Healthy Holiday Strategies Survival Guide



I’m usually the first to support indulging in a celebratory meal when the occasion is appropriate, but the back-to-back events and sugary gifts during the Holiday season make it difficult for even the most well intentioned eaters to stick to a balanced and healthy lifestyle.

To help you stay on track, I’ve compiled a guide full of my most valuable tips for maneuvering holiday parties and maintaining balance all season long so you can ring in the New Year feeling light, energized, and guilt free.

HHSG cover photoThis 8-page guide outlines everything you’ll need to know to get through the Holiday season including:

  • Planning the season
  • Your pre-party routine
  • What to eat at the party
  • Mindful eating strategies
  • How to gracefully decline
  • Your after-party protocol
  • Quick and easy appetizer recipes

As soon as your purchase is complete, click the link to “Go Back to Drew Parisi Nutrition” and you’ll immediately be directed to download the guide. Otherwise, you’ll receive the guide in your email inbox within 24 hours!

Roasted Delicata Squash Christmas Salad

Roasted Delicata Squash with Brussels Sprouts and Pomegranate

I’m a big fan of butternut squash; and by butternut squash I mean a box of pre-peeled and cubed butternut squash because those things are BEASTS to cut. If you’re anything like me, get excited about butternut’s easier-to-cut younger cousin, delicata!

Delicata squash has a thin, edible skin which means less work to prep and more phytonutrients to consume. To prepare, simply cut the squash in half, scrape out the seeds and pulp (the seeds can be cleaned and roasted, just like pumpkin seeds), chop into your preferred size, drizzle with some oil and place in the oven to cook. The squash is especially delicious when browned, so spread it thinly on a baking sheet being sure as much of the squash is touching the pan as possible. As the name suggests, the squash is delicate so handle with care and flip occasionally during cooking so the sides brown evenly.

Delicata SquashCut Delicata SquashBrussels Sprouts

Using the delicata squash that came in my produce box from Luke’s Local as my inspiration, I set out to create a seasonal salad that felt special enough to take to an annual Christmas dinner with dear friends. Some roasted Brussels sprouts and shallots fit the seasonal bill and a sprinkling of pomegranate seeds added just the right amount of festive flair – a Christmas salad was born!

Christmas salad with delicata squash brussels sprouts and pomegranate

Roasted Delicata Squash Christmas Salad
Recipe type: Vegetable
Serves: 8
Roasted delicata squash with Brussels sprouts and pomegranate seeds
  • 2 delicata squash, seeds removed and cut into ¼ inch slices
  • 8 oz. Brussels sprouts, ends trimmed and halved
  • 2 shallots, thinly sliced
  • 4 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 Tbsp. freshly squeezed orange juice
  • ¼ tsp. cinnamon
  • Sea salt
  • freshly ground black pepper
  • ½ cup pomegranate seeds
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Toss cut squash, Brussels sprouts and shallots with olive oil, orange juice, salt, pepper, and cinnamon and spread in a thin layer on 2 baking sheets.
  3. Roast vegetables in oven for about 20-30 minutes or until tender, tossing every 10 minutes to ensure even browning.
  4. Remove from oven and transfer to a serving dish. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds and serve warm.


xo, Drew

Everyday Turkey Breakfast Sausage

turkey breakfast sausage in skillet 3

I’m constantly working with my clients to find realistic ways to work breakfast into their everyday routines. Just finding time to eat is tough enough for most people, but many of my clients are working to heal their digestive systems and have some food restrictions we need to work around as well. When you’re avoiding gluten, dairy, and eggs; your breakfast choices become quite limited. In this case, I always fall back on a great breakfast meat and some fresh vegetables.

These turkey sausage patties are the perfect blend of savory, sweet, and spicy – everything you want in a breakfast sausage! They are full of flavor and can stand alone without the help of runny eggs or syrup-y pancakes.

Full of protein and cooked in nourishing fats, you’ll just want to add some fresh vegetables or fruit to your meal for a perfectly balanced start to your day.

Spices for turkey breakfast sausageSage bundleuncooked turkey breakfast sausagecooked turkey breakfast sausageturkey breakfast sausage in skillet 4

Everyday Turkey Breakfast Sausage
Recipe type: Breakfast
Gluten, Dairy, and Egg-free breakfast sausage - perfect for everyday!
  • 2 lbs. ground turkey thigh meat
  • 1½ tsp. sea salt
  • 2 Tbsp. freshly chopped sage or 1 Tbsp. dried sage
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper (optional)
  • 1½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
  • ¼ tsp. ground nutmeg
  • ¼ tsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1 onion, finely diced
  • ghee or coconut oil for cooking
  1. Heat coconut oil or ghee in a large skillet over medium heat. Add diced onion and sauté until tender and translucent.
  2. Meanwhile, mix sea salt, sage, cayenne pepper, black pepper, nutmeg, and cinnamon in a large bowl.
  3. Add the cooked onions and ground turkey to the spice bowl and mix well.
  4. Form the meat mixture into balls about the size of a golf ball (makes about 25).
  5. Increase the skillet heat to medium-high and add more coconut oil or ghee if necessary. Place sausages into the skillet and press down gently with a spatula to flatten. Cook until brown on each side, about three minutes per side. Remove to a towel to drain.

Enjoy! xo


Drink Your PINK: Strawberry Cabbage Smoothie

PINK smoothie 5

In honor of breast cancer awareness month and my love of green smoothies, I set out to develop a PINK smoothie that is packed with phytonutrients and cancer-fighting compounds. This smoothie does the trick and it still has that oh-so-healthy green smoothie taste thanks to the red cabbage. Here are the star ingredients:

Red Cabbage: Cabbage is a member of the cruciferous vegetable family along with broccoli, cauliflower and Brussels sprouts. Cruciferous vegetables have been shown to be protective against certain cancers and the high levels of glucosinolates in red cabbage are specifically breast cancer-preventive! Red cabbage is a great vegetable to add to your berry smoothies to keep the color bright!

Strawberries: Like all berries, strawberries are loaded with antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, which protect cells from cancer. Because strawberries are going out of season, use frozen, organic berries, which are picked in their prime and retain their nutrients. Conventional strawberries may contain high amounts of pesticides so be sure to choose organic for optimal cancer-fighting nutrition.

Apple: An apple a day has long been advocated as the best way to keep the doctor away and one reason this may be true is a powerful group of antioxidants called procyanidins. Found in the skin of apples (as well as red wine and cocoa), cyanidins trigger a series of signals that results in cancer cell death.

Kombucha: While we have yet to research any effect kombucha tea may have on cancer outcomes, we do know that the probiotic content of kombucha tea has been shown to support the immune system as well as the absorption and utilization of vitamins and minerals. This recipe calls for Hibiscus kombucha, but you can use any flavor you like – just choose one that will keep your smoothie pink!

PINK smoothie 7

Strawberry Cabbage Smoothie
Recipe type: Smoothie
Prep time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 2
Strawberry, Cabbage, and Apple PINK smoothie in honor of Breast Cancer Awareness Month.
  • ¾ cup plain Greek yogurt (if you're dairy-free, use 1 scoop protein powder + ½ cup coconut milk)
  • 1 red delicious organic apple, cored
  • 1 cup frozen organic strawberries
  • 1 cup red cabbage
  • ¼ cup Hibiscus kombucha
  • 2 medjool dates
  • 1 cup filtered water
  • pinch of sea salt
  1. Combine all ingredients in a high-powered blender and blend until smooth

Cheers! xo

Grain-Free Zucchini Nachos

grain-free zucchini nachos


I could probably eat Mexican food all day, every day. It’s the chips that really get you, though, so I set out to develop a quick-and-easy nacho recipe that doesn’t use chips. Instead, I used my favorite substitute for most things: zucchini!

In this recipe, I use a delicious raw cheddar cheese to create a traditional nacho dish. If you’re sensitive to dairy or can’t source a high-quality cheese, this recipe can be easily made sans-cheese. In fact, you can subtract or add any ingredients you like; substitute chicken or bison for the beef, and choose any veggies you prefer.

grain-free zucchini nachos

Zucchini Nachos
Recipe type: Entree
Cuisine: Mexican
Prep time: 
Cook time: 
Total time: 
Serves: 4
Grain-free nachos made with zucchini, cheese, beef, and beans. GF SF
  • 2 zucchini, sliced in rounds
  • sea salt & freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
  • 1 cup raw cheddar cheese
  • 1 lb. ground beef
  • 1 Tbsp. chili powder
  • ¼ tsp. cayenne pepper
  • ½ tsp. cumin
  • ½ tsp. garlic salt
  • 1 can refried black beans
  • ½ cup cilantro, chopped
  • 1 cup grape tomatoes, halved
  • 1 avocado, diced
  1. Preheat oven to 250 degrees.
  2. Heat coconut oil in a large skillet over medium heat. Add zucchini slices, salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until tender. Once tender, transfer to a parchment-lined baking sheet and sprinkle with cheddar cheese. Bake in the oven for 5 minutes, or until cheese is melted.
  3. Meanwhile, turn the heat to high and add ground beef to the skillet, breaking up any large lumps. Add chili powder, cayenne pepper, cumin, and garlic salt and cook until meat is browned. Remove from heat.
  4. Heat black beans in a saucepan over low heat, stirring occasionally, for about 10 minutes or until beans are warmed through.
  5. Remove zucchini from the oven and transfer to 4 plates. Top with ground beef, beans, avocado, tomatoes, and cilantro.

I hope you enjoy this recipe and if you share your creation on Instagram, don’t forget to tag @parisinutrition!

7 Signs of Good Digestion

7 signs of good digestion headerI’m sure you’ve heard the phrase “you are what you eat,” but I’d like to take the sentiment one step further to claim you are what you absorb.

Digestion is the complex process by which your body reduces the food you eat into individual nutrients in order to build tissue, supply energy, and destroy pathogens (among other things). Your ability to process food and eliminate wastes is the single most important determinant of good health.

Luckily, our bodies provide us with physical cues when systems are out of balance. Obvious signs of digestive distress include gas, bloating, cramping, constipation, and diarrhea. However, freedom from these symptoms doesn’t necessarily signify good digestion. It’s quite possible that while you don’t suffer from acute digestive distress, you still may not be absorbing available nutrition from the food you eat.

The checklist below outlines what you experience when your digestive system is working smoothly.

  1. You have regular, easy bowel movements – one to three well-formed, light brown, not overly foul smelling stools daily.
  2. You pass gas less than 20 times per day and it is not painful or overly foul smelling.
  3. You have pleasant breath and body odor.
  4. You have sufficient stores of nutrients like iron and B12. There are many causes for anemia and other nutrient deficiencies, but if you eat a nourishing diet and don’t experience blood loss and still suffer from anemia, chances are you’re not properly absorbing certain nutrients from the food you eat.
  5. You have a moderate and regular appetite. You’re hungry upon rising and at regularly scheduled mealtimes without insatiable hunger in between. You feel satisfied after eating a meal and can tolerate mildly spiced foods.
  6. You don’t experience digestive symptoms such as gas, bloating, indigestion, burning, acid reflux, or lethargy and heaviness after eating.
  7. You experience overall good health with a strong immune system, clear complexion, good circulation, adequate energy and good mental clarity.

Even with good digestion you will most likely experience some of these things occasionally, but it’s the regular or chronic occurrence of these symptoms that may indicate an imbalance. One of the most important things we can do for our health is to learn to listen to these sometimes subtle cues and use them to determine which foods make us feel nourished and which foods make us feel drained. A particular diet may not be suitable for all people, and it may not even be suitable for an individual for his or her entire life.

ZONA GALE DIGESTIONWhen you learn to listen to your body, it will tell you what to eat.

Want to look deeper into your own digestive fire? Check out Restore, A Summer Digestive Wellness Tune-Up!

Loving This {June}

June Loving ThisJune has been the “month of fun” for this post-graduation couple and has consisted of many afternoons at the pool and meals with friends. All this sun and eating has definitely influenced my list this month, so read on for my summer favorites.

What’s working in June:

Life Factory Water Bottles: It’s been hot here and I’ve been trying my best to stay hydrated. My neurotic side only likes drinking water out of clear containers so the BPA-free glass Life Factory Bottles are perfect.

Bulletproof Coffee: I’m not a coffee drinker, but I really like the idea of adding nourishing fats to coffee by way of grass-fed butter (a.k.a. Bulletproof Coffee) so I finally had to try it for myself. While I don’t see myself becoming a regular coffee drinker for it, I thought it was tasty and definitely recommend giving it a try.

Freezing Berries: It’s been a goal of mine this summer to freeze enough berries to last me through the rest of the year. It’s been much easier than I expected and much cheaper than purchasing organic frozen berries.

The Well Nourished Body Basics Guide: I finally put all my basic dietary advice in one place and am so happy I did. You can download the guide by subscribing here.

Grain-Free Quiche: In a late-night flurry of energy I made this quiche crust (only about 5 minutes of prep + bake time) and filled in the eggs and vegetables the next morning. It made the most delicious breakfast over the next few days – definitely a recipe I will revisit about once per month.

Burn Out Sunscreen: After reading through EWG’s sunscreen guide, I’ve tried many new sunscreens and found most of them to be thick, chalky and unattractive. Ironically, last year’s favorite remains my favorite still: BurnOut Eco Sensitive Sunscreen. Here’s a tip: thick, pasty sunscreens apply more easily to moisturized skin, so apply coconut oil or lotion before sunscreen.

What’s been working for you?

This post has been shared on the What I’m Into blog link-up. Hop on over to check out some other posts you might enjoy!

Summer {Food} Book List

summer 2014 headerCookbooks are wonderful, but what I really love are books that talk about food and the impact that food, food sourcing and preparation can have on an individual, family, community, or humanity at large. Through another’s stories and philosophies we can step outside our personal relationship with food and begin to widen our perspective and possibly challenge some of our own beliefs. This way of seeing food in a new light can often do more to change our diets than any recipe ever could. Some of my favorite books explore ideas like making food as a daily sacrament, a gift of love, or a practice of hospitality to others or even to oneself.

In honor of the official start of summer this week (woohoo!) I thought I would share with you my very favorite food-related books. These books don’t prescribe specific diets or wellness strategies, rather they are the stories that have made me fall in love with real food and are perfect to pack in your beach bag on a lazy summer afternoon.

Since this is my first time sharing a reading list with you, these are some old, but classic titles. Perhaps next summer my list will be more current.

Animal, Vegetable, Miracle by Barbara Kingsolver (2007)

In her first nonfiction book, Barbara Kingsolver shares her family’s adventure in eating locally for one year. They leave the city in pursuit of farm life and learn a lot about vegetables, turkey sex, and family life.

Supper of the Lamb by Robert F. Capon (1989)

An amateur chef and Episcopal priest, Robert Capon has written a cookbook for life. Capon’s essays are built around recipes for lamb (he uses one leg of lamb to feed eight people over four meals), and are filled with witty and wise thoughts on everything from prayer to puff pastry; all leading to the conclusion that “the world will always be more delicious than it is useful.”

Alice Waters and Chez Panisse by Thomas McNamee (2007)

This biography examines the early days of the famed Berkely restaurant, Chez Panisse and its visionary founder, Alice Waters. Like most restaurants, the history of Chez Panisse is wrought with drama, but Alice Waters’ steadfast commitment to simple, seasonal, fresh cuisine has not only helped Chez Panisse become the acclaimed restaurant it is today, but Waters’ philosophy has reached beyond the restaurant walls and started the worldwide “market culture” movement.

Bread and Wine by Shauna Niequist (2013)

This collection of essays by Shauna Niequist connects food with the value of community by beautifully and vulnerably sharing about life around the table. She intertwines nourishment of both body and soul in her meals, whether they are extravagant or simple, celebratory or sober.

Robert F Capon

Do you have any food-related book recommendations for me? Share your favorites in the comments below!

Want more tips? Download a copy of the Well Nourished Body Basics Guide by subscribing here:

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Loving This {May}

May Loving ThisSummer. I know it’s not technically summer yet, but my husband graduated a couple of weeks ago from his graduate program so he is (we are) officially on summer break! It’s been a long couple of years trying to find balance between school, work and nourishing ourselves through food, rest and play. I’m looking forward to getting back into the rhythm of a less frenetic lifestyle.

What’s working in May:

The Nourished Kitchen Cookbook. If you follow my Instagram feed, you’ll know that most recipes coming out of my kitchen lately have been inspired by my new favorite cookbook. You can read my review here.

FitBit. I’ve had a FitBit for a while now, but it ran out of batteries and got shoved in the back of my drawer. I’ve recently pulled it out and recharged it and am once again obsessed with step-counting and stair climbing. It’s a great way to get back into actively finding ways to incorporate more movement into my regular activities. If you use fitbit, let me know in the comments below and we can be “friends”!

Evening walks. With the longer days, it’s been fun to go for an evening walk after dinner. There’s all sorts of research coming out about the value of short amounts of exercise spread throughout the day (this is different than HIIT). You can read an article about walking as a digestive aid here.

Succulents. I’m a terrible gardener. I take that back. I live in an apartment that gets NO sunlight, thus, all my plants die. I’ve recently purchased some succulents and kept them alive for more than two weeks now so clearly I’m a succulent expert and should go buy more.

Handstands. I’m no fitness expert, in fact, I struggle to keep up with a consistent fitness routine. I recently remembered a previous love for handstands and decided to do a handstand everyday. What do you know? It’s actually motivated me to work on getting stronger and more flexible so my handstands will improve. Hey, whatever works, right?

Kevita. I love all raw, fermented products (kombucha, sauerkraut, etc.), but Kevita is standing out to me this month because I’ve discovered their lemon + cayenne flavor and it makes the perfect morning tonic. I pour myself a small glass each morning while I make breakfast and one bottle lasts about five days.

What’s been working for you?

The Problem With Starting Your Diet Tomorrow

Ulysses and the Sirens

In the future we’re all wonderful people; unfortunately we live in the present.

The idea that tomorrow we will wake up at 6am, go to the gym, make a healthful breakfast, choose herbal tea over a caramel macchiato and make it to work on time is flawed. The hard truth to admit is: if we didn’t do these things today, we probably won’t do them tomorrow. This is because we don’t wake up magically as a different person tomorrow. Tomorrow we’re the same as we are today.

So what can we do about this? How can we ever change?

When faced with a temptation, i.e. those leftover donuts on the counter at three in the afternoon, we can’t rely on willpower alone. While managing blood sugar levels can play a big part in the ability to make rational food choices, when faced with a temptation our rational mind often gives way to our emotional desires. In order to combat this, today (rational) me must take action to influence tomorrow (emotional) me to do the thing I want me to do. It’s like that movie with Denzel Washington where he sends himself a note from the future to do this thing in order to prevent the other terrible thing from happening (what movie is that?). While we don’t have access to a time machine, we can still take this kind of preventive action every day in order to save us from ourselves.

Philosophers call these types of strategies Ulysses contracts after the myth of Ulysses ordering his sailors to disregard his commands as they sailed past the sirens. While Ulysses wanted to hear the song of the sirens, he knew that doing so would render him incapable of rational thought. He had his sailors fill their own ears with wax and tie him to the mast to prevent him from jumping overboard to his certain death thus ensuring he and the entire crew would make it through the temptation alive. Ulysses contracts are freely made decisions that bind us in the future.

How can you use Ulysses Contracts to reach your health goals?

Think of all the temptations and events that derail you from your well-intended health goals. These may be things like not waking up early enough in the morning, that bakery next to your office with the pastries you can’t resist, birthday cake at your kid’s friend’s birthday parties, or the convenience of the pizza parlor next door to your apartment. Once you’ve identified your triggers, work backward to develop a strategy that will allow you to bypass the trigger in the first place. It’s much easier to avoid temptation than it is to resist it through sheer willpower.

Ways to trick yourself into doing what you want:

  • Make your lunch the night before. If you’ve just finished a balanced dinner your rational mind should be in control. Take the time to pack your lunch for work the next day in the evening rather than relying on the good intention that you will wake up early and use that time to pack yourself lunch. Even if you normally eat lunch at home, take a few moments as you’re cleaning up after your dinner to consider what you’ll prepare for yourself the next day; then stick to this plan when tomorrow comes.
  • Clean out your kitchen. Get all those trigger foods out of your house. Don’t use the excuse that they’re for your kids or they’re only for baking and you won’t eat them. I know many people who have confessed to scavenging in the cupboards in the middle of the night and bingeing on bags of semi-sweet chocolate chips. If it’s there, it will get eaten.
  • Buy smaller servings of “treat” foods. It’s fine to indulge now and then, but you don’t want those sugary foods hanging around your house overstaying their welcome. When you purchase these items, buy the smallest size so you’re sure to consume the entire thing and not have any leftovers. If you have leftovers, get rid of them immediately. I know this is often more expensive per unit, but your health is far more valuable than being able to consume more sugar for less money.
  • If there’s a tempting stop along your route, plan to take a different street so you won’t be tempted. If taking a different route isn’t possible, consider carpooling with someone, or scheduling a phone call during your drive so you won’t be able to stop. Use this strategy if you work in an office that provides snacks. Stop by the kitchen when you first arrive and select your mid-morning or afternoon snack items. Use your fresh, rational mind to choose a healthy snack rather than your low blood sugar, emotional mind when you’re hungry in the afternoon. Avoid the snack room for the rest of the day.
  • Put your money where your mouth is. If you have a specific goal, say to stop drinking soda, give a sum of money to a friend that you only get back if you’ve abstained from drinking soda for one month, three months, or even one year. If you don’t succeed, tell your friend to keep the money or donate it to a charity that you hate.
  • Pay in advance. If you’re working with a trainer or nutrition coach, purchase a block of appointments in advance and schedule all your appointments up front. This way you’ll be more invested and less likely to quit.
  • Delay gratification. If there’s a certain item you’re thinking of purchasing, hold off on purchasing the item until you reach a health benchmark or goal. Use this item as a reward and don’t buy it if you aren’t successful.
  • Have someone hold you accountable. Accountability is a huge part of my work as a nutrition consultant. Every week clients tell me that they were able to make rational food choices simply because they knew they had an appointment scheduled with me and they wanted to be able to give a good report. While I never judge my clients for making poor decisions and find failures to be helpful in developing better strategies, having someone look over your food choices can definitely help keep the rational mind in control.

 eleanor roosevelt quote

Image: “Ulysses and the Sirens” by Herbert James Draper, 1864-1920