Last month our writers shared some of their holiday traditions and plans for the upcoming season. In November, we continue our conversation about holidays. How do we juggle visitors, travel with small children, eat well amidst all that delicious food and most importantly, take time to just BREATHE? This time of year can very quickly become stressful, so we hope our writers' words this month will give you a few moments to slow down, think about how you're spending your energy and encourage you during this busy, but wonderful time of year. ~TMC Staying healthy over the holidays can be tricky...especially if you’re not the one doing the cooking! While I don’t want to be a party pooper, I have found that I have to be a little more hands-on when it comes to holiday meals. This has meant a lot of thinking ahead, preparing for possible awkward conversations, learning to "let go" and practicing graciousness. While you may only have control over one or two dishes, there are a few things you can do to limit the chemicals and carbs in your holiday diet.
Please keep in mind that most packaged yeast includes MSG. It is very easy to buy yeast, in bulk, from a health food store. For those of you who do not know how to recognize MSG, it’s listed, typically near the bottom of the list, as monosodium glutamate.
2) Make what you can from scratch. My father-in-law makes delicious pot pies with leftover turkey meat, but he uses canned soup. While I am thankful that he’s leaving me with 3 plus dinners in the freezer I'm not thrilled with the thought of all the MSG we, and especially my 1-year-old son, would be consuming. I kindly asked if I could make the soup for him to use, and he didn’t mind. Here is the recipe I used. It was really simple to make, obviously, not as simple as popping the lid off the can but definitely worth the minimal extra effort. http://www.grouprecipes.com/70195/make-it-yourself--condensed-cream-of-soups.html
3) Halve the sugar! *According to the American Heart Association, the average American consumes 150 pounds of sugar a year! It sounds crazy, but start checking the ingredients list. Four grams of sugar equals one teaspoon. If you eat a bowl of cereal for breakfast, you’ve most likely already hit the recommended consumption of sugar for the day (six teaspoons) and it’s not even 9am. So, when it comes to baking that yummy pie, consider halving the sugar and even using a healthier substitute rather than white sugar. Honey, raw sugar, agave nectar, maple syrup or stevia are all great substitutes and there are many more.
4) Choose wisely and use common sense. If you’re given the option, a homemade dessert is going to be “healthier” for you than a store bought dessert. Also, remember you don’t have to eat everything. I am a people-pleaser so choosing one aunt’s dessert or dish over the other can be tough for me. I have to remind myself that others will eat it and no one will get their feelings hurt. You have the right to choose your calories. If you don’t care for mashed potatoes, don’t have any and eat more dessert! I’m not a huge fan of pie so I double up on the sweet potato casserole. To each his own!
5) Pick your battles and practice flexibility. I mentioned the canned soup above. I know my father-in-law. That was a situation where I knew I wouldn’t be stepping on any toes. Now, if I had tried to suggest I make the piecrust, from scratch, for his famous Thanksgiving pies, my husband probably wouldn’t have spoken to me until January. Some things just are not worth it. Though the holidays seem to revolve around food, it’s really about being with your family and the people you love, among other things. If you can keep that as your focus and take a deep breath, those few extra chemicals, carbs or calories won’t seem to matter as much.