Eat for Balance This Holiday Season

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Food is an essential part of how we celebrate special events, especially during the holidays. We have parties, feasts, and gatherings where food is usually the guest of honor. Most traditional holiday foods are rich, heavy and delicious, but they don’t always satisfy our bodies’ needs. To stay active and immune to sickness during the holidays, we need quality fuel that will support our bodies.

We always encourage mindful eating, but it’s especially important when decadent food is around every corner. Mindful eating doesn’t mean avoiding anything that tastes good. You can still indulge in your favorite holiday treats, but you can dramatically increase the nutrient content of your meals by making a few simple additions or substitutions. Certified Instructor, Damian Stoy, shares his favorite superfoods and recipes to help you stay balanced this winter.

Replace vegetable oil with coconut oil: Used for thousands of years by tropical cultures, coconut oil is full of medium-chain triglycerides, which provide long, clean, sustained energy. Lauric acid is also found in coconut oil, which helps fight off pathogens. Coconut oil can tolerate high temperatures and is perfect for frying and baking.

Replace chocolate with raw cacoa: Cacao contains high levels of sulfur and magnesium, and it may increase your focus. Cacao is often associated with love because of the happiness-inducing chemical it contains, phenylethylamine. Raw cacoa is a great replacement for chocolate or cocoa powder in desserts, as it has no added sugar, milk, or cream.

Add maca root: Mostly sold as a powder or supplement, maca root has been used for centuries in the Andean Mountains. Maca helps prevent fatigue, increase stamina, and regulate stress.  Adding just a sprinkle of the mildly nutty powder to flours, smoothies, milks, tea, or chocolates gives you a boost of quality carbohydrates and protein.

Add chia seeds: With five times the calcium of milk, twice the protein of any grains, and loaded with Omega-3s, chia seeds are truly a superfood. Chia seeds help regulate blood sugar by slowing down the body’s conversation of starches into sugar. Since they absorb other flavors well, you can add them to any beverage. Allow them to sit for a few minutes in any liquid, and the seeds will create a gel that can be added to other foods or eaten on its own. The gel can even be substituted for half the butter in most recipes without altering the taste.

Add dark, leafy greens: Kale, Swiss chard, spinach, and collards are high in vitamins A, C, calcium and many others. Eating a pile of greens isn’t the only way to make them part of your meal. Add them to other holiday side dishes, such as stuffing, casseroles, soups and stews.

Quinoa with Butternut Squash, Cranberries, and Pecans

2 lbs. butternut squash, diced
1 red onion, diced
1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage
1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme
3 tablespoons melted coconut oil, divided
2 cups cooked quinoa
1 1/2 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
4 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup dried cranberries
1/3 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat the oven to 375 degrees. Toss squash, onion, sage and thyme with 2 tbsp. coconut oil. Season to taste with sea salt and pepper. Roast for 45 minutes.
2. Warm cooked quinoa and combine with cranberries and pecans.
3. Toss vinegar, 1 tbsp. coconut and garlic in a small bowl. Combine squash and quinoa mixture and toss with dressing.

Live Cashew “Cheese”

3 cups soaked cashews
1 cup Rejuvelac  (a liquid fermented grain rich in beneficial bacteria that aids digestion)

1. Soak cashews overnight.  Then rinse well, drain and blend in food processor.  Slowly add rejuvelac until thick and creamy.
2. Let mixture sit at room temperature to ferment overnight.  Cover with a cotton cloth so it can breathe.
3. Refrigerate when  fermentation is done. Makes about 2 ½ cups.
4. Can be used as a base for other recipes or when you need a cheese-like substitute

Raw Chocolate Energy Balls

½ cup cashews
8 medjool dates
½ cup cacao nibs
1/4 tsp. cinnamon powder
¼ tsp. ginger powder
½ tsp. vanilla extract
¼ tsp. sea salt
1 tbls. coconut oil melted

Combine all the ingredients except coconut oil in food processor and process for up to 5 minutes until finely chopped.  Transfer to a mixing bowl.   Add coconut oil and stir well.  Form into 1 inch round balls and place on waxed paper.  Refrigerate for 20 minutes.

* Please note: We always recommend consulting your physician before making dietary changes, especially if you are pregnant or nursing.

Posted in Lifestyle

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