Is holiday baking shaking up your healthy habits?

Trying to bake these holiday breads while minimizing temptations!

Trying to bake these holiday breads while minimizing temptations!

Forget the whole three French hens, six geese a-laying and a partridge-in-a-pear tree thing. Last December, I baked eight chocolate chip Oreo cheesecakes, about a dozen banana breads and hundreds of assorted cookies as gifts for clients and service providers. While everyone enjoyed their goodies, the process sent my healthy habits into a tailspin; I gained five pounds from rampant sampling and was exhausted by daily sugar crashes. So this year, I’ve planned ahead to create a healthier holiday baking season through these steps:

  • Minimize temptation. Rather than producing piles of cookies that can be easily misplaced – you know, in my mouth – I’m preparing three main deliverables: banana bread, pumpkin bread and chocolate chip breads that are baked directly in a foil gift loaf tin. As I explained when strategizing this plan with Certified Health & Nutrition Coach Linda Citron, taking a huge bite out of the middle of someone’s pumpkin loaf is just bad manners. Eliminating the transfer of the breads from another cooking pan means there’s no temptation to let one accidentally on purpose crumble apart and become fair game for overindulgence.


  • Honor my own needs. I’m done making cheesecakes. They take way too much time and it’s really hard not to dig into the Oreo cookies when crushing them for the crust. And instead of having to prepare something each day, I planned deliveries and shipping to knock out one session last night (you can see the photographic evidence above) and two more next week.


  • Offer healthier options. Some people I bake for are gluten-free now, while others shun sugar. Personally, I’m a whole lot nicer to be around when avoiding both of those ingredients. That’s why I’m going to share my new favorite treat, vegan sweet potato brownies that are gluten-free, with people who crave healthier options. Here’s the recipe from Deliciously Ella:


Makes 10 brownies

– 2 medium to large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks

– 2/3 of a cup of ground almond (almond flour)

– 1/2 a cup of buckwheat flour (brown rice flour will also work)

– 14 medjool pitted dates

– 4 tablespoons of raw cacao

– 3 tablespoons of pure maple syrup syrup

– a pinch of salt

  •  Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.  Steam the sweet potato chunks for 20 minutes or until really soft and add into a food processor with the pitted dates. Mix until creamy and blended.
  • Put the remaining ingredients into a bowl, before mixing in the sweet potato date combination. Stir well.
  • Bake in a lined baking dish for 20 minutes, until piercing with a fork comes out dry. Remove the tray and cool for at least 10 minutes to allow everything to set. Ella has a great step-by-step “how to” video on her site too!

Courtesy of

BTW, followers of my blog probably noticed that it now looks different as I’ve merged everything into one place on this site. I’m still going to write about healthy living and wellness, now adding in thoughts on the pursuit of happiness, balance, personal growth and whatever snarky pop culture moment captures my attention. If you’d like to receive this via email, please sign up here or using the form on  the right side of this page to ensure you don’t miss a post. Thanks for your support!

What is your stance on healthy habits during the holiday season? Think it is a waste of time or the compass that keeps you sane? How do you handle food temptations?


  1. Love the bread idea! Perfect strategy!

  2. You are one smart cookie Shira! Great idea to bake bread knowing you cannot taste test easily. As for misplacing Oreos, I am good on that as I don’t even like them that well. Not enough chocolate. And are you saying that if we subscribed to your other site we are now subscribed to this one or we need to re-sign up?
    KymberlyFunFit recently posted…Holiday Food Gift Guide & GiveawayMy Profile

  3. Shira Miller says:

    Hi Kymberly! Can you please click the link to resubscribe since the current list will be turned off next month? Thanks!

  4. Yum, those brownies sound awesome. I looove sweet potatoes, so I’m totally up for anything that uses them. I love your suggestion on the breads — wouldn’t that be funny to deliver a loaf with a big chunk taken out of it? I try not to give people food gifts that will derail their healthy eating, so this year I made a sweet and salty high protein trail mix — peanuts, almonds, edamame, pepitas, sunflower seeds, coconut flakes, craisins, chocolate chips.
    Sarah @ Beauty School Dropout recently posted…Humpday ConfessionsMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      The thought of a bread with a big bite out of it does crack me up…you know, unless you are the recipient! Your trail mix sounds amazing. Can you please share the recipe?

  5. I can so relate to the sampling. I LOVE to bake, so I am thinking that this weekend I will do just a tiny bit for some coworkers and they will be cupcakes so the portion sizes are already there. It’s a wholewheat whiskey gingerbread, made with some healthy ingredients so they will never know it’s good for them! I love your strategies though, very creative and I love that recipe!
    Jenn Speer recently posted…Changes for the upcoming year, are you ready?My Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      Portion control is the key to happiness and moderation so smart thinking on the cupcake size. Sounds delish!

  6. Love the new site!!! Those brownies sound delicious! Portion control is key and not snacking on everything you make by making loafs instead of cookies is a great idea! Thanks for the great tips!
    Toni recently posted…2013 Holiday Gift Guide for RunnersMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      Thanks Toni! I really do dig the sweet potato brownies. Have made it a few times over the past month and typically freeze leftovers to snack on whenever I want a nibble of something sweet.

  7. Love your new site design Shira! Congrats and a big hug! Thank you for these tips. This is one of the ONLY times of year my daughter and I bake, and it feels a little scary, lol. Definitely sharing this article!
    Suzanne @WorkoutNirvana recently posted…Your Guide to Bloating: Causes and RemediesMy Profile

  8. Shira Miller says:

    My pleasure, Suzanne! Enjoy your holiday baking and thanks for sharing this story with others.

  9. Well, I really am not a baker or cook except for my healthy stuff so I am safe… I plan for my weekend cookie treats all year round so I just may switch up days with the holiday OR have them on the holiday & weekend – no biggie – I will work it off… I look for 9 or 10 out of 10 on my sweets to indulge – I don’t eat just because stuff is there.. :)
    Jody – Fit at 56 recently posted…Giveaway Winner, Upcoming Fun & Random Other StuffMy Profile

    • Shira Miller says:

      Jody, that probably explains why, on your blog, you have such amazing abs. I’ve been working on not eating just because it is there for decades now…usually i’m fine but sometimes the battle is lost once the baking begins. :)