By TMoM Team Member Dennette Bailey

This year I have determined that the holidays will not set my healthy eating goals back. In September, I started having anxiety about all the delicious foods that were going to present themselves to me like a little devil on the shoulder of a character in an 80’s movie. I realized I would have to be proactive if I was going to keep my healthy eating goals.

I decided to make a list of all my favorite holiday meals and figure out how I could have them without ruining my goals. I asked myself what tastes I was looking forward to and I determined that savory, crunchy, and sweet were at the top of the list. It is imperative that I – I mean my family- will not be disappointed by the holiday meal. So, I decided I needed to experiment with some recipes beforehand. Experimenting has also given me confidence that I will not be tempted to give up and go with the traditional goal busting meals.

First on the list are the holiday sweets because a good meal begins with the sweets. I decided on a family favorite, sweet potato pie. I don’t need it to be sweet as much as I need it to have the consistency of cake, because I love cake. In a previous food choice struggle with my favorite breakfast food, Cracker Barrel pancakes, I came across a great alternative – Paleo Pancake and waffle mix by Birch benders. I purchased it at Harris Teeter. This pancake mix is delicious. Moreover, it has zero added sugars and 7grams of protein. It is grain, dairy, and gluten free and low glycemic. I discovered it is a great flour substitute and since my sweet potato pie needs to also taste like cake, I added it to my healthy sweet potato pie recipe.

Healthy Sweet Potato Pie
4 large, sweet potatoes, 1 cup of Birch Benders Pancake mix, ½ cup grass fed butter, 1 cup raw honey, 2 teaspoons cinnamon or to taste, 2 eggs (optional), 1/2 teaspoon vanilla flavoring, and the crust of your choice. This pie is delicious!

Next up was the holiday crunchy item. – While watching movies we usually go for popcorn and chips, so I need something to snack on while I am watching holiday movies. I thought about what I want to feel while I am watching these holiday movies and so to set the mood I decided on nuts. What’s more holiday mood than nuts? If I bought candied holiday nuts in the store, they would be full of sugar and other stuff. So, I am making my own.

Healthy Holiday Nuts
1 cup of pecans, 1 cup of Walnuts. Bake them for 5 minutes at 350 degrees and then turn them and bake them another 4 minutes. Put raw honey and organic cinnamon on them before you bake them. Then after they come out the oven, add a bit more honey and organic cinnamon. Also, add a quarter cup mixture of flax seed and chia seeds. I don’t like the consistency of chia seed, but they are so good for you I figured out I could get plenty of chia seeds in without even feeling the consistency because of the nuts. I was right! These nuts are healthy and delicious, and they smell like the holidays!

Once I felt I mastered the sweets, I tackled my need for savory. We try not to eat meat too often so during the holidays it is special. That said, turkey is a must. It will be baked in olive oil and seasoned with fresh herbs. There will be no stuffing in this turkey unless you count the celery, garlic, and onions. The sides will be mashed potatoes and green vegetables. These mashed potatoes have no cream or milk added to them. Just potatoes, grass fed butter, lots of garlic and chives. I am making 2 green veggies. These include, a collard and kale mixture, and sweet peas. Each of these are cooked in garlic, olive oil, and low sodium organic chicken broth.

Since that sweet potato pie will be cooked on a traditional crust (I haven’t perfected a healthy one yet), there will be no other bread served with this meal. Water is the main drink attraction. However, I will make a healthy punch that vodka (adults only) can be added to for the New Year holiday.

Healthy Holiday Punch
The punch is cranberry juice, pomegranate juice, juice squeezed from fresh lemons and oranges, and a little raw honey to cut the bitterness. This also taste great with ginger-ale mixed in. Whole Foods sells a ginger-ale made with stevia that goes perfectly with this drink.

My meal is complete, and I have created all the feelings I need from food with very little of those goal busting ingredients.

Hopefully I have given you some great ideas for your holiday meal. A bonus to consider for your meal- I have used that same pancake mix that I added to the sweet potato pie to coat chicken and fry it. It was delicious!!!! It fries very well, and it didn’t give me that bloated feeling I usually get when using flour. No bloat means no falling asleep during my holiday movies!

Happy healthy holiday eating to you!!!

Want to get notifications on local events and happenings? Subscribe to Triad Moms on Main’s free weekly newsletters here.