eGuide to Healthier Holidays

I meant to deliver this to my people before Thanksgiving. But it kept growing and it was hard to finish. It’s still not finished. It’s hard to put the knowledge you take for granted into words. 

Today, I give you the introduction free-of-charge. If this intrigues you…buy the entire eGuide in a nice, safe way over at PayPal.

Introduction to Guide to Healthier Holidays:

“Once the holidays are over….then I’ll start”.  It’s much too hard to behave over the holidays, right?

 The holidays are the perfect time to start. Most people have already cleared the first big hurdle; shaving time out of their busy schedules to devote to cooking. Why not revisit and reinvent the menu with healthier options?

 But what is healthy?

Healthy is hard to define because it’ s incredibly subjective. That warm slice of homemade, whole grain bread could be heaven to me, but a gastrointestinal nightmare to someone with wheat allergies. A one mile walk is a nap for the 10k runner but a major milestone for a morbidly obese person.

 We all bring unique health histories, energy levels, food traditions, physical limitations and personal tastes to the table. How can you address all of those? 

You can’t.

 All you can do is create your own definition of healthy; one that best fits your lifestyle, your body, your preferences and your budget. 

This guide is based on my definition of healthy. It is based on three big ideas I believe to be true for me and my family:

 1. Homemade is healthier: I believe that health care reform starts at home. I believe in cooking with ingredients whose primary intention is to nourish the body, not maintain three-year shelf lives. Ingredients like monosodium glutamate and benzoyl peroxide scare me more than fat and carbs.

Cooking from scratch does not mean assembling processed and preseasoned foods, it means using whole, unprocessed foods as close to their original source as possible.

2. Seasonal eating is healthier: Tomatoes taste bad in February for a reason. Foods at their peak taste better and give your body the nutrients it needs for that season. Each season presents produce that is more readily available and costs less. (Have you priced raspberries in January?)  Seasonal eating is also better for the planet. It takes a lot of resources to force food to grow in the cold or to ship them to less sunny locations.    

 3. It’s only healthy if you can access it. No matter how nutritious a food is, it won’t be if you can’t afford it or find it in your area. This guide is for good cooking, not culinary snobbery. You will not need white truffle oil or $40 pinches of saffron. These are lovely ingredients, but they are beyond the scope of this guide and most pocketbooks. I hope that most of the food here can be easily found and made without fear in the average kitchen.

 What is this guide?

This guide is primarily for the culinary-challenged; those who get intimidated by fresh herbs or get stuck in habits of assembling processed ingredients. It is an introduction to bringing fresh, homemade flavors into your holidays. 

This guide tries to answer “why” and “how” to showcase late fall and winter seasonal ingredients; to reap their health benefits and flavors.

 It identifies the dangers of holiday eating and how to navigate them. It helps you acknowledge your areas of weakness so you can plan a little damage control. 

 This guide is NOT going to analyze recipes for calories, fat content or grams of protein. It will not tout statistics. (Because the minute you do, someone finds research to refute it). It is not fat-free, gluten-free, vegan or lactose intolerant. It might not always be politically, socially or environmentally correct.  You may not always agree, but even disagreeing helps you clarify what you need.

 Most importantly, this guide is about using common sense. Sometimes we obsess about counting calories or using all-organic or only sustainably raised food. But the science, the price tag and the lack of availability excludes a great deal of us. It is possible to promote certain beliefs without practicing them 24-7. It’s about finding balance and being flexible.  It’s about doing what you can when you can. 

 One of the biggest gifts you can give this holiday season is to treat yourself and your loved ones to balanced, homemade seasonal food and flavors. The sooner you give that gift, the better you will feel.

 Please use this guide as the inspiration to feel better before January 1st.  




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