Ready or not, "The Holidays" are upon us. If your week is anything like mine, you're probably staring down the shiny, peppermint striped barrel of a calendar over-packed with social engagements, travel & other commitments. I'm right there with you.
Yes, even for Health Counselors, the holidays are tough! The very healthy habits that keep me balanced, well and energized the rest of the year seem to get "crowded out" by pressing errands, tempting christmas cookies, late nights and uncommonly full days.
That's why the theme of this newsletter is DO LESS. Yes, I know, we all want to overachieve, love people 'till it hurts and give 110% of ourselves to every important thing in our lives, but (particularly this time of year) the demands on our time and energy often far exceed our capacity to give (emotionally, physically, financially) and we end up feeling used up, exhausted, stressed out and sick. It doesn't have to be this way! Check out this month's article for some ideas that you can use RIGHT NOW to make this holiday the best one yet.
One of the best things you can do to take care of yourself (and those around you) this season is to make yourself a simple, healthy meal to balance that inevitable glut of rich & sugary social eating. If preparing a whole healthy meal is too much to manage (we are "doing less" after all), try peppering your life with these colorful, flavor packed holiday superfoods to give your immune system a boost and your waistline a break.
I wish you all the holiday season of your dreams, as boisterous or intimate, simple or intricate, rich or light, home or abroad as you choose it to be, with love, laughter and delight flowing like eggnog and just the right amount of everything you seek.
Feel free to contact me with any questions or comments. I'd love your feedback! What do you like (or would you like to change) about FeedNews? You can e-mail me any time at firstname.lastname@example.org. I'm committed to serving you, and I hope you enjoy FeedNews!
Board-Certified Holistic Health Counselor
Just when nature is sending us every possible signal to slow down, hibernate and do less (short, cold days, rain/snow/ice/hail storms, the end of growing season in much of the country), we clever humans construct a whirlwind of eating, socializing and spending to rival any other time of the year. We bite off (literally and figuratively) way more than we can chew.
That's why this month's article is about doing less, but doing those activities you do choose to take on joyfully and with intention. It's about – literally and metaphorically – savoring a few beautiful bites (of whatever you choose) rather than mindlessly scarfing the whole gosh darn fruitcake.
The first step toward doing less is figuring out what you want. What is your intention for this holiday season? If you don't know where you're going, it's awfully difficult to make the choices that will get you there. Simply put: what are the holidays about for you? What do you value? Maybe you'd like to:
• let go of something this holiday (stress? anxiety? family tension?)
• invite something into your life (joy? connection? inspiration? self-care?)
• honor something or someone (yourself? others?)
• celebrate (togetherness? your family? your relationship? the present moment?)
Don't over think this! Just stop for a second, close your eyes (don't worry, no-one's looking), take a deep breath and jot down the first thing that comes to you. There is no right or wrong intention – just whatever feels good to you in this moment.
Now that you have your intention, you can use it to start DOING LESS. You know the saying "work smarter not harder"? This is how I think of living the holidays with intention. If you know what you want, it's much easier to say NO to some things that might not be in alignment with your vision for the season, and to ADD MEANING to the things you do choose.
Three questions I've found particularly helpful are:
1. Is this (activity/food/drink/decision/habit) in alignment with my intention?
2. What's the worst thing that will happen if I say no? Is this perceived outcome real or imaginary?
3. If this commitment/decision is a "must do", what is one thing I can do to bring it into alignment with my intention? (For example, if your intention is to "honor your body" maybe you bring a healthy dish to share at Aunt Rita's Christmas brunch or commit to taking 3 deep breaths before you start your meal.)
Reminding yourself of your intention will help you make smarter decisions this holiday season, and will add deeper meaning to your holiday tasks, making the things you choose all the more enjoyable!
As always, start small! Try to cross just ONE thing off your list this week. I say, use that time to do something juicy for yourself. Take a bath! Take a walk! Curl up with a book or read a few pages of a trashy magazine. The more full you are, the more you'll have to give to others this season: everyone wins.
If you would like more support staying healthy and sane this holiday season, I invite you to a free hour-long initial consultation as a beginning for your individual wellness program. In your session, we will discuss your food/life history, your current concerns and goals, and how Feed Health can make a difference for you. Contact us for more information – what do you have to lose?
Food Focus: Red, Green, Super.
If the standard nutritional maxim to "eat a rainbow' eludes you this time of year, how about keeping it simple and sticking with 2 colors this month– red and green! In fruits and veggies, color acts like coded wrapping paper – alerting you to the presence of unique nutritional gifts inside. Usually the rule goes "the richer the color, the bigger the gift," and the following two foods are no exception.
If you do one thing this holiday: eat more Greens! Winter is the perfect time to incorporate more green vegetables into your diet, and Arugula, with its delightful peppery bite, is an easy and interesting green to try. Hey, if its good enough for our President-elect, don't you think you should give it a try?
Sometimes called Rocket or Rucula, Arugula looks & acts like lettuce, but is actually a cruciferous relative of broccoli and cauliflower, and is similarly rich in cancer fighting phytonutrients (as well as being a reputed aphrodisiac). Arugula also contains small but helpful amounts of Vitamin C and calcium. With a boatload of fiber and just 5 calories per serving, feel free to go back for seconds (or thirds) of this delightfully bitter green.
Arugula too weird for you? All leafy greens (spinach, chard, kale, collards, bok choy...) are rich in vitamin K & Calcium (for strong bones), and folic acid (good for pregnancy, mood and your heart) and often include a healthy dose of iron to boot. Pick your favorites and eat some every day!
What better to sprinkle atop your greens than a handful of gorgeous pomegranate seeds! With their rich color, beguiling sweet/tart flavor and juicy crunch, these little jewels add effortless glamour and big nutritional punch to any dish you sprinkle them atop. Brimming with vitamins A, C, E and iron, pomegranates also contain some of the highest very levels of antioxidants called "flavenoids" around. Antioxidants are thought to be effective in counteracting various cancer-causing free-radicals. Pomegranates also boost immune function and have anti-viral and anti-inflammatory properties – all super-duper this time of year!
No pomegranates available? Try Cranberries! Fresh cranberries, which contain the highest levels of beneficial nutrients, are at their peak from October through December, just in time to add their festive hue, tart tangy flavor and numerous health protective effects to your holiday meals.
• Baby Arugula (often found pre-washed and bagged) is more tender than the adult variety and is great in salads. Larger varieties of arugula are delicious wilted, and can be mixed with other, sweeter greens.
• Try throwing a handful of Arugula on top of your pizza to seriously up the nutrition content! My favorite for a quick & easy meal is Amy's No-Cheese Roasted Vegetable (Trader Joe's has a similar combo).
• Check out this lovely picture tutorial to learn how to open a pomegranate without making a mess (this is really, hands down, the best method.) Two hints: score the skin and pull the pomegranate apart instead of slicing all the way through. Open the fruit in a large bowl of water (the seeds will sink, the pith will float!)
• Try pomegranate seeds with Arugula, walnuts and goat cheese for a great holiday salad, sprinkle some over your morning yogurt to jump start your taste buds, or add a handful to your favorite holiday cocktail (pomegranate juice is also great!)
Recipe: Holiday Whole Grain Salad
1 cup of your favorite whole grain (quinoa/farro/brown rice)
1 tsp. sea salt
2 cups of water or vegetable stock
1 cinnamon stick
1 T fresh thyme (stripped from stem and chopped)
1/2 cup toasted walnuts
1-2 cups arugula (or broccoli rabe/baby spinach/radicchio)
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds (or dried cranberries)
1-2 T Balsamic or Sherry Vinegar
Sea Salt and Pepper to taste
1 medium red onion, cut into 1/8ths
1.5 cups butternut squash, cut into 1/2 inch cubes
1.5 T Olive Oil
Combine the grain, salt, cinnamon stick and water/stock in a large, heavy saucepan over medium heat. Cover and simmer, stirring occasionally, until the grain is tender, 20-40 minutes. Check often as it is cooking, you want it to be al dente so that it will hold up in the salad (I err on the side of less water, adding more if I need it toward the end of cooking). You can also use a rice maker if you have one! Drizzle grains with Olive oil after cooking and toss to coat. Set aside to cool.
If adding squash and/or red onion, while grains are cooking, dice squash and slice onion. Toss with olive oil, salt and pepper & a splash of vinegar until evenly coated and glossy but not drenched. Spread onto parchment paper lined baking sheet and roast in a hot oven (425 to 450 degrees F) for 20 minutes or so, tossing occasionally to get even browning.
Once cool, combine all ingredients and toss gently. Add balsamic or sherry vinegar, salt and pepper to taste. This dish is actually great warm or cold, and gets even better with age as the flavors meld. If eating it hot, the Arugula will wilt - so if you're also saving some to eat later, reserve a portion and add Arugula to that bit once cool. (A great make ahead!)
About Lindsay Keach and Feed Health
Lindsay Keach is a holistic health counselor with a focus on holistic nutrition, food and lifestyle coaching. Her customized wellness programs and lively workshops make healthy, delicious, simple, home-prepared whole foods and supportive, positive lifestyle choices accessible to busy people seeking balanced wellness.
In her holistic health counseling practice, Feed Health, Lindsay works primarily with individual clients to empower them to make appropriate food choices for their unique bodies and lives. She shares her passion for natural foods selection and preparation along with coaching on food experiments, supported goal setting, and positive lifestyle changes to reinspire her clients in the kitchen, help them build healthy, honest relationships with food and their bodies, and find nourishment, inspiration and balance in all areas of their lives. Lindsay is also committed to providing holistic and nutritional support for a variety of gastrointestinal and autoimmune conditions and food sensitivites.