Maintain, don’t gain, this holiday season

Published 8:27 pm Thursday, November 8, 2018

Holiday festivities usually center around traditions, and, of course, eating lots of delicious food.  

The latter, though, can pose a problem for those looking to stay fit and trim during the holidays.

In addition to holiday foods, there are other obstacles to staying healthy this time of year.  Lower temperatures, fewer daylight hours and extremely busy schedules make it more difficult to get the kind of exercise your body needs.

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One option to help keep you motivated this season is the “Maintain, Don’t Gain Holiday Challenge,” created by Eat Smart Move More North Carolina. The challenge is free and available to anyone over 18 years old with a valid email address.  

You can access the challenge at The seven-week program runs from Nov. 16 through Dec. 31, and offers tips, tricks and ideas to help maintain your weight throughout the holiday season.

Last year’s challenge was the biggest ever. More than 28,000 people from all 50 states and all 100 counties in North Carolina participated. 

The challenge is just around the corner, and it’s time to spread the word. Now is the time to make plans to stay healthy through the holidays!

Participants receive newsletters, daily tips, challenges, and healthy recipes to help them maintain their weight throughout the holiday season. For more information about the Holiday Challenge, go to

To help kick things off, try this healthy recipe for your next holiday party.


Servings: 32

2 eggs, lightly beaten

1 pound ground pork

I pound lean ground beef

1 cup cooked long grain brown rice

1/2 cup dried cranberries, finely chopped

1 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon ground black pepper

2-3 teaspoons olive oil

1 can (14 ounces) whole berry cranberry sauce

1/3 cup reduced-sugar ketchup

1/4 cup orange juice

2 tablespoons lime juice

In a large bowl, combine eggs, pork, beef, rice, dried cranberries, salt and pepper. Shape mixture into 64 meatballs (each about 1 1/2 inches in diameter). If mixture is sticky, use wet hands to shape the meatballs.

In an extra-large skillet, heat 2 teaspoons of the oil over medium heat. Cook meatballs, half at a time, in hot oil about 5 minutes or just until browned and slightly firm (meatballs will not be cooked through), turning once halfway through cooking. If necessary, add the remaining 1 teaspoon oil to skillet during cooking. Immediately transfer meatballs to a 3 1/2- to 4-quart slow cooker.

In a medium bowl, whisk together cranberry sauce, ketchup, orange juice and lime juice until combined. Pour cranberry sauce mixture over meatballs in slow cooker (do not stir). Cover; cook on low-heat setting for 3 to 4 hours or on high-heat setting for 1 1/2 to 2 hours.

Nutrition information per serving: 103 calories; 5 g fat (2 g saturated); 31 mg cholesterol; 127 mg sodium; 8 g carbohydrate; 6 g protein.