A Festive Food Diary // What A Holistic Nutritionist Eats On Christmas

Good morning readers!
Ever wonder what a holistic nutritionist eats on Christmas? Do we secretly stuff stuffing into our mouths when no one’s looking or do we come equipped with celery in our purse and chia seeds for dessert?
This is your little sneak peek into my holiday eats to see just what it was that I treated myself to and how I go about the holidays in the most holistic way possible with loads of insights and tips and tricks to keeping both happy and healthy with the food on your plate! But first and foremost; what is my philosophy behind such occasions?
I absolutely agree, holidays are a time of indulgence! But thankfully, you don’t have to stray from your diet to do so. I believe in moderation not deprivation. So I come prepared with healthy alternatives to staples such as dips and spreads that are dairy, gluten, soy and refined sugar-free. However, if I see something I really want that includes these things, I enjoy, just in moderation.
  • Breakfast
It was two years ago that, in true Suzanne fashion, I awoke Christmas morning and, forgetting about gifts entirely, I sprang from my bed and leapt down the stairs thinking souly of one thing: food! Christmas breakfast! And luckily, as I drew closer, the lack of mouth-watering aromas sparked the reminder that there were gifts crowded beneath the tree that I was not yet intended to see and so back up the stairs it was!

 

 This year’s  breakfast was sweet, light and wholesome.
Our Christmas breakfasts always begin with half a grapefruit that we recieve in our stockings every year.
grapefruit
This was followed by a small buffet of exotic fruit bowls & platters. We always mix in some fruit that we don’t normally purchase for a special treat such as this Pitya (dragon fruit) and Asian pears. We also had clementines, raspberries, blueberries, pineapple and fresh figs.
pitya
Turns out my cutest little gift this year, Aussie, loves Asian pears too!
aussie
You could say I “pigged” out on Christmas, but did manage to enjoy and savour the food in moderation. Muffins and yogurt are present at the table as well but I opted out of those and ate my weight in alkalinizing, juicy, fresh fruit which left me satisfied but with plenty of room by the time lunch had taken over the table.
  • Lunch
My lunch plate included a good helping of fresh-cut veggies with almond butter instead of the sour cream based dips.
Holistic life hacks: nut and seed butters are easy to carry, need no preparation, and are fantastic as dips. Add a little apple cider vinegar or olive oil and they become great salad dressings too!
lunch
I also had some gluten-free crackers and decided to treat myself to a bit of cheese. This cheese I know to be high quality and I opted for the aged goats cheese which is much easier for the body to digest than cows milk. I also took a digest dairy pill to further assist my body in breaking down the lactose.
We are so spoiled in that my grandparents’ garden supplies most of our vegetables including bizarre ones (which are always the most fun) such as:
  • Mangel
  • Rutabaga
  • Jerusalem artichoke
  • Spanish radish
  • Turnip
  • Beets in all different varieties
  • Two-toned purple carrots with orange inside

There was also a bowl of grapes present. Normally I would leave fruit completely alone when eating other food as this could lead to poor digestion and bloating but in this case, grapes are harder on your body to digest, taking it longer and making them acceptable in small portions. Bedside, I love grapes!

 

grapes

In between lunch and dinner, I brewed a mug of tea for the gift opening. It was an herbal blend with peppermint which aids digestion.
  • Dinner
Dinner was a plump roasted turkey that was free range; anti biotic and hormone free, organic and grass-fed. Quite the mouth full! There was no gobbling down though, we ate slowly once everyone had sat down and served their own portions. This was after I had stolen hunks of turkey off the plate in the kitchen… to make sure it wasn’t poisoned of course!
The succulent turkey was served with Brussels sprouts, a turnip and potato mash and gluten-free rice stuffing that was surprising delicious! Of course gravy and cranberry sauce are staples but not on my plate, with cranberry sauce laden with sugars and gravy rich in fat that has been heated beyond its limits and dosed in corn starch as a thickener. The best is to leave both of them out. I, myself, love them both and so served up a very small taste of each to have my fill. The food was certainly flavourful enough as it was.
For dessert I skipped the ice cream and opted for a few medjool dates and a slice of my fudge. Got some leftover almond butter? Stuff it in the dates for a delicious treat!
tea
After family dinners, we leave time to sit and digest before dessert and brew coffee and tea in the meantime. I skip the caffeine which hinders digestion and opt for herbal teas with peppermint which boosts digestion. Having this alkalinizing and rehydrating tea after your meal will also help you to reduce sugar cravings so you can go easy on the sweets!
So there you have it wellness junkies! So simple to indulge without overstuffing and with keeping your body as grateful as your taste buds, a nice little gift to yourself on these occasions and you can keep these in mind as we head towards the New Year!
Wishing you all the merriest of holidays,
Suzanne Eden

Twas the Night Before Christmas // Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge

fudge

With Christmas festivities just around the corner, I’ve been busy in the kitchen in swirls of chocolate, sticky with dates and adorned in a Santa apron to bring you a very special treat. Before navigating my way to health, my specialty at our annual Christmas buffet was a fudge that took 5 ingredients and 5 minutes to make. And though smooth and rich and delightful, it was a decadent swirl of insulin spiking sugar & bodily congesting dairy, straight from a BPA laden can.

Naturally, I had to revamp this recipe and created a healthy version! One that not only takes minimal time and effort to make, but is made with only the BEST ingredients and one you would never know is secretly good for you! (In moderation of course). And ahhh, this effortless fudge delivers and is sure to be an annual staple at your holiday treat table!
What’s more: 
  • It is rich in healthy fats which signal fullness and satisfaction to the brain so that you will feel satisfied after only a few sweets
  • It is sweetened with dates: a whole food with natural fibre to reduce blood sugar spikes.
  • Raw cacao is the less processed form of cocoa and therefore retains the most nutrients found in only your highest quality dark chocolate! Among them:
    • Antioxidants
    • Magnesium
    • Iron
    • Potassium
    • Calcium
      • Bonus: since it is raw, we are not losing any of these beautifying nutrients as we would if cooking with it.
  • This fudge is:
    • Dairy free
    • Gluten free
    • Soy free
    • Refined sugar-free
    • Raw
Top Notch Ingredients: 
Here’s what to look for: 
  • Medjool dates should be soft and moist! This is critical in this recipe that is raw and needs a smooth, rich base.
  • Raw cacao can be found at a health food store and sometimes in your local grocery store in the organic section, although I always like to support small local stores whenever possible. My favourite is quality sourced Giddy Yoyo.
  • Pistachios: look for unsalted and raw.
  • Cranberries: look for sulphate and soybean oil free
  • Coconut oil: Virgin, unrefined, organic and in a glass container if possible
Festive Cranberry Pistachio Fudge
Ingredients
  • 1 C Medjool Dates
  • 3-4 tsp Coconut milk
  • 1/4 C Nut Butter (I used the mix of cashew and almond)
  • 1/2 C + 2 TBSP Raw cacao
  • 1 tsp Alcohol free vanilla
  • 1/4 tsp salt (to taste)
  • 1/2 tsp Cinnamon
  • 1/4 C Dried cranberries
  • 1/4 C Pistachios
How I make it
(Please read through the instructions first, especially the note at the bottom)
  1. Blend dates with coconut milk until smooth.
  2. Add nut butter, cacao, vanilla, salt and cinnamon and blend to desired consistency. Do not blend on high if you have a powerful blender as this could cause you to heat the mixture and the cacao to curdle. The mixture should be smooth and silky but still hold firmly.
  3. Stir in your cranberries and pistachios.
  4. Pour into a small pan lined with parchment (the size depends on how thick you want the slices of fudge to be)
  5. Pop into the fridge at least 1 hour to set before serving
Notes:
  • Now there is one issue I’ve had; sometimes the milk separates from the mixture, however it is necessary for getting that smooth, fudgy texture. So if this happens to you, don’t freak out. Simply remove the excess with a spoon and you should be just fine! Being a raw dessert, it leaves a lot of room for playing around, so don’t be discouraged. Once in the fridge, it has always worked out!
  • I used a mortor and pestle to crush some pistachios to garnish the top.
  • Holistic life hacks:
    • Whenever baking, especially with something as gooey and tempting as this fudge, it can be easy to get carried away taste testing. You have to be sure it’s juuust right, right? But here’s my trick to avoid going overboard on your bowl licking skills: keep a healthy treat at hand. Mine is a kombucha, a fermented probiotic tea with ginger. Refreshing, balancing and satisfying.
I can’t get enough of this fudge and your guests won’t be able to either! Rich, decadent and sneakily healthy, you can enjoy all of the indulgences of Christmas and still feel energized and light at the end of the night,
Wishing you a sweet, gooey, chocolatey Christmas Eve,
Suzanne Eden

Your Holistic Guide To a Greener White Christmas (In just 14 steps!)

Dreaming of a green Christmas but a little stumped on where to begin?

Tuesday afternoon my step father and I bundled in fluffy coats and warm winter mitts and set off to scout out the perfect little Christmas tree as the evergreen centre peice to our family room. Nessled in a swirl of pine we spotted just the perfect one with a full, dense, bottom, white frosted tips and a bald spot at the nap of the long spindling neck. It was beautiful and though the car ride home savoured a road side stop as the trunk flew open, we made it home with the tree still intact. Success! Now getting it out was the real test of strength. How many Christmas tree enthusiasts does it take to yank a tree from its snug fit in the back of the car? Answer: 3.

With the tree perched in the family room, awaiting tomorrow when we will be trimming its branches with DIY decorations, I snuck a branch to my room to satisfy my lust of the aromatic pine. The perfect, chemical free air freshener as it is. And in the spirit of chemical free and green, let us spruce up this Christmas with an evironmental twist. Here are my top easy holistic steps to a greener white Christmas!

A Green Home

  1.  “Oh Christmas tree, oh Christmas tree, how real are your branches?” – Buy a real christmas tree
  • There has been much debate over whether or not to go real or fake with both sides issuing a valid debate. But I will continue to support real trees. Though chopped down each year, at least they are grown in the first place and continue to be. Bonus: they are recycleable!
  • Make it green:
    • Buy local
    • Choose from farms that utilize the least chemicals possible
    • Recycle your tree after Christmas

2. Make all natural air fresheners

  • Whether or not your fresh pine tree is enough freshener, there are plenty of delicious smelling, stove top recipes that simmer and fill your home with aromatic fragrance. You can see my pinterest here: http://www.pinterest.com/Lifeofeden/  for recipes. The board: Christmas Cocoa and Fairisle Sweaters.

3. Save your energy putting up the lights

  • Save time and electricity but using lighting sparingly. This goes for inside and outside the home.
  • Opt for energy efficient, LED light bulbs.
  • Set a timer to turn them off around your bedtime.

4. Decorate with natural decorations

  • Instead of bowls of christmas bulbs, have vases and bowls of festive edible fruit arrangments (apple, oranges etc.) and nuts
  • Utilize pine cones and fallen branches etc.

ever green

Gifts that keep on Giving

5. Less is more

  • There is no need to go overboard on gifts. Focus in on less gifts that mean more.

6. Create a wish list

  • Others will thank you (we all want to give you a gift you will love) and you will recieve something you actually want. Bonus: you can relax your facial smiles – no forced smiles needed!
  • Make it green:
    • When making your list, think more about what you need instead of want. Ask for things you would have had to buy anyway, things that you will use time and time again, things that will last. And, of course, sneak in an item or too that is a complete splurge. Something you want but wouldn’t otherwise buy yourself, you deserve it!

7. Please Purchase Responsibly

  • Look for fair trade, support small local buisness as much as possible, less is more for packaging and steer clear of anything from China.
  • Bonus: When buying at small, local buisnesses, you tend to avoid the massive crowds of the Christmas mall rush and inevitable run ins with “Canada’s worst drivers” in the parking lot

8. Go DIY

  • Make as many gifts as possible! Or get crafty and think outside the box. Gifts don’t have to be store bought, they can be your friends’ favourite cookies (with – gasp! – your grandmother’s secret recipe for them), or skating lessons, a yoga membership, a gift card for something you two can do together, you name it!
  • Bonus: Buying something active will save that person from the post christmas overload of consumer workout equipment purchases and you may not have to wrap these gifts at all!

9. DIY your cards

  • Commercial cards use an expansive amount of waste. Make your own, make them smaller and add your personal touch. I am the official card writer in my family because of my quirky (or otherwise utterly corny) sayings littered with puns, but a nice, little handwritten message will go a long way
  • Make it green: the best and easiest way is through e-cards! Nothing to dispose of, just be sure to add your own personal touch to these too.

10. “Packages, boxes or bags!” Reusable wrapping!

  • From our adorable printed bags (no doubt from China) popping with tissue paper, you would never guess that they are moderatly eco-friendly. But what’s encased in them isn’t the only surprise, many of these bags have been in my family since I was a child. And the tissue paper is used until it’s brimming will holes. I, myself, try to get away with reusing it as much as possible so don’t look at your wrapping too closely 😉
  • Make it green:
    • Reuse your bags and gently tear the tissue paper from them as you unwrap them so that you can fold it neatly and reuse them next year. This can be done with bows, tags and even wrapping paper too.
    • I like to use old newspapers for wrapping. One Christmas I was able to fit a Christmas tree crossword on the front of my Mom’s cookbook and Dexter (one of the shows he watches) with blood splotches on the front of my brother’s gift.
    • Choose hemp or wrapping paper from recycled materials

11. TAPEr this down

  • Use tape sparingly or not at all. My step father uses tape at every crease possible. The tell tale sign he wrapped the gift: tapping the paper to the gift! TAPEr this down.

12. Regift!

  • This is a fantastic trend! Have something you don’t want or need but know someone who will appreciate it? Pass it on!

flowers

Festive Feasts

13. Splurge on the Bird

  • This is not the time to be cheap. Opt for a turkey that is local, free range, organic, grass fed, antibiotic and hormone free! Now thats a roast to feast on. By buying local, you can reduce your ecological footprint up to 75%!

14. Taste, don’t waste

  • On average, Americans waste up 96 billion pounds of food each year, according to the USDA
  • Keep it green:
    • Take a taste of the food and remember, you can always go back for more.
    • Utilize the left overs. Something you don’t think you can eat before it goes bad? Freeze it or divi it up for your guests to take home and savour the next day. I’m sure they will appreciate not having to cook for that meal.
    • To make good use of this, let your guests feed themselves! It easier for you and it allows them to take only what and how much they want.
    • Plan your meals and how much food you will actually need to avoid waste later. Compost what doesn’t get eaten and cannot be salvaged

I will still be wishing for a white Christmas of course, but will be doing my part to make it a green one too!

Sprucing up Christmas,

Suzanne Eden

Manifest Monday // A Charles Dickens Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come (a Movement in Sustainability)

Tis the season of bulging stockings and empty wallets. Abundance in consumerism but a depleted earth. Admist a surplus of materialism, what are we truly giving? Where is our planet, the giver of all things, falling amongst the intricate wrapping and shiny bows? With financial stress and strains, it is no wonder so many have found the Bah-Humbug of Embinesor Scrooge. Perhaps, just like our friend, all we need to do is realise that the future does not have to be as we see it now if only we wake up and make a change.

 

I belive in the good things coming

Dear readers,

Now before we begin, let me assure you, I am an absolute christmas fanatic and in no way am I saying that gift giving is wrong. It is a wonderful thing when it comes from a loving place, in moderation and done right, can give back to the environment too. Thats where I see us heading too in the furture; a greener, more sustainble, balanced celebration with less gifts and more presence.

 

Christmas is a time of giving. YES! But we’ve come to a shift. A shift from  giving away our money, our sanity, and our planet’s natural resources to giving back to the environment instead. Are you ready for a green christmas?!  The true spirit of Christmas, afterall, lies beneath the wrappings and gift bows and even, dare I say it, the feast of festive food! The most meaningful part of it all is family coming together for the gift of unity. Yes, that gift. The gift that cannot be manufactured, shipped across seas and stamped with a price tag.

 

FACT: Our world cannot sustain Christmas as it is now and we are the ones who are going to change that!

Greener

Unlike Scrooge, without a grim attired spirit to directly show us our fates to come, we can turn a blind eye to buying so many things, especially when it’s a cultural tradition. In psychology we often relate this to a phenomena known as cognitive dissonance. This occurs when our belief systems do not match up with our realities. We understand that Christmas is harmful for the earth yet our behaviours are in complete contradiction to this. What do we do? As humans, we strive to maintain balance between our beliefs and realities  and so we have a choice. We can either:

  • A) Become a Krank (from Christmas with the Kranks) and decide to opt out of Christmas altogether
  • B) celebrate Christmas in an actively sustainable, unconventional way
  • C) not pay attention to our environmental impact and put more mental focus on the “stuff” and gift giving and wrapping

When we feel overwhelmed or that there is little we can do, we naturally revert to the option of least resistance. In this case, likely option C, the one we are often accustomed to. But that isn’t to say that just like our dear Scrooge we can’t turn this around, we can! All we need to do is wake up.

The STATutory Holidaze

According to stats Canada’s annual Christmas by the Numbers feature for 2012:

  • 230.2 million – value of christmas decorations imported to Canada (the majority coming from… you guessed it, China)
  • 4.4 Billion – the value of food and drink purchased
    • Us Canadians happen to be one of the highest ranking in food waste
  • $548.9 million — The value of televisions and audio and video equipment purchased in Canada in December 2012. (just Tvs, audio and video equipment alone).

The Story of Stuff

First things first; in waking ourselves up, we need to understand why we want to do it. Just as gripping as a Christmas carol, the story of stuff is a beautifully illustrated representation of the past, present and future of our consumerist economy. We can begin this Christmas to head towards a better system, a more sustainable, holistic system that gives to everyone, including our earth and fellow inhabitants. Afterall, where are Santa and his reindeer going to live when they can no longer call a melted North Pole home?

This is an absolute must watch video that’s cute, fun and extremely informative!

So now that we’re a little more informed, what do we do about this? That’s truly the big ticket item here after all. Here are a few tips to reduce our cognitive dissonance:

1. One foot in front of the other
Just as I recommend for your diet, take on one thing at a time. When we become overwhelmed, we feel a lack of control on our situation and will often revert back to our old habits, these are safe, these we know. Creating new habits takes time. Put one foot in front of the other and soon you are well on your way to a greener Christmas!

2. Make the chosen path more valuable and enjoyable

This is all about shifting our focus. Think of how amazing it feels to know that you are celebrating Christmas while doing good for the earth!

3. Consistent Beliefs

Become conscious, from here on out, with what you are purchasing. Lets keep in mind what we need instead of want, what we can give instead of get and what will benefit us and our earth for future generations to come. Is it ethical, sustainable, or is there a better choice? Make the best choices you can. Now that your actions are in line with your beliefs, you won’t experience that discomforting dissonance.

These are just a few tips (with more specific ones to come) to get you moving towards greener, more sustainable Christmases to come! We want the future glowing as bright as the energy efficient Christmas lights that are used sparingly around your festive home!

With loving steps to a greener future,
Suzanne Eden

Manifest Monday // Forgiveness and The Ghost of Christmas Past

In a flurry of hiking and christmas baking, it appears I missed yesterday’s post! But Tuesday is as good as any, isn’t it? As December is now upon us, christmas has officially consumed every waking moment of my day (and kitchen). I adore it! But somewhere amid the whirl of turkeys and tinsel, it becomes easy to forget the true meaning of Christmas. As the Grinch once wisely stated “Maybe christmas (he thought) doesn’t come from a store, maybe christmas, perhaps! Means a little bit more.”  These next posts are to inspire the enchanted child within us and disentangle the jumble of shiny decorations and purchaseable presents to unwrap the genuine meaning of Christmas.

 

rock

 

A Classic Christmas Carol

In search of the true spirit of Christmas, we look to a different sort of spirit entirely, a ghostly spirit if you will. The sort of spirit that I revisit every year as I luxuriate in the magical world of Charles Dickens “A Christmas Carol” and the humbug of Ebenezer Scrooge. The 1951 black and white film starring Alastair Sim being my personal favourite of the renditions of this holiday classic.
  • Whether this is completely new to you or you have heard this idea before, take a moment, right now, to consider that this very moment is the only one you have and will ever have. Really think about this, let it sink in a second. The past is over, done, finito, the future has not arrived, but where you are this second, that is all there is. This is all that truly matters.  A favourite quote of mine from another round bellied fellow this holiday: Gautama Buddha: “Each day, we are born again.” In truth, we are reborn in each moment, awakened to another chance, another opportunity. There is no need to wait for another tomorrow to transform yourself, you have a new beginning with each and every breath.
The Ghost of Christmas Past
What shackles you? What event or person are you chaining to yourself in your thoughts and beliefs?  Mental baggage is heavy. You are not Santa, drop the hefty load slug over your shoulder and feel how light you become.  Everyone deserves forgiveness, including yourself. Forgiveness does not mean that you wish to keep the person close to you or need to be in contact with them. It does not mean you condone their behaviour. Forgiveness is about releasing our metaphorical shackles. Accepting that what happened has past, moving forward, setting ourselves free of  unnecessary rumination on past events and moving into the present. A true gift indeed.
This week’s challenge:
Unwrap the gift of forgiveness this Christmas. This week, choose someone to forgive. Perhaps a friend, a family member, a past bully, or perhaps yourself. In forgiving, we allow the past to remain the past, we accept that it no longer exists, and by doing so, it will no longer control us. If a thought or belief does not serve you, it does not deserve you.
  • My personal favourite way to forgive? By understanding that every person and circumstance comes into our lives for a purpose. They have a lesson for us, a teaching. These people and circumstances are here to serve you. Some of the teachings I have received in life have seemed rather harsh and unforgivable, but when I came to see the value in even the darkest relationships I have had with others, I’ve come to see that they were a blessing. In the end, they were all a blessing. Forgiveness is the true light of heart. The true light of Christmas.
Unshackling the true light of forgiveness and Christmas,
Suzanne Eden