Dr. Catherine Nutting, Family Nurse Practitioner, Metabolic and Nutritional Medicine
Each year many of us struggle to balance holiday events and commitments with quality family time and personal health goals. These are some of the keys we have discovered to a healthy, happy holiday season!
Prioritize your time and values…
Create healthy traditions and memories…
Simplify your holiday season…
WHOLISTIC HEALTH TIP OF THE WEEK
Holiday Gastrointestinal Health
During the holiday season, when our diet may not be as healthy as usual, it is especially important to optimize our gastrointestinal (GI) tract as a key component of our immune system.
Studies such as the one listed below have shown that taking 10 billion CFUs of probiotics daily can reduce the length and frequency of fever, cough, and runny nose in children. It also shows a reduction in the need for antibiotics and missed school days in 3-5 year olds. Similar studies have shown these benefits apply to persons of all ages.
WHOLISTIC RECIPE OF THE WEEK
Shari’s Quick Crispy Baked Latkes (V, GF)
Easy, quick, and healthy!
Latkes, or potato pancakes, are a traditional Hanukkah dish that are typically fried and served with sour cream or applesauce. These baked latkes are an easy, quick, healthy version of a classic dish, delicious for the winter holidays and year round!
- ¾ C. Bob’s Red Mill Potato Flakes or Edward’s & Son’s Quick & Easy Organic Mashed Potatoes, Homestyle)
- 1 1/2 C. cold water
- Egg substitute (equivalent to 1 egg) – 1 tbsp. of ground flax seed, ground chia seed, or a combination of the two (e.g., Garden of Life: Organic Golden Flaxseed & Organic Chia Seed) *Note: for a non-vegan recipe (or for those without egg allergies), use 1 egg instead of the egg substitute
- 1/ 2 C. room temperature or warm water
- 1 tbsp. olive oil
- Oiled parchment lined baking sheet
- Salt, pepper & onion powder to taste
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Prepare the egg substitute – mix 1 tbsp. ground seed meal with 3 tbsp of (room temperature or warm) water. This speeds us the gelling process while cold liquids seem to slow it down. Allow it to sit for 5 to 10 minutes until it turns into a thick gel similar to a raw egg. This gel, also known as mucilage, pulls together when heated, acting as a binder.
- Latke mix batter – whisk together cold water and egg substitute in a large bowl. Stir in dry potato flakes until incorporated.
- Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. It is important to use parchment paper. Without it the pancakes will stick to the baking sheet.
- Spread 1 tablespoon of olive oil onto the parchment paper. Do not remove any remaining oil from you hands.
- With your oiled hands portion out approximately 8 potato pancakes. The thinner the better if you want them crispy, though not too thin or they fall apart.
- Place in the oven and cook for 20-25 minutes, flipping halfway. The pancakes should be a nice golden brown color.
- Potato latkes are best served warm with your favorite toppings.
Suggested toppings: unsweetened apple sauce; dairy or non-dairy sour cream or plain greek yogurt; chives.
Other healthy options to include in your latkes: shredded sweet potatoes, russet potatoes, or other vegetables (zucchini, carrots, etc.); diced onions; different grains (quinoa, millet); or sun-dried tomatoes.
For more ideas see: 20 Healthier Twists on Potato Latkes
DR. CATHY’S CORNER
Prioritize Your Time & Your Values
As a child my family would go onto our family farm and cut down a Christmas tree. We would often pick a tree that was so large we could barely get it in our house, and on many occasions required trimming in order to do so. This is often the case with Christmas and the holiday season…..we bite off more than we can chew.
To help prioritize your time and energy this season, ask yourself some of these questions:
- What is most important to me about the holiday season?
- What important events am I most compelled to attend?
- What are my most valued traditions?
- What brings me joy during the holiday season?
- How might I cultivate more presence and joy this season?
Prioritize Your Health During the Holidays
1. Move your body!
Take a walk, get outside, play a game, or dance. Burn off some of those extra holiday calories. Exercise helps to generate extra energy, improves holiday mental health, and increases metabolism.
15-minute “Anytime, Anywhere Wholistic Workout”
- 5 minutes of Cardio
- 1 minute of each of the following 5 exercises
- Jogging in Place
- Stairs or High Knees
- Jumping Jacks
- Side Shuffle
- 1 minute of each of the following 5 exercises
- 5 minutes of Core
- Plank: one minute
- Side Plank: one minute each side
- Standing Knee to Chest: one minute on each side
- 5 minutes of Strength
- Squats: one minute
- Push-ups: one minute
- Lunge (forward or backward): one minute each side
- Tricep Dips: one minute
A 2013 Cochrane Review showed the benefit of exercise in treating more than 26 chronic diseases. It also concluded that exercising more frequently has a greater positive impact on mood than doing longer, less frequent sessions, and resistance and mixed training seem more effective in improving mood than aerobic training alone.
Drink a baseline amount of water (in ounces) daily based on half your bodyweight (in pounds). For example, if you weigh 150 pounds, drink at least 75 ounces of water a day, add an additional 8 ounces of water for every 20 minutes of exercise and for each alcoholic or caffeinated beverages consumed. After exercising, it is best to rehydrate with an electrolyte solution.
A homemade recipe we recommend is the World Health Organization’s Oral Rehydration Therapy:
- In 1 liter of water, add 2 level tablespoons of sugar or honey, one-fourth teaspoon of table salt (NaCl) and one-fourth teaspoon of baking soda (bicarbonate of soda).
- If baking soda is not available, use another quarter teaspoon of salt instead.
- If available, add one half cup of orange juice, coconut water, or a mashed ripe banana to the drink.
- Boiling the water first with chamomile can bring added benefit.
3. Eat Your Veggies!
Cut up at least 5 servings of organic veggies each evening for the next day’s snacks or salad, or buy pre-cut veggies. Just as pre-measuring water for the day can help maintain hydration, preparing your vegetables ahead of time and selecting a rainbow of colored vegetables can help to ensure your body gets adequate vitamins and minerals.
4. Build meaningful relationships and lasting memories!
Emphasize quality time with family and friends while de-emphasizing a focus on food and/or alcohol. Instead of creating extra holidays pounds for yourself and loved ones, work on building healthy relationships.
5. Relax & practice self care!
A recent Harvard study found that practicing daily mindfulness stimulates gray matter density in the hippocampus, the part of the brain associated with self-awareness, compassion, and introspection.
Throughout the year, and especially during this holiday season, make sure to schedule time to meditate, read a book, take a bath, rest, or do any other activity (or inactivity!) that nourishes and revitalizes you.