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Juniper Journal

11 healthy treats to help you stay on track this holiday season

For a festive season with a healthy twist.

11 healthy treats to help you stay on track this holiday season
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The end of the year is typically a very busy time and as we see our calendars fill up with parties, BBQs and other social events, it can become tricky not to overindulge in food.

At Juniper, we believe in balance so we won't say you shouldn't enjoy your favourite holiday treats. But you don't need to go completely off track either. Through portion control, mindful eating, and a few ingredient swaps, you can find a happy medium.

Discover our weight loss-friendly snack ideas for a festive season with a healthy twist.

1. High-protein chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse can be both delicious and healthy. The secret is in substituting some of the higher-calorie ingredients for lower-calorie ones.

Our dietitian-approved chocolate mousse recipe is super easy to whip up and it only has 300 calories per serving. All you need is strawberries, coconut water, cocoa powder, vanilla essence, and the magic ingredient — a sachet of our chocolate-flavoured Nourish Shake, which is packed with 30 grams of protein, along with 20 minerals and nutrients, fibre, and pre and probiotics.

2. Stuffed dates

High in fibre and relatively low in calories, dates alone make for a great sweet snack, but why not get creative and pair them with other tasty ingredients?

The easiest way to make stuffed dates is to remove the pit, add peanut or almond butter, and finish off with healthy toppings like hemp seeds, chopped nuts or goji berries. You can also dip them in melted dark chocolate and pop them in the fridge for at least 1 hour for the most delicious Snickers-style bites.

3. Air fryer carrot chips

Anyone who has an air fryer knows how useful it is for cooking healthier meals without having to sacrifice on flavour — and these carrot chips are no exception.

Super crispy and low in fats, these crunchy chips make for the perfect side dish if you want to add more foods with low-calorie density to your usual holiday dinner, with 1 serving amounting to about half the calories of sweet potato fries. If you're not that into carrots, you can also try making zucchini or kale chips in the air fryer.

4. Pina Colada popsicles

If this doesn't sound like the perfect snack for the holidays in Australia, we don't know what does.

Featuring our vanilla-flavoured Nourish Shake, these refreshing Pina Colada popsicles are packed with 31 grams of protein and only 80 calories. Yes, you read that right! Simply blend the Nourish Shake along with shredded coconut, frozen pineapple, unsweetened milk and water, pour this mixture ‌evenly into 4 popsicle moulds and freeze for at least 6 hours before enjoying.

5. No-bake energy balls

No-bake energy balls are an amazing holiday treat for many reasons. They're incredibly versatile, super quick to prepare, and easy to fit within a calorie deficit. They're also easy to make gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free, which is ideal if your guests have dietary requirements.

The ingredients you use are up to you, but a few classics include rolled oats for a good dose of fibre, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds for texture (and healthy fats), and nut butter, honey or maple syrup to bind it all together. We also love throwing in goji berries or chocolate chips for a touch of sweetness.

6. Deviled eggs

Another one that is super easy to whip up, deviled eggs are creamy, delicious, and budget-friendly. They're also versatile and allow you to play around with spices, seasonings, and toppings until you find the tastiest combination.

To make your deviled eggs healthier and higher in protein, we recommend swapping the mayo for Greek yoghurt. The consistency is similar, but the yoghurt is lower in fats and calories.

7. Healthy charcuterie board

A board packed full of healthy Christmas treats? Yes, please.

Although you can get store-bought charcuterie boards, making your own gives you more control over what's included — not to mention it can be a lot cheaper. Fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and melon are a must-have, as are nuts, dark chocolate, and pickles.

For the crackers and bread, choose wholegrain, and for meats, include some salami and prosciutto — the traditional, not-so-healthy options — along with leaner alternatives. After all, balance is key.

For a plant-based board, replace the meats and cheese with high-protein dips like hummus or fava bean dip and fresh veggie sticks.

8. Cucumber bites

Cucumber is refreshing, hydrating, and high in antioxidants and soluble fibre. It's also really low in calories, which means you can have quite a lot without going over your calorie deficit.

But cucumber by itself isn't the most exciting snack — and that's why we love using it as the base for healthy, savoury bites. Simply chop the cucumber into thick-ish slices and then add your favourite toppings, like:

  • Cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, and dill
  • Hummus and sesame seeds
  • Guac and shrimp
  • Avocado and smoked salmon
  • Spicy tuna salad

Pro tip: keep the peel on for extra nutrients and crunchiness!

9. Crispy baked chickpeas

Baked chickpeas are vegan, flavourful, easy to make, and when cooked right, perfectly crispy. All you need is your favourite seasonings and the star ingredient: chickpeas. You can use oil if you want, or keep it oil-free.

If you're not sure what seasonings to use, paprika and curry powder are 2 delicious options that will give the chickpeas some colour. Sumac is also super tasty, as is turmeric and ginger or lime and black pepper.

10. Fruit

We'll admit this one is pretty generic and, at first sight, not that exciting. But there are so many ways you can prepare fruit and serve it as a starter, dessert or snack.

For a bit of variety, you can put together a fruit platter or skewers. You can also have dried fruit — although it is higher in calories and lower in water content, it's healthier than store-bought candy and can still satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you're looking for really festive, healthy Christmas snacks for the little ones, you can make fruit candy canes by slicing bananas and strawberries, and then arranging them in the shape of a candy cane, alternating between the 2 fruits [1]. You can also make little frozen yoghurt bowls, slushies, sorbet... the options are truly endless.

11. Homemade cookies

From gingerbread to choc chip, oatmeal raisin and more, there are plenty of cookie flavours to choose from. The secret to making them healthy is in making some ingredient swaps:

  • Coconut or almond flour instead of white flour
  • Sugar-free maple syrup instead of sugar
  • Applesauce instead of oil or butter
  • Evaporated milk instead of heavy cream
  • Dark chocolate chips instead of white ones

Tips to manage your appetite during the holiday season

Preparing healthy holiday treats means you can keep the unhealthy stuff out of sight, but what if you don't have control over the menu? What if you go out to dinner with friends or have an end-of-year party at work?

First things first, and as we mentioned before, it's important that you enjoy yourself, and not obsess over how many calories are in each bite you take. It is the holiday season, after all, and you're surrounded by loved ones — what is there not to enjoy?

That being said, if you know you struggle to stop eating even when you're full, there are some tips you can keep in mind that will help you not overeat:

  • Practise mindful eating. Mindful eating is all about listening to your body, particularly to your hunger and fullness cues, and the holiday season is the perfect time to practise it. A few ways you can do so include eating slowly, taking small bites, and chewing thoroughly.
  • Eat enough fibre. Fibre takes up more space in your stomach than other nutrients and, as a result, it helps you feel fuller for longer and consume fewer calories.
  • Have a look at the menu beforehand. If you're going to a restaurant, google the menu before going out and choose what you want to eat — or at least narrow it down to a couple of healthy options.
  • Be mindful of how much you drink. Alcohol is full of empty calories and if you drink too much, chances are that you'll make some not-so-healthy choices the day after. To prevent this from happening, eat before you drink, have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink, and try non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • Stay hydrated. Though it has 0 calories, water helps fill up your stomach and suppress your appetite. Drink water between meals and you'll be less likely to go overboard with the snacks.

Image credit: Getty Images

The end of the year is typically a very busy time and as we see our calendars fill up with parties, BBQs and other social events, it can become tricky not to overindulge in food.

At Juniper, we believe in balance so we won't say you shouldn't enjoy your favourite holiday treats. But you don't need to go completely off track either. Through portion control, mindful eating, and a few ingredient swaps, you can find a happy medium.

Discover our weight loss-friendly snack ideas for a festive season with a healthy twist.

1. High-protein chocolate mousse

Chocolate mousse can be both delicious and healthy. The secret is in substituting some of the higher-calorie ingredients for lower-calorie ones.

Our dietitian-approved chocolate mousse recipe is super easy to whip up and it only has 300 calories per serving. All you need is strawberries, coconut water, cocoa powder, vanilla essence, and the magic ingredient — a sachet of our chocolate-flavoured Nourish Shake, which is packed with 30 grams of protein, along with 20 minerals and nutrients, fibre, and pre and probiotics.

2. Stuffed dates

High in fibre and relatively low in calories, dates alone make for a great sweet snack, but why not get creative and pair them with other tasty ingredients?

The easiest way to make stuffed dates is to remove the pit, add peanut or almond butter, and finish off with healthy toppings like hemp seeds, chopped nuts or goji berries. You can also dip them in melted dark chocolate and pop them in the fridge for at least 1 hour for the most delicious Snickers-style bites.

3. Air fryer carrot chips

Anyone who has an air fryer knows how useful it is for cooking healthier meals without having to sacrifice on flavour — and these carrot chips are no exception.

Super crispy and low in fats, these crunchy chips make for the perfect side dish if you want to add more foods with low-calorie density to your usual holiday dinner, with 1 serving amounting to about half the calories of sweet potato fries. If you're not that into carrots, you can also try making zucchini or kale chips in the air fryer.

4. Pina Colada popsicles

If this doesn't sound like the perfect snack for the holidays in Australia, we don't know what does.

Featuring our vanilla-flavoured Nourish Shake, these refreshing Pina Colada popsicles are packed with 31 grams of protein and only 80 calories. Yes, you read that right! Simply blend the Nourish Shake along with shredded coconut, frozen pineapple, unsweetened milk and water, pour this mixture ‌evenly into 4 popsicle moulds and freeze for at least 6 hours before enjoying.

5. No-bake energy balls

No-bake energy balls are an amazing holiday treat for many reasons. They're incredibly versatile, super quick to prepare, and easy to fit within a calorie deficit. They're also easy to make gluten-free, dairy-free and refined sugar-free, which is ideal if your guests have dietary requirements.

The ingredients you use are up to you, but a few classics include rolled oats for a good dose of fibre, hemp seeds, chia seeds and flaxseeds for texture (and healthy fats), and nut butter, honey or maple syrup to bind it all together. We also love throwing in goji berries or chocolate chips for a touch of sweetness.

6. Deviled eggs

Another one that is super easy to whip up, deviled eggs are creamy, delicious, and budget-friendly. They're also versatile and allow you to play around with spices, seasonings, and toppings until you find the tastiest combination.

To make your deviled eggs healthier and higher in protein, we recommend swapping the mayo for Greek yoghurt. The consistency is similar, but the yoghurt is lower in fats and calories.

7. Healthy charcuterie board

A board packed full of healthy Christmas treats? Yes, please.

Although you can get store-bought charcuterie boards, making your own gives you more control over what's included — not to mention it can be a lot cheaper. Fresh fruits like strawberries, blueberries, and melon are a must-have, as are nuts, dark chocolate, and pickles.

For the crackers and bread, choose wholegrain, and for meats, include some salami and prosciutto — the traditional, not-so-healthy options — along with leaner alternatives. After all, balance is key.

For a plant-based board, replace the meats and cheese with high-protein dips like hummus or fava bean dip and fresh veggie sticks.

8. Cucumber bites

Cucumber is refreshing, hydrating, and high in antioxidants and soluble fibre. It's also really low in calories, which means you can have quite a lot without going over your calorie deficit.

But cucumber by itself isn't the most exciting snack — and that's why we love using it as the base for healthy, savoury bites. Simply chop the cucumber into thick-ish slices and then add your favourite toppings, like:

  • Cream cheese, cherry tomatoes, and dill
  • Hummus and sesame seeds
  • Guac and shrimp
  • Avocado and smoked salmon
  • Spicy tuna salad

Pro tip: keep the peel on for extra nutrients and crunchiness!

9. Crispy baked chickpeas

Baked chickpeas are vegan, flavourful, easy to make, and when cooked right, perfectly crispy. All you need is your favourite seasonings and the star ingredient: chickpeas. You can use oil if you want, or keep it oil-free.

If you're not sure what seasonings to use, paprika and curry powder are 2 delicious options that will give the chickpeas some colour. Sumac is also super tasty, as is turmeric and ginger or lime and black pepper.

10. Fruit

We'll admit this one is pretty generic and, at first sight, not that exciting. But there are so many ways you can prepare fruit and serve it as a starter, dessert or snack.

For a bit of variety, you can put together a fruit platter or skewers. You can also have dried fruit — although it is higher in calories and lower in water content, it's healthier than store-bought candy and can still satisfy your sweet tooth.

If you're looking for really festive, healthy Christmas snacks for the little ones, you can make fruit candy canes by slicing bananas and strawberries, and then arranging them in the shape of a candy cane, alternating between the 2 fruits [1]. You can also make little frozen yoghurt bowls, slushies, sorbet... the options are truly endless.

11. Homemade cookies

From gingerbread to choc chip, oatmeal raisin and more, there are plenty of cookie flavours to choose from. The secret to making them healthy is in making some ingredient swaps:

  • Coconut or almond flour instead of white flour
  • Sugar-free maple syrup instead of sugar
  • Applesauce instead of oil or butter
  • Evaporated milk instead of heavy cream
  • Dark chocolate chips instead of white ones

Tips to manage your appetite during the holiday season

Preparing healthy holiday treats means you can keep the unhealthy stuff out of sight, but what if you don't have control over the menu? What if you go out to dinner with friends or have an end-of-year party at work?

First things first, and as we mentioned before, it's important that you enjoy yourself, and not obsess over how many calories are in each bite you take. It is the holiday season, after all, and you're surrounded by loved ones — what is there not to enjoy?

That being said, if you know you struggle to stop eating even when you're full, there are some tips you can keep in mind that will help you not overeat:

  • Practise mindful eating. Mindful eating is all about listening to your body, particularly to your hunger and fullness cues, and the holiday season is the perfect time to practise it. A few ways you can do so include eating slowly, taking small bites, and chewing thoroughly.
  • Eat enough fibre. Fibre takes up more space in your stomach than other nutrients and, as a result, it helps you feel fuller for longer and consume fewer calories.
  • Have a look at the menu beforehand. If you're going to a restaurant, google the menu before going out and choose what you want to eat — or at least narrow it down to a couple of healthy options.
  • Be mindful of how much you drink. Alcohol is full of empty calories and if you drink too much, chances are that you'll make some not-so-healthy choices the day after. To prevent this from happening, eat before you drink, have a glass of water in between every alcoholic drink, and try non-alcoholic alternatives.
  • Stay hydrated. Though it has 0 calories, water helps fill up your stomach and suppress your appetite. Drink water between meals and you'll be less likely to go overboard with the snacks.

Image credit: Getty Images

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