Do you struggle staying healthy over the holidays? It’s not as difficult as it may seem, if you know a few tricks. So don’t let the cold weather, money stress, family chaos and holiday parties be an excuse to let go of your health. This time of year there is an even greater need to keep yourself nourished in order to enjoy family time, stay energized and enjoy the holidays with some healthy indulgences too. Here are a few of my favorite tricks.
1. Breathe. Stress seems to be the number one ongoing holiday issue most people have issues with. Prioritize some yoga classes or just start your day with about five minutes of deep breathing. Set your timer on your phone, light a candle and sit in a comfortable spot and just focus on breathing in and out for 5 minutes. This can set the tone for your whole day to release any anxiousness.
2. Tweak those holiday drinks. Warm up some hot ginger tea, by cutting slices of fresh ginger root in boiling water with a touch of honey. Aids in digestion and is perfect for the cold. Throw in a couple of cinnamon sticks, cloves and a small chunk of nutmeg and you are getting closer to a nice winter chai. A little coconut milk and sweetener and you have a dairy free homemade chai latte. Perrier water and lime can be a nice mix that keeps you hydrated and essential oils make a great drink enhancer while providing some digestive benefits as well. My favourite is grapefruit.
3. Eat your veggies. The winter months are perfect for some roasted, boiled or baked vegetables with some fresh herbs. Try roasting carrots with a drizzle of olive oil and fresh rosemary (350°F for about 20-30 minutes) or peel, chop and boil parsnips (which are higher in fiber and lower in calories than potatoes) for 20 minutes in some salted water (brings out the flavour), drain and puree with some olive oil, salt and pepper. Yams, brussel sprouts, butternut squash — all those heartier root vegetables only require about 30-40 minutes in the oven at 350°F or 375°F. You can also flavour nicely by taking your favourite hearty herb, like sage or rosemary and warm on the stove (do not overheat) for about five minutes with olive oil (3 Tbsp of olive oil to 5 leaves of sage for example). Remove from heat for about five minutes, and then add to your mashed parsnips or yams. Delicious.
4. Start your morning with a healthy protein, fat and some greens. The first thing you consume in the morning also sets the tone for your day. Try half an avocado, some plant based protein powder, a handful of kale and some blueberries, banana, dates and almond milk. Adding some cinnamon also helps “warm” this smoothie up.
5. Get on an eight minute workout app. These are game changers. Even heading the gym in this cold weather can seem daunting, but being locked up in the house isn’t going to get your body moving, without this app. Eight minutes in the morning can boost your metabolism to burn extra calories throughout the day.
6. Use alternative sweeteners in baking treats. Look up recipes with sweeteners like maple syrup, honey or coconut sugar and that use alternative flours like rice flour to avoid the bloat. Simple warmed coconut milk over raspberries with a drizzle of honey is a nice treat.
From a health perspective, parsnips have less calories and are higher in fiber than potatoes and switching out your gravy to use a mushroom base cuts out all the excess saturated fat and gives you a delicious alternative. Check out www.somethingtochewon.ca for some plant based holiday recipes, including roasted mushroom gravy, pureed parsnips, dressing recipes and dessert.
Kristin Fraser, BSc, is a holistic nutritionist and local freelance writer. Her column appears every second Thursday. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.