On hand for the holidays: culinary stress-busters!

Here we go! The cascade of the holidays starts now.

On Thanksgiving we focus on the traditional feast, our special menu or dish we have GOT to have. 4 days to make, 4 minutes to eat. Whew! But November is about SO much more than that ONE big meal.

According to the sages of Traditional Chinese Medicine, November is the transition time into winter, a time to go inward, hibernate, rest, read books, and enjoy quiet. The weather is changing, and the body needs nourishment and care to stay healthy. But in our world, this is the time we have to bust it out!. Run around to holiday parties, put on a happy face, eat sugary treats, run around the malls, deck the halls, cope with family shenanigans -- in short, dial up the stress!

The good news: a little strategic shift and planning and cooking ahead could make this holiday season a whole new experience.

Let’s start with the stress.

Around the holidays when stress is up, our blood sugar rises and falls and our cortisol spikes. But let me remind you: You are not being chased by a saber tooth tiger.  You can choose to take a little time to  breathe --  to rest/refresh/restore. Try some simple breathing techniques from my post, You can begin again at any moment. And take time for culinary nourishment! Enjoy a cup of tea and a light, nutritious muffin (that also happens to be gluten-free) with a good book or a good friend.

A little nourishment to hit the spot.

Eschew sugary options in favor of healthy morsels of yum!

Let’s face it, when you’re stressed,  you stress eat. From a nutritional point of view, you want to munch on something OTHER than a Snickers bar. Instead, try these tasty little morsels of yum:

These little mini treats are as Mediterranean as they come, with a surprising pairing of assertive rosemary and mellow pear. Made with almond meal, they’re full of protein and no refined sugar,  just a  1½ teaspoons of Grade B maple syrup. These teeny mini muffins take no time to make, and you can freeze and warm them in a snap. A gold star go-to.

Stock up on things to sip on.

You may have heard the slogan “You’ve tried the rest; now try the best.” That’s the way I feel about this tea. The recipe was developed ages ago by the fantastic folk at the Commonweal Cancer Help Program, a renowned retreat for patients and caregivers, and they’ve been very kind in allowing me to share it.

It’s got every kind of immune-boosting spice in it: ginger, cardamom, coriander, cinnamon sticks and cloves. It’s aroma therapy! And it’s very chai. Add almond milk, or your favorite for that creamy yum. It’s so nourishing and warming and calming and immune-boosting. Make it when you’re feeling a little frazzled or you want to give your digestion a rest or you just want something that feels like a hug. And make plenty! This tea will stay in the frig easily for a week, IF it lasts that long. And you can pop the spices you’ve used in a ziplock bag in the freezer and repurpose them over and over again.

Next strategy: soup!

Because I happen to be a soup maven, I also recommend making and freezing a stash of broths NOW, such as my famous Magic Mineral Broth or good Old-Fashioned Chicken Stock, so you’ll be ready to make soups over the holidays with family and friends about. Nobody doesn’t like soup! (Except for my nephew).

Consider Rustic Lentil Soup for a hearty and nourishing meal in a bowl and Curried Butternut Squash Soup, smooth,  creamy, and full of flavor and immune-boosting vitamin A. Or visit my Recipe Box for a myriad of options to suit your fancy.  Make and freeze broths and soups in 2-quart containers. As far as I’m concerned, once you’ve got a freezer inventory of two or three soups on hand, you’re halfway home.

Let nourishment carry you through the arc of the holidays.

In sum, to carry through the holidays with aplomb: plan ahead! Make and freeze some easy nourishing soups and snacks. When the stress piles on, take a healing chai or broth break! Enjoy muffins or soup with a friend or a good book. Breathe.