10 Best Pain Healthy Recipes For The Holidays

The holidays are a hectic, yet fun time full of sweet culinary temptation. Between cookies and cakes, buttery main courses, and even special coffee drinks that sound amazing but are chock full of sugar, eating healthy can become a challenge.

While indulging here and there is okay, it’s best to keep those treat times few and far between, especially if you’re living with chronic pain.

Fortunately, festive holiday recipes come in pain healthy versions, too. You won’t even miss the extra sugar and butter, but your body will love all the added antioxidants and micronutrients feeding every cell and contributing to better health.

1. Pumpkin curried lentils

We know you’re probably eyeing those columns of canned pumpkin in the grocery store. But what to do with them besides pie? One answer is pumpkin curried lentils.

This Indian inspired dish features coconut oil, which is full of healthy fats, along with ginger and turmeric—both powerhouse anti-inflammatory herbs linked to good health. Pumpkin lends a creamy texture while lentils round out the dish with nutrients like iron and folic acid, which supports heart health. Lentils are also an excellent source of vegetarian protein.

2. Oven-dried cinnamon apple chips

This healthy snack will make your house smell divine while in the oven. Nothing smells like the holidays like warm apple cinnamon.

Apples are heart-healthy foods that help to prevent certain kinds of cancer. The flavonoids inside also work to lower cholesterol levels.

This easy recipe only involves slicing a few apples and then baking them on low heat for about two hours. Having a nutritious snack on hand is a wonderful way to avoid the temptation of other, not-so-pain-friendly treats.

3. Baked sweet potato fries

Sweet potatoes rank among the most nutritious vegetables, according to WebMD. Their orange color comes from carotenoids, which have been found to prevent certain kinds of cancers and keep the eyes healthy. They also contain calcium, vitamins C and A, and potassium.

Many people love carbohydrates, and sweet potatoes are an excellent, healthy way to get the fix. Sweet potato fries are healthy, and can be made in large batches to nosh on during the week or add in last minute to other meals.

4. Butternut squash hummus

Few things say fall more than butternut squash. If you’re not familiar with hummus, it’s a condiment usually made with chickpeas. To eat, scoop onto vegetables, spread on a sandwich, or enjoy with pita chips.

This hummus recipe from food blogger Minimalist Baker also includes instructions for roasted carrots, which the creator says pair perfectly with the spread.

5. Sweet potato and chickpea stew

This healthy, hearty, and warm meal from popular food blogger Deliciously Ella will set a cozy tone for the holidays. Packed with healthy ingredients like eggplant (that’s the aubergine referenced to), turmeric, cumin, and spinach, this dish will keep both your tummy and your body happy.

The recipe calls for a side of brown rice or quinoa. Either one offers ample nutritional benefits and is much better for you than white rice. Brown rice can take a long time to cook, while quinoa is much faster and makes for a great time-sensitive option.

6. Vegan pumpkin hot chocolate

Even if you’re not a vegan, this hot chocolate recipe from food blog Running with Spoons will quench your craving for wallet-busting, sugar- and calorie-laden drinks from your local coffee shop.

Featuring a mix of vanilla almond milk, cocoa, cinnamon, and pumpkin (of course), and sweetened with a dash of maple syrup, this holiday beverage will have you feeling festive in no time. While maple syrup is a sweetener, it’s considered one with a relatively low glycemic index, especially when compared to cane sugar.

7. Pumpkin black bean burgers

Looking for a simple weeknight dish that still says fall? Look no further than these pain healthy pumpkin black bean burgers from food blog Sweet Miscellany.

With small amounts of powerhouse ingredients snuck in like flax meal, which is rich in omega 3s, you’ll be feeding your body and soul with this delicious recipe. The dish’s creator served the burgers with avocado, feta cheese, and field greens, but you could add any toppers you’d like. Be sure to use a whole-wheat bun and avoid bread that includes high-fructose corn syrup to keep this meal healthy the whole way through.

8. Spaghetti squash burrito bowls

Turn ordinary burrito bowls into holiday-appropriate dishes with this recipe from food blog Cookie and Kate, which, despite its name, focuses on healthy food.

This nourishing meal includes bowls made from roasted squash, with a special slaw created from red cabbage and black beans spooned into the soft, warm center. An avocado salsa verde rounds out the dish for a Mexican-inspired take on fall.

9. Carrot ginger soup

Carrots and ginger make for a healthy combo with this tasty yet inflammation-reducing soup from food blog The Splendid Table.

Surprise ingredients include orange juice and coconut milk. Substitute whole-fat coconut milk for light if you’d like. With just ten minutes of prep time, this soup makes for a relatively fast dinner so you can get back to celebrating.

10. Winter kale, sausage, and butternut squash lasagna

This recipe is an extra healthy version of holiday-favorite lasagna because it uses squash for noodles instead of pasta. If you’re a vegetarian, simple leave out the sausage, and you are ready to eat!

The recipe, which comes from the blog Inspiralized, calls for using a spiralizer, which easily slices vegetables into perfect circles. However, you can just cut the squash into slices with a knife for similar results. It might take a little longer, but the result will taste just as delicious!

Add nutrient-knockout kale to already healthy squash and this dish is sure to please both your taste buds and your desire to keep your body healthy.

What is your favorite pain healthy dish for the fall holidays?

Image by stu_spivack via Flickr