Happy Healthy Thanksgiving
Dr. Mary MacDonald has attached her October newsletter to this post – the topic this month was Happy Healthy Thanksgiving! Included are some yummy recipes to help you have a healthy Thanksgiving feast.
In traditional Chinese Medicine, the organs that are associated with the fall period are the lungs and large intestine, which govern the skin. Our skin reflects what is going on deeper in our body. The Lung refers to the whole respiratory system and includes the nose and sinuses. Across the boundary of the lungs oxygen is taken in and carbon dioxide waste is excreted. The Lung’s paired Organ, the large intestine, is concerned with release and elimination. Pathogens most easily enter through the respiratory and digestive systems and the Lung and Colon are responsible for maintaining the integrity of these systems so that they are not penetrated by invaders.
Abundant Lung energy manifests as strong physical vitality. There is a sense of softness and fullness in the chest, strong lungs and a clear powerful voice. Immunity is strong, so recovery from illness is quick and effective, the skin is glossy and the complexion is bright and fresh.
Deep Breathing: The Lung is nourished by breathing. The best way to amplify Lung energy is to take plenty of fresh air, develop the physical capacity of the lungs through exercise such as swimming, and to consciously bring awareness into the breath. A few minutes each day of relaxed breathing, learning to breathe with the diaphragm and relaxing the muscles of the chest and shoulders, can be very effective at building the power of the Lung.
- Breathe in through your nose, and think of breathing in all the way to your belly, taking is as much air as possible. Once the lungs are completely full, hold the lungs full for a count of five. Once you have counted to five, exhale through your mouth from the very bottom of your Lungs until they are completely empty.
Exercise. This can be difficult as time is limited during the holiday season but it can make a huge difference in your mood and energy levels. You want to aim for a minimum of 30 minutes each day to positively affect your physical and emotional stamina and strength. As long as you are dressed properly you can spend lots of time outdoors when the weather gets blustery! Involve family and friends – try planning active get-togethers with family and friends such as:
- Walk around your neighborhood to view the decorations
- Go for a hike – urban hiking can be just as fun as rural hiking
- Rake and sweep your neighbor’s front porch and sidewalk – this will make you feel good physically and emotionally
- Play hide and seek in the neighborhood
- Stop at a playground and play
- Eat regular meals during the season – do not starve yourself during the day to be able to indulge in a larger meal later. This causes your body to go into “starvation mode”, slowing your metabolism and causing you to gain weight.
- Do not go shopping or to a party on an empty stomach – fill up on healthy foods at home before you go out since you are more likely to eat non nutritious food at your favourite holiday get together.
- Drink water – do not allow yourself to become dehydrated during the day. Dehydration is commonly misdiagnosed as hunger; if you think you are hungry, try drinking a glass of water to see if that does the trick!
- Moderate your alcohol intake – When you arrive at a party, grab a sparkling water with a twist, and wait at least 30 minutes before eating or having a cocktail. This will give you time to relax, get comfortable in your surroundings, and survey your choices before starting to indulge. Alcoholic beverages are dehydrating and are non nutrients to our body so alcohol may replace healthy snacks during the prime celebrating time of the year. Be sure to have 2 glasses of water for every glass of alcoholic beverage you consume; this will minimize the dehydrating effects.
If You Are Hosting:
- If you are serving a traditional holiday feast, serve sweet potatoes instead of white. These are high in beta carotene, Vitamin C, potassium, and iron. Don’t store sweet potatoes in the fridge: they will lose their flavor! Mashed cauliflower is much lower in starch than the root vegetables we often see on Thanksgiving tables – see recipes below for an easy one!
- Supply lots of vegetable side dishes and vegetarian options – at a holiday meal your guests will likely want to sample many options so have most of your options be healthy!
- Serve vegetables and (homemade) dip, fruit platters, & nuts (almonds, cashews & walnuts).
- Use Greek yogurt instead of regular sour cream for creamy dips
- Serve a fruit pie or crisp (apple, blueberry, etc.) rather than a nut pie (pecan). These are much higher in nutrients and lower in saturated fats.
- Serve the real versions of trimmings – I’m thinking cranberry sauce made from cranberries, not a can, and gravy made from turkey droppings, not a packet! These options are much healthier as they are made from real ingredients. The packaged options are some of what I commonly refer to as astronaut food – we live on earth and thankfully we can enjoy real food made here. These options are very easy to make as well!
Cranberry Cherry Relish – adapted from www.elenaspantry.com
1 (8 ounce) package fresh cranberries
1 (10 ounce) package frozen cherries
1 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
1 tablespoon maple syrup or 10 drops stevia
- Place cranberries, cherries, orange juice and stevia in a saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat. Simmer about 20 minutes, until berries have burst and sauce has thickened. Transfer to a bowl and serve
Mashed Cauliflower – adapted from www.elenaspantry.com
2 heads cauliflower, washed and cut into large pieces
2 tablespoons olive oil or butter
½ teaspoon celtic sea salt
- Steam the cauliflower pieces until very tender. Puree cauliflower in a food processor, add in olive oil and salt. Reheat in a casserole dish in the oven at 350° for 20 minutes. Serve
Healthy Gingerbread Cookies – adapted from www.mywholefoodlife.com
3 cup flour – I like almond flour
1/3 cup + 1 tbsp maple syrup
1/4 cup blackstrap molasses
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
3/4 tsp baking soda
1/4 tsp salt
1 tbsp ginger
- Mix the dry ingredients in one bowl. Mix wet in another. Add dry to wet and mix only until combined.
- Remove the dough from the bowl and cut into two equal parts.
- Wrap the dough in plastic and refrigerate for at least 2 hours.
- Preheat oven to 350.
- After two hours, remove the dough from the fridge.
- Roll the dough onto a floured surface until it is about 1/4 inch thick. Please use additional flour if necessary.
- Cut dough into desired shapes and place them onto a lined baking sheet.
- Bake the cookies for about 8 minutes and then let them cool a bit before removing.
- Set them aside to completely cool before decorating. Enjoy!