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  • Writer's pictureKim Stabenow

4 Healthy & Easy Recipes for the Holidays

By Kim Stabenow

With each holiday season comes time spent with loved ones, endless holiday music, pine-scented candles, friendsgiving, cozy evenings, and of course - food. Lots and lots of food. While it’s the “most wonderful time of the year,” it’s also a time where your yoga practice may take a backseat due to festivities, parties, and family.

Luckily, Highland Yoga remains open throughout the entire holiday season so you never have to miss a session on your mat. Your instructors will challenge you to keep showing up for yourself so you can truly be there for your loved ones during the holidays.

While attending classes at Highland will help take care of your mind & body during the holidays, it’s possible to remain mindful throughout the season at home when it comes to cooking and food. We know -- it’s hard to pass up on Great-Aunt Janice’s pecan pie on Thanksgiving day, but there are ways to sneak in some healthy eating between the family classics.

Arugula, Fennel, and Orange Winter Salad

We’ll start with the greens: Salad. One of my all-time favorite salad recipes is a winter salad with arugula, fennel, and orange. It’s simple, light and flavorful.

Salad from Williams Sonoma - Arugula and fennel winter salad


For the citrus vinaigrette:

1/4 cup (2 fl oz./60 ml) fresh orange juice

2 Tbs. fresh lemon juice

2 tsp. grated orange zest

2 Tbs. extra-virgin olive oil

2 Tbs. canola oil

2 tsp. Dijon mustard

1/2 tsp. dried tarragon

1 shallot, chopped

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper

For the salad:

1 large fennel bulb

3 large blood oranges, navel oranges or a combination

4 cups (6 oz./185 g) arugula


To make the vinaigrette, in a small bowl, whisk together the orange juice, lemon juice, orange zest, olive oil, canola oil, mustard, tarragon and shallot. Season with salt and pepper. Set aside.

Cut off the stems and feathery fronds of the fennel bulb and remove any bruised or discolored outer layers. Cut the bulb in half lengthwise and cut out the core. Cut the bulb halves crosswise into slices 3/8 inch (1 cm) thick and then cut the slices into 1-inch (2.5-cm) lengths.

Working with 1 orange at a time, and using a sharp knife, cut a slice off both ends of the orange to reveal the flesh. Stand the orange upright on a cutting board and slice off the peel and pith in strips, following the contour of the fruit. Cut the orange in half crosswise, place each half cut side down, and thinly slice vertically to create half-moons. Repeat with the remaining oranges.

Place the fennel and arugula in a large serving bowl, add half of the vinaigrette and toss gently to coat thoroughly. Arrange the orange slices on top. Drizzle with the remaining vinaigrette and serve immediately. Serves 8 to 10

Coconut Oil Roasted Sweet Potatoes

Next up, a twist on a classic side dish: Sweet Potatoes. There’s a reason this recipe has over 400 5-star reviews in the NY Times Cooking section. These sweet potatoes are roasted with coconut oil.

Recipe from the NY Times Cooking, linked on Epicurious -- Coconut oil roasted sweet potatoes


1 ½ tablespoons organic virgin coconut oil

1 ¾ lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and diced

2 teaspoons light brown sugar, packed

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

¼ teaspoon fresh ground black pepper

¼ teaspoon nutmeg, freshly grated


Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.

In a small saucepan, melt coconut oil over low heat.

In a large bowl, toss together, the potatoes, coconut oil, sugar, salt, pepper, and nutmeg.

In a large baking dish, spread the potatoes out evenly and roast, tossing occasionally, until softened and caramelized, about an hour.

Shakshuka with Feta

For an easy and delicious main dish that you may not associate with holidays, try Shakshuka. This is a favorite in our household because it’s simple, vegetarian, healthy, and filling (plus it may be a nice break from all the turkey).

Recipe from the NY Times Cooking -- Shakshuka with Feta


3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

1 large onion, halved and thinly sliced

1 large red bell pepper, seeded and thinly sliced

3 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 teaspoon ground cumin

1 teaspoon sweet paprika

⅛ teaspoon cayenne, or to taste

1 (28-ounce) can whole plum tomatoes with juices, coarsely chopped

¾ teaspoon salt, more as needed

¼ teaspoon black pepper, more as needed

5 ounces feta cheese, crumbled (about 1 1/4 cups)

6 large eggs

Chopped cilantro, for serving

Hot sauce, for serving


Heat oven to 375 degrees.

Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-low heat. Add onion and bell pepper. Cook gently until very soft, about 20 minutes. Add garlic and cook until tender, 1 to 2 minutes; stir in cumin, paprika and cayenne, and cook 1 minute. Pour in tomatoes and season with 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon pepper; simmer until tomatoes have thickened, about 10 minutes. Stir in crumbled feta.

Gently crack eggs into skillet over tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper.

Transfer skillet to oven and bake until eggs are just set, 7 to 10 minutes. Sprinkle with cilantro and serve with hot sauce.

Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls

Last but not least, don’t forget about dessert! Instead of loading up on sugar, this date and pecan energy ball recipe utilizes the natural sweetness of dates to create a delicious treat. To be honest, these could be eaten for breakfast, snack, or dessert!

Recipe from Bowl of Delicious -- Chocolate Coconut Energy Balls


1/2 cup pecans

15 whole pitted dates roughly chopped

1/2 cup shredded unsweetened coconut divided

1 tablespoon coconut oil

1 1/2 tablespoons cocoa powder

1 pinch kosher salt

1 tablespoon water


Put pecans (1/2 cup) in food processor and pulse until roughly chopped.

Place 1/4 cup of the shredded coconut in a small bowl. Set aside.

Add the remaining ingredients to the food processor. Turn food processor on until very well mixed.

Using a tablespoon measure, spoon out mixture and roll in balls.

Coat each ball in the reserved 1/4 cup shredded coconut.

Place on a parchment covered baking sheet and refrigerate for at least thirty minutes, until they harden.

Store in the fridge in an airtight container or plastic bag for up to two weeks.

While no one wants to worry about dieting or eating healthy at family gatherings or friendsgiving, it can be fun to add a healthy twist to your regular traditions - especially if it’s delicious! Plus, being mindful about eating throughout the busiest time of the year will help you ring in the new year with an extra spring in your step.

Be sure to keep your physical/asana practice strong at the Highland Yoga studio to balance your mind, body, and spirit throughout the holiday season. If you’re busy or traveling for the holidays, you can now utilize our instructors online with our HY Online yoga platform. You’ll be able to enjoy the best yoga in Atlanta in the comfort of your living room.

What are your favorite ways to stay healthy during the holiday season? Do you have any tips, tricks, or recipes to share? Comment below to share with the Highland tribe!

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