Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Ten Ways to Take Care of YOURSELF During the Holidays!

Check out the easy and light granola recipe at the end of this blog!

We recently hosted a class with wonderful teacher Angela Buttimer about taking care of OURSELVES during the holiday season. If you weren't able to come - here is my heartfelt handout. I'm thinking about posting it by my desk as the days cool off and the holiday season heats up!

1) Start NOW
Yes, it’s only October – but it’s also ALREADY October! The holidays are right around the corner, and this is your “window of opportunity” to think about how YOU want to spend your holidays. This is the time to talk to family and friends about travel plans and parties. Reaching consensus about celebrations is much, much, much easier now – then when the pressure is on.

2) Have a PLAN
Today, (or this week), is the time to dust off the cookbooks, fire up the computer and pick out your menus for the hectic (s’cuse me, the holiday) season. Make copies of your recipes and compile a notebook – organized by meals and week.
Use a list like the one attached.
Shop for staples once a week and for fresh produce twice weekly.

MISE EN PLACE: Assemble all ingredients and utensils before beginning to prepare a dish.
USE THE FREEZER: Make larger quantities, and freeze portions for later use.

3) YOUR Cooking Strategy
Strategy means a timeline to me. When the family descends upon you, if your cooking is timed out – you don’t have to worry. The best meals are those where everything is hot and done at the same time. This doesn't happen by accident - it takes some serious strategy. You must plan how many things can be in the oven at the same time, how long they need to cook or which dish needs to be on the top shelf to brown. Remember other appliances:
A slow cooker will allow you to cook with minimum preparation time and effort. Your dish will cook safely in it throughout the day.
An electric griddle will provide another cooking surface for a big meal – even a toaster oven can handle things like baked sweet potatoes.

The sun WILL come up tomorrow if you make one less dish than last year. Don’t bake 10 different kinds of cookies unless you enjoy it. You may also try asking for help. Getting your family and friends involved in the holiday preparations can alleviate the stress of doing it all on your own. Ask a guest to bring a part of the meal. You CAN ask them to make a specific recipe – just send a copy. If you don’t feel comfortable doing that, just ask for a specific course.

5) GO with the Flow
So, you thought Great Aunt Brenda was bringing the salad. Instead she decided that no one would eat salad and brought her world famous lemon-carrot- chocolate-pecan-coconut- cookies. Bend your knees and drink lots of water. Put out the cookies. Eat a big salad tomorrow.

When everyone arrives, hand ‘em a spoon to stir, ask the to time the nuts in the oven, put ice in glasses, pour water, or carry food to the table. Guests are usually
more comfortable hanging out in the kitchen - let them!

Eat a healthy snack before you start preparing for your party OR head out for the evening. The foods being passed around won't feel so tempting and you can enjoy the socializing without obsessing about what you can or can't eat.

8) Drink UP!
Water, that is. Resist the urge to drink too much by matching a drink or glass of wine, one-to-one with water. Rushing around during the holidays, you probably are dehydrated anyway, so the water will fill you up, make you feel better AND keep you from drinking too much.

9) EAT your veggies
If you eat better, you feel better. The holidays are notorious for baked goods and heavy meals. Eat Better by loading up at least half of your plate with vegetables and fruits. Plan your meals for others this way too! This will not only help you and your guests keep off weight this season, but it will give you more energy to cope when the unexpected arrives this year.

10) PITCH Perfection
The need for perfection – whether it is hosting the
Culinary Self Care for the Holidays! Healthy Chef Partyologist Nancy Waldeck
perfect party, having the prettiest table decorations on the block, or the most delicious family dinner is especially alluring this time of year. Of course you want to do your best, but it’s also important to be gentle with yourself and not aim for perfection. Remember that perfection is a matter of perspective. Think about Julia Child when she dropped a chicken on the floor and picked it up, ON TELEVISION. We tend to be most critical of ourselves and our actions so use this season as a reminder to practice grace with yourself as well as others. Your food will be wonderful, Breathe. 

And here's an easy recipe to serve for breakfast, a snack or even for dessert with a little frozen vanilla yogurt!

Lighter and Luscious Apple Granola

3 Cups Oats
1⁄4 Cup Uncooked
Millet (Optional)
1⁄4 Cup Sesame Seeds
1⁄4 Cup Chopped Walnuts 1⁄4 Cup Chopped Almonds
1 1⁄2 Tsp Cinnamon
1⁄4 Tsp EACH Mace and Cardamom
1⁄2 Cup Dried Apples
1⁄4 Cup Maple Syrup
1⁄4 Cup Orange Juice Zest of 1 Orange

Step One
Preheat the oven to 300F. In a large bowl, combine all dry ingredients except dried fruit. Drizzle in the maple syrup
and stir well. Add orange juice and zest, stirring so all ingredients are coated.

Step Two
Spread the mix out onto a parchment-paper-lined baking sheet and bake for about 30 minutes, stirring checking about every 10 minutes so nothing burns.

Step Three
Remove from oven, add the dried fruit and cool completely. Store in an airtight container. 

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