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5 Musts for Healthy Holidays

Posted Nov 20 2012 6:00am

The holidays are my favorite time of the year, but there are certain things about them that, admittedly, can make them less than healthy. The parties, the indulgence, the stress (for some people)...

So here are my five musts for a healthy holiday season! I hope they help!

1) Relax.

I want to emphasize this one, because I know that (especially in healthy living communities) people can be real hard***es about their diets and about 'keeping it clean' (I object to the idea of clean vs. dirty food, anyway, unless you mean it literally fell on the ground) during the holidays. The holidays are meant to be enjoyed!

Cookies are meant to be eaten, hot cocoa is meant to be indulged in, and family-style dinners aren't meant to be nitpicked over!

Sometimes healthiness can be unhealthy and I'd definitely chalk allowing 'healthiness' to negatively effect your holiday socialization, time with family, or enjoyment of the holidays into the unhealthy category. No bueno!

Um, yeah, I don't speak Spanish. *Sheepish.*

2) Get some fresh air.

Not only is fresh air good because it gets you out of the (often over-)heated, dry indoors, but getting some fresh air can be really centering and relaxing. It's also a great opportunity to bond with a loved one, whether it's on a stroll around the neighborhood or building snowmen in the yard. If you're going for a little stroll, which is my favorite way to get some fresh air during the holiday season, it's also a great opportunity to catch some Christmas decorations!

If you're someone who works out regularly, I'd also encourage you to loosen up on your regular routine. I know that's the opposite of what a lot of people recommend, but I'm recommending it for a few reasons: first, because it's a great opportunity to make sure that you're not addicted (see the healthiness -> unhealthy argument above). Second, there's so much that you can enjoy from the holidays with your loved ones that it would be silly to spend your time by yourself working out because you 'have to get those minutes in.' And third, because there are plenty of great ways to stay active and have fun during the holidays, whether it's strolling with friends, building snowmen, sledding, going skiing (if you're that lucky), cleaning the house (a workout that your mom/host will really appreciate!), hacking firewood, etc. Have some fun!

3) Say no sometimes.

Now I'm not saying that you should pull a Grinch or Scrooge and not show up to a single holiday party or participate in a single secret santa exchange. But don't feel like you have to go to five parties in one week or let yourself get roped into seven secret santa exchanges (and realize that your wallet can't handle it!) either.

It's okay to say 'no' sometimes, as long as you say 'yes' sometimes, too. That's not being a bad person, that's being a balanced person.

4) If you drink, alternate drinks.

Drunk driving deaths are always awful, but there's no worse time to have a drunk driving death happen to a loved one than the holiday season, when you all want to gather together and be merry. Unfortunately, a lot of alcohol-related accidents do occur on the streets during the holidays (both where the drunk drivers are injured and where they injure innocents) because often merriment involves alcohol. I'm not saying don't drink, I'm just saying do it responsibly! If you've been drinking, don't drive. If you know someone else has been drinking, encourage them not to drive.

And alternating alcoholic with non-alcoholic beverages is a good idea for a number of reasons - you won't get dehydrated, you'll be less likely to suffer from a bad hangover, and you're less likely to do something embarrassing at the office party!

holiday-tip.gifThis is so wrong! But I laughed.
5) Always eat breakfast.

There are plenty of great reasons why breakfast is more important than ever during the holidays!

    * You need the energy of a good breakfast to fuel you through all of your holiday fun, prep, and travel.

   * There’s more time over break to sit down as a family (or group of friends) and enjoy a delicious breakfast together. 

   * And, from a pure nutrition standpoint, starting the day with a healthy breakfast will not only make you more likely to continue to at least eat some healthy foods throughout the rest of the day  (there are a number of solid scientific studies showing this!) but it also puts some ‘real food’ in your stomach that will keep you from feeling sick if you do hit the truffles and yummy baked goods a little too hard.

So, courtesy of Mary’s Bread Basket and the 25 Days of Giveaways, here’s a delicious way to start your day!

Mary’s Bread Basket is a whole grain spelt bakery selling freshly milled whole-grain spelt home baked goods and while the bakery is based in Virginia, they ship all across the United States!

Everything, from their Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies, to their Sprouted Spelt Carrot Muffins, to their Sesame Seed Crackers, to their Milk & Honey Bread is 100% whole grain and made out of additive-free, freshly milled whole-grain spelt flour (Mary mills the spelt berries herself, right before baking, so that they the retain optimal nutritional value)!

She also never uses hydrogenated oils, not even in her thick and chewy cookies, opting for healthy coconut oil (which supports immune system, helps prevent osteoporosis, and may even help control diabetes!) instead.

All of her breads are fiber-rich from the whole spelt and she has recently increased her sprouted spelt offerings! Sprouting the spelt is cool because it increases the vitamin B, C, and carotene content of the grain and (for those watching their carbs) breaks down the starches in the grains so that your body digests them like vegetables instead of starches.

On top of being very good for you, they’re also amazingly delicious! This isn’t sponsored by Mary’s Bread Bakery (my reviews never are – they’re always just 100% my unadulterated opinion) but I seriously think y’all should all click over to her Etsy Shop and order some bread ASAP. 

I’ve baked spelt bread before and, like most 100% whole grain home made breads, it can get pretty hard/dry. These are so soft, though! They’re through-and-through soft, I can’t believe it.

And, as you can see, the crumb is awesome.

They’re delightfully filling and, because of all that fiber, they stick with you. You can have a sandwich and then go out on a present shopping frenzy with peace of mind – you’ll stay satisfied and energized!

I tried her Vegan Whole Grain Almond Raisin bread and it’s so good. Though all that’s in it is whole spelt flour, filtered water, almonds, organic raisins, yeast, and sea salt (that’s it), the raisins lend enough sweetness to it to make it really delicious with just a little butter or margarine on top. The almonds are perfect and the loaf tasted as fresh as if it had come out of the oven just a few hours earlier!

Oh, and these loaves freeze really well.

If you don't have a toaster, you can toast slices (straight from frozen, no need to thaw first!) in a pan for a few seconds on each side.

Then spread with your desired toppings and it's as good as if toasted from fresh - just FYI!

Anyway, while the Vegan Whole Grain Almond Raisin Bread was my clear favorite, the Sprouted Spelt Caraway Bread was really delicious, too! It was just as soft, just as fresh, and full of flavorful caraway seeds. It’s also vegan, but if you are not vegan I’d definitely recommend this as the base of a cheese sandwich.

No Velveeta allowed, though, because the bread is just way too awesome for that.

I could go on about how yummy these breads are for quite a while, but I have a better idea. Let’s get to the giveaway part, so that you can win your own loaf of Mary’s Bread Basket Vegan Almond Raisin Bread!

The giveaway is open to US readers and will run through December 4. Spread the cheer and let your friends/family know about it, too!

Don’t forget to check my current giveaways and make sure that you’ve entered all of my other 25 Days of  giveaways so far! And today is the last day to enter my INTERNATIONAL Vermont Christmas Company Advent Calendar Giveaway !

What's your favorite breakfast?

What would you put on a slice of Mary's Bread Basket bread?
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