Tag Archives: Healthy Holiday Tips

Day 31 – Reflect on 2013 and your goals for 2014

Image courtesy of samuiblue / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of samuiblue / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Yay! We made it through the holiday season! It’s day 31 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More  and before you head out to a fabulous New Years party your tip is to spend some time reflecting on 2013 and thinking about what you want out of 2014.

Also, I want to thank you for spending that last 31 Days with me.  I hope you’ve found these blog posts helpful.  This information isn’t just beneficial around the holidays, these tips can be used all year to keep you happy, healthy and less stressed!

Back to our tip, what went well for you this year? What didn’t? What you are looking forward to in the new year?  How will 2014 differ from 2013 for you?  How do you want it to be different?  Or do you want things to stay the same? You have the power to make changes if you really want to.

Was 2013 the year you found your dream job? Maybe it’s the year you realized it was time to make a career change (raising my hand).  Is 2014 going to be the year you decide to start dating again? Do you want to be more social in 2014?

What are your health related goals for 2014?  Do you want to lose weight? Be more consistent with exercise? Cook more often?  Have more energy? Get more restful sleep?  Are you feeling discouraged because you’ve made New Years resolutions in the past and failed?

Look, there’s no need to make new year resolutions if your goal is to live a healthy life every day. Make health, fitness and your happiness a life goal, rather than a temporary one and you can make lasting changes.

Do you need some help doing that?  Would you like some support?  I would love to help you make changes in 2014 that you can feel good about.   Shoot me an email at aqmhealthcoaching@gmail.com or send me a message on Facebook.  Let’s create the 2014 you want to have.

Happy New Year!  Be safe if you’re going out tonight!

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Day 30 – Spend Some Time Stargazing!

Image courtesy of bulldogza / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Image courtesy of bulldogza / FreeDigitalPhotos.net

Just two days left of our  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More and today’s little tip is to get outside tonight and do some stargazing.  It’s a chance for you to take a few minutes (or an hour!) to slow down, relax and take the focus off of all the goings on in your life.

Despite the cold, winter is a great time to view the stars because the sky is clearer (cold air can’t hold as much moisture as warm air) and the nights are longer!  And spending some time in the cold winter air can be invigorating, just bundle up first!  Taking some time to look at the stars can be relaxing and even romantic (depending on who you are with) and it doesn’t cost a dime.  It can even help you feel more connected to others if you remember that everyone on this earth looks up to the same stars. And gazing up at the immense universe above us can give our problems some perspective.   It’s hard to feel like most of the things we are worried about are that big a deal when you see how small we are!

I love looking up at the stars and thinking about the fact that I’m actually looking at the past!  The light from the stars has taken decades or even a hundred years to reach our eyes.  Light travels pretty quickly but the universe is so massive that it takes a long time for the light from stars to reach us. Totally mindblowing!

So get outside and contemplate your life and place in this universe!  I hope it gives you some perspective!

Day 29 – Time for a Detox?

Veggies are great for detoxing!

Veggies are great for detoxing!

So after 29 days of parties, truffles, cookies, cocktails and lots more, you may be feeling a little bloated, puffy and generally not good.  My tip for day 29 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to try a whole foods detox for 3 – 5 days.  If the holidays have gotten to the better of you, a gentle detox might be what you need.  Our bodies naturally do plenty of detoxing for us and in general our liver, kidneys, skin and lungs do a fantastic job of detoxing but you can help support them in doing their job by giving your body easy to digest foods packed with good nutrition.

Helping your body detox with whole foods can give you more energy, clear up your skin and reduce the inflammation that your body might be experiencing from too many acidic foods this time of year.

For 3 – 5 days focus on eating whole unprocessed foods and don’t eat processed foods.  Easy peasy!

Focus on eating:  vegetables, fruits, seeds, nuts, fresh pressed juices and smoothies, whole grains
Foods to avoid:  processed food (packaged), wheat, dairy, alcohol, caffeine, meat, sugar, artificial sweeteners, food coloring, preservatives (if there’s an ingredient list and you don’t know what some of the ingredients are – skip it)

Some meal ideas
Cook a big batch of quinoa, amaranth or wild rice, stir in fruit and cinnamon for a delicious breakfast or serve it with pumpkin seeds, avocado, baby kale & diced carrots for a satisfying lunch.  Make dinner a baked sweet potato topped with chopped raw broccoli, bell peppers and a few walnut halves & hemp seeds.  Snack on fresh fruit or fruit and vegetable smoothies.  Make salads with lots of raw veggies and top with half an avocado, chia seeds and lemon juice and olive oil. Drink lots of water, add a squeeze of lemon or lime.  Eat naturally fermented foods like Kimchi or Sauerkraut (Bubbies is a decent commercial brand) for a little probiotic boost for your gut.

For adding flavor/seasoning
 Try lemon juice, himalayan or celtic sea salt, reduced sodium tamari (wheat free soy sauce), hummus (preferably homemade), extra virgin olive oil, spices, balsamic vinegar, apple cider vinegar.  If you absolutely must use some sugar – 1 tsp of real maple syrup or raw honey is ok.  Add a tablespoon of dried fruit – cherries, cranberries, apricots (look for unsulphured ones with no added sugar in the ingredients)

If you’re someone who eats a lot of takeout, freezer meals, canned or boxed foods, put them aside for now.  No bread, cheese, milk, chicken tenders, coffee or candy.  If you are worried about caffeine headaches, try some ginger or peppermint tea, both are soothing on the digestive tract but also have been shown to reduce the severity of caffeine withdrawal headaches.  If you rely heavily on sugar and are expecting to have a hard time giving it up for a few days, cook some sweeter vegetables like carrots, parsnips and sweet potatoes in a little water – eat the vegetables and drink the broth.  The sweetness will satisfy that craving.

Listen to your body. Make sure you are eating enough while still focusing on eating clean.  If you find you are super hungry while detoxing, take a look to see if you are missing fat and protein.  You may need to up these a little to get through it.  You may even find that you enjoy eating this way and want to continue after your detox.  Keep it up and you’ll be feeling better soon!

Support Your Immune System with Chicken Broth

Homemade chicken broth!

Homemade chicken broth!

For day 28 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More we’re talking about homemade chicken broth.

It’s been a busy and crazy month.  Don’t get sick now! Make a big batch of homemade broth to support your immune system.   Homemade broths are a nutritious healing liquid that can be drank alone or turned into a healthy soup.  It’s full of minerals like calcium, magnesium, phosphorous, making it good for our bones and teeth (and even for regulating blood pressure),and it’s full of collagen which we need for healthy skin, joints and hair.  It can help heal a leaky gut (and since 70% of our immune system lives in the gut this is so important), reduce inflammation and increase bile production in the liver.  It’s not an old wives tale that chicken soup heals!

Below is my recipe for homemade Chicken Broth.  Feel free to change it up.  You can also do this with beef or lamb bones.  One note:  It’s important to use the highest quality bones you can get your hands on.  I try to only make broth with the carcasses of organically fed, pasture raised animals – they live in healthier (and more humane) conditions.  Conventionally raised (factory farmed)  farm animals live in horrid conditions that breed disease (heard of super bugs yet?).  If you can avoid it, you don’t want to make healthy healing broth from animals that didn’t live a very healthy life.  You’re not going to benefit from them.

Healing Chicken Broth (Bone Broth)

3-4 lb leftover chicken carcass* (or 3-4 lbs of  leftover bones/cartilage pieces)
1 tbsp apple cider vinegar (try Braggs brand)
1 large whole onion, peel left on, cut in half
3 whole organic carrots, scrubbed (not peeled), cut in half
2 stalks of organic celery (leaves are fine), cut in half
Big handfuls of fresh organic parsley, dill and thyme sprigs
1-2 tsp whole black peppercorns
1 tsp celtic sea salt (or another sea salt)
optional: add a whole head of garlic for the last hour of cooking

Put all ingredients in a large stock pot (at least 6 qt or larger).  Fill with water and bring to a boil.  Cover and simmer for at least 6 hours (but feel free to go even longer).   When finished cooking, strain the liquid from the solids using a fine mesh strainer.  Toss the solids and save the liquid. When the liquid cools the fat will firm up on top and you can scrape it right off.  The stock is now ready to be used as a base for chicken or any other kind of soup or can be drank as is, hot!

Do not be alarmed if the stock is completely solid when it is cold in the fridge.  This is gelatin and one of the most healing things about broth!  When heated it will re-liquify.  You should be able to see the difference between the fat layer and gelatin layer pretty easily (and you can skim off the fat with a spoon).

*I use a leftover cooked chicken carcass, including some of the skin, pieces of meat, all cartilage etc.  You can also use leftover bone-in split chicken breasts, wings etc.  Any bones that contain some meat, cartilage and skin will work.

Day 27 – Slow Down (your eating)

For day 27 of  31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More the tip is to slow down your eating

Slow down your eating.  Since the season has been so busy, you may have gotten in to the habit of scarfing your food down in a rush, eating in front of the TV or computer to save time or even eating standing up.  When we eat and don’t pay attention to our food, we often finish the meal looking for more (even though we’re full!)!  How many times have you gotten up after dinner to get a snack or something sweet? If you ate enough, the real reason you’re looking for something else to eat is because you weren’t present with your food.  It’s almost like there’s a part of your brain that isn’t aware that you just ate – it doesn’t know because it doesn’t remember seeing your food.  You just threw it in your gullet and were done!

Eating slower gives your body a chance to send signals to your brain that tells you when you’re full.  It also makes digesting your food easier.  When we anticipate eating, we produce saliva, which has enzymes in it that help us to start to break down food.  We also produce stomach acid to continue breaking down our food.  If you blow through meals too quickly (and don’t chew them well), you’re jumping ahead before your body is ready.   This can lead to indigestion, gas and stomach pains. So what can you do about it?

At mealtime, sit down in a quiet place, turn off the tv, put down your phone, don’t read the newspaper. Relax. Sit with your food and take it all in with your senses.  See it with your eyes. Let the scent of it enter your nose, then taste it.  Take small bites and chew thoroughly before swallowing.  Notice how it feels on your tongue.  Focus only on the food on your plate when you’re eating.  Be present.  Stop when you feel you’ve had enough and most importantly enjoy your food.

Day 26 – Start Your Day with a Healthy Breakfast

Savory steel cut oats are a great way to clear out the excess from the holidays.

Savory steel cut oats are a great way to clear out the excess from the holidays.

Hope those of you who celebrate Christmas had a great day yesterday! With so much yummy food around, I’m sure most of us over indulged a little!  My cure for a heavy day of eating is to start the next day with a healthy breakfast so your tip for Day 26 of 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is to have a healthy breakfast!

One of my favorite breakfasts is steel cut oats.  Steel cut oats are high in insoluble fiber, which keeps your digestive system moving and they also have quite a bit of soluble fiber, which will keep you full all morning long (so you’re less likely to reach for leftover sugar cookies or pie).

I know most folks eat their oats either plain or with fruit and some sort of sweetener (maple syrup, honey etc) but I’m not a huge fan of sweets in the morning.  I’ll eat them that way occasionally but one of my favorite ways to prepare them is with some thinly cut zucchini and carrots, a drizzle of extra virgin olive oil and a sprinkle of sea salt.  I know it sounds weird but it’s so good!

Steel cut oats take a while to make so I like to make a big batch at night and then reheat in the morning.  You can put portions in individual containers and bring them to work (but hopefully you’re off today!).

Savory Steel Cut Oats
Makes 5 servings

  • 1.5 cups steel cut oats (use certified gluten free oats if gluten is a concern for you)
  • 4.5 cups of water
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1/4 – 1/2 teaspoon Kosher salt
  • lots of freshly ground black pepper
  • 1 medium sized zucchini, julienned
  • 1 large carrot, peeled, diced or julienned

Bring water to boil in a medium sized sauce pan, stir in oats.  Let the oats return to a boil, then reduce heat to medium low.  Let oats cook, stirring every so often so that they don’t stick to the pan.  After 15 – 20 minutes of cooking time, toss in your carrot and zucchini if you want them cooked (you can also top the oats with the vegetables, raw).  Let oats cook for another 10 minutes or until it reaches the desired consistency, again stirring to prevent sticking.  Turn off heat and serve.  Top each portion with the vegetables if you didn’t cook them, a drizzle of olive oil, a sprinkle of sea salt and lots of freshly ground black pepper. Yum!

Optional:  If you eat dairy, try this with a shaving of fresh parmesan reggiano cheese.  It’s also delicious with a fried egg on top.

Day 25 – Merry Christmas!

Merry Christmas!!

Merry Christmas!!

The only tip I’m offering today for day 25 of our 31 Days of Healthy Ways to Enjoy the Holidays More is for you to enjoy the day with your family and friends.

I’ll be celebrating with John’s family in NJ while most of my family is together in NH.  Where ever you are, enjoy the people you are with and I hope Santa was good to you!

Merry Christmas!