The holidays are all about family, community, and sharing—and indulging in those glorious pies or buttery side dishes are offered at the holiday table. Being present and partaking in the festivities is actually a boon for your mental, emotional, and physical wellbeing. So, this year, let your health-foodie-hair down and relish each bite, knowing that this balanced five-day plan can get you back on track.
During the next five days, focus on the following five principles:
1. Anti-inflammatory foods: Combat harmful inflammation from sugar, dairy, and alcohol with ample fruits, vegetables, whole grains, beans, spices and quality fats (such as avocado, nuts, and seeds).
2. Fat + fiber + protein: Make sure this trifecta appears in your meals to keep your blood sugar balanced and your stomach satiated, so you don’t continue to overeat.
3. Hydration: Start each day with a glass of filtered water plus the juice of half of a lemon. Continue drinking water and herbal teas throughout the day, and coconut water after exercising.
4. Exercise: Get back into your usual fitness routine, or commit to at least 30 minutes a day of something that gets your heart rate going.
5. Balance: This meal plan is packed with flavorful dishes, including nightly treats, so you look forward to each day instead of feeling deprived. If you happen to stray off course, be gentle with yourself and remember that every meal is a new opportunity for your health.
Plan, images, and recipes provided by Laura Lea Bryant, certified holistic chef and nutrition consultant. Follow her on Instagram @lauraleabalanced.
To start: Filtered water with lemon plus 1 cup Yerba Mate tea, an herbal tea that’s naturally energizing but it won’t give you jitters like caffeine can.
Breakfast: Balance and Recharge Smoothie Bowl. The magic of this recipe is that it contains mostly veggies, but all you’ll taste is the delicious combination of blueberry and ginger.
Morning snack: Enjoy 1/3 cup hummus mixed with minced dill, served with sliced cucumber for dipping.
Lunch: Cozy Autumn Kale Salad with Figs and Hazelnuts. Top with tuna for extra protein if you like.
Afternoon snack: 1 cup sliced jicama drizzled with maple syrup and lime juice and 1/4 cup Brazil nuts. These nuts are a great source of selenium, which we need for a healthy immune system.
Dinner: Garlic shrimp over zucchini noodles and roasted almonds. (And don’t miss these 12 sensational spiralized veggie recipes for more vegetable noodles ideas!)
Nighttime treat: 1/2 cup raspberries drizzled with 1 square melted dark chocolate and 2 teaspoons coconut flakes. This antioxidant-packed snack is the perfect way to end your first day on this rebalancing plan.
To start: Filtered water with lemon plus 1 cup Dandy Blend. This blend of chicory, dandelion and beetroot will remind you of coffee—minus the acidity and caffeine.
Breakfast: Blueberry Coconut Porridge
Morning snack: 1/2 avocado cubed with lemon juice, sea salt, and hemp seeds.
Lunch: Collard wraps with black beans, salsa, mashed avocado, and cilantro.
Afternoon snack: Sweet and Savory Granola Bar. A perfect afternoon pick-me-up, these bars combine natural sugars with nuts and seeds to steady your insulin response. (For more snack bar recipes, check out these 6 homemade vegan energy bars.)
Dinner: Healthy Chicken Patties with Sweet Onion BBQ Sauce over shredded Brussels sprouts with orange zest, mint tea. Steamed broccoli creates a cancer-fighting base for your chicken patties. The best part? You will feel like a kid again eating this meal!
Nighttime treat: 1 banana spread with 2 teaspoons almond butter and cinnamon. The magnesium and potassium in bananas has been shown to help improve sleep.
To start: Filtered water with lemon plus 1 cup green tea. Catechins in green tea are disease-fighting champions. Add a touch of raw honey for flavor.
Breakfast: 2 hardboiled eggs, 1 slice rye bread with almond butter. Slice in half and make a mini sandwich for an on-the-go option.
Morning snack: 1 cup mixed strawberries, walnuts, and carob chips
Lunch: Southern “Mess:” Toss quinoa, sautéed kale, and crumbled tempeh with leftover Sweet Onion BBQ sauce from last night’s dinner.
Afternoon snack: 3 cups popcorn with olive oil and nutritional yeast. Nutritional yeast is a fantastic source of B vitamins, which is often a deficiency in vegetarian diets.
Dinner: BBQ salmon tacos with diced pineapple and grilled asparagus. Look for wild or dye-free salmon at the grocery store. The folate found in asparagus can help improve cognitive function and is especially important for pregnant women.
Nighttime treat: Unsweetened almond milk blended with cocoa powder, stevia, and vanilla extract.
To start: Filtered water with lemon plus 1 cup Dandy Blend.
Breakfast: 1 small baked sweet potato with walnuts, coconut oil, and a sprinkle of coconut sugar. Staving off a cold? This breakfast, packed with vitamins A and C, will come to the rescue.
Morning snack: 1 pear, sliced and topped with tahini paste and a sprinkle of cardamom. Savory unlike almond butter, tahini is teeming with calcium for strong bones.
Lunch: 2 slices All for One cashew sandwich bread with roasted turkey, Dijon mustard, sundried tomatoes, and arugula. Make several loaves of this grain-free recipe and freeze for those times when you’re craving bread. (For more ideas how to use up leftover Thanksgiving turkey, check out these recipes!)
Afternoon snack: Roasted chickpeas: Drain and pat chickpeas dry and roast until crispy and golden brown. Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Dinner: Cauliflower “Rice:” Chop cauliflower into florets and place in a food processor. Process 1 to 2 minutes or until “rice-like” consistency is reached. Sauté with edamame, cashews, scallions, grated ginger, and sesame oil. When enjoyed in moderation, whole soy foods like edamame are healthy sources of protein and vitamins nutrients such as zinc.
Nighttime treat: Apple Cider Muffin with honey-cinnamon drizzle and chamomile tea. These can also moonlight for breakfast or as snacks, topped with nut butter. Chamomile tea is shown to promote relaxation and calmness.
To start: Filtered water with lemon plus Yerba Mate Tea.
Breakfast: Cooked millet with sautéed spinach, red pepper flakes, and 1 over-easy fried egg. Start the day on a savory note with this alkalizing “pseudograin.” Red pepper flakes will help boost your metabolism, and a runny egg yolk provides the perfect creamy sauce, plus beneficial vitamins and minerals.
Morning snack: Smoothie with 1 frozen banana, 1/2 cup fennel, 1 tablespoon chia seeds, coconut water, and ice. Fennel is hydrating and fantastic for digestive upset.
Lunch: Arugula salad with roasted sweet potatoe, pomegranate seeds, walnuts, and chickpeas tossed with white balsamic and EVOO.
Afternoon snack: 1 whole grain rice cake with peanut butter and coconut flakes.
Dinner: Crockpot Butter Chicken with brown rice and sautéed green beans with sesame seeds. Don’t fear the quality fat found in coconut milk. Unlike most saturated fats, lauric acid is burned instantly for energy, instead of being stored.
Nighttime treat: 1 6-ounce container plain coconut yogurt with 2 chopped medjool dates and cinnamon.
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