This holiday season, brighten up your kid’s eating habits without sacrificing the sweet traditions. Help your family feel their best throughout all the festivities with these top healthy holiday tips.
Do your kids’ energy levels or mood drastically alter throughout the holiday season? Between all of the changes to school schedules, a change in weather, and treats they may not be used to eating, this is all normal. If this sounds familiar, don’t worry too much – there are some simple solutions with these healthy holiday tips!
7 Healthy Holiday Tips
Holiday foods are often loaded with sugar, refined flour, and unhealthy fat (saturated fat and trans fat). Get a step ahead and promote high-quality eating habits to give your family a head start before the New Year! While it may seem easier said than done, these holiday nutrition tips can promote better habits while enjoying the festivities.
- Pump up the Colorful Produce
- Make Fruit Visible
- Focus on Color
- Serve Fruit for Dessert
- Try Other Types of Pasta
- Embrace Tofu
- Use Dessert to add Healthy Foods
Here are some key insights for each of these 7 tips to encourage your kids to eat fruits, vegetables, whole grains, and legumes with herbs and spices for immune-boosting benefits!
1. Pump up the Colorful Produce
The holiday season gets filled with colors. Embrace your family’s celebrated holiday by embodying its colors into a morning smoothie.
- For those celebrating Christmas, create red or green smoothies using a variety of fruits and vegetables like strawberries, raspberries, grapes, and spinach.
- If you celebrate Hanukkah, experiment with blue spirulina powder or create a “white” smoothie made with bananas, white nectarines, ginger, and more.
Bottom line, allow your family’s festive spirit to reinforce healthy eating habits throughout the holiday season.
2. Make Fruit Visible
As the saying goes, “out of sight, out of mind.” So, help encourage your family to reach for the fruit rather than the candy bowl by keeping the fruit where it can get seen. Cutting up fruit into smaller pieces can increase the eatability even more. Don’t forget to embrace seasonal produce such as pears, apples (see our apple mock donuts), bananas, and citrus.
Try mandarin oranges or clementines since they’re easy to peel, allowing your kiddo to foster their own independence. Or, enjoy teeny-tiny crab apples—a fruit option that makes children feel like a giant! Then, channel their creativity by assembling an edible centerpiece in the shape of a Christmas tree.
Use a combination of berries, kiwis, and melon to bring a festive flair to your kitchen. Plus, by making fruit attractive, kids are likely to eat twice as much.
3. Focus on Color
Festive decorations are an explosion of color. So, why shouldn’t our holiday meals be the same? Print out the Super Crew color tracker (available in Spanish too!) to encourage kids to include four colors of healthy foods each day.
Balance holiday treats with an abundance of color-filled snack options such as:
- sugar snap peas
- red peppers
- baby carrots
- cherry tomatoes
- other antioxidant-rich foods
Besides their natural beauty, each colorful ingredient provides unique health benefits for your child.
4. Serve Fruit for Dessert
Seasonal produce is extra sweet! So, take advantage of the delicious variety by serving ready-to-eat fruit as a tasty dessert.
Try offering peeled and segmented pink grapefruit, loose pomegranate seeds (available in some grocery stores or food clubs), or frozen grapes. Feel free to get creative and embrace familiar dessert flavors by warming up frozen cherries or fresh apples, topped with cinnamon or nutmeg.
To appeal to the chocolate lovers, create a must-have dessert of strawberries drizzled with dark chocolate. It’s a sweet dish packed with antioxidants to help your kids feel their best. For more healthy holiday tips for children, check out these dessert ideas.
5. Try Other Types of Pasta
Welcome an im-pasta-r. Revolutionize pasta night with a colorful rendition of your family’s favorite dish. Experiment with black bean, chickpea, edamame, or lentil pasta to plant-power your way to better health.
It’s also easy to create antioxidant-rich dishes with spiralized “spaghetti” made from carrots, zucchini, squash, or beets. Or, simply pop a spaghetti squash in the oven and let your family members do the work. Your kids will love to help scrape out the ‘noodles’ from the squash skin. Then, top the squash with tomato sauce, turkey meatballs, or whatever colorful pasta toppings that your household enjoys. Talk about an easy way to include yet another delicious veggie serving in the day.
But, if your kids don’t like tomato sauce, try serving the spaghetti squash with olive oil, Parmesan, or nutritional yeast, herbs, and spices. For the al-dente lovers, take out the squash a little early and embrace a crunchier “noodle” texture.
6. Embrace Tofu
Terrified by Tofu? While tofu may look like a brick, it’s time to break down those anti-tofu walls. Tofu is a blank canvas for flavor that is rich in protein and calcium (when fortified), making it the perfect alternative to meat. It can get transformed in a variety of ways and may help balance excess calories during the holidays. Here are a few ways to enjoy it:
- Crisp it in the oven and pair it with your favorite holiday side dishes
- Incorporate it alongside meat or dairy products as a plant-forward approach to mealtime
- Add it to stir fries or soups
- Use it in puddings
- Add to ricotta for lasagna
- Blend into smoothies for a creamier texture that packs a protein-filled punch
Check out these tasty baked tofu nuggets to cook with your kids.
7. Use Dessert to Add Healthy Foods
Dessert is a great way to incorporate legumes or vegetables into a meal. For instance, use black beans in place of a portion of the flour in your brownie mixture. It adds a boost of fiber, antioxidants, and prebiotics while maintaining it’s ooey-gooey, chocolatey taste.
Then, experiment with transforming chickpeas into a tasty edible cookie dough by putting it into the food processor with vanilla extract, nut butter, and dark chocolate chips. Or, take advantage of a ripe avocado by using it as a butter substitute in your favorite recipe. It adds creaminess while providing a healthier fat source than butter.
But, be sure to keep your baked goods or no-baked dessert bites in the fridge to account for all the perishable ingredients.
Pro holiday health tip: Try them all and see if your kiddo can guess the secret ingredient in these delicious treats.
For more kid-friendly healthy holiday tips and activities, check out the Super Crew’s nutritious activities!