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Seven Simple Steps to Make Your Holidays Delicious and Your New Year's Resolutions a Reality

Each year, “lose weight” ranks as the most popular New Year’s resolution. And it also comes out on top as the most commonly broken resolution. Why? People often focus on losing a certain number of pounds per week, which can be a set-up for failure. Real life very often interferes with day-to-day good intentions. Consequently, most people give up. A more realistic and attainable approach is to make positive actions towards your goals, rather than one huge resolution. Here are several steps to help set you up to enjoy the holidays and stay healthy in 2022.

Don’t skip meals
Don’t eat and lose weight, right? Wrong. There’s a whole lot of research indicating that eating healthful, low-calorie (but high quality) meals and snacks at regular intervals throughout the day promotes weight loss. Develop a regular eating schedule of 3 meals and 2 or 3 snacks per day. This pattern is designed to help regulate energy, appetite, and blood sugar, curb cravings and provide strength and endurance for physical activities.

Eat plenty of fruit and vegetables
These are the low-calorie, high-quality foods. Fruits and vegetables are loaded with nutrients, fiber and antioxidants. And because they’re full of water (and volume), they satisfy and fill you up.

Eat plenty of lean protein
Focus on lean cuts of meat, poultry and fish. And unless you’re allergic, nuts and seeds are must-haves in your diet. A Harvard research study found that they’re one of the top foods linked to weight loss. They’re also loaded with healthy fats and fiber, in addition to protein.

Eliminate the white stuff
Want to start losing weight immediately? Rid your kitchen of the white stuff– white flour, pasta and rice. Refined carbohydrates like these are nearly empty calories and overconsumption can cause weight gain and even metabolic disorders. Instead, choose whole grains. Unlike refined grains (the white stuff), whole grains deliver powerful nutrients and antioxidants that bolster immunity, help prevent cancer and heart disease, and slow aging. Good selections include barley, oats, brown rice, polenta, and my favorite, quinoa.

Plan ahead
As Benny Franklin used to say, if you fail to plan, you plan to fail. Plan everything—your meals, your snacks and your exercise. Otherwise, you could fall into the bad habit of grabbing meals on the fly (very often unhealthy fast food) or skipping a meal altogether. If you’re trying to lose weight, it’s critical to switch from mindless eating to mindful eating. Plan your exercise and write it on your schedule, just like a business meeting or conference call.

Eat your calories
One of the common mistakes Americans make is consuming a significant portion (if not all!) of their daily calories by drinking beverages—sugary soda, juice, cream-laden coffee and alcohol. Remembering three simple words— “eat your calories” is a powerful and easy way to change a bad habit.

Prioritize your health and wellbeing
A key problem that most unhealthy or overweight Americans have in common is prioritizing everyone (spouse, kids, friends) and everything (job, school, home) over themselves and their own health and wellbeing. It may sound selfish to focus on putting yourself first, but if you are sick and unhealthy, you won’t be able to take care of anyone else. Sometimes you must put yourself first. Remember: if you don't have your health, you can't take care of your loved ones.

Thinking about how to be healthier in the year ahead is a good start. Make one or more of these action steps your resolution. Eat more vegetables. Don’t skip meals. No more white stuff. Combined with regular exercise, you’ll be on your way to a healthy weight and feeling better.

But remember, eating healthy doesn’t mean you can never have dessert! Here is a decadent chocolatey treat that you can feel good about. Sugar-free, gluten-free, vegan and absolutely scrumptious, these fudgy treats take minutes to make. Don’t forget— the quality of your recipe result is a function of the ingredients you use. Buy the best quality you can afford. I posted a very similar recipe a couple years back. I’ve made it so many times that I added two new ingredients (roasted chestnuts and cocoa nibs) and changed the technique a bit. IMO, they’re better than ever!
Happy Holidays!

Fudgy Nutty Vegan Truffles
This recipe whips together in a snap if you have a chocolaty sweet tooth but only have a couple of minutes to spare to make something. No cooking, just a little chopping and a few pulses of your food processor and you’ll have an irresistible vegan chocolate treat for holiday gifting, entertaining or plain old snacking. This recipe is a perfect example of using the best quality ingredients you can afford. Moist dates, top-notch cocoa powder and cocoa nibs, creamy roast chestnuts, pure vanilla and the freshest toasted pecans all add up to rich and scrumptious flavors.

Yield: Approximately 20 (0.75 ounce) truffles (about 1 pound)

Ingredients in bowls
2 cups (12 ounces) pitted, dried Medjool dates, roughly chopped
1 1/3 cups (one 6.5-ounce package) Melissa’s Peeled and Steamed Chestnuts, roughly chopped
1/2 cup natural cocoa powder
Dash salt
1 tablespoon pure vanilla extract
1 – 2 tablespoons Melissa’s agave nectar
1 cup (4 ounces) chopped toasted Melissa’s pecans
¾ cup cocoa nibs
Garnish: cocoa powder for dusting

Place the dates, chestnuts, cocoa powder and salt in the bowl of a food processor. Pulse just until finely chopped. Add vanilla and 1 tablespoon of the agave nectar and pulse a few more times until the mixture just turns into a moist crumb. Taste the mixture and if you prefer it to be sweeter, add the remaining tablespoon of agave.

Transfer mixture to a medium mixing bowl and stir in pecans and cocoa nibs.

Shape into 20 "truffles" with a one-tablespoon scoop. Keep refrigerated. Bring to room temperature before serving.

Dust with cocoa powder or finely chopped nuts if desired, or add finely chopped sweetened dried cranberries for holiday flair.

Fudgy Vegan Truffles

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