Healthy Holiday Eating with Bloom & Spark

Aside from cozy fires, warm sweaters, and time with family, the holidays are often full of endless parties and copious amounts of food. There’s no need to deprive ourselves; it goes against the abundance and gratitude that the season brings. Here’s how staying present at the party can help you to in maneuver tricky situations and feel your best:

food-sweet-cookies-christmasBefore the party, make a plan and stick to it. Think ahead what you will eat and what you won’t eat to feel good about yourself. By planning ahead, you can have what you like without going overboard. Maybe you skip fried food, minimize sweets, or limit drinks. Maybe you make a compromise with yourself – have the dessert but skip the appetizers. You could stay near the veggie plate while you chat to avoid mindlessly devouring the plate of pigs in a blanket. You could bring your own homemade dish to ensure that you at least have something healthy to eat. Whatever your game plan is, decide ahead of time and stick to your plan! Eating a light meal or healthy snack at home before you go to the party will ensure that you don’t grab whatever is in front of you out of hunger. These superfood balls may be just the trick to your nutritious and delicious pre-party plan.

IMG_5792Bloom & Spark’s Superfood Balls:

Superfood balls are really popular right now for good reason! The great thing about them is that once you have the base, you can really add anything you want to make them your own. Start with dates and nuts in the food processor and feel free to add coconut flakes, cinnamon, vanilla extract, maca, goji berries, chocolate, even essential oils like peppermint and cinnamon. You could even roll them in ground up candy canes for a festive and tasty holiday touch! These are also the perfect thing to bring to a party if you want to avoid sugary desserts.

Ingredients:

  • 1 cup almonds
  • 10 dates
  • 1 tsp vanilla
  • 2 tbsp maple syrup
  • 2 tbsp maca powder
  • 2 tbsp chia seeds
  • 1/4 cup ground flax
  • 1-2 tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder

Directions: Mix everything (except the cocoa powder) in a food processor. Once all ingredients are incorporated, take out half of the mixture and set it aside in a bowl (if you want to make half of the batch chocolate like I did.) Add the cocoa powder to the mixture that’s still in the processor. (If the mixture is a little dry you can add 1-2 tsp of water while it’s still in the food processor to moisten.) Roll both mixtures into bite size balls and let them cool in the refrigerator before serving/eating. Yum!

IMG_5800*Caroline O’Neill is a year round Hamptons resident and health and wellness lifestyle blogger of Bloom & Spark with a passion for nutrition, yoga, food, spirituality and personal development.

 

Healthy Holidays OHH Style

The magic of the holiday season surrounds us and we’re determined to make it through feeling healthy, happy, grounded, rested, well-fed, balanced, and ready for 2016!

IMG_3036Although it’s easy as pie to cut sleep, eat all the cookies, skip breakfast, have another cocktail, and end up completely burned out, tired, bloated, hungover, guilty, and miserable come January, let’s not!

hangoverOHH’s #HealthyHoliday Tips:

Keep it simple: yes, there will be parties and cocktails, gingerbread, latkes, toasts, roasts, cookie exchanges, peppermint bark, and a hundred reasons to indulge. And that’s ok. But all of those ‘extras’ sure do add up. To offset the indulgences, keep things simple at home. No need to make a three-course meal; instead, allow yourself permission to keep things light and basic. Make a “kitchen sink” salad, smoothie, or snack – just make sure you’re using whole foods. Keeping meals simple allows our body to maximize digestion and nutrient-absorption. Here’s a super simple salad made of arugula, sauerkraut, tomatoes, avocado, and hard-boiled eggs for your dose of greens, probiotics, healthy fat and protein all in one!

FullSizeRender3Eat your veggies: there’s no way around it – veggies are healthy and you must eat them. Don’t fret, you can easily increase your veggie intake in a yummy, easy way. Try making a meal that centers around vegetables instead of meat or pasta, like a meatless stir fry, hearty soup, or holiday smoothie. We don’t often give veggies the opportunity to be the main attraction, but doing so is a super simple, healthy, and affordable way to fuel our bodies. Secondly, try replacing your usual comfort foods with veggie-loaded options. Instead of your go-to mashed potatoes, try cauliflower mash. Forget the french fries and instead roast a new variation of squash, like acorn, delicata, spaghetti, butternut, kobucha, or pumpkin. When you’re urged to grab chips or crackers to snack on, eat crudite to satisfy that craving for a crunch.

Treat yo’self: we’ve said it before and we’ll say again – it’s all about balance. Let go of the labels and ditch the all-or-nothing attitude. Indulging in holiday treats is not only acceptable, it’s actually good for you! Consciously eating food that gives you immense pleasure can fulfill your heart, satisfy your cravings, and feed your soul. Whether it’s a family recipe that you look forward to every year or a new discovery on your journey, choose to indulge wisely and enjoy every single bite.

balancedNews flash: it’s not just about the treats. Or the veggies. Indulge in something that has absolutely nothing to do with food, like a bubble bath, scented candle, holiday movie, pedicure, song download, nature walk, novel, dance party, magazine, TV marathon, or anything that makes you feel pampered and rejuvenated. Just like we deserve to enjoy the cookie, we deserve a break, some self-care, and even a good nap!

Move and be still: we already established that most of us will be indulging a bit this season and that is A ok…as long as we remember to move (ie: exercise) and be still (ie: meditate/sleep/breathe.) Schedule your workouts (and your stillness) as you would meetings and don’t skip ’em. Get your turkey trot on, try a new class, rake leaves, shovel snow…whatever it takes to stay active and accountable. And mindful. Taking time to slow down, live in the moment, and embrace the holiday spirit is equally as important. Combine the moving and the stillness with a yoga class or non-workout workout. Sweat, enjoy, breathe, repeat.

One Healthy Breakdown: here’s to spreading health and holiday cheer this year!

Eat, Drink, & Be Merry!

‘Tis the season for a whole lotta eating, drinking, and all-around merriness!

image(30)‘Tis the season for a whole lotta eating, drinking, and all-around merriness! This isn’t another “how to survive the holidays” guide. We’re talking the holidays people, not jury duty! So what are we to do?! Here’s what: eat, drink, and be merry and mindful! Don’t just “survive,” ENJOY! The holidays come around once a year and it’s time to celebrate! Here are a few helpful holiday tips:

1. Focus on what it’s really about: FAMILY. Aren’t the holidays all about spending time with the ones we love? Sometimes we forget that and before we know it, we’re back at work and school in the blink of an eye. Do the shopping, cooking, or baking together to turn busy work into family time. Unplug from the outside world for a bit and allow yourself to enjoy these moments together.

2. Indulge. If you’re all about those Christmas cookies, enjoy a cookie or two. If you’ve been waiting all year for egg nog, have a cup of the good stuff. We can have it, we just can’t have it all. Pick your must-haves and allow yourself to truly enjoy them. If you deprive yourself of the things you love, well there’s no joy in that, and you’re more likely to overdo it eventually. Just indulge mindfully and you won’t wake up with a Santa belly or food hangover. Just don’t forget the good stuff, aka good old fruits and veggies. Keep your body and mind well fueled so that you’re able to indulge right and feel good doing it. Make sure you have a healthy breakfast to start your day on the right foot. Have a salad before heading to a party and bring your own healthy dish or cocktail to share.

3. Prioritize YOU. Yes, family time is important, but taking care of yourself is crucial to your health and happiness. Although it’s a winter whirlwind out there, don’t sacrifice sleep, self-care, and the things that keep you sane. If you take on too much, you’ll be stressed and exhausted by January 1 and that’s no way to kick off a new year. Instead, focus only on the most important things on the to-do list and make sure that one of them is YOU. Whether you need ten minutes of alone time in the morning to get your act together, an hour to workout, an afternoon pedicure, or a drink with your friend to break up the family time, make it a must and you’ll thank yourself later. Don’t forget to give yourself a gift, because YOU deserve it!

One Healthy Breakdown: Eat the food. Not all the food. Drink the drinks. Not all the drinks. Be very, very merry!

Healthy, Happy Gingerbread Men

Once upon a time…

Gingerbread menGingerbread cookies are a holiday staple. Enjoy these little crunchy cookies done right with natural ingredients

Ingredients: (makes about 3 dozen cookies)

  • 3 cups flour (buckwheat, whole wheat, or spelt are good)
  • 3/4 cup baking stevia or succant
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 1 teaspoon ground ginger
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground nutmeg
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  • 1/2 teaspoon baking powder
  • dash of sea salt
  • 1/3 cup black-strap molasses
  • 1 egg
  • 3/4 cup unsweetened applesauce
  • 1/4 cup organic unsalted butter, soft
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

Instructions:

Mix dry ingredients together in one bowl. Mix wet ingredients in separate bowl. Slowly mix dry ingredients into wet ensuring dough is consistent. Feel free to use an electric mixer or food processor on low speed. Once fully mixed, remove dough and divide into two parts. Wrap both in plastic and refrigerate. Preheat oven to 350. After 2-3 hours in fridge, remove dough and roll on a floured cutting board until thin. Use cookie cutters or simply make round cookies. Bake for 10-12 minutes (check at 10). Let cookies cool completely before decorating, playing imaginary gingerbread family, or devouring.

One Healthy Breakdown: run, run as fast as you can, you can’t catch me…

World Peace Cookies

Cookies Fresh Out of the OvenWhat could be better than a cookie recipe entitled “World Peace?” A chocolate cookie recipe titled “World Peace,” that’s what! These cookies are sweet enough for any holiday occasion without going overboard on sugar…the perfectly peaceful combination you can feel good indulging in!

Ingredients:

  • 1 ¼ cups all-purpose flour (or half whole wheat flour)
  • 1/3 cup unsweetened cocoa powder
  • ½ teaspoon baking soda
  • 1 stick plus 3 tablespoons unsalted butter, at room temperature
  • 1/2 cup packed light brown sugar
  • ¼ cup sugar of choice
  • ¼ teaspoon fine sea salt
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 5 oz. bittersweet chocolate, chopped into chips, or ¾ cup bittersweet mini chocolate chips

1. Sift flour, cocoa and baking soda together.

2. Working with a stand or handheld mixer in a large bowl, beat butter on medium speed until soft and creamy. Add both sugars, salt and vanilla and beat for two more minutes.

3. Turn off mixer. Pour in dry ingredients and pulse mixer at low speed for a few seconds, about five times. Mix for about 30 seconds more, just until all flour is incorporated. Add chocolate pieces or chips and mix only to incorporate. (Dough should be worked as little as possible for best texture.)

4. Turn dough our onto a work surface, gather together and divide in half. Working with one half at a time, shape dough into logs and 1 ½ inches in diameter. Wrap in plastic wrap and refrigerate for at least three hours (or up to three days).

5. To bake: Center a rack in the oven and preheat to 325 degrees. Line two baking sheets with parchment or silicone mats.

6. Using a sharp, thin knife, slice the logs into rounds that are ½ inch thick. Arrange on the baking sheets, leaving about one inch between them.

7. Bake the cookies one sheet at a time for 12 minutes (they won’t look done, nor will they be firm, but that’s as they should be). Transfer the baking sheet to a cooling rack and let rest until only just warm, then carefully remove the cookies to a rack to cool completely. Store in airtight cookie tin.

One Healthy Breakdown: these cookies are sure to create some peace and quiet in your house this holiday season, enjoy!

Recipe submitted by Emily Herrick, adapted from Dorie Greenspan’s Baking From My Home to Yours

One Healthy Cookie Dough!

Repeat after me: RAW COOKIE DOUGH. Now that I have your attention…check this out:

602878_582537878462770_1634861679_nHEALTHY COOKIE DOUGH:

  •  1 cup chickpeas (garbanzo beans)
  • ½ cup organic raw rolled oats
  • 5 pitted dates
  • 2 tablespoons organic peanut butter (or nut butter of choice)
  • 1 tablespoon nuts of choice
  • 1 tablespoon honey or maple syrup
  • 1 teaspoon pure vanilla extract
  • 2 teaspoons unsweetened shredded coconut
  • 1 tablespoon dark chocolate chips/1 oz. dark chocolate bar broken into pieces/cacao nibs
  • splash of almond milk or water if needed for consistency

Blend all together in a high-powered blender or food processor and begin to devour. Now tell me that doesn’t taste just like the sinfully delicious raw cookie dough?!

One Healthy Breakdown: try upgrading your recipes…and, eat cookie dough by the spoonful!