With the holidays fast approaching, our attention naturally turns to happy thoughts of the season’s edible delights.
Alas, many foods traditionally linked with Thanksgiving and Christmas are laden with risky ingredients, mainly sugar and fat.
While enjoying these treats on rare occasions is unlikely to cause harm, daily or even weekly consumption can be problematic, as it can herald real health pains associated with weight gain, inflammation, and vulnerability to infection.
How can we celebrate with friends and family and reduce the risks?
We tend to crave what we grew up eating. Memories of moms and grandmas proudly displaying the Thanksgiving turkey can cause even staunch vegetarians to salivate – never mind the lovely aromas of rich gravy, stuffing, hot spiced cider, fresh-baked bread, and pumpkin and apple pie.
Happily, it’s not hard to riff on traditional foods and create equally tasty, healthy versions.
Drinks and desserts are easy. We can replace alcohol with any number of homemade drinks, for example sparkling water with pomegranate molasses or liquid bioflavonoids and a twist of lime is festive and can easily substitute for stronger beverages.
Our favorite desserts include:
- Coconut milk kabocha pie (1 tbsp of sugar per pie)
- Spanish orange almond cake
- Chocolate beet cake
- Ginger nut butter cookies
For the main course, try free-range poultry or red meats if your taste runs in those directions.
- Make most food choices organic, and your holiday meals will already be healthier.
- Be creative with vegetables, and you’ll naturally crowd out some higher-calorie items.
- Allow a generous mix of special foods at one meal, for example, fakin’ veggie-based meats with organic gravy, mashed organic spuds, organic cranberry sauce, and vegetarian faux stuffing.
- Try eating smaller portions on smaller plates. We’re amazed by the reduced calories we absorb without feeling deprived, by simply replacing those big dinner plates.
Holiday meals aren’t just about the food. There’s the lovely festive setting, the gathering, the hours of shared prep with family and friends, the music, the holiday décor.
Drinks in crystal glasses, food served on Grandma’s gold-trimmed china, silver forks and spoons, cloth napkins, and candle lighting make these extra-special times. For all of these things, we can be thankful.
I believe that offering sincere gratitude for our food, and blessing it while we prepare it and before partaking, fundamentally changes the energetic patterns of the food. (We know this actually true, thanks to Kirlian photographs.)
(Think of the transformation wrought by foods in films like Babette’s Feast or Like Water for Chocolate.)
The energy we put into preparing and blessing our food gives it an intangible wow-factor that’s sure to put smiles on faces and cause hearts to open and eyes to shine.
Let’s not forget the power of ritual. Thanksgiving is about appreciation and gratitude, for our food, for each other, and for life.
A ceremony we’ve shared previously is passing a candle and allowing each person to tell one thing they are particularly grateful for.
At birthdays, our family offers appreciation and gratitude to the birthday person. Then they, in turn, reveal something about themselves that they appreciate and for which they are grateful. It would make a lovely Thanksgiving ritual.
The more often we express genuine gratitude, the more we see to be grateful for. Gratitude, after all, is an attitude.
When gratefulness fills our homes, the clouds disperse, and happiness and joy are free to shine.
A joyous holiday season to all!
Dr. Connie: 650-961-1660
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