How to Stay Healthy & Survive the Holidays


The holidays can be a challenge if you eat any kind of special diet like gluten-free or plant-based. I should know, I eat a plant-based gluten-free diet and have for many years.

Over the years, I have developed some strategies on how to handle holiday get togethers while eating a special diet.

Host your own party / dinner.
You have the party, you can control the food you make and serve. The downside? You will be doing a lot of cooking. And don’t make a big deal announcing your food is vegan, gluten-free or whatever – people most likely won’t notice! You can also host a potluck, but make a few dishes yourself that you know you can eat.

Be prepared.
You probably will be going to holiday parties where there is going to be a lot of alcohol, sugary treats, and all kinds of other things you may be avoiding, especially if you eat gluten-free and/or vegan. I like to have a big snack – like a smoothie – before a party. That way I am less likely to go crazy on eating stuff I know will not make me feel good. And, if you are a good cook, bring something yummy & healthy for everyone to enjoy (like the recipe below)! If I’m avoiding alcohol, I like to bring kombucha for everyone to enjoy.

Save the debates for another time.
Ok, so sometimes when your friends and family hear that you eat a special diet they can be very defensive – and even mildly insulting – towards you about it. By you telling them how you are improving or changing your diet, you are holding a mirror to them and their eating habits.

I can’t tell you how many times I’ve been told that eating plant-based is “not healthy” or “they could never do that” or “don’t you miss cheese” and the list goes on. Try to be a good sport about it. Also, expect questions about how and why you eat a different diet and know how to answer them. I’d be a rich woman now if I had a dime for anytime someone asked me how I get my protein (fyi, the answer is beans, legumes, nuts, seeds, fruits, veggies, grains, tofu).

In return, this is not the time for you to turn up your nose on what your host is offering or to preach about your diet.

Have gratitude.
The holidays are really about connecting and sharing with family and friends, not the food. You are fortunate that you are able to choose what you eat. So many people around the world and even in this country lack basic. food security. Be grateful that you are able to to make a choice to eat plant-based, organic, gluten-free, etc.

Apple Crisp Recipe

This recipe can be made within most dietary guidelines, and is always yummy! It’s also simple to make with not a lot of ingredients.

(plant-based, gluten-free)
12 medium sized organic apples
1 lemon
2 cups whole oats
1 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp vanilla powder
1 cup almond flour
1 tbsp coconut sugar
Optional: almond or cashew milk

Preheat oven to 375.

Slice all of the apples – if you are using organic apples you can keep the peel on. Toss in the juice of one lemon, then put into a baking dish.

In a separate bowl, mix the oats, almond flour, coconut sugar, vanilla and cinnamon. If you want it sweeter, add more sugar. Spread this topping on top of the apples.

Cover the baking pan with foil or a lid, and bake for 45 minutes. Remove the lid or foil and continue to bake for another 5 minutes. Serve with almond or cashew milk poured on top of each serving.

New Recipe: Fall Bowl

20161111_174517Lately I have been all about bowl meals. I add a starch (potatoes, sweet potato or a grain) a bean and a green and done! This bowl meal below is my favorite of the moment. Even though all of the parts of this seem complicated – they are all simple and don’t require a ton of ingredients. I make a lot of each item to keep leftovers in the fridge.

Baked Sweet Potatoes:
Wash a few sweet potatoes, then prick around them several times with a fork. Wrap each in foil and bake at 425 for 1 – 1 1/2 hours. Or, I’ll sometimes steam my sweet potatoes in my pressure cooker.

Avocado Kale Salad:
(Makes 2-3 servings)
1/2 head of kale – leaves torn off stems, then ripped into small pieces
1 avocado
1/2 lemon
Sea salt to taste
Combine the kale, avocado, and lemon juice in a bowl. With your hands, massage the kale until it becomes tender and reduced in size. Add sea salt to taste.

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts:
(Makes about 4 servings)
1 lb of brussel sprouts, stems trimmed and halved
1 tbsp avocado oil (or coconut)
1 tbsp maple syrup
Sea salt and black pepper to taste
Optional: 1/2 cup chopped pecans
Toss the sprouts, oil, salt and pepper. Put onto a foil lined baking sheet. Roast for about 20-30 minutes at 425 degrees, stirring a few times, until just starting to brown. Stir in the maple syrup and nuts if using. Roast for another 10 minutes – they will start to turn dark brown, caramelized and crispy.

Roasted Spicy Chickpeas:
1 1/2 cups of cooked chickpeas (or 1 can)
1 tsp coconut oil
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp smoked paprika
1/2 tsp cumin
Mix all of the ingredients in a bowl, then spread onto a baking sheet.Roast for about 20 minutes at 425 degrees, when the chickpeas are crisp. Stir at least once as the chickpeas are roasting. Will store for a few days, but you may need to roast again to crisp them up. Experiment with whatever spices you like – curry powder is a favorite of mine.

Cheeze Sauce:
(Will make about a pint, keeps for 5 days in fridge – use later for mac and cheeze)
2 cloves garlic (optional)
1 cup of raw cashews soaked in water for at least one hour
1 1/2 tbsp of Bragg’s liquid aminos
1 tsp paprika
1/2 cup Nutritional Yeast
1/4 cup miso
Juice from 1/2 lemon

To assemble the bowls:
Halve the baked sweet potato and put on bottom of bowl. Add brussel sprouts, chickpeas and kale salad. Drizzle cheeze sauce on top. Yum!

Healthy Travels

53cf3-travelWill you be traveling this holiday season? Traveling can hard on your immune system: you’re around other people traveling while sick, the dry airplane air, the climate difference, the interruption of your sleep cycle (jet lag) and the stress of it all. Here are some tips to maintain your health (and good humor) while traveling during the holiday season.

1 – Pack your own food. It can be hard to find fresh, organic whole foods at the airport, on the airplane, or on the road. Bring nuts, dried or fresh fruit, granola, carrot sticks to snack on – and check out my favorite travel trail mix recipe in this email.

2 – Hydrate, hydrate, hydrate. This is an important one especially for air travel. Bring your own (empty) water bottle to the airport and refill at water stations/fountains and try to drink water throughout your flight.

3 – Meditate. When else do you have this much time on your hands? Download a meditation app to your phone (I like Headspace), put on your headphones, and get some zen time. You will feel more relaxed and refreshed for it, and it is thought that meditation can help reduce jet lag.

4 – Noise Cancelling Headphones. These are kinda big and can be expensive, but so, so worth it. Not only great for listening to music or watching movies, but you will be so happy you have them when there are crying babies on your flight.

5 – Neti pot or saline spray. One of the main reasons people get sick while traveling is that their nose mucus dries out, and is then no longer able to filter viruses and bacteria. Use a neti pot before and after flying, or use a natural saline spray to keep your nasal passages hydrated and functioning properly.

Travel Trail Mix:
3-4 cups walnuts
3 cups brasil nuts or whole almonds
1 cup goji berries
1 cup dried mulberries
Optional: 2-3 tablespoons cacao nibs

You dump this in a bowl. You mix it. Done!