Guide to a Healthy Happy Hour

Eating healthy & clean is all fun and games until you reach the weekend. Happy hour with friends, dinner out, birthday parties, BRUNCH... the weekend can be tough territory. But let's be honest; if you are really working toward a serious health or body goal, you simply can't let it all go for the 48+ hours that weekends often turn into. 

For myself, setting up for success starts on Friday, riiiiight about the time I usually want to kick off my sneaks and have a cocktail and a big bowl of tortilla chips and guacamole (my favorite). If I have a healthy happy hour on Friday all ready to go, the rest of the weekend is more likely to stay on that healthy track. 

TIPS: 

  • Enlist a friend/partner. Tell them that you are sticking to your goals, but still want to have a little fun. Get them on-board to try what you're doing. Assure them it will still be delicious, and as a bonus, there will be no hangover tomorrow! It's always easier with support.
  • Choose the location. If it can't be at home, make sure you pick a place that will at least allow you to make some healthier choices; and if you get creative this can be almost anywhere. At restaurants, don't be afraid to ask for what you want, with a smile and a 'please'! In the last few weeks at restaurants I've ordered all of these things that kept me on track: fresh shrimp ceviche, guacamole and cut-up veggies, cheese board with fruit & veggies instead of bread, burger with a lettuce wrap, chicken satay skewers, a sandwich with the insides made into a salad-sans-bread, fajitas without the tortillas, the Cardiff Burgundy Peppercorn tri-tip steak sliced with guacamole topping (at Padres Stadium!)... get creative and ask!
  • If you're sticking to not drinking alcohol, make it a non-negotiable in your own mind. I'm amazed at how if I tell myself I "probably" won't drink, it becomes a huge internal battle once I'm out and under the pressure of the moment. If it's a non-negotiable, it's much easier to hold your ground. Give your liver a rest, sleep better, wake up refreshed, get shit done tomorrow, stick to your long-term goals - whatever you want to tell yourself to make it set-in stone. 
  • That being said, get yourself a fun non-alcoholic drink to enjoy, to replace the habit of having drink in hand! I'm crazy about these Lacroix carbonated waters - no sugar, no artificial sweeteners, and absolutely delightful. I've included a (affiliate) link above to buy them through amazon but you can also find them at most Whole Foods stores. (Has anyone found the passionfruit flavor?!? I need it in my life!)

Here are my favorite foods to make a happy hour fun AND healthy!

1. Guacamole & radish chips

I would pretty much eat bowls of guacamole with a spoon and nothing else. But let's keep it classy, ok? Slice up some radishes like daikon (long white), watermelon (oh-so-pretty!), or regular, and serve them alongside your favorite guac. Lazy man's guac mash: one large ripe avocado, juice of 1/2 lime, 1 teaspoon hot sauce of your choice, pinch of salt. Or start adding in chopped tomatoes, cilantro, shallots, to make it even better!

2. Sweet potato fries

Preheat your oven to 400º. Slice sweet potatoes into 1/4 inch matchsticks, or whatever fry-size your heart desires. Toss the potatoes in a bit of melted coconut oil, to coat, and season with salt and pepper, or an all-purpose steak seasoning. Bake around 30 minutes, until lightly golden on the edges. Try them with my honey mustard dipping sauce!

3. Charcuterie & Cheese board

I love to get a few different artisan cured meats from the farmer's market or Whole Foods Deli counter - Varzi and Abrusessi salami are my favorites. Then choose a few cheeses to slice up alongside - I always go for a soft cheese like brie, an aged cheese like parm, and a blue. Finish your board with some real pickled veggies and a few olives, and you have a beautiful gourmet snack board!

4. Smoked Salmon roll-ups

Check out my instructions for rolling up these delicious and healthy snacks, made with wild-caught salmon from Trader Joe's; so easy and so packed with flavor!

5. Deviled eggs

Eggs are a superfood in my mind; perfect little packages of healthy fat and protein. My favorite deviled egg version is to mash up the hardboiled, slightly cooled egg yolks with avocado and a little lemon pepper, to make the fillings for the whites. Or check out this recipe from Civilized Caveman for Bacon Deviled eggs. To keep them on the healthy list, be sure to use eggs from pastured hens and homemade mayo only - no canola oil please!

6. Blue-cheese cartelized onion dip 

One of my favorite party dips!  This mix of blue cheese and cartelized onions is perfect with sliced veggies; or splurge a little and use a healthy-fat-cooked chip like Jackson's Honest Chips!

7. Seasoned nut mix

You can get really creative with this one, but my favorite mix is as follows: For 2 cups of raw mixed nuts; in a separate bowl, mix 1 teaspoon melted coconut oil with a few dashed of cumin, chili powder, garlic powder, smoked paprika, and a squeeze of lime - mix until combined. Toss in the nuts and coat, and bake at 300º for around 20 minutes or just until starting to toast. Try almonds, walnuts, brazil nuts, cashews, pepitas, sunflower seeds, macadamia nuts!

Have a great Happy Hour this weekend!

xo January