Healthy Holiday Tips and My Favorite Holiday Recipes

Holiday Extravaganza is well under way, and there is a lot of money in the pot to date! You still have until next Sunday to come weigh in before the holidays! The goal of the game is to keep yourself accountable by keeping your weight the same over the holidays or to become the BIGGEST LOSER and WIN the all the money in the pot!

During Thanksgiving, the main thing to remember PORTION CONTROL. It is okay to have a few “taboo” foods. You do not have to avoid dessert completely, just focus on how much of that gravy is going into your stomach!

Here are a few tips to help you have a healthy holiday:

  1. Make a list of why you started working out, and read it before going to social events over the holidays. Keep your goals in mind.
  2. It’s okay to say no to all the food pushers! You don’t have to try everyone’s “famous recipe."
  3. Exercise over the holidays. Be flexible; your usual workout times may not be feasible on certain days, especially when so many parties and get-togethers are happening. Instead of skipping your normal workout time altogether, try to fit it somewhere else in your schedule. (Twenty minutes may be all you can get in one day.)
  4. Make exercise a fun family event! Take a trip to Stone Mountain, go for a walk in the park, etc.
  5. When you’re crunched for time, utilize HIT style training: Sprint for 30 seconds, walk three minutes and repeat, OR pick three of your favorite moves, do each for 50 seconds with a 10-second rest between each and repeat.
  6. Keep up the November Challenge: 15 pushups, 15 bicycle crunches, 15 lunges and repeat each three times.

Give Thanks to the Lord, for he is good; his love endures forever. Psalm 107:1

Here are a few of my favorite holiday recipes:

The Roasted "Brined Turkey"

Fire & Flavor's Apple Sage Brine infuses your bird with delicious holiday flavors like dried apples, cranberries, sage and other holiday herbs. Apple Sage Brine and Herb Brine are my favorites, and I have used them the past four years! This ready-made brine mix is for those busy cooks that don't have time to mix their own and is so juicy and flavorful!

I place my turkey in a brining bag (large, leak-proof zipper-top bag), which you can purchase at stores like Whole Foods Market, Bed Bath & Beyond or

Serve a brined turkey at your holiday table this year, and I can assure you that your guests will keep coming back for more!

Simple Cranberry Sauce

Skip canned and complicated preparations of cranberries. This quick low-sugar recipe lets the flavors of the fruit shine while doing a favor for your waistline.


  • 2 cups organic fresh raw cranberries
  • 2 organic oranges or tangerines (especially important that they're organic, since you are
  • 1/2 cup sugar (or to taste--depending on how tart or sweet you want it)


  1. Rinse the cranberries and put them into a food processor or blender.
  2. Squeeze the juice out of one of the oranges and add it to the cranberries.
  3. Cut the other orange up into bits, skin and all. Cut off the ends or any ugly bits, and add that in as well. Grind the mixture into rough bits. (Don't make it too smooth.)
  4. Pour the mix into a bowl. Add the sugar and stir.
  5. Let the mixture rest in the refrigerator for at least 24 hours. (That’s how long it takes for the sugar to do its job, so don’t taste for sweetness until then.)
  6. Serve it cold and in a pretty bowl.

Green Beans with Pomegranates and Toasted Walnuts


  • 1/2 cup walnuts
  • 1 pomegranate, seeds only
  • 1 1/2 pound green beans (haricots verts or traditional green beans). Fresh is preferred, but frozen green beans work great too.

Vinaigrette Dressing

  • 2 tablespoons flax oil, or olive oil
  • 2 tablespoons coconut vinegar or apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon shallot, finely chopped or 1-2 teaspoons onion
  • 1 teaspoon dijon mustard
  • 1/2 teaspoon sea salt
  • 1/4 teaspoon pepper


  1. To toast walnuts, heat a saute pan over medium heat and add walnuts. Set timer for three minutes. After three minutes, stir and watch until crisp and fragrant. This takes about seven minutes total. Transfer to a bowl so they do not continue to cook.
  2. Seed pomegranate.
  3. Rinse green beans. Take a small handful and align the ends by tapping them on the cutting board. Cut the tips off all at once and repeat to the opposite end. Do this until all beans are completed. Do not cut beans into pieces; this will make them mushy once cooked.
  4. Pour 2-3 inches of purified water into a pot with steamer. Once the water is at a rapid boil, turn the heat to medium, add beans and cover. Steam 5-6 minutes until bright green and tender-crisp. Don’t overcook.
  5. In a two-cup glass measuring cup or medium bowl, combine the oil, vinegar, shallot, mustard, salt and pepper. Whisk until oil is incorporated well. Toss the beans with vinaigrette. Store in the refrigerator until ready to serve. Just before serving, sprinkle the salad with pomegranate seeds and toasted walnuts.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Raisins, Shallots and Pecans

I know the raisins sounds strange in this, and I am NOT a raisin fan, but the combination of the sweet potatoes with the raisins and maple syrup is just perfect!


  • 5 sweet potatoes, peeled and cubed
  • 4 tablespoons Olive Oil
  • 3 tablespoons Balsamic Vinegar
  • 1/2 cup raisins
  • 1 cup shallots, finely chopped
  •  2 tablespoons butter
  • 1/2 cup pecans, chopped
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup
  • Salt and pepper to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
  2. Toss sweet potatoes with olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt and pepper, raisins and shallots.
  3. Spread sweet potatoes in a single layer in a 9x13 inch baking dish.
  4. In a skillet over medium heat, melt butter.
  5. Add pecans and stir until fragrant, about three minutes.
  6. Add maple syrup and stir until most of the liquid has been absorbed, about three minutes.
  7. Top potatoes with pecans, cover with aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven 50-60 minutes or until potatoes are tender.