eat first. Ask yourself, “Which do I want the most?” For example, I really enjoy homemade stuffing and sweet potatoes, but I can easily pass on the bread and the mashed potatoes. Don’t deprive yourself; this will leave you feeling unsatisfied and reaching for something else in place. Avoid choosing dishes just because they are offered. Save your appetite for YOUR favorites!
  • Start Small: Although you might not be in control of the type of dishes, you can control your PORTION SIZE! Again, the choices at holiday meals are not ALL unhealthy, and you CAN enjoy the whole meal without deprivation…it is about how MUCH you eat of everything! The trouble with holiday meals is really about the amount of food consumed. For each food item that you choose, give yourself ONE serving, and even a slightly smaller portion than you think. Chances are, you will be satisfied and didn’t need the larger amount anyways!
  • Slow and Steady: Ahh. The meal is finally here and ready to be enjoyed…not shoveled in! Take your time while eating and really taste all the different dishes. Chat with your company and enjoy the meal. This will leave you satisfied but not stuffed, and will ward off going back for seconds.
  •  Have Fun! There is more to the holiday than just the meal. Remember that without family and friends, we would have nothing to celebrate! Play games, go for a walk, etc. Staying active after the meal is ideal because it will help with digestion and ward off that “food coma” sleepiness.

Most importantly, BE MINDFUL about your food intake and activity levels. This is one meal…on one day. It is all about enjoying the meal & the company and making memories. All of these tips above are to help you stay accountable to YOURSELF, your goals and lifestyle. BUT it doesn’t say anywhere to deprive yourself, track calories or measure portions, stress about if it is “high-calorie” or “not healthy”.

Yep, you will most likely eat more than normal and eat “not normal” foods on Thanksgiving or Christmas. AND THAT IS OKAY. Remember, this is one day of enjoying yourself and enjoying LIFE. If you choose to have a cookie…do it because YOU want it, and then enjoy it, because it probably tastes damn delicious right??! Because how often can you get your Grandma’s special homemade cookies? It is sometimes more about the memories WITH the food than the actual taste 🙂

Mindfully having treats in moderation is the best plan or “advice”I can give!

OK, so what about if I am dieting or REALLY trying to stay on track with my meals, and those (awkward) social situations come up?! Here are my recommendations:

Scenario-Aunt Jean is insisting that you try her homemade dish that she made just for you: To be polite, go ahead and take a small portion of it; this way you are respecting her AND yourself and your goals. Thank them and let me know how much you appreciate the effort.

Scenario-The host wants you to take leftovers home…and lots of it: If the host is asking you to take food home, offer to take the healthiest option like the veggies or some turkey. Stay away from taking tempting foods or large portions like whole pies. Leave it there! If they insist, take it…doesn’t mean you have to eat it (at home); just be respectful and you can put it in the freezer, take it to work, etc.

Scenario: The day is getting stressful…and you are reaching for the adult beverage: There is nothing wrong with enjoying a glass of wine or beer. But, everything in moderation and be mindful of why are drinking; is it to enjoy the beverage or to drown out your crazy company? Don’t feel guilty for taking a few minutes for a breather & break away from the group. Step outside or somewhere quiet to regain your mental clarity and focus on keeping a positive and strong attitude.

Smart Sayings to Remember:

Won’t you try some of my _____?? Come on, its just one piece/bite!

 Oh, thank you, but not right now.

I just had some of ______ so maybe later!

No thank you I am full from the meal.

Thank you, but I am not hungry right now, but I can take some home.

Why aren’t eating more?? Why didn’t you get any of the ____??

This is plenty of food for now, and I can always go back for more.

Why are you eating so healthy?? Live a little!

Thank you for your concern, but I enjoy these foods and I am completely satisfied.

Be Mindful-Be Strong-Have Fun!

Cook with Finesse: Healthy Eating Recipes EBOOK!

ebook promo 2

My first cookbook is finally here!

Are you…

  • Interested in eating healthier but not sure where to start?
  • Confused about what foods to eat and what ingredients are the best choices?
  • Getting bored of your meals and looking for new clean-eating recipes?

Look no further for help! I am excited to share with you my digital cookbook:

Cook with Finesse: Healthy Eating Recipes!

ebook pic

Buy Cook with Finesse eBook now

My eBook contains:

  • 20 easy, simple, and delicious clean-eating recipes
  • Over 60 pages of detailed instructions, tips, and photos
  • A variety of different foods ranging from breakfast and baked goods, entrees and sides, and of course dessert!

pumpkin cofee cake ebook

Recipes are made with healthy substitutions in order to recreate some of your favorite foods…plus brand new ones as well! Including:

  • Orange Cranberry Scones
  • Banana Walnut Breakfast Bars
  • Baked Butternut Squash Mac and Cheese
  • Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Cookie Pie
  • “Skinny” Magic Cookie 7-Layer Bars

coconut almond joy bars

Plus many more!

Every recipe is outlined with a simple ingredient list, easy to follow directions, full color photos, substitution options for different dietary needs, nutrition information, and helpful suggestions for a fun and stress-free cooking experience!

*PLUS* I have also included:

  • A complete Grocery Shopping Guide to help create all the recipes plus other items for a healthy kitchen
  • My top Holiday Fit Tips: Exercise ideas, motivation and accountability tips, stress relief techniques, and more on how to stay happy and healthy through the holiday season and into the new year.

cooking with allison

My passion is to help others achieve their health and fitness goals by fueling your body with the proper nutrition and exercise. Clean Eating does NOT have to be boring, bland, tasteless, or repetitive. I love to make healthy food fun and exciting and bursting with both nutrients and flavor. Life is fun…and your food should be too! 🙂

***HOLIDAY SPECIAL***

Cook with Finesse: Healthy Eating Recipes is ON SALE now for only $8!!!

This sale will only last for a limited time, so don’t miss this great deal!

Click here to order your copy!

More information can be found at:

http://www.finessefitnesswithallison.com/cook-with-finesse-healthy-eating-recipes/

 

***Please note: After purchasing the eBook, you will receive an email containing a link to download the eBook. The link/PDF can only be opened *ONE TIME*. In order to prevent theft, the download link DOES NOT allow for multiple downloads. Opening and saving to a phone is NOT recommended.

Baked French Toast Casserole

This lovely recipe was actually created by mom…fellow clean cook/baker and the most wonderful person you will ever meet 🙂

She was experimenting in the kitchen and came up with this fabulous recipe! Healthy, satisfying, and feels like a treat. What more can you ask for? Thanks Mom 🙂

Makes 4-6 servings

Basic Recipe (can be modified!)

Ingredients:

4 slices whole wheat bread (preferably Ezekiel)

5 egg whites

1 whole egg

1/2 cup milk of choice* (unsweetened almond, nonfat, or even fat free evaporated milk is good!)

Optional:

-light eggnog

-canned pumpkin puree

-mixed berries, fruit, etc.

-nonfat greek yogurt

-Stevia, spices like cinnamon, extracts, etc.

*You may add more or less milk depending on your preference. We usually start with a 1/2 cup and mix with the eggs and whatever other optional ingredient. If you increase the wet ingredients, your casserole will be moister (like bread pudding)…it is totally up to you and your taste!

Take your bread slices and break them apart into bite size pieces. Layer into an oiled baking dish or loaf pan (you can use any size…we have used a 11 x 7 Pyrex, and also a silicone loaf pan). Mix together your wet ingredients and spices (eggs, milk, etc) and pour over the bread pieces.

*Optional: Cover and leave overnight and bake in the AM so the wet ingredients soak into the bread.

Bake the casserole at 375F for about 40-45 minutes or until the bread is toasted on the outside. Feel free to bake a little less or more depending on how you like it…. I personally like the outside to be toasted but the middle to still be moist.

Top with sugar free syrup, whipped cream, fresh berries, or your favorite healthy condiment!

Here are some recommendations on different substitutions! Take the recipe and add:

Pumpkin:

1/2 to 3/4 cup canned pumpkin

1 tsp each of cinnamon and vanilla extract

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Top with sugar free syrup or pumpkin yogurt sauce

 

Berry:

1 cup mixed berries (frozen or fresh)

Top with more fresh berries and/or whipped cream

Egg Nog:

1/4 cup light egg nog (you might need less milk)

1 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

1/2 tsp rum extract or vanilla extract

These are just some that we have made…looking forward to trying new “flavors”!

 

Berry Pancakes-3 ways!

Another easy and delicious pancake recipe!

Makes 1 serving (or 2 if you are willing to share)

Ingredients: (can be doubled, tripled, etc)

  • 1/3 cup dry oats
  • 1/3 cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1/3 cup berries (blueberries, blackberries, or raspberries work best)

Now here is when you can get fancy…Use the above recipe and add:

Berry Cheesecake: 2 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt + 1tsp stevia + 2 tbsp water/milk of choice

Other not as healthy option: 2 tbsp reduced fat cream cheese

Berry Lemon: juice of one lemon slice OR 1/4 tsp lemon extract

Berry Banana: 1/4 of a ripe banana (add a bit of water/almond milk if you need to)

Mix all the wet ingredients in a blender or magic bullet. Slowly stir in dry oats and blend again until the batter is smooth. Cook on the griddle like normal pancakes and flip when it’s bubbly on one side.

Serve with light syrup ( I like Walden Farms), greek yogurt, fresh berries, etc. Endless possibilities!

 

 

Pre and Post Workout Nutrition

Food is FUEL! One of the best ways to increase your energy and performance is to eat Before and After your workout!

Pre Workout Nutrition:

-Aim to eat about a snack or small meal about one hour before training. Depending on your needs, anywhere from 100-300 calories would be ideal.

-Look for a combination of healthy carbohydrates and lean protein. Avoid the “F words”: fats and fiber; these will slow down the absorption of your carbs and protein (that you need for your workout) and can sometimes upset your GI system.

-Try different foods, combinations, and the timing, and see what works best for you. Every BODY has different needs! Some people can eat a meal 3o minutes before training, while others need at least 2 hours (or even no meal!). Do what works best for you!

Pre-Workout Meal Ideas:

  • Protein Pancakes (my personal favorite!)
  • Nonfat greek yogurt and berries
  • Small bowl of oatmeal with 1/2 scoop protein powder stirred in
  • Baked protein muffins or bars
  • 1/2 turkey, tuna, etc. sandwich on whole wheat
  • Whole wheat toast with banana slices and peanut butter
  • Smoothie with 1/2 scoop protein powder and fresh fruit

Post Workout Nutrition:

You might not be hungry, or you think that it would be counterproductive to eat right after a workout, but in fact, it is one the most important steps to your success! Intense exercise actually causes damage to your muscle cells and after a workout, your body is begging to be re-fueled! Your post workout meal will allow your muscles to repair faster and stronger. Benefits: You will have more strength and endurance in your following workouts and see results faster!

The “Golden Hour”: It is recommended that your post-workout meal be consumed within 1 hour after training. The sooner the better! The faster the “fuel” gets absorbed, the faster your body can use those nutrients for recovery!

-Follow a similar guide when choosing your post-workout meal: Choose a meal rich with protein, healthy carbohydrates, and avoiding fat and fiber. Depending on the time and your appetite, anywhere from 200-400 calories would be sufficient.

-My perferred post workout meal? A whey protein shake. It is fast, convenient, and is considered the best form of protein post-training. Whey protein powder provides all necessary amino acids and nutrients for muscle recovery.

Post-Workout Meal Ideas:

  • Shake made with whey protein powder and water/milk, etc.
  • Nonfat greek yogurt with fruit
  • Baked homemade protein muffins or bars
  • Egg white scramble/omelette with whole wheat toast
  • Lean meat (chicken, fish, etc) with brown rice and veggies
  • Cold Chicken or tuna salad-diced chicken and fruit mixed with greek yogurt

 

Refer to my Meal Planning article for more ideas! 🙂

Gingerbread Pancakes

Lots of spice and flavor in these pancakes! They are perfect for when you are craving something festive yet still healthy.

This makes 1 serving for me 🙂

Ingredients: (can be doubled/tripled, etc for larger batches)

  • 1/3 cup dry oats
  • 1/3 cup nonfat cottage cheese
  • 1/3 cup egg whites
  • 1 tsp ground ginger
  • 2 tsp molasses
  • Few dashes of cinnamon and cloves
  • Stevia-to taste (I personally don’t use any)

Mix all ingredients except oats and molasses in a blender or magic bullet. Stir in molasses and oats and blend again until smooth. Cook on the stove top like normal pancakes..flip when it’s bubbly on one side.

I enjoyed mine with Walden Farms Maple Syrup and some light whipped cream. Such a treat!

Nutrition:

(Using 1/3 cup servings):   230 calories    26g carbs    25g protein   2g fat

Tips for Food Prep and Bulk Cooking

“Food Prep” is planning, cooking, and preparing your meals and snacks for the upcoming week. It is best to set aside a few hours on the weekend (or when you have the most time) to do your grocery shopping and then prepare your food. Refer to the Grocery List and the Shopping Tips to help you on what foods to buy and the best places to shop.

Why should you “Food Prep?” Well…have you ever…:

  • Ran out of the house without having breakfast?
  • Been at work, starving because you don’t have a snack?
  • Succumbed to the office “snack foods” because you didn’t bring anything?
  • Had to grab last minute, unhealthy take-out lunch?
  • Arrive home, exhausted and hungry, and realize there is “nothing” for dinner?

You have probably heard it before…

When you fail to plan…you plan to FAIL 🙁

By having healthy food in the house and your meals all set, you will make better choices overall. There is no guessing and no snack attacks. It is a HUGE time saver, and saves you the stress and energy of cooking every single day! The more prepared you are, the more likely you will succeed!

Tips on Food Prep:

  • Decide what meals and snacks you want to make for the week (Refer to the Grocery List, Shopping Tips, and Meal Planning for help). Focus on “Staple Foods” that can be used in many meals in different forms. Choose at least 2 protein and carbohydrate sources (“Staple Foods”) for the week, and don’t forget about fruits and vegetables to go with them! Examples of Staple Foods: Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts, Fish fillets (tilapia, salmon, etc-frozen or fresh), Lean ground turkey meat, brown rice, oatmeal, whole wheat pasta. All of the foods on the Grocery List would be considered a Staple Food!
  • Go to the grocery store with your list and pick up all your healthy foods . Make sure your kitchen is fully stocked with everything you need. The worst is when you’re in the middle of cooking and realize you are missing ingredients!

  • Make sure you are stocked up on tupperware to-go containers and have a cooler! That way you are able to take your meals and snacks to go with ease 🙂

  • Once you’re home, write out your plan and start cooking! This is when you decide how much you want to make. Personally, I like to cook between 2 and 3 protein sources, 2 carbohydrates, my vegetables, and 2-3 baked goods. This might seem like a lot, but remember, this will last me the whole week! A sample week would be:

-Baked/Grilled Boneless Skinless Chicken Breasts

-Zucchini Turkey Burgers

-Grilled Seasoned Tilapia Fillets

-Brown Rice

-Whole wheat pasta

-Grilled asparagus, zucchini, and broccoli

-Protein Muffins

-Baked Protein Bars

Some more ideas:

Breakfasts/Snacks: Hard boiled eggs, protein muffins, protein pancakes, crustless egg quiche, baked french toast

Lunch: Cold chicken/tuna salads, wheat wraps/soft tacos, burrito bowls, zucchini burgers

Dinner: Baked chicken/fish/red meat with rice or pasta, turkey chili, etc.

  • Prepare your protein sources in different fashions. Most people want variety! My Tip: Prepare half of your protein with a specific “flavor” or way to complement a certain dish, and leave the other half with a more general “seasoning”. For example, when I buy my chicken, I might prepare half a certain way (like stuffed with Spinach and Feta) while leaving the other half with Mrs. Dash Table Blend/Garlic Herb seasonings. That way, I can use the Mrs. Dash chicken on salads, sandwiches, wraps, with brown rice or pasta,  etc. and change up the condiments I use. Then I am not be limited to the same stuffed chicken breast for every meal.

  • Meals don’t have to be complex and time-consuming! Multi-task; have protein bars and chicken baking in the oven while you are washing and cutting your veggies to be grilled.

  • Store your foods in containers that are either clear or that you can label. I personally like to keep all of my foods separate until I go to pack my meals for the following day. Then I can mix and match depending on my schedule and preference. One day I might choose to have fish and veggies over brown rice; the next I might have tilapia fish tacos with a whole wheat tortilla. Keeping different options is key!


  • Decide on a “Cut-Off” Day: this is the time of the week when the food needs to be eaten…or put in the freezer! My personal day is Thursday 🙂 Don’t let your food go to waste! Put your prepared meals in the freezer for the following days or weeks…This is great when you just want to have a meal ready in less than 5 minutes. Reheat  for a few minutes and you’ve got dinner!

  • If you don’t like the thought of leftovers, or you enjoy cooking something different every night, try just keeping a few ready made items. Baked/Grilled chicken breasts and baked protein bars would be my top 2 choices. The bars are great for on the go snacks, and chicken goes great with almost any meal or dish!

I hope these tips are helpful and your Sunday Funday Food Prep is a success 🙂

Protein Pumpkin Cinnamon Rolls

A great morning treat! These provide a large amount of protein as well, so it would be a great quick breakfast or mid morning snack while at work. They taste best warm with a maple yogurt sauce or pumpkin yogurt sauce on top!

Ingredients: (makes 5 rolls-can be doubled/tripled)

¼ c. canned pumpkin puree

1 ½ scoops vanilla protein powder

2 tbsp coconut flour (could sub oat flour/almond meal? But haven’t tried it)

1/3 cup egg whites

½ tsp baking powder

2-3 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp nutmeg

Splash of almond milk

Optional: 1 tsp of vanilla or maple extract

Combine all ingredients in a bowl until thoroughly mixed. It should have a dough-like consistency (in between a pancake batter and a cookie dough). Pour into your silicone baking liners, or well sprayed muffin tins.

Bake at 375F for approximately 10 minutes. Do not overbake, they will get dry 🙁 They should look slightly undercooked. Recipe should make 4-5 rolls.

Top with the Pumpkin or Maple Yogurt Sauce (Pictured with Pumpkin Sauce)

Nutrition: (not including the sauce)

4 large rolls

1 roll= 115 calories   13g protein   9g carbs    3g fat

 

Maple Yogurt Sauce

A very easy sauce to top on pancakes, breads, muffins, etc. These taste great over cinnamon rolls or the Maple Walnut Bars.

Feel free to add more yogurt in order to make it less of a sauce, and more of a “dip” …and sometimes I like just to eat this by itself as a snack!

Ingredients: (can be doubled, tripled, etc)

1 tbsp nonfat greek yogurt

1 tbsp light maple syrup ( I use Walden Farms No calorie Syrup)

Dash of cinnamon

Optional: Stevia/nutmeg (A few dashes maybe?)

Mix together and then enjoy! As simple as that 🙂

Raspberry Marzipan Muffins

I loooove this recipe. Marzipan is technically a paste made from almonds, sugar, and sometimes honey. The “marzipan” found in these muffins, mixed with the raspberry, is amazing! The almond gives it wonderful flavor without being too overpowering. I am looking forward to eating these…I would even consider them dessert!

Ingredients:

2/3 cup oat flour OR:

1/3 cup oat flour and 1/3 cup almond meal (Optional)

3 scoops vanilla whey protein powder

1/4 cup Stevia

1/2 tsp baking powder

dash of salt

1 tsp vanilla extract

1 & 1/2 tsp of almond extract

4 egg whites

1 cup nonfat greek yogurt

1/2 cup of unsweetened almond milk (water is fine too)

Fresh raspberries (I honestly didn’t measure them out!)

Optional: Chocolate chips/sliced almonds

 

Combine all ingredients together except raspberries, chocolate chips, and sliced almonds. Mix thoroughly until batter is smooth. It should be fairly light in consistency, not too doughy. Pour batter into silicone muffin liners or very well sprayed foil muffin liners. Drop in raspberries (I chose 3 for each muffin) and add chocolate chips or almonds if you wish.

Bake at 350F for 25 minutes, or until muffins are baked through and the tops are slightly brown.

My batch always make 14-15 muffins.

You could technically make these 3 different ways:

  • Raspberry Marzipan (add sliced almonds on top)
  • Raspberry Marzipan with chocolate chips
  • Raspberry Chocolate Chip (use all oats, no almond flour, and omit the almond extract and sliced almonds)

I hope you enjoy these as much as I do! 🙂