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Holiday Eating: Stay Balanced But Give Yourself a Break (Bonus Recipes!)

Exercise and Nutrition
Author name: Lee Health


holiday eating graphic

The holidays can be the most wonderful time of the year. Between parties, work potlucks, and endless cocktails, you may wonder how you can still enjoy celebrating while keeping your buttons from bursting off your clothes. If you are not careful, your weight and health can deteriorate fast.

Lee Health registered dietitian Aikaterina “Kat” Galeos serves up some tips on how to be more mindful around food:

  1. Eat balanced, nutrient-dense meals.
    1. Get sufficient protein in your meals
    2. Eat high-quality carbs, such as sweet potatoes and garbanzo beans
    3. Balance fiber, fat, and protein 
  1. Remember that rarity is a specialty. If someone makes food that you swoon over, and it’s only offered once or twice a year, give yourself grace and allow yourself to enjoy it. Between dessert from a box and something you can eat all the time – you may want to think twice. Make your indulgence worth it.
  1. Honor your fullness and feed your hunger. If you would like to avoid feeling ravenous at a party, or you know the host won’t have any healthy choices, eat a small snack before heading to the event.
  1. Practice mindful eating by remembering the following:
    1. Use all your senses when you eat: smell, sight, ears, and of course–taste
    2. Be fully aware of what you’re eating
    3. Eat what you love, and love what you eat!

Healthy Holiday Recipes

Buckwheat Granola

Adapted from the Minimalist Baker


  • 1 1/2 cups raw buckwheat groats
  • 1 1/2 cups gluten-free rolled oats (or sub all buckwheat groats)
  • 3/4 cup chopped raw nuts or seeds (pecans, cashews, and/or walnuts are best, or sub sesame or sunflower seeds) 
  • 1/2 cup unsweetened coconut flakes
  • 2 Tbsp. hemp seeds
  • 2 Tbsp. sugar (white or brown)
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt (optional)
  • 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 cup coconut, avocado, or olive oil
  • 1/2 cup maple syrup or honey
  • 3 Tbsp. almond butter
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract


  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees F (163 C). To a mixing bowl, add the buckwheat groats, oats, nuts, coconut, hemp, sea salt, sugar and cinnamon. Stir to combine.
  2. In a small saucepan over medium-low heat, warm the oil and maple syrup until melted and combined. Then add the nut butter and vanilla extract (optional) and stir again to combine, and pour over the dry ingredients and mix well to coat.
  3. Spread the mixture evenly onto a baking sheet and bake for 25-30 minutes (or until fragrant and deep golden brown), stirring a bit near the halfway point to ensure even baking.

Celery Root Puree


  • 1 ¾ lbs. celery root cut into 2” chunks
  • 1 (6 oz.) russet potato (2” chunks)
  • 2 Tbsp. butter
  • 1 cup water
  • ½ tsp salt
  • ¼ tsp baking soda
  • 1/3 cup heavy cream
  • 1 Tbsp. fresh chives for serving


  1. Using a food processor, finely chop potato and celery root. The total amount of potato and celery root should come to a little over 4 cups.
  2. Melt butter in a saucepan over medium heat. Stir in celery root and potato. Add water, salt and baking soda. Cover and cook, stirring often, until vegetables are very soft, about 15 minutes.
  3. Uncover and cook for another minute until all liquid is absorbed.
  4. Put vegetables back in the food processor. Add cream and puree until smooth.
  5. Garnish with chives.

5-Ingredient Chocolate Turtles

Adapted from the Minimalist Baker


  • 1 cup Raw Pecans
  • 1 ½ cups packed pitted dates
  • 3-4 tbsp. almond meal
  • ½ cup dark chocolate
  • 1 Tbsp. coconut oil


  1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (176 C) and roast pecans on a bare baking sheet for 10-12 minutes (watch carefully so as not to burn). Set aside.
  2. In the meantime, add pitted dates to the food processor and pulse/mix until small bits remain or a ball forms. Then add the almond meal and pulse again. If the dough appears too sticky to handle, add more almond meal and pulse to combine.
  3. Using your hands, form the date mixture into eight small, round discs and place them on a parchment-lined pan. Add four toasted pecan halves to 
make the turtle “legs,” then freeze for 10 minutes to harden.
  4. In the meantime, melt chocolate and coconut oil in the microwave in 30-second increments and set aside.
  5. Remove turtles from the freezer and top each with a generous spoonful of melted chocolate. Use the spoon to evenly coat the tops of the candies.
  6. Pop turtles back in the freezer for 10-15 minutes to set. Store in an airtight container in the refrigerator for 5-7 days or the freezer for up to one month. If frozen, set out for 10 minutes before consuming for best results.

Greek Lemon Rice with Dill

Adapted from the Mediterranean Dish


  • 1 cup long-grain rice
  • ½ cup chopped onion
  • 1 garlic clove minced
  • ¼ cup orzo pasta
  • 1 lemon juiced
  • 1 Tbsp. lemon zest
  • 1 cup broth (veg or chicken)
  • Pinch of salt
  • ¼ cup chopped parsley
  • 1 tsp dried or fresh dill


  1. Wash Rice and soak for ~ 15 minutes in cold water.
  2. Heat oil or butter in a saucepan. Add onions and sauté until translucent. Add garlic and orzo pasta. Mix until the orzo has gained some color, then stir in rice.  Toss to coat.
  3. Add lemon juice and broth. Bring liquid to boil, then turn heat to low. Cover and cook for about 20 minutes. Remove rice from heat and leave it covered for ~ 10 minutes.
  4. Uncover and stir in parsley, dill and lemon zest.


This dish is a Greek Classic. Spanakorizo means- (spinach-rice). There are many variations to making this recipe. I hope you enjoy this! KALI OREXI!


  • 1 onion chopped
  • 2 Tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 Tbsp. thinly sliced garlic
  • Salt to taste
  • Pepper to taste
  • 2 Spring onions chopped
  • ½ bunch dill chopped
  • 1 cup Basmati rice
  • ½ cup white wine
  • 3 cups water or stock
  • 2 lbs. spinach
  • Lemon zest from one lemon
  • Lemon juice from one lemon
  • 2 Tbsp. butter


  1. Coarsely chop the onion.
  2. Add olive oil to a pot and sauté onions for a couple of minutes. Add garlic slices.
  3. Cook until onions are nice and caramelized.  Make sure garlic does not burn.
  4. Add the rice and mix until the rice is coated and has changed to a nice light yellow color.
  5. Put in wine. And let absorb fully!!!
  6. Add all the water, bring to a boil for a minute, and then turn the fire down to a low simmer.
  7. Cook rice for about 15-20 minutes.
  8. Take fresh spinach. Add salt and squeeze around to take the water out.
  9. Add the spinach into the pot and mix everything together.
  10. Add the zest and the juice of one lemon. Add more if you prefer!
  11. Salt and pepper to taste.
  12. Add butter. Off fire.
  13. Add dill and green onions and gently mix everything together.

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