Healthy Meals To Help Shed The Holiday Pounds

Healthy Meals To Help Shed The Holiday Pounds

Healthy can be delicious.

In my article, "Perfection Doesn’t Exist But We Should Always Work On Bettering Ourselves," I mentioned that my main goal for self-improvement is my fitness level. Well, to be truly fit and healthy you must eat right. With Thanksgiving now behind us and Christmas around the corner eating healthy can be a challenge. Take on the added cravings from looking for the perfect holiday meal and desserts, plus all the parties you will undoubtedly be attending, you’re more than likely going to gain a couple pounds. It’s inevitable and the rest of society will be right there with you.

Now because of this, you, myself, and everyone else included will be making New Year’s Resolutions to lose the holiday weight through exercise and healthy eating. Since I have started this new year resolution early and have so far been pretty successful, I’d like to share with you some of my new found favorite healthy recipes to help shed the pounds and keep them off.

Below is a list of ten of my favorite healthy recipes! Those which I have taken from another source and adapted in some way you can find at the links provided.

1. Chicken Soup

The cold weather is here which, for my family, means we will be having a lot of soup as a result of my constant freezing. I typically make my chicken soup in a pressure cooker because it is so fast and simple. The first thing I do is take a couple chicken breasts and cook them in the pressure cooker on the chicken setting in some chicken broth with an array of seasonings. My go-to chicken soup seasonings are Nature’s Seasoning, Garlic Salt, Accent, and Tony’s. The chicken takes about 20 minutes to cook and then you simply take a fork and shred away. The next step is to add the chicken, more broth, cream of chicken soup, your desired veggies (frozen or fresh), cauliflower rice, lemon juice, and seasonings into the pressure cooker on the soup/stew setting and you’re ready to go!

2. Pancakes

I know what you’re thinking: “There’s no way pancakes can be healthy!” Well, I recently shattered that illusion that I held for the longest time. There are so many variations to make pancakes healthy. Some use almond or coconut flour and cream cheese as the main ingredients and others use banana and egg. Both are absolutely delicious, but I’ve found that when I’m in a pinch in the morning and need to make a quick breakfast I go for the banana nut pancakes. The original recipe I found on the SkinnyTaste site contains banana, egg, oats, and pecans. To add my variations include either vanilla extract, cinnamon, or protein powder. If you want to be a little more festive you can add a combo of two or three of my added ingredients.

3. Sheet Pan Fajitas

So darn easy to make and has the added bonus of an easy cleanup! When making fajitas I typically use chicken but you can, of course, use steak if you so desire. Step one is to cut the meat into strips and then cut your onion and peppers into strips as well. For the seasoning you can go either use a fajita seasoning packet that you can pick up at any grocery store or you can simply toss some oil on the meat and veggies and then your specific desired seasonings such as chili powder, paprika, chipotle pepper, red pepper, cumin, nature’s seasoning, and garlic salt. Coat meat and veggies thoroughly. Once cooked you can add a little fresh lime juice on top. To make the tortillas warm and crispy wrap in foil and place in the oven for about five minutes. Place the meat, veggies, and fajita toppings such as cheese, sour cream and salsa on top, wrap in your tortilla and you’re good to go!

4. Honey Salmon With Citrus Salsa

This one is another super easy recipe! To cook the fillets sprinkle with a bit of salt and pepper, rub some honey and flour on each side and then sear each side for 2 minutes. Once seared place the fillets in the oven for 7-10 minutes. To make the salsa simply dice an avocado, a bit of onion, and an orange. Then add some zest, lime juice, minced garlic and cilantro to your diced fruit and mix with a spoon. If you don’t have cilantro it’s no problem! You can substitute in some parsley and coriander instead. I also opted to have my salmon and citrus salsa over a bed of cauliflower rice which I also added some lime juice, parsley, and coriander to.

5. Grilled Cheese

A recipe that comes in so many forms! To make my grilled cheese a bit healthier I add some avocado, tomato, and chicken. To give it a bit more flavor or zest I add a bit of ranch, and I nix the oil.

6. Salad

We all think salad is typically pretty healthy as long as it's not drenched in dressing. Well, this is true if you use a veggie other than lettuce because sadly lettuce actually contains little nutritional value. For this reason, I typically have spinach or cucumber salads. My cucumber salad consists of half a cucumber, celery, bell pepper, carrots, cheese, chicken, cherry tomatoes, almond slices, dried cranberries and occasionally a bit of onion.

7. Spinach Ricotta Stuffed Peppers

This is literally so yummy! Start by washing all the veggies. Then cut your peppers in half and dice the onion. Saute the onion and spinach until caramelized with a bit of seasoning. The recipe calls for salt and pepper but I put nature’s seasoning and garlic salt on everything so that's obviously what I used instead. While the spinach and onion are cooking you can mix the ricotta and parmesan cheeses. Once the spinach and onion are caramelized add to the cheese mixture and stuff your peppers. Sprinkle some more cheese and seasonings on top. Place in a casserole dish and add some cherry tomatoes. Serve over cauliflower rice!

8. Balsamic Chicken

Another quick picker-upper! First, cook your chicken in a skillet with a little olive oil. While the chicken is cooking you can prep your veggies (washing, drying, cutting or snapping). Once the chicken is cooked add half of the balsamic mixture and then transfer to a platter. Next, cook the veggies in the same pan you cooked the chicken in using the rest of the balsamic mixture. Enjoy! The only variation I made to this dish is that I did not use any honey in the sauce. However, my friend Blair has made this dish with beef instead.

9. Fajita Alfredo Spaghetti Squash

I love pasta! And if taking a pasta dish and making it healthy by using veggie noodles instead of regular noodles that are full of carbs is what I have to do so I can enjoy my comfort food, then by golly, I’m gonna do it. The first thing you need to know about spaghetti squash is that it can be a pain in the butt to cut open. In order to make this less of an ordeal, I recommend poking some holes in your squash lengthwise (along the cut line) and microwaving it for about five minutes before cutting. Once you cut it open, scrape out the seeds (I find it's easiest if you use an ice cream scooper), sprinkle with a bit of olive oil and massage it into the flesh, add a dash of salt and pepper and cook flesh side down for about a half hour. While that is cooking, you can saute your chicken breast and veggies in a skillet with olive oil and your fajita seasonings. I used cumin, paprika, chili powder, chipotle pepper, nature’s seasoning, and garlic salt. Once cooked thoroughly, you can make your alfredo sauce using heavy cream and parmesan cheese. When the squash is done cooking shred it with a fork and add it to the skillet to mix with the chicken, veggies, and sauce. Enjoy!

10. Stir-fry

Anyone who knows me knows I love Chinese food, but I don’t have the money or the metabolism to constantly eat takeout. By making a homemade stir fry dish that is full of veggies and a lot of protein I can stay home in my PJs, turn on one of my favorite movies, and enjoy a glass of wine all by my lonesome. This dish is full of options. You can use chicken or beef, shrimp, whatever your heart desires. Same goes for the veggies. I typically use chicken, bell pepper, onion, and broccoli. Occasionally I’ll also add some spinach. To add some flavor to my stir fry I’ll season my chicken with adobo and then when I add the veggies to the pan I add nature’s seasoning and garlic salt. For the sauce, you can use a store-bought sauce like sweet n’ sour, orange, or soy sauce. If you want to go a different route you can make a homemade sauce that consists of soy sauce, honey, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and red pepper flakes. To knock carbs out of the way I use cauliflower rice instead of white, brown, or jasmine rice.

Cover Image Credit: Pexels

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10 Things To Eat Instead Of Sweets

Americans eat too much sugar, but what should we eat then instead of sweets?

Whether you gave up sweets for Lent or are trying to cut back as you are getting fit, trying to fight your sweet tooth can be hard. I like to think that my wisdom teeth used to keep my sweet tooth in line, but with the recent loss of my wisdom teeth now my sweet tooth seems to have taken over. Although the sweets tasted delicious, my body was not appreciative of me eating so much sugar. According to the University of California, the average American consumes 19.5 teaspoons of sugar every day that adds up to about 66 pounds of added sugar consumed in a year. They also claim that sugar causes the similar changes in the brain to those addicted to drugs and may be why we experience ‘cravings’ for more sugar. So we are eating too much sugar, but what should we eat then instead of sweets to satisfy our cravings?

I wanted to share a list of things I have found that satisfy my sweet tooth but have more natural sugars instead of artificial sugars.

1. Dried fruit

Dried mango and banana chips are as sweet as candy!

2. Grilled Fruit

Forget peaches and cream, try grilling your peaches and then eating it warm with a drizzle of honey on top. Grilling pineapples also make them lose some of their tartness and become sweeter.

3. Frozen yogurt

As sweet as ice cream, but much more healthy. Try freezing your favorite yogurt with a stick through the lid to make popsicles!

4. Frozen fruit

Think of frozen fruit like frozen candy bars. Blueberries and frozen grapes are easy to freeze, just rinse them then put them in a Ziploc bag in your freezer. My favorite is frozen bananas. If you like to eat the frozen bananas dipped in chocolate from the ice cream store, I recommend trying Nutella hazelnut spread on your banana for a healthier alternative to chocolate.

5. Smoothies

With so much frozen fruit, consider also making yourself some nice smoothies. As long as you have a blender, smoothies are pretty easy to make! If you use frozen fruit, there is no need to use ice and you have more room for more yummy ingredients. I recommend just being creative, but there are many different smoothie recipes available on Pinterest.

6. Yogurt with honey and fruit

This tastes like a delicious parfait! Consider using frozen fruit for a colder treat. My favorite is vanilla yogurt, honey, and frozen blueberries.

7. Trail mix

You can find delicious trail mixes that will satisfy your sweet tooth. You can even build certain trail mixes to mimic the taste of your favorite candy bar!

8. Granola Bars

Like trail mixes, granola bars can be filled with different delicious ingredients like nuts and berries. However, some can be trying to mimic a candy bar so much that they contain about just as much sugar. So be sure to read the nutritional facts! I suggest looking for bars made with only natural ingredients.

9. Nut butter

If you want a sweet and salty snack, I recommend delicious nut butters like almond butter or sunflower butter on an already salty snack. You can put it on whatever you like, but I recommend sea salt crackers, pretzels and rice cakes.

10. Jello

If you are trying to go sugarless, there are many different kinds of sugarless jello! I like to make my jellos with different fruits in them like canned mandarin oranges.

I hope these will help you to cut back on sugar while still satisfying your sweet tooth!

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That Awkward Week Before Break

Composed of many awkward moments and powered by less sleep and more caffeine than you could ever imagine

That awkward moment when you’re in college so anything awkward can happen anytime! Whether it would be a big change in weather (*cough* this winter *cough*) or just a flamboyant group of people having their own kind of fun on campus during a regular sunny day, college is definitely the place for a change of pace.

The real change of pace occurs right before and during rare, much needed breaks - specifically the fall and spring breaks. If college is usually known as a time of excessive stress, sleep deprivation, and caffeine consumption, it is taken to a whole new level right before break! Before I started college and work, I would have never imagined that I could go 20 consecutive hours without sleep or that I could easily down an energy drink or Starbucks coffee in a short amount of time (being caffeine sensitive and all), but having traveled overseas every summer and winter break in addition to being an Information Technology major, I learned that it is more than possible to go that long without sleep, and that you will become absolutely biased when it comes to energy drinks and mochas (Nos energy and salted caramel Starbucks mocha for the win).

Although it may be awkward and stressful, I must say that losing sleep for that 4 AM workshift or flight to and from Germany to see family (how I learned the true definition of jet lag) is worthwhile preparation for the real world. I remember ending last semester by pulling an all nighter working on a paper at the library (my ultimate getaway, specifically the third floor) and then relaxing a few hours before a 4 AM shift. Was is a change of pace? Yes. Was I exhausted? Yes. However, I was also extremely proud that I had finished the semester on a good note and that I was able to watch the sunrise and sleep after work before treating myself to a night with my buddies. (Tip: If you are too stressed to work, just start packing as soon as you’s really not that hard as long as you know what you need and it is a great stress reliever)!

Everything about the week before break is unreal. The stress, the work, the motivation that gradually increases due to the realization that there is a break, and the alone time in the dorms due to most students leaving early (I’ve always preferred traveling on weekends). However, with a little help from caffeine, the library, Apple Music, and close friends, the week before a much needed break to recharge can easily be the most unusual, productive, and fun week that you can have in a while

Cover Image Credit: Wallpaper Abyss - Alpha Coders

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