Gift exchanges are prevalent this time of year as we bless each other with presents, showing our love and appreciation for one another… but what about giving a gift to our health this Christmas?
Often times, as we all know, from Thanksgiving onward to New Year’s our health takes a back seat and is left to feed on the crumbs of nutrition. As jolly as this season may be with tradition, blessings and memories, it is also one of the most stressful, making it even more vital to intentionally nourish ourselves. Obligations and objections may be popping up like popcorn in your mind— what about the favorite Christmas cookies, candies, cider… and casseroles? We must ask ourselves if we are willing to make a gift exchange this Christmas… will we exchange the usual gift of sugary pleasures in return for naturally delicious nourishing foods this year? If you say yes, there is good news, so please read on!
Exchanging habits this Christmas and maintaining your IN.FORM lifestyle begins with exchanging ingredients- get rid of the white sugar and white flour. When you set out to make your Christmas treats and feast, there are healthy alternatives and delicious ways to create new traditions that will be a gift to your health. Isn’t that great news?
Consider replacing regular white sugar and brown sugar for coconut sugar since it has a more favorable glycemic index score. It is still sugar, so don’t go overboard, but it’s an easy exchange to make. Some people may choose to use xylitol or stevia in their baking also. A little bit of stevia goes a long way, so check the package directions for using it with the best success. Gift exchange recipe #1 is Perfect Pumpkin Pie.
Similar to exchanging the sugar is the importance of exchanging the flour in a treat recipe. Great gluten free flours are whole grain millet flour, garbanzo bean flour, coconut flour and almond flour. Each of these flours have much more fiber than all purpose white flour, which can be helpful in our efforts to reign in our appetite. Gift exchange recipe #2 is for a Chocolate Chip Cookie.
Festive gatherings usually feature ciders, hot cocoa, and eggnog. As comforting as these may be, the sugar in them is all too plentiful. It is the sugar that is unkind to our immune system, energy and waist line. Instead, water with lemon, warm peppermint tea, or homemade hot cocoa featuring Love and Peas Sugar Free protein powder and carob powder. Gift Exchange #3 is Warm Me Up Hot Chocolate.
Treats abound during the Christmas season, but what about sweet vegetables as our treat? Begin your Christmas morning with pumpkin in your protein smoothie along with your favorite Nature’s Sunshine protein powder. A wise herbalist has said that by eating protein first, our brain will be less enticed by the sugary foods. With your Christmas meal, enjoy butternut squash pureed into a soup and/or coconut baked sweet potatoes (coconut oil and cinnamon instead of marshmallows). Gift Exchange recipe #4 is Butternut Cinnamon Rounds.
Three more quick tips: hold the grease, eat more greens and sneak in the cauliflower! When making your green beans on the stove-top, you can cut back on the oil you use by simmering the green beans or other vegetables in homemade stock. Just before serving the vegetables, you can add in a small amount of healthy oil or grass-fed butter. Making salads a staple will increase your greens consumption and promote a healthy microbiome. Adding some fresh pomegranate arils, shredded raw butternut squash and sliced red onion to a mixed greens salad will be a delightful dish! Cauliflower, the snow colored cruciferous vegetable, is a secret ingredient you can use in mashed potatoes or even in a healthier version of green bean casserole! Gift Exchange recipe #5 is Green Bean Casserole.
The gift exchange- what is the gift you want to present to yourself as we look to the New Year? Would you rather indulge in all of your favorite treats, feeling the effects of the sugar, excess calories and the guilt that usually accompanies it? Or, would you rather unwrap the benefits of healthy choices despite the temptation? Consider allowing yourself to appreciate the simplicity of the healthy foods and perhaps only one treat. Perspective is key; explore the variety of healthy options this Christmas season and exchange any feelings of deprivation for feelings of gratitude for better health and a segue into a healthy new year.
About the Author:
Robin Cook is a holistic health coach and co-author of Cook 2 Flourish Cookbook, which offers delicious recipes for a healthy lifestyle. She is also a certified IN.FORM coach and Certified Herbalist using Nature’s Sunshine products. You can learn more about Robin’s cookbook at www.cook2flourish.com and NSP products on her website www.n2flourish.mynsp.com. You can also find her on Facebook and Pinterest. If you are interested in guest blogging for NSP, please contact us at firstname.lastname@example.org with “NSP Blog” in the subject line.