Holiday time is upon us again – celebration and festivities in the air. I personally love any excuse to enjoy great food and get together with friends and family to celebrate. One of the most thrilling things for me to discover in the world of healthy eating and living is that there’s absolutely no excuse to feel deprived on any level. In fact to not eat healthy and to indulge in ‘junk foods” is the real deprivation – we’re depriving ourselves of good health and the energy and vitality it takes to live a happy and productive life.
Here are a few tips that can help you have a healthy and happy holiday season and embrace the New Year with a spring in your step:
- Food – traditionally Christmas and holiday season is a time where a lot of meat is consumed – turkey, ham, roast beef, accompanied by generous helpings of carbohydrates such as potatoes, sweet potatoes, and bread stuffing. I recommend, whether you’re a meat eater or not, tipping the balance in favor of vegetables. Make sure to include a nice raw vegetable salad with your meal and some homemade or store bought pickles make an excellent addition to any meal. Raw fruits and vegetables, and particularly pickled vegetables stimulate the production of healthy digestive enzymes that will keep your gut in much better shape throughout the holiday season, so include them in your daily meals. If you are opting for a vegetarian Christmas, there are lots of great recipes out there for tofu”turkey” or veggie nut roasts that will satisfy the most discerning palate.
I’ve created the Super Green Salad exclusively for Shades of Yoga It’s a deliciously crunchy fresh salad that is highly alkalizing and is a perfect accompaniment to your holiday meal.
- Big handful sugarsnap peas (or snow peas)
- 1 Persian cucumber
- ½ yellow pepper
- 1 carrot
- ¼ head white cabbage
- Handful fresh rocket (arugula)
- 1 ripe avocado
- 1 Tbs. lemon juice
- 2 Tbs. olive oil
- 2 Tbs. lime juice
- 1 Tbs. honey or maple syrup
- 1 tsp. umeboshi plum vinegar
Cut the sugar snap peas, cucumber, pepper and carrot into thin julienne strips (I like to cut on the diagonal) Finely shred the cabbage. Toss all the vegetables, including the rocket together in a big bowl.
Slice the avocado and immediately drizzle with the lemon juice so it doesn’t turn brown.
Whisk together the dressing ingredients, or put them into a small jar and shake, and pour over the salad, mixing well. Arrange on plates and top decoratively with slices of avocado.
- Umeboshi plum vinegar is one of the seasonings I can’t live without. I discovered it in my early macrobiotic days when it was used extensively as a salty seasoning and touted for its ability to alkalize the body. If you can’t find it you can use red wine vinegar and add a pinch of sea salt.
- Alcohol – December is party season and we all know what that means – eat drink and be merry. If you are drinking make sure that you keep your body hydrated (alcohol, although liquid dehydrates the system). Drink lots of water and even better if it has a twist of lime or lemon juice to keep your system alkalized.
- If you are consuming alcohol, or eating more rich foods than usual, it’s not a bad idea to have a liver support tonic on hand such as Milk Thistle and take a few drops in a glass of water several times a day.
- It’s easy to get stressed out around holiday time with trying to keep work and home life going while organizing, shopping, decorating, not to mention keeping up with the parties. Watch your caffeine consumption, as even though you may feel you need it now more than ever, ultimately it will impact your kidneys, adrenals and nervous system and leave your more exhausted and stressed. Have some calming teas around – my favorite these days is Tulsi tea, made from Holy Basil, which calms the nervous system. Take an occasional walk in nature, do some deep breathing, take a yoga class – whatever it takes to keep you stress free and make your holiday season more enjoyable. Most important, get some good rest.
- With the state of our economy these days, recycling makes more sense than ever. Get creative with gift wrapping – last year, I hit some thrift stores and bought up all the old silk scarves I could find to wrap my gifts in. It’s fun to get creative with gift-wrapping without impacting the environment.
- Why not get a head start on some of your New Year’s resolutions and start to implement them now. There’s no time like the present to get healthy – it’s the best Christmas gift you can give to yourself.
- Instead of those sugary desserts, why not indulge in Aine’s “gluten free Mince Pies” for a special Christmas treat – see recipe below.
Healthy Holiday Mince Pies:
Mince pies were a tradition where I grew up in Ireland, with fruity mincemeat made with lard in a rich buttery pastry. I created this version for a friend who was on a gluten and dairy free diet. I use organic coconut oil in place of the lard and a mix of flours in the pastry. You can make the mincemeat up to a year in advance and store it in airtight jars in a dark place.
The pastry, being gluten free is a more crumbly texture and may need a bit of assistance to press it into the pie pans so it holds together. You can use a gluten free flour blend from the health food store in place of the flours below as an alternative. The xanthan gum helps the pastry bind, but you can make it without if you can’t find it.
- 2 apples – peeled and small diced
- 2/3 cup organic coconut oil
- 1 ½ cups sultanas
- 1 ½ cups currants
- 1 cup dried apricots – finely chopped
- 2 cups raisins
- ½ cup crystallized ginger
- ½ cup maple syrup
- Grated zest and juice of 2 oranges and 2 lemons
- ½ cup chopped almonds (toast very lightly first)
- 4 teaspoons allspice
- ½ teaspoon ground cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon grated nutmeg
- 6 tablespoons (90 ml) brandy
Combine all ingredients except brandy, cover and leave overnight
Put into a covered container in oven at 120 degrees (Gas 4) for 3 hours
Remove & allow to cool, stirring occasionally
Stir in brandy when cool and pack in jars until ready to use. The flavour matures and it’s even better after several months.
- 2 cups rice flour
- ½ cup tapioca flour
- ½ cup chick pea flour
- 1 cup ground almonds or cashew nuts
- 1 tsp. baking soda
- 1 level tsp. xanthan gum
- Grated zest of 1 lemon
- Big pinch sea salt
- ½ cup coconut oil
- 2 Tbs. lemon juice
- Cold Apple Juice to bind
In a mixing bowl, combine all the dry ingredients, including the lemon zest. Add the margarine and work it into the dry ingredients with a fork or your fingertips to form a coarse meal. Add the lemon juice and mix in. Slowly drizzle in the cold apple juice, mixing until it comes together to form a dough. Form the dough into a ball and put it on a piece of parchment paper.
When ready to make the pies, preheat oven to 160 deg. C. and brush your tartlet tins with a little oil.
Roll the pasty out as thinly as possible between two sheets of parchment paper and cut into circles big enough to line your tartlet tins. I used a circular cookie cutter to do this.
You can either cut smaller circles to top with or else use a star cookie cutter to cut out little star shapes to top with. Put about a tablespoon of the mincemeat into each tart and top with the star or circle of pastry.
Bake for about 20 minutes. (I dusted the top lightly with a little tapioca flour when they were still hot, or you could use icing sugar)
MAKES 20 PIE