The first tactic, which is the easiest and most interesting to me, is to look at the meals that I will participate in preparing and see how I can apply real food principles. Where can I make healthier substitutions? Can I afford a grass-fed turkey? Or grass-fed butter instead of margarine or Crisco in my recipes? Can I afford organic vegetable and buy my fruit from local farmstands? How can I get some probiotics into my meals?
I try to avoid processed flour, highly processed sugar, and high carb foods. Pretty much anything you can do to a potato can be done to cauliflower. I love mashed cauliflower with lots of butter and Celtic sea salt. You can kick it up a notch by putting a couple of sprigs of rosemary in the boiling water, and adding parmesan cheese when you’re blending it. Cauliflower is in the same family as broccoli and kale, and it has many of the same nutritional benefits—strengthening the immune system and protecting against cancer, providing vitamin C, folate, selenium, and other trace minerals. I look at it as a great way to get in some super nutrition while feeling like I’m indulging myself. Be sure to always serve it with butter or another good fat. The fat helps the body to absorb the minerals.
To reduce the amount of white sugar I use honey and maple syrup as my only sweeteners. I use nut flours, coconut flour, or cocoa powder instead of wheat flour. I do not recommend using gluten-free replacement flours or gluten-free processed foods. Many of them contain soy, and other detrimental ingredients. I recommend instead looking online for recipes which are made from scratch with real food. It’s actually takes very little more effort than making things from mixes and it feels so much better knowing you’re feeding your friends and family real food.
The second skill one needs is negotiating events at which you have no control over the menu. I hate to feel deprived, or different from everyone else. Feeling empowered to make good choices helps me not feel weird or left out. I look for plain veggies, fresh fruit, unprocessed meats (roast beef rather than bologna). It’s important to know which foods you are most sensitive to so you can avoid them. Sometimes I will take snacks with me, like maybe some beef jerky or homemade chocolate so I don’t go too hungry. And then sometimes you do the best you can and then do a little detox and get back on track as soon as you can.
Thirdly, I find it’s equally important to up my self-care during stressful times. I heard a saying long ago, “On most days, I meditate half an hour. When things get very busy, I meditate for an hour.” I can’t say I practice this perfectly, but I definitely try to be aware of ways to be good to myself—to take a few minutes for silence, to breathe fresh air in the woods, to be grateful for my surroundings and all of the gifts, to rest. None of these takes a whole lot of time, and they definitely help me move more serenely through all of the craziness.
SOME OF MY FAVORITE WHOLE FOOD HOLIDAY RECIPES THIS YEAR:
Roasted chicken or turkey with gravy
Apple tart with pecan crust