The holidays are in full swing and while it might be a little too easy to eat all the bad stuff, don’t forget to include some superfoods in your holiday dinner party recipes!
Highlight benefits of superfoods: brussels, butternut squash, and leeks — I’ll give you the recipes…add in how to enjoy yourself during the holidays and not stress when dealing with family, etc.
First…An Important Message about Holiday “Joy”
Before I talk about food, let me take a moment to remind you that the holidays are far more demanding than they need to be. I hope you don’t play into the hype.
Physically, emotionally, and financially exhausting, the holidays have become a marketing and expectation machine. Whether you celebrate Christmas, Hanukkah, or nothing at all, the strain (and insane marketing) are likely going to impact your life.
The roads are congested. The stores are packed. If you work in an office, there are probably sick co-workers, an abundance of candies and treats in the breakroom, and a combination of “festive” and “stress-tive” that you may struggle to overcome. In your personal life, no matter your situation, you can feel pressured to buy, buy, buy.
From Thanksgiving to New Year’s, marketing analysis for almost every company in the United States will confirm that this is when they make the lion’s share of their profit. Many companies make about 20% of their total annual profit in less than six weeks.
The National Retail Federation estimates that the average person celebrating either Christmas, Hanukkah, or Kwanzaa will spend between $800-1000 in those same six weeks.
You know how averages work. That estimate means some people spend far less while others go nuts. Credit card debt will explode, bonuses will be wiped out, and necessities will be put on hold to buy more gifts and “things” most don’t need.
For just a moment, I want you to stop and take a deep breath.
If you remove all religious aspects of the holidays for a minute, if you examine everything that goes on during the few weeks of “holiday season,” it comes down to a lot of money, way too much chaos, and a few weeks that can negatively affect the next calendar year.
Yes, there are many that profess this time of year is all about the religion but really think about how much of the holidays is devoted to it.
Then there are the people who find themselves alone during the holidays. Young and old alike who don’t have family or the ability to include themselves in holiday activities.
As you celebrate (or don’t) with family and friends, take a moment to ask yourself what you can do to streamline your holidays next year.
Can you cut the costs and apply them to something else with a long-range benefit to your life? Are there people you can reach out to in your city, neighborhood, or family that don’t normally get included? Is it possible to remove the anxiety by keeping it simple?
My wish for you is to love yourself enough to say no when you need to so you don’t wake up January 2nd filled with regret about time and money spent.
Now…a little about foods.
Superfoods You Need to Celebrate
Three of my favorite superfoods are in season this time of year and I’m going to give you recipes that you’re going to love.
Brussels Sprouts: Packed with nutrition (especially vitamins K and C), these cruciferous veggies have been proven to lower LDL “bad” cholesterol, boost overall heart health, naturally detoxify your system, and lower inflammation. Their fiber content makes them perfect for vitamin absorption as well as a healthy gastrointestinal system. I love to roast them to serve with steaks and seafood.
Butternut Squash: During the winter months, squash is a key source of carotenoids, powerful antioxidants that help boost your immune system. They also provide ample amounts of vitamins A and C with an excellent dose of fiber. The compounds found in squash are naturally anti-inflammatory and help to regulate blood glucose levels. They are readily available as well as inexpensive.
Leeks: Much like their cousins, garlic and onions, leeks are a sulfur-rich vegetable that is bursting with excellent nutrition. They’re a good source of vitamin K, manganese, copper, and folate. The primary health benefit is in regards to your heart due to the kaempferol flavonoid that has been proven to protect the linings of your blood vessels.
Holiday Dinner Party Recipes:
Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Butternut Squash, and Dried Cranberries
- 1 medium butternut squash, peeled and diced into ¾ inch pieces
- 1 pound Brussels Sprouts (washed, trimmed, and cut in half)
- ¼ cup dried cranberries
- 2-3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Preheat the oven to 450 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Place butternut squash and Brussels sprouts on a large baking sheet.
- Drizzle with olive oil and toss to distribute oil evenly. Sprinkle evenly with salt and pepper and toss again.
- Spread evenly on the baking sheet and turn Brussels sprouts cut side down.
- Roast for 20-30 minutes, tossing gently during to ensure veggies caramelize evenly on all sides. Scatter the dried cranberries onto baking sheet in the last five minutes of roasting time.
- Place in glass dish and toss with a bit more olive oil if desired. Serve hot or cold.
Chicken Breast, Leeks, and Mushrooms
- 2 whole boneless chicken breasts with skin (rinsed, patted dry, cut in half)
- 2 whole leeks (clean and chopped)
- 12 mushrooms (wiped clean and sliced)
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- ¼ cup white wine
- ¼ cup chicken broth
- ¼ teaspoon paprika
- ½ teaspoon dried thyme (crumbled)
- 1 teaspoon capers (drained and chopped)
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Lemon juice to taste
- Heat oil in skillet over medium-high heat.
- Sprinkle chicken breasts with paprika, salt, and pepper.
- Sauté chicken (turning once) until golden brown (approximately 3-5 minutes each side).
- Reduce temperature to low.
- Stir in leeks, mushrooms, wine, broth, capers, and thyme. Simmer partially covered for 25-30 minutes on low heat. *Chicken should be cooked through*
- Plate and sprinkle with lemon juice if desired.
There are many excellent options for this time of year. Take a look at our Winter Superfoods article for more great ideas.
In the meantime, cook, relax, and don’t let the stress-tivities get to you!