Monthly Archives: December 2014

What Do You Want Your Life to Look Like One Year from Now?

When you plant asparagus you have to wait a couple of years for it to mature before it can be harvested.  Think it's worth waiting for?

When you plant asparagus you have to wait a couple of years for it to mature before it can be harvested. Think it’s worth waiting for?

It’s the eve of a New Year and for many of us that brings up a lot of introspective thoughts.  We think about what we could have done differently, what we should have done differently, we make up resolutions and hope to stick to them.  We enter the new year honestly planning to do better.  However, for most of us, a year passes and we still haven’t quit smoking, we still never made it to the gym we joined and we’re still in debt up to our ears.  Often, the great deterrent to being successful with these resolutions is that they are long term goals that we are thinking of like short-sighted ones.  Long term goals take time to accomplish – often a year or more – but we want what we want NOW.

The thought of waiting a whole year to accomplish something or to see changes can feel overwhelming.  It can feel like it isn’t worth it.  It can make you feel like it’s futile to even try.  A whole year?? Eek! I want results, I want change, I want what I want NOW.

I can’t tell you how many times in my life I decided to not do something because the amount of time it would take to do it sapped my motivation.  After college, I avoided going to grad school because the thought of being in school for another year or two was more daunting than going out into the real world with no plan or clue about what I was going to do career-wise.  It just seemed like so LONG to get what I wanted (though it turns out I didn’t want it that much to begin with).  Even losing weight used to feel so daunting. When I topped out at 225 when I was in college, I was so overwhelmed by how much I had to lose to be a healthy weight (I’m not very tall) that for a long while, I just didn’t do anything about it.  If I ignore it, it doesn’t exist, right? It’s not a problem if I choose to do nothing about it??  Since I couldn’t drop 50 – 75 lbs in a week it just wasn’t worth doing.

I am queen of instant gratification. If I can’t benefit from something instantly, it’s easy for me to not be that enthralled by it.  I’m slowly learning that some of the best stuff comes from being patient and allowing things to unfold as they’re supposed to.  Not everything is as simple as flipping the switch and having a light turn on. Often the journey of getting to where you want to be is as satisfying as the end result itself.  No, really!

The Health Coaching program I did at IIN took a year.  When I finally enrolled, I thought it was going to be forever before I would graduate.  Nope! Went by way faster than I could have ever imagined.  In a few weeks my business will be a whole year old.  Not sure how that’s possible because I swear it feels like I just started! In my personal life, I’ve lost 40.5 inches (thanks to Barre classes) and I’ve lost 20 lbs in 2014 (40 lbs total since 5/13 but 20 of it was since 1/14).

The point of all this is that you can accomplish a lot in one year’s time and it will go by a lot faster than you think it will.  What do you want to accomplish this year? How do you want to feel when 2015 ends?

Do you put off losing weight because you are overwhelmed by how long it will take?
Do you get frustrated when you can’t change your habits overnight?
Do you want to be fit right now?
Do you run away or ignore things when you can’t fix it immediately?

I know way too well how shitty it feels when nothing in your closet fits (especially after the holidays!) and how badly you wish you were smaller, fitter, firmer etc (you name it).  Here’s the thing:  There’s no magic fix that will fix it instantly.  If there was we’d ALL know about it.  It wouldn’t be a secret.  I also know how sickening being over your head in debt feels and I know the pain of spending your days doing something that drains you instead of fulfills you. I get it, I really do.

If you really do want to change your life, if you want to feel better in your body and more confident when you look in the mirror, you have to put the work in and it WILL take time.  Same goes with heading down a new career path, getting out of debt or any other big dream or goal you have. You’ve got to put in the time.

The good news though is that it takes just a few days of eating well and exercising to feel a difference, just a few weeks to see a change in the scale or in how our clothes fit and just a few months for others to notice the changes you’ve made!  And all the while, whether you’ve been working at taking better care of yourself for 5 days or 50 weeks, you will feel good about the choices you are making, which will help you continue to make good choices – which is what it takes to reach your goals. Before you know it, you’ve committed to a cleaner diet and more exercise and a whole year or two has passed!

We can’t get time back.  So why not start right now?  Today? With your next meal?

Just as quickly as a year can go by when making positive changes, a year can go by when remaining stagnant.  We don’t want 5 years to pass and wish we had made better choices all that time.  You don’t want to wish you started an exercise program or your started to save money sooner.

Eating better, exercising and making time for self-care is important because it’s a way to reach our goals, but it’s also how we increase our chances of living a healthy life.  Sedentary, junk food filled lives often translate to a shorter lifespan or reduced quality of life in our later years. Who wants that?  It’s about so much more than looking good – it’s about feeling strong and healthy so that we can enjoy our entire lives (not just the parts that happen while we’re young).

I know it’s difficult.  I never want you to feel like I’m saying it’s easy to do these things – I know how overwhelming of a task changing our lives is.  But I want you to know that it can be done and I’m here to support you if you would like help (a coach can help you implement changes seamlessly into your life, as well as provide accountability and support along the way – doesn’t matter if it’s diet related or in another area, career, relationships etc.).

What do you want to have accomplished one year from now? How will you get there?  Can you start working towards it right NOW? What sort of support is helpful for you? Please share in the comments and we can support each other!

And Happy Happy Happy New Year!

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The Upcoming New Year – What do you want from it?

photo credit: hnnbz via photopin cc

photo credit: hnnbz via photopin cc

Happy New Year (almost)! I hope your holiday season has been wonderful – filled with love and joy and hopefully lots of well deserved lazy relaxation.

I am wishing for you a 2015 where you dream big and reach goals you’ve set for yourself. What do you want from 2015? Do you want a repeat of this year? Or do you want something totally different?

I don’t have a ton to say today. I’m mostly sending good wishes to you as I contemplate what I want for the coming year. I hope you are thinking about what you want the next 12 months to look/feel like too.

What I want for the coming year has a lot to do with how I’ve spent my time this year. I’ve been incredibly productive and I’m very excited about all that I’ve accomplished in my first year of business. (Thank you for coming along for the ride and for supporting me!) But despite all that I’ve been able to do, all that I’ve learned and how far I’ve come this year, I find that for me, 2014 was plagued by too many “shoulds” and “have tos”.  This is a part of my personality that I have always struggled with and it really reared its ugly head the last several weeks. As the holidays came closer, I found myself setting loftier goals to end the year – knowing how great it would feel if I accomplished all of it before December 31st.  Well somewhere around mid-December I felt the pressure mounting and said screw it! I realized it was more important for me to enjoy the season, spend time with people I love and relax than it was to accomplish x,y and z.  I was setting goals with my head, not my heart.  Goals set with our heads are important (they keep the bills paid) but goals set by our hearts are equally and sometimes more so (they keep us happy and prevent burnout).

For 2015, I want more of the same success and momentum that I’ve had during 2014 but I’m going to work on giving less attention to the “shoulds” or “have tos” and more attention to what I want in my heart. A coaching practice is a heart-centered business and I’m a heart-centered person. Operating in this way will ensure 2015 is a calmer year for me – even as my business grows.

As usual, when trying to change a habit, I start by asking myself some questions. Is that goal coming from a deep desire? Am I excited about it? Will the return be worth the effort?  Or is that goal coming from an expectation I’m putting on myself? Does it have to be done now or can it wait a little bit? The answers to these (and others) can help clarify my motivations.

So that’s where my head is as we wrap up 2014:  assessing, revising and revisioning.  How was this year for you? What do you want from 2015? What do you want to feel like one year from today? How do you plan to get there?  Make it happen!

Sweet Potato, Turnip & Sausage Collard Rolls with Smoked Paprika Mayo

Collard rolls (with random kimchi and broccoli making an appearance).

Collard rolls (with random kimchi and broccoli making an appearance).

Ah, you caught me again – it’s another meal with sausage! haha! To be honest, I was going to make this with black beans because I was making it on a night when John wasn’t going to be home for dinner (he can’t tolerate beans & lentils) but he cancelled his plans last minute and I had to resort to sausage because I had some defrosted in the fridge.  I have no doubt this would be delicious with black beans – and I WILL make this with them next time.

Apologies for the lack of photos – I wasn’t planning on blogging this one – only took a photo to post in one of my detox groups – but I enjoyed it and thought others would too!

This was really easy to make – the longest part was just boiling the sweet potato & turnip (about 20 minutes).  Rolling them up was took 5 min and baking was just long enough to make sure they were warm!  And of course, I already had homemade mayo in the fridge so I just added the smoked paprika and other seasonings to it and it was ready to serve. This is another example of a meal I pulled out of my ass – came home, didn’t have a plan for dinner, took a quick survey of the fridge and pantry and boom – this is what we have.

I just want to drive home how a healthy and delicious meal doesn’t have to be complicated or require a fancy recipe.  As long as you keep lots of vegetables, high quality protein options and good fats on hand at all times (throw in a whole grain or starchy vegetable if you want) – you can literally throw almost any of it together and it will probably taste good. But you have to know some basic cooking techniques (steaming, sauteing, roasting etc) and be willing to experiment with spices, herbs aromatics and different combinations to learn what you like.  Everyone has different taste and style when it comes to food – some of the things that I love combined together might be weird to you – that’s fine! But take some time to learn what you DO like.  I’m going to drive this point home a zillion more times until every American cooks real food from scratch on a regular basis. So you may get used to hearing it!

Also, don’t feel like you have to use turnip in this if you hate turnips – they’re not my favorite but they blend in pretty unnoticeable here.  You could use more sweet potato, celery root or even regular potato in place of turnip.

Ingredients
1 bunch collard greens, washed, thick ribs removed, then sliced down the center rib (so that each leaf ends up in two equal halves)
1 large sweet potato, peeled, chopped into 1 inch pieces
1 gilfeather turnip, peeled, chopped into 1 inch pieces
2 tsp olive or coconut oil
1 medium leek, whites and light green parts washed and chopped
1 lb sausage of your choice (or beans!) – pre-cooked or raw, preferably organic
2 tbsps pasture butter
1 tsp dried thyme leaves
1/4 cup fresh parsley or 1 tbsp dried
sea salt and black pepper

For serving
Smoked paprika mayo / aioli 

Directions
Bring a 4 quart pot full of water to a boil.  When boiling, carefully add the sweet potato and turnip and simmer for 20 minutes or until vegetables are tender enough to mash.  While they are cooking, toss the collard greens on top, in the same pot as the sweet potato and turnips and let boil for just 30 seconds to 1 minute.  Remove carefully with tongs and set in a colander to drain.

After you’ve removed the collard greens, heat another pan over medium heat, add olive or coconut oil and saute your sausage (casing removed if raw) until cooked through.  Add the leeks to the sausage and cook until the leeks are soft.  If using pre-cooked sausage, cook the leeks first and then add the sausage (chopped) and just heat until the sausage is completely warmed through, then remove from heat and set aside.

Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.  When the turnip and sweet potato are tender, drain the water (carefully) and mash until there are no lumps.  Mix in the butter, thyme and parsley, salt and pepper to taste and then mix in the cooked sausage and leeks.

Lay out the collard green halves (steamed and cut right down the center stem – after thick part has been removed) and place a few tablespoons of the sweet potato sausage mixture on one end and roll up like you’re rolling a cigarette (you don’t smoke but the way you envision a cigarette would be rolled) but not too tightly – you don’t want to squeeze out the filling. It should be sticky enough that you don’t need to seal the ends (but you can fold them in if you have enough leaf).  Place the rolls in a small casserole dish and bake for 5 – 10 minutes or until warmed through.

Serve 3 or 4 rolls to each person and top with dollops of the smoked paprika mayo.  Slice with a fork and knife and enjoy!

Makes 10 – 12 collard rolls.

Cranberry, Goji, and Prune Compote – Two Ways

Sweet Cranberry Goji & Prune Compote (on steel cut oats)

Sweet Cranberry Goji & Prune Compote (on steel cut oats)

The majority of my recipes lately come together out of being hungry and wanting to use up something I have in the fridge or pantry.  It’s not always amazing – I have plenty of flops.  But sometimes it’s tasty enough that I can envision multiple uses for it! This is one of those times. Sure, this recipe has a good amount of sugar in it but at least the sugar comes from fruit (the juice I use is pure fruit & water) and there’s a crapload of fiber and antioxidants in it.

This fruit compote can be used two ways, sweet and savory.  I really love the savory version – something about rosemary, ginger, butter and shallots with the tangy sweetness of the fruit is just delicious.

The sweet version can be used as an alternative to canned cranberry sauce (though less sweet), a topping for oatmeal or even as a topping for a pie. I’m thinking it would also be delicious on vanilla ice cream if heated up! The savory version is awesome to top baked/broiled salmon, as a sauce for dipping chicken in (I’d probably puree it for that purpose) or served with pork chops.  I’m sure you can come up with some more delicious options!

Savory compote. Don't mind the overcooked salmon  - girl gets distracted!

Savory compote. Don’t mind the overcooked salmon – girl gets distracted!

The great thing about this is that it takes just about 10 minutes to make the sweet version and then to make the savory version, you just add a few more ingredients and cook for another few minutes.  Easy peasy way to add a ton of flavor (and look fancy) to a meal.

Ingredients
Option 1 (Sweet)
1 cup fresh organic cranberries, washed
7-8 sulfite free prunes, chopped
3 tbsp dried goji berries
4 oz unsweetened organic apple sauce
8 oz organic 100% juice cranberry or pomegranate blend (I used knudson’s blueberry pomegranate blend but I think their cranberry or other red blends can work fine)

Option 2 (Savory)
2 tbsp fresh rosemary leaves, chopped
1 large shallot, minutes
1 inch piece of fresh ginger, peeled and grated
1 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
sea salt to taste

Directions
Put all the ingredients for the Sweet version in a small pot and slowly bring a boil.  Simmer, stirring occasionally until the cranberries start to pop and the mixture thickens. This should take about 10 minutes start to finish. Turn down the heat if it seems to be losing liquid too quickly (you can always add a little more juice).  You can use right away for sweet uses but it will be more firm if you refrigerate it for at least an hour.

To make the savory version, remove the sweet version from the pan and place in a small bowl.  Put the pan back on the burner and melt the butter.  When the butter is melted, add the shallots, rosemary and ginger and cook, stirring occasionally until the rosemary is fragrant and the shallots are lightly browned (2-3 minutes).  Stir in the sweet compote and add sea salt to taste.  Stir to distribute the salt and savory ingredients and remove from heat when it is heated through (will take just a couple minutes if you are reheating cold compote from the fridge).  Use for savory uses right away.

Makes 1 1/4 – 1 1/2 cups of compote.

Chicken Soup with Bok Choy, Celery and Sweet Potato

Simple dinners are sometimes the best ones!

Simple dinners are sometimes the best ones!

This was a really simple soup I put together for John recently when he wasn’t feeling so hot and it was perfect!  It really hit the spot and was a snap to make!  The key was using homemade chicken bone broth that I had made the day before. It’s exactly what you want to eat when you’ve had a busy day of Christmas shopping, errands or have been over indulging a little too much! Good old comfort food!

You can certainly use store bought broth for this, but the final flavor really depends on the quality of your broth.  If you wouldn’t want to drink your store bought broth by itself, it probably won’t be tasty enough to use in a simple soup like this.  Consider making your own if you can, it’s so very good for you and tastes so much better than anything you can buy.  I have a recipe here which is good base.  On this particular day, instead of the carrots and onion in my regular broth, I added the dark green parts from a couple of leeks and the fronds from a fennel bulb (both of which I had saved and put in my freezer for the purpose of making stock). It  came out really good!

Good quality stock and a few simple ingredients and dinner is done.  You can throw almost anything into some good homemade broth and it will taste good. I love adding a huge chunk of fresh turmeric (grated) to it – it adds a ton of rich color and an earthy flavor.

Ingredients
4-6 cups chicken broth (preferably homemade)
2 split bone in chicken breasts
3 heads baby bok choy or 1 regular sized one, sliced into bite sized chunks
3 stalks celery, sliced
1 sprig fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
2 medium sized sweet potatoes, peeled
1 2-inch long piece of fresh turmeric, grated
Salt and pepper to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Wrap peeled sweet potatoes in foil and place on one side of a large cookie sheet. Put the split chicken breasts on the other side of the cookie sheet.  Bake both for 45 minutes.  Remove from oven and set aside for a few minutes.  In a large stock pan or dutch oven, bring the chicken broth to a simmer and then add the bok choy, rosemary, celery and turmeric.  Continue simmering for 10 minutes or until the celery is tender.  When the chicken is cool enough to handle, remove the meat from the bones, cut into bite sized pieces and add to the soup.  Open the foil packets and chop the sweet potato into bite sized pieces and add to the soup.  If the sweet potato is still somewhat firm, let the soup continue simmering until it is soft, otherwise just cook until everything is warmed through.  Add salt and pepper to taste and serve!

Makes 4 light servings

Mushroom Herb Quinoa Patties with Pan Seared Sea Scallops & Spicy Garlic Mayo

Delicious, easy and good for you!

Delicious, easy and good for you!

That title is a mouthful, huh?

Who says eating gluten free or not eating cheese has to be boring?  Sometimes you’re just in the mood for a meal that looks a little fancy even if it isn’t.  This was delicious and came together really quickly even on a weeknight! I had leftover quinoa in the fridge and scallops take less than 6 minutes to cook in a pan.  The worst part is whisking the oil into the mayo (just take a break and stretch your forearm if needed. Just kidding, it’s not that bad). And if you’re grossed out by the idea of eating mayo as a condiment with a meal, well I have news for you, you’ve eaten it before at fancy restaurants – it’s also called aioli or rouille.  Using well flavored mayo’s to flavor seafood, soups or other dishes is a much older tradition than using it on sandwiches. So there. I’m going to go enjoy my homemade mayo now that I’ve gotten that off my chest.  I think I just made mayo hipster? Is that what just happened there?

This is a great way to use up leftover quinoa and any diced veggies you may have in the fridge.  I use mushrooms, celery and onions here but you certain could use other things if you don’t have those. No need to limit yourself!  And if you don’t eat seafood or are vegetarian, the quinoa patties each have about 5 g of protein in them so a couple of those and some veggies and you’ll still have a filling meal!  These are also good when used as sort of a falafel with some tahini sauce, tomatoes, cucumbers and all that deliciousness.

A note on substitutions: If you have a problem with soy, feel free to leave out the tamari – it just adds a little umami flavor.  It won’t be a big deal if you leave it out.  Feel free to use other GF flours that you have on hand or if you eat wheat, you can use breadcrumbs.

I think you’ll love this!  When you eat like this, you won’t miss heavily processed food, cheese, wheat or anything else.  Good stuff!

Ingredients

Patties
1 cup dry quinoa, cooked and cooled
6 – 8 oz mushrooms, chopped in small pieces
1 medium onion, diced
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
1 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
1 clove garlic minced
2 sprigs fresh rosemary, leaves chopped
1 tsp dried oregano
1/4 cup chopped fresh parsley
1 whole egg or the whites from 2 eggs
2 – 4 tbsp coconut flour
1 tsp low sodium tamari
sea salt and black pepper to taste

Sea Scallops
1 tbsp unsalted pasture butter
1 tbsp olive or coconut oil
12 sea scallops, trimmed, rinsed and patted dry with paper towels
sea salt and black pepper

Spicy Garlic Mayo
2 egg yolks (from pasture raised organic hens – local is best!)
2 tsp dijon mustard
1 cup olive oil (don’t use Extra Virgin for this)
juice from half a lemon
1-2 cloves garlic, minced
sea salt
1 tbsp sriracha sauce (I use Ninja Squirrel brand from Whole Foods)

Directions
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Make the patties first.  Heat a medium sized saute pan over medium heat. When it’s hot, add 1 tbsp butter and saute the celery, mushrooms and onion until the onions are translucent and the mushrooms have browned. Add the garlic, rosemary and oregano and cook for just 30 seconds or so.  Turn off the heat and stir into the cooled quinoa.  Add the egg whites (I used egg whites only because I used the yolks for the mayo and didn’t want to waste them) tamari, parsley, coconut flour, salt and pepper.  Start with 2 tbsps of coconut flour and stir well.  Add more coconut flour if the mixture is very moist.  Coconut flour will absorb some of the moisture but sometimes too much so! Add a couple tbsp of water if that happens.

Grease a baking sheet with whatever fat you prefer to use and then form the mixture into 10 – 12 patties.  They should be a little smaller than the palm of your hand.  Place on the baking sheet and bake for 20 minutes, then flip and bake for another 5-7 minutes.raw quinoa mushroom patties before going in the oven.

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

Crispy on the outside, soft on the inside.

While the patties are baking, make the spicy garlic mayo. Put the minced garlic on a firm surface (a cutting board will do) and sprinkle generously with sea salt.  The salt will soften the garlic and help it to release juices. Place the egg yolks* and dijon mustard in a medium bowl and whisk until well combined.  Continue whisking and slowly drizzle the olive oil down the side of the bowl.  The oil and the yolk mixture will start to emulsify. Keep whisking and pour the oil slower than you have to.  If you pour too fast, the emulsion will start to break (stop pouring and whisk until it comes back together).  As it thickens, the bowl may start to slide around – it might help to rest the bowl on a dish towel.  When you finish whisking in the oil, add the garlic with it’s juices and salt, the lemon juice and whisk.  When that is well blended, whisk in the sriracha sauce.  If you don’t like spicy, you can leave out the sriracha – it’ll still be a delicious garlicky mayo!  Add more salt if necessary and set aside while you make the scallops.

Heat a cast iron skillet over medium heat.  While it is heating, sprinkle your scallops* generously with sea salt and black pepper. When the pan is very hot, add 1/2 tbsp butter and 1/2 tbsp oil to the pan.  When the butter is melted, add half the scallops, placing one of their flat round sides face down in the pan.  (Unless you have a very large skillet to work with, I recommend only making 6 at a time – otherwise they will release too much liquid and you won’t get a good sear).  Cook for 2-3 minutes, flip and cook for another 2-3 minutes.  They should have a nice browning on the outside but still be tender on the inside. If they stick to the pan, they probably need another minutes on. Remove from heat before they get tough!

Pan seared scallops are super easy to make and make you look fancy!

Pan seared scallops are super easy to make and make you look fancy!

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with 4 scallops and a big dollop of the garlicky mayo. I happened to serve this with some raw romaine leaves and some sauteed kale & extra mushrooms – but you can serve it with any vegetable you have on hand.

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with scallops & spicy garlic mayo on a bed of vegetables. So good!

Serve a couple of quinoa patties topped with scallops & spicy garlic mayo on a bed of vegetables. So good!

*This recipe contains raw egg yolk and scallops that are not fully cooked.  Consuming raw or undercooked meats, poultry, seafood, shellfish, or eggs may increase your risk of foodborne illness. 

Holiday Gift Picks for the Health Conscious

Christmas morning 1980 at our house!

Christmas morning 1980 at our house!

How was your Thanksgiving & (hopefully long) weekend? My Thanksgiving was good but a bit busy! Friday I went to a birthday party for one of my nieces and Saturday & Sunday I did some puttering about the house and worked on some of my genealogy projects (which I don’t get much time on since I started my own business).  It’s one of my favorite ways to spend my free time and if I’m tied up with my research then it frees John to spend the weekend playing video games with his brother. Good for all of us! Haha.

I over-indulged a little bit and I’m excited to get back to normal eating – my 1st round of the 12 Day Detox started yesterday so it’s back to clean eating for me and the women who are joining me in that group (want in? see #3 below!).

With Thanksgiving behind us and December here (how did that happen!?) most of us are starting to scamper about to get Christmas gifts on our friends and families wish lists. Some of you are already finished I’m sure!  I get inspiration for gift giving sometimes by hearing what others are giving so I put together a list of my favorite things for health minded folks in the hopes that it inspires some of you!

What are your go to healthy gift ideas?

Holiday Gift Picks for the Newly Health Conscious

1. A good blender – high speed and high power. If you or your health minded family members don’t already have a high powered blender, get one! It doesn’t have to be super high end, it just needs to be powerful to break up greens and other vegetables to palatable textures. If you only occasionally dabble in smoothies then a lower powered one will work just fine but if you want to be able to make a variety of drinks daily and not be held back by your machine’s motor – power is where it’s at. I got a Vitamix for my birthday a few years ago and while yes, it was pricey, I can tell you it has already paid for itself. I use it almost every day – mostly for smoothies but I also use it for soups, hummus, cashew sour cream, sorbet, popsicles and other tasty treats.  There are foods that I would have opted to buy store bought in the past that are now simple to make because I have a good blender. Maybe the Vitamix is a little out of reach right now, I hear great things about the nutribullet and it’s a lot more affordable.

2. Massage.  Massage is a wonderful way to care for yourself (or someone else). Massage has been proven to lower stress levels, blood pressure and reduce pain and muscle tension.  Since most of us are very stressed and tense this time of the year, the gift of massage is an awesome way to counter it! And many people are not very good about giving themselves this type of gift (the gift of time and relaxation) so it’s even more important. If you don’t have a massage therapist, I can recommend a couple in NH/MA that I think very highly of. Marcia Rumore at Innovations in Merrimack, NH, Amanda Holt at Body Mechanix in Dover, NH, and Sarah George of Newburyport, MA.  They’re all very talented and caring women who know what they’re doing.

3. The 12 Day Natural Detox.  I couldn’t call myself an entrepreneur if I didn’t put at least one shameless plug in this post.  Why spend January working off pounds you gain in December? With 12 days of whole foods eating, you won’t have to work so hard after New Years. I have a group starting 12/13 and the last day to sign up is this Saturday 12/6. (This is the sole item on this list that I receive compensation from if you purchase it.)  I won’t sugar-coat it, it’s hard to change your eating habits, but it’s a lot easier when you have support and other people are going through it with you.

4. Naturopathica’s Lavender Blossom Bath & Body Oil.  I heart all things Naturopathica and they’re having a Cyber Monday sale through end of day today (Tuesday). Perfect for the person who needs to learn to relax but doesn’t have time to! When you get out of the shower, spend a couple of minutes massaging this scented oil into your skin for a relaxed start to your day (and for really soft moisturized skin).  I love Naturopathica because they focus on using natural ingredients (and organic where possible) and they never use parabens, glycols, chemical sunscreens, synthetic fragrances or animal products in their products.  Many of their products are also gluten free and vegan (and they’re well marked). Anyone on your list who cares about their skin and needs to relax can benefit from this one.

5. Glass straws! If you’ve become aware of the health risks associated with eating & drinking out of plastic and are slowly swapping out plastic containers for glass or ceramic in your house, then you may also want to look into glass straws (especially good for the person who loves smoothies – as many are hard to drink without a straw).  Why go all that effort only to put a plastic straw directly in your mouth? Two US companies that make a variety of high quality glass straws are Glass Dharma and Strawesome. I only use straws when I’m on the go and need to drink my smoothie in the car but I love having something reusable.

6. A gift card for a higher end exercise clothing store (like Athleta, Lululemon or Lucy).  Let’s face it, these stores are too expensive to buy without one! Yes, you can buy sweatpants and a tank at any store for a lot cheaper and you can workout in anything but I know I’m more motivated to workout when I have clothes that fit well and look good on me than I am when my workout clothes make me feel dumpy.  I’ll be the first to admit that these places are crazy pricey (I save up my Discover Card points and turn them in for gift cards!!!) but their stuff lasts, fits beautifully and some of it is even pretty enough to wear in public when you’re not working out. I’m an Athleta fan personally! With a gift card, you’re helping someone buy a gift that will motivate them to workout all year long. (And if they wait to use it during a sale – it’s a really good value!)

7. Michael Pollan’s The Omnivore’s Dilemma.  A great read for anyone interested in learning more about where their food comes from and the relationship our food choices have with our environment.

8. Purchase a healthy meal delivery for your favorite family from All Real Meal.  They deliver to the Manchester & Nashua areas and meals are gluten free and refined sugar free.  I always advocate for cooking your own meals at home but sometimes we are too busy – a home cooked meal by someone else is almost always healthier than takeout or the drive through!

I hope you enjoy these ideas for healthy holiday gifts! And if you don’t have anyone on your list who would benefit from any of these, you might consider buying something for yourself. In all the giving and doing for others that we do this time of year, we often forget about ourselves – we don’t need to actually buy ourselves a physical gift but it’s important to remember that taking good care of ourselves isn’t a luxury – it’s a necessity!

What are your favorite healthy gifts to give or receive? Share in the comments!
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