12 healthy foods of ChristmasChristmas songs are playing everywhere and inspire such a happy, content feeling this time of year. I was sort of “singing” along to The 12 Days of Christmas the other day and thought…why don’t I play off this old Christmas carol as a fun way to list 12 healthy foods you can enjoy this holiday! And you may notice another theme as you go through the list…don’t worry if you don’t notice…you’ll find out at #12!

“On the twelfth day of Christmas, my true love gave to me…”

1. Kale – A tasty dark leafy green superfood! A definite immunity booster and natural detoxifier, kale provides us with vitamins A, C, E and K, B-vitamins, folate, calcium, iron, magnesium, and zinc. It’s also loaded with fiber which aids in digestion and helps us feel full longer. The benefits are endless: weight loss, cancer prevention, improved digestion, increased energy, and the list goes on. One of my favorite salads is Kale with Cranberries.  It’s super easy to make and delish! You can also include kale {I especially like baby kale} in your smoothies. Here’s a video on How to Make the Perfect Green Smoothie! And instead of using spinach, you can just add in kale.

2. Beets – Distinguished by their beautiful deep red color {which is from a powerful antioxidant}, beets are very detoxifying helping to cleanse out the liver and kidneys. They are loaded with nutrients that are essential for our immune system, high in iron, and a good source of fiber. You can eat them raw or cooked, in salads, soups, or as a side dish. Also, there are a lot of really tasty juices that include beets. One of my favorite juices is beet, carrot, cucumber, and lemon!

3. Brussels sprouts – For a very long time, and I am talking up until a year ago, I hated Brussels sprouts. However, I decided to give them a try again and actually enjoyed them. For me, it depends on how they are prepared. I personally like them sautéed with some coconut oil and then seasoned with a little sea salt, pepper and lemon. There are all kinds of ways you can make something taste good; you can use different spices and sauces when you need a little something extra. Brussels sprouts contain large amounts of antioxidants, are loaded with fiber, and are cancer fighters and preventers. They are packed with folate, vitamins A, C and K and potassium. You can steam, sautée or bake them as well as eat them raw. I haven’t tried it yet, but here’s a recipe for Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Grapes and Walnuts.

4. Apples – We all know the saying “An apple a day keeps the doctor away” which is just what we need during the sick season! Apples are loaded with fiber which helps our digestion as well as aids in kicking out those toxins in the body. They contain lots of vitamins, minerals, and antioxidants. One of my favorite apple recipes is Baked Cinnamon Apple Slices. So good and easy to make!

5. Pears – “… and a Partridge in a Pear Tree”. What’s a Partridge, do you know? Ha! I thought it was a bird and looked it up…it is a bird! {Makes sense since it’s in a tree} Anyway, of course I had to include pears! I have to admit, sometimes I forget about pears, and I don’t know why! They are so delicious and satisfy immediately a sweet craving. They can help with digestion, boost our immunity, and increase our energy. They are great as a snack or dessert. I must say I really love this new recipe: Chocolatey Gingerbread Pear Minis! It’s perfect for a holiday party or a little sweet treat for two.

6. Goji Berries – I recently read that in China, they say that eating goji berries every morning will boost your mood and make you happier throughout the day. Plus, aside from being rich in antioxidants and nutrients, they are known to be a powerful anti-aging food. Well, to be happier and stay young…doesn’t get much better than that! You can easily incorporate these into your smoothies or throw on top of a salad, and you most likely will only find them as dried berries.

7. Avocado – This fruit, yes it’s actually a fruit, is jam-packed with healthy goodness for us. Avocados can improve our metabolism, satisfy hunger, and balance our blood sugar, all of which help us with weight loss or weight management. They contain the healthy fats essential for health and beauty and are loaded with fiber, antioxidants, and potassium (more than 2x the amount in a banana!). Avocados are also a great source of B vitamins and vitamin E, which plays a role in healthy skin and hair. Random food fun fact: It’s original name was alligator pear! Two of my favorite recipes are: Shrimp, Mango & Mint Stuffed Avocados and Spinach Avocado Toast with Lemon.

8. Pomegranates – When I was younger, we had this superfood growing in our backyard, and I always thought the seeds looked so cool. Little did I know all the benefits they had! Pomegranates are rich in antioxidants, protecting us from free radicals and from a number of cancers. Studies have shown that one glass of pomegranate juice provides more antioxidants than green tea or red wine. This fruit is also very healthy for our hearts. If you are wondering how to get the seeds out, cut the pomegranate in half and use a wooden spoon to hit it lightly on the skin side until they fall out. I recently saw this on Pinterest – Pomegranate Champagne – and pinned it immediately!

9. Figs – These cute little fruits are a great source of calcium, the mineral that’s vital in keeping our bones healthy. Also, they are very high in fiber, so much so that they beat out any other fruit with their fiber content. One of the great things about fiber is, it helps us feel full and satisfied as well as helps to keep our blood sugar balanced. Figs are great in salads, and they pair nicely with a little goat cheese, balsamic vinegar, and some nuts such as almonds. For breakfast, you can add figs to rolled oats with some cinnamon.

10. Green Tea – Loaded with medicinal properties, this drink is perfect this time of year. Rich in antioxidants, it helps prevent disease, is cancer-fighting, and is antibacterial. Green tea assists our bodies in burning fat, increases our metabolism, and is great for anti-aging. You could also make a Gingerbread Green Tea Latte! Sounds a little different, but I tried it, and it’s delicious! Just refer back to my recipe from last week and substitute the chai tea bag for a green tea bag and voila!

11. Red Wine – A glass of red wine can provide us with antioxidants, has anti-inflammatory properties, can improve digestion, and is good for our hearts. Resveratrol, which is found in the skin of red grapes, is what provides the health benefits of red wine. And let’s be honest, sometimes a nice glass of red wine is just what we need!

12. Dark Chocolate – I love to incorporate this delicious treat into any list I can! Dark chocolate contains vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, is anti-inflammatory, and can actually help with weight loss. It can also be a natural mood lifter. You want to look for chocolate that has at least 70% cacao – the higher the percentage, the healthier for you. You also want to make sure the chocolate is free of added saturated fats and only has a minimal amount of added sugar. Although healthy for you, still be mindful of the amount you eat. I would suggest stopping at about the size of a credit card. So, have you discovered the other theme going on here? All foods listed are Christmas colors, red and green. Chocolate is the only food included that is not a Christmas color…but I just had to make the exception!

I’d love to hear from you! In the comment section below, tell me:

  1. Which of the 12 healthy foods of Christmas are your favorites?
  2. Which recipe(s) are you excited to try? Or, please share a favorite recipe that includes one of the foods listed!
  3. Just for fun: What’s your favorite Christmas song?

Merry Christmas & Happy Holidays!