5 Healthier Holiday Cookie Recipes

‘Tis the season for holiday carols, cookies, and sugar-crashes.

Errr, wait a minute. Scratch that last part.

Let’s replace that with holiday cheer instead, with five healthier cookie recipes that make it easy to do just that. From protein-packed chickpeas, to naturally sweet dates, to fiber-filled oats, the following recipes include some magical ingredients that’ll take your holiday baking to the next (and better-for-you) level. While they’re probably not your grandma’s cookies, we promise that they’ll be just as tasty!

chocchippumpk

Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies via Sweet Treats & More

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Quick Tricks To Stay Stress-Free This Holiday Season

The Ikea-like crowds in non-Ikea stores. The food-heavy parties that start making it easy for your stomach to match Santa’s. The money tree that sometimes feels like it’s shedding its needles a little too quickly. Whew, sometimes the holidays can put you in a place where you’re not feeling too great. Luckily, you needn’t necessarily let the season take you there.

Instead, we’ve got a few tricks below that you can carry out in fewer minutes than it’ll take to get through the checkout line. And they’ll make the whole experience seem not so bad, either.

Below, five quick tricks for keeping away those holiday stress tears so you can ring in that holiday cheer instead! 

1. Sniff on this: Recent research out of Tel Aviv University shows that certain citrus fragrances boost feelings of well-being and alleviate stress by upping levels of norepinephrine, a hormone that affects mood. Either squeeze a spritz of lemon or orange, or dab a little of their essential oil on a handkerchief, and carry it with you in your purse or pocket. The next time you’re stuck standing in a line or feeling anxious, pull it out and give it a sniff!

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Fun Fitness Gift Guide

The greatest gift in life is good health. Since unfortunately you can’t just go to the store and buy superpowers to become healthy and energized forever, we’ve pulled together a few of the next best things you actually can place in your shopping cart. Each is designed to not only help you work towards better health, but to have fun while doing so. Pick out a few items for the ones you love and / or better yet, put some on your own wish list!

Custom Workout Mat

1. Custom Workout Mat

Want the idea of hitting the mat to feel more exciting? Create a design that’ll make you want to unroll that cushion everyday! Whether it’s a favorite photo of yours, a quote that inspires, or an image that makes you smile, Cafe Press let’s you custom design your own workout mat. Upload an image, and they’ll do the rest for you, with mats priced at $58.

Workout Cards

2. Exercise Cards by WorkoutLabs

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Guilt-Free Treats for the Holidays

Black beans substitute for flourBy Lizzie Meyers

For many people, the holiday season evokes the urge to bake. It’s the season of giving, and there’s no better way to spread holiday cheer than with homemade treats for your friends, family, coworkers and, of course, yourself. No one can resist a peppermint swirled brownie. Or two. Or three. Food is generally a gift we can all enjoy. However, addicting as these treats aften are, this doesn’t mean they need to be filled solely with unhealthy ingredients.

Head on over to the Greatist for some baking substitution ideas that’ll help keep your creations a little more guilt-free.


Don’t Let Stress Sabotage Your Holidays!

Stress Free Holiday

By Lizzie Meyers

Finding the perfect gifts for everyone on your list, arranging travel plans, and all the while, keeping up with your work at the office – whew, this time of year can be exhausting. Expectations and planning during the holiday season tend to cause people to neglect their own happiness. Often, we strive for what is actually an unrealistic idea of how we picture the holidays should be.

Rarely will you find a gift to please everyone without spending a fortune. Hardly ever will a holiday pass without a disagreement between family members or friends. You will likely have to neglect some plans in order to accommodate for others. The reality of the holidays, and everything else in life for that matter, is that they won’t turn out “perfectly” and that’s entirely okay! The sooner we accept this fact, the sooner we can let go, relax and enjoy the festivities.

You’re not alone if you’re stressing out. It’s a natural inclination to experience pressure and anxiety at this time, and thinking clearly and realistically can be much more difficult than expected. Try these simple tricks to reduce holiday stress:

Put things in perspective:

“Frame every so-called disaster with these words, ‘In five years, will this matter?” (45 of Life’s Lessons by Regina Brett.)

This nugget of wisdom from an Ohio newspaper columnist can work wonders in stressful situations such as the ones we experience during the holidays. Of course, the first step in this process is to identify what is making you feel stressed. A family argument, conflicting plans, and other possible contributors to holiday anxiety are much more manageable when we step back and look at the grand scheme of things. In five years, you’ll remember the happy moments with family and friends and most of the stress-inducing issues will be long forgotten.

Take a moment for yourself each day:

While it is the season of giving and helping others, it is just as important to keep your own happiness in check. If you tend to spend the holidays pleasing others, make sure that you allow yourself 15 minutes a day of “me time.” Go for a walk, get a massage, or watch some mindless TV. This time to yourself should distract you from overwhelming obligations, allowing you to clear your mind and recharge. Bonus – spend those minutes engaged in a healthy activity and you’ll feel extra refreshed.

Try meditation:

Many people use the practice of meditation as the ultimate stress-reliever. The goal of this practice is to clear the clutter in our mind produced by day-to-day stressors. Through the use of meditation, eliminating holiday stress can become much more accessible.

New to meditation? Here are “20 Practical tips for Quieting the Mind.”

Take some tips from the gingerbread man pictured above. He knows what’s up. Remember, the key to steering stress away from your holiday experience is to stay in the moment and relax.


Why You Should Hit the Gym This Holiday Season

Santa at the gym

by Lizzie Meyers

On the often cold, grey days that ring out the year, watching movies all day with a mug of hot cocoa can certainly seem more appealing than braving the blistering winds that stand before the gym. However, don’t the let yourself fall into hibernation mode. As you know, this is the time of year when eggnog, baked brie, and sugar cookies are served at every cocktail party. Unless you have tremendous self-control, overeating during the holiday season is bound to occur. Pair those extra calories with a lack of exercise, and metabolic issues such as weight gain and insulin resistance could come as unwanted gifts this year. Luckily, exercise can help.

A recent study in the Journal of Physiology examined the effect of daily exercise on the body in relation to overeating and found some remarkable results. Participants of the study were broken into two groups: the first of which ran 45 minutes per day, and the latter of which remained sedentary. Both groups upped their daily caloric intake by 50%. In just one week, the non-exercising group showed a drastic decrease in blood-sugar control and an unhealthy effect of fat cells on the metabolism. Though their net caloric intake was equally increased, the exercise group on the other hand did not exhibit any significant consequences to their health. 

What that means? While this doesn’t praise over-indulgence by any means, if you do expect to consume a few extra treats in your holiday future, make sure at the very least to hit the gym. Need some motivation? Try these tips: 

Get some new jams

Great music can does wonders for your workout. It will often boost endorphins, pump you up, and distract you from the physical exertion. Get a new album that makes you happy and you’ll have that to look forward to with every gym visit.

Make it a morning routine

Exercise upon waking, and you’ll feel like a rock star for the remainder of your day. Sure, it might be a tough sell when the alarm clock goes off, but this way, you get your workout out of the way early. Waiting until the end of the day only gives you more time to talk yourself out of it. While it might feel hard at first, stick with your morning moves and they’ll become a breeze in no time.

Find a workout buddy

Gym visits are much more appealing as a social activity. Busy schedules can make it difficult to squeeze in any time to see friends, let alone go to they gym. Don’t sacrifice one over the other, but instead combine the two. Multitasking when it comes to your health is rarely a bad idea.