As we move into the holiday season, life can feel hectic with party planning and gift exchange. Instead of feeling stressed by this increased activity, create calm, grounded moments in your day by sitting down to a healing meal.
Breathe deeply before you eat. Close the eyes, breathe in for four counts, hold the breath for two counts, breathe out for four counts, and hold for two more. Repeat this cycle three times. Give thanks for this nourishment. Know that by taking this time to pause, your digestive and nervous systems relax so you can better enjoy and assimilate the nutrients from your food.
What To Eat
Now is the time to savor sweet, earthy foods like winter squash, oats, rice, beans, and root vegetables. Pair them with salty foods like beans, miso, and seaweed. Try these recipes to inspire you. You might like them so much that you decide to include them in a holiday feast.
Tuscan Ribollita Soup
My family keeps a pot of this soup bubbling on the stove during holiday time. It is a complete meal that leaves us satisfied.
- 3 garlic cloves, minced
- 2 onions
- 3 carrots
- 1 celery stalk
- 1/4 cup olive oil, lemon juice or white wine
- 1 cup chicken or vegetable stock (make your own or choose a brand with no sugar)
- 1 cup cooked cannellini or great northern beans
- 2 teaspoons each: thyme, oregano and rosemary
- 1 bunch kale
- 2 zucchini
- 1/2 cup rolled oats
- To cook dry beans, soak them overnight. Rinse and drain.
- Bring to a boil in a medium stock pot with 4 cups water.
- Skim off foam, reduce heat, and cook for 30 minutes or until they are tender. If using canned beans, choose a brand with no salt added.
- Chop the celery, onions and carrots.
- In a large pot, sauté the garlic, onion, celery, and carrot in olive oil over medium heat for about 5 minutes.
- Add a splash of lemon juice or white wine (about 2 Tablespoons).
- Add the broth, spices, and 3 cups water.
- Bring to a boil, reduce heat, then simmer, covered, for 30 minutes.
- Rinse and chop kale and zucchini. Add to the pot with oats and cooked beans. Bring to a boil, reduce heat and simmer for 20 more minutes.
- Serve with pesto or Pecorino Romano cheese if desired.
Winter squash and pumpkins are wonderful vegetables that warm our whole being and help our bodies rejuvenate through their high omega 3 essential fatty acid content. They nourish us with dietary fiber, folate, and beta-carotene.
- 1 medium pumpkin or buttercup squash
- 1 can whole fat organic coconut milk
- 1/4 cup maple syrup
- 1/2 teaspoon each: Cinnamon, Cardamom, allspice
- 1/4 teaspoon each: nutmeg, cloves
- a pinch of salt
- 4 eggs
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
- Rinse pumpkin / squash and place it in the oven on a cookie sheet.
- Bake for 1 hour.
- Once squash is soft, remove it from the oven, cut it open, and let it cool for 10 minutes.
- Peel, remove seeds, and place flesh a bowl.
- Take 2 cups of cooked squash and add coconut milk, maple syrup, spices, and salt. Mash well with a potato masher or blend with an upright / immersion blender.
- In a separate bowl, whisk eggs.
- Add eggs to squash mixture and mix together.
- Oil a baking dish (I like 9x9) or pie plate with coconut oil and pour custard into it.
- Bake at 375 for 20 minutes, or until custard has set.
This is delicious, either alone or as pie filling. Leftovers make a terrific addition to oatmeal.
Oaty Pie Crust
This simple crust is gluten-free and contains oats, which calm our nervous system and offer a high dose of B vitamins for healthy digestion and supple skin.
- 1 cup cornmeal
- 1 cup leftover oatmeal
- a pinch of sea salt
- 1 teaspoon Cinnamon
- 1/2 cup organic butter or coconut oil
- Combine flour, salt, and Cinnamon in a bowl.
- Stir chunks of coconut oil or butter into the flour mixture until it pulls together into a ball. Cover with a cloth and refrigerate for 15 to 30 minutes.
- Grease a pie plate with butter or coconut oil. Remove dough from the refrigerator.
- Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
- Press the dough into the pie plate, trimming off the excess or sculpting it into a fancy raised edge.
- Add your filling and bake the entire pie, crust and all, at 400 degrees for 10 minutes.
- Then reduce the heat to 350 degrees for an additional 40 minutes, or whatever length of time your filling recipe suggests.
Chocolate Pecan Filling
After you have made pie crust, you can fill it with anything! My favorite fillings include: roasted roots and white beans; caramelized onions, kale and roasted chicken strips; mashed sweet potatoes and almonds. Try this filling for a decadent treat. It is delicious on its own, too - without the crust.
- 1 cup pecans
- 3/4 cup cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup butter or coconut oil
- 1 teaspoon vanilla
- 1/2 cup maple syrup
- 2 eggs, beaten
- 1 tablespoon flour (any kind you like) pinch salt
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
- Toast the pecans on low heat for 3 to 4 minutes.
- Add butter or coconut oil and let it melt.
- Add cocoa powder, maple syrup and vanilla. Stir to incorporate and remove any lumps.
- Remove from heat, pour into a mixing bowl, and cool for 5 minutes.
- Add flour, salt, and beaten eggs.
- Pour into pie crust or into an oiled loaf pan.
- Bake for 20 minutes. Cool and enjoy!
Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at Harmonized Living.
For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.