Christmas is just around the corner! It is an exciting time of year with many good times, good friends, memories just waiting to be made, and of course stressors too many to mention. This is a time of great expectations of traditions both old and new. We all have a long “to do” list that keeps us going and going. Life is busy leading up to the climax of Christmas day. I really want to encourage you to slow down a bit, take a deep breath, get a massage and enjoy the journey! Take care of yourself so you can take care of your family during this time, and remember to get massage gift certificates for others.
Part of taking care of yourself is also to plan ahead for parties and social events. You’ve learned a lot about health this year and hopefully you have changed some old eating habits for the better. Holiday time also has its own set of foods we have enjoyed for years which has sentimental connotations, but maybe this year is a time to start newer traditions of healthier party foods. It’s much easier to have the same staple you always take to gatherings or have the same Christmas menu you’ve always had, but do you really want to eat all those calories and that amount of sugar? Plan ahead so you know what you need for healthy alternatives before you go to the grocery store. Be an example to others of good, yummy, healthy eating.
The other positive outcome of eating less sugar this Christmas season will be a healthier immune system. Sugar can increase inflammation and decrease your immune response to foreign bacteria and viruses. When you are waffling about what to eat from the buffet table, remember that. Here are some healthy tips:
Be creative with fresh fruits and veggies:
- Make a “Yule log”: Spread organic peanut or almond butter on celery or even sliced carrot sticks and then top with nuts and dried fruit. Kids love it too!
- Put fresh cut carrots, celery and sliced apples on a tray around a bowl of peanut or almond butter in the middle to dip them in. For sweeter versions, add some honey.
- Serve baked tortilla chips with homemade salsa, chutney, or guacamole. These are low in sugar and contain many vitamins and minerals. Make the chips yourself for an even better treat: cut flour tortillas or pita bread sides, sprinkle with salt and/or spices and bake in a 350 degree oven until crisp. Check the dip labels if you buy them prepared!
- Make a fresh organic salad with various toppings including fresh fruit and nuts. Toss with a homemade dressing.
- Always bring something to share so you have some control over your food. Make a treat with Stevia, xylitol, erythritol or bring fresh fruit and veggies.
- Balance sugary food samples with protein choices to balance blood sugar
- If the party is at your house, make fresh fruit ice smoothies using honey as a sweetener or bananas. Friends will be amazed that you can make such varieties: strawberry/banana, mango/pineapple, or maybe peach/banana. There are so many fruit combinations to choose from. They’re refreshing, filling, and healthy
- Instead of having a table full of desserts, have everyone bring salads to share!
- Drink lots of water to help curve the sugar effects. Keep a glass of water at all times and sip it throughout the evening
- As you look over the food offerings, decide which ones you really should eat and fill most of your plate with those, leaving little room for the other, sugar-laden foods or have none of them at all. Discipline yourself to only pick from the buffet table one time, seconds never taste as good anyway!
Here are a few healthy Christmas recipes to try and maybe you will start a new healthier tradition for your family. Merry Christmas!
- 1 pint fresh strawberries, cleaned and sliced
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 8-oz. Can pineapple chunks, drained
- 2 bananas, peeled and sliced
- 1 cup NOW Coconut, Fine Unsweetened
- 1 Tbsp. lemon juice
- 8 oz. low-fat or non-fat organic strawberry yogurt
- 1/4 cup organic honey
- 1-2 Tbsp. NOW Agar Powder, optional for thickening
Combine fruit and toss with lemon juice. Blend yogurt, honey and agar powder until smooth. Stir all ingredients together and refrigerate until ready to serve. Makes about 8 cups
Easy All-Natural Fudge
This easy and delicious fudge recipe calls for protein-rich almond butter and antioxidant-rich raw chocolate powder, making it a decadent treat that is much healthier than conventional store-bought fudge.
- 2 cups organic almond butter
- 1/4 cup NOW Organic Cocoa Powder*
- 1/2 cup plus 2 tablespoons raw organic honey
- 1 heaping tablespoon NOW Coconut Oil*, melted (optional)
- 2 teaspoons NOW Vanilla Extract*
- 1 teaspoon coarse sea salt (Celtic Coarse Sea Salt)
*NOW ingredients available at Natural Options
Combine all ingredients in a large bowl. Mix well.
Spoon mixture into a pan and flatten with the back of a spoon. Place in the freezer for about an hour; then, take out and cut into bite-size squares. Keep these covered and stored in the freezer.
These must be kept in the freezer until just prior to serving – otherwise they will become the consistency they were before freezing.
Also, try adding favorite nuts such as whole or chopped pecans or walnuts.