Halloween has passed and the holiday season is hot on its heels! Thankfully we’re still enjoying uncommonly warm weather in the Twin Cities this year. However, you can bet that before we know it snow will be falling, lights will be hung, and the smell of turkey will fill the air. The holidays are truly magical, they’re a sacred part of the year that’s set aside for making memories and drawing near to those you love most.

There’s just one drawback to all of this cozy relaxation and merriment, it’s not particularly healthy. Most holiday gatherings revolve around food, ultra-rich, never-ending, delicious food. From Thanksgiving’s marathon meal to the cavalcade of Christmas cookies, it often feels like temptation is lurking around every corner. To make matters even worse, most holiday activities are fairly sedentary. If these realities are giving you pre-emptive holiday anxiety, don’t despair, we’ve assembled our top 4 tips for keeping things healthy and light!

Bring Something Healthy to Share. This is our go-to tip for ensuring there are healthy options at any gathering, take it upon yourself to bring them! A cornucopia of nutrient-dense food is in season during the autumn and winter. Roast a pan of root vegetables with savory herbs, or use flavorful fruit to create a stunning salad. You’ll be a regular holiday hero when you arrive at parties with your fresh and light food option!

Incorporate Active Traditions. As we stated above, the problem with the winter holidays is they’re all fairly lethargic. Between the heavy food and frigid weather, it’s easy to enter January feeling totally out of shape. Our suggestion is to try incorporating new, active traditions into your family gatherings. Organize a group walk, hockey game, sledding day, or skating outing; your loved ones will thank you for mixing things up and getting them on their feet!

Maximize Flavor with Spices & Herbs. The secret to truly flavorful food is always in the seasoning! Of course, fats like butter certainly contribute large amounts of flavor too, but you’d be amazed at what fresh herbs and spices can do to elevate your dishes. Holiday recipes revolve around classic, savory and spicy herbs like sage, thyme, nutmeg, and cloves. Focus on adding quality, fresh herbs and spices more to your meals and trying scaling back on heavier, nap-inducing ingredients.

Save the Sweets for Gatherings. Above all else, sweets are probably the biggest struggle for those trying to remain healthy during the holidays. Desserts feel impossible to avoid, everywhere you go someone else is offering you a new indulgent treat! This minefield of munchies is why we’d like to suggest scaling down on what you bake at home. Or, if baking is one of your holiday passions, simply freeze or save your creations for taking along to different gatherings. That way you can enjoy dessert as something special, instead of making it an everyday affair.

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