I don’t know about you but this is the time of year that I start to feel the pressure build.  Between handling ‘Nutrition 911’ calls from clients looking for feel good strategies or healthier options for entertaining, snacking or serving to guests and my personal sprint to the finish trying to juggle my own festive chores, I sometimes feel like the good habits I have adopted through the year are slipping away.

Skipping a run or yoga class to finish up some shopping or indulging in ‘just’ one more sugary treat might feel okay at the time, but then what?  Is it the start of a slippery slope to gluttony and sloth for the entire season that will engulf us with added holiday guilt?  Or is it better to be kind to ourselves when there is a perceived ‘slip up’ and just move on?

I think we know the answer to that.  Focusing on our holiday shortcomings versus the great things we do for ourselves all year long is a one-way ticket to failure. Now that doe not give us license to ignore our own health.   But it is interesting to note that a study published in the Journal of Social and Clinical Psychology reports that people who indulged without guilt were less likely to continue with unhealthy eating habits.  Also if these individuals practised some self-love and self-compassion, they had less stress and felt less restrained regarding their health habits.

So when you have that extra glass of wine or your Mom’s shortbread you just can’t pass up – chill out.  The more you obsess, the likelier you are to continue to keep making bad choices. And the more stressed you will feel.

Another way to assuage the guilt about eating treats is to try to make those treats out of wholesome, natural ingredients.  Not everything on the dessert tray has to be made up of the White Devils (processed white sugar, flour, salt and dairy).  You can indeed make great tasting, better-for-you treats this holiday season with ease.

Here’s an awesome recipe for brownies that can be served at a holiday party or wrapped up pretty as a hostess gift. They don’t even need cooking!

And don’t forget that cacao contains many healthy nutrients including magnesium which is known to help with relaxation and stress reduction.   Chocolate also has the ability to trigger the release of dopamine and the endorphin phenylethylamine, both of which soothe the symptoms of depression.  All the taste and none of the guilt!

Raw Brownies/Brownie Balls

Makes one 8X8 pan


  • 2 cups whole walnuts, toasted or raw
  • 2 ½ cups medjool dates, pitted (about 20 or 21)
  • 1 cup raw cacao powder
  • 1 cup raw, unsalted almonds, roughly chopped
  • ¼ tsp. sea salt


  • Toast walnuts if desired in 350 degree oven or dry skillet.  Watch carefully as nuts can burn quickly.
  • Put walnuts in food processor and pulse until nuts are finely ground
  • Add the cacao and salt. Pulse to combine.
  • While the processor is running, add one date at a time through the feed tube. What you will end up with is a mix that appears like cake crumbs but when pressed will easily stick together (if it does not, add more dates).
  • In a large bowl, combine this mixture with the chopped almonds.
  • Roll mixture into small, bite-sized balls.  If you prefer a more traditional brownie, line an 8X8 cake tin with parchment paper and press the mixture into the pan. Place in freezer or fridge for an hour until hard.
  • Turn brownies out and cut into squares.  Store in an airtight container in the fridge or freezer until ready to serve.