Holiday traditions are awesome. They give us a sense of belonging. We look forward to them. They make us feel good. They bring people together with a common theme. I wouldn’t trade them for the world. Here’s the catch...many of these traditions involve food and often not very healthful food. Don’t throw in the (kitchen) towel just yet. There is a solution.
Tweak those family recipes to give them a healthful twist. Your family and friends will never know that you are feeding their bodies as well as their souls. Here are some suggestions:
- Instead of candied yams: Cut up some sweet potatoes and roast them with onions, avocado oil, salt and pepper and a hint of cinnamon. Or mashed them with butter and a tad of cinnamon.
- Instead of bread based stuffing try wild rice. You can use the same spices and vegetables to mix in with the rice.
- Make a red cabbage slaw. This goes well with the heavy meal to lighten it up a bit. Mix shredded raw red cabbage with olive oil, apple cider vinegar, raw honey and salt and pepper. This can be made days ahead of time and stored in the fridge. No cooking necessary here.
- Roasting vegetables is fast, easy and there is little clean up. Cut up cauliflower, broccoli, carrots, onions, beets, etc. Toss with avocado or coconut oil and roast on a sheet pan lined with parchment.
- Try my pumpkin pie recipe. Delicious and healthful!
- Many of my clients have asked where I buy my Turkey. I get one, or sometimes two, from local farms: Meadow Run in Lititz and Country Sunrise Creamery in Myerstown. At Country Sunrise you can watch the turkeys grow as they forage in the fields. I check them out each time I go there for raw milk. You can also get one delivered from Butcher Box.
These are just a few suggestions. Get creative, search for healthful holiday recipes. You can ask me to tweak your families favorites for a healthful spin that may just become new traditions.
Of course, there are many non-food traditions too. We have a few for Thanksgiving. Here are our favorites:
Here are a few of our favorites for Christmas:
- We go outside and find a small branch with a few small limbs. We stand this in the middle of the table, propped up in a narrow vase. Each person gets a paper leaf on which to write something they are thankful for. The leaves are taped to the branches and during dessert we read them aloud.
- Our children (all the cousins), now in their teens and early twenties, write a rap song as their “grace”. They preform this before dinner. It is hilarious and also heart warming.
- At noon each Thanksgiving we all stop what we are doing and gather in the living room to listen to “Alice’s Restaurant” by Arlo Guthrie, usually with a glass of George Duboeuf beaujolais nouveau. I have been doing this since I was a little girl....minus the beaujolais, of course!
- A few weeks before Christmas the six of us pick a name (secretly) from a Christmas hat. We are then tasked to buy an ornament for that person. We get VERY creative. On Christmas Eve morning we make eggnog lattes and exchange our ornaments, placing each one on the tree. Over the years we have collected quite a few very special ornaments and we reminisce about each one when unpacking and placing them on the tree each year.
- My husband, Glen, says a prayer before dinner. We all hold hands and he recites the prayer from The Grinch. It makes me cry every time.
- Instead of buying a gift for everyone we know, we do a gift exchange through Elfster. Each of us gets one name of a friend or family member for whom we buy a gift. On Christmas Eve we sit in a circle and exchange. It is so much fun and each person goes home with a personalized gift. (The kids used to have their own exchange but now are old enough to join in with us).
Fill your Holidays with healthful food and family traditions. Your family will be more than thankful!