Dr. Lisa Metzgar, PhD:
The holidays tend to be a time focused on eating. In my house we all tend to cram into the kitchen to nosh on whatever tasty treats our guests have contributed to the affair. Our holiday traditions always involve celebrating over food. With all the holiday festivities, there comes a set of problems…weight gain, indigestion, and even more winter challenges to your body. There are steps we can take to have a happy belly and healthy holiday this season.
We all have our holiday favorites, but they aren’t always the healthiest creations. Most of them are loaded with sugar and fat which alters our gut bacteria. Diets high in sugar and fat feed unhealthy bacteria. This combination has been shown to contribute to weight gain(1), which we all know is a big problem around the holidays. Have you ever experienced a foggy brain after a holiday party? Research has shown that high sugar and fat treats alter the link between the gut and the brain making it difficult to switch thinking between one concept to another.(2) Makes sense why children who go to school having just eaten a donut have learning problems.
Here are a few recipe ideas to help you maintain a healthy gut balance for the holidays and hopefully keep the weight gain to a minimum.
These yummy Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites are loaded with gut balancing fiber and low in sugar.
Peanut Butter Chocolate Chip Energy Bites
- ½ cup organic raw almonds
- 1 cup pitted dates
- ¼ cup organic peanut butter
- 2 tbsp. ground flax seeds
- 1 tbsp unsweetened almond milk
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbsp dark chocolate chips (70% cacao)
- Add almonds to the bowl of a food processor. Process until almonds reach a fine crumb.
- Add dates, peanut butter, flaxseed, almond milk and vanilla. Process fully until mixture begins to form a moist ball of “dough.”
- Remove ball of dough from blade. Fold in chocolate chips by hand. Using your hands, roll “dough” into ten uniform bites.
- Store bites in the refrigerator.
Soup is a great item to bring to a potluck. Try this yummy Green Soup for a nice start to any meal. It contains healthy gut friendly vegetables and turmeric.
Ingredients: Serves 4
- 1 Tbsp. olive oil or ghee
- 2 cloves of garlic, chopped
- 1 inch of fresh ginger, peeled and chopped
- cups fresh zucchini (can use broccoli, cauliflower, or any seasonal vegetable)
- 1 lb. of fresh spinach leaves (can use any leafy greens: arugula, kale)
- A handful of fresh cilantro, roughly chopped
- 4 cups water or nondairy milk
- 2 tsp. tumeric
- Sea salt, fresh lime juice and pepper to taste
- Optional: add hemp seeds
- Heat the ghee or olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add garlic and chopped ginger, stirring, until translucent.
- Add tumeric and salt to taste. Cook for 1 minute.
- Add the vegetables and stir to mix well. Add enough water to cover the veggies; bring to a boil and simmer for 10 minutes, or until the vegetables are tender.
- Using a blender or food processor, purée the vegetable mixture with spinach, cilantro, water or nondairy milk, and hemp seeds. Add more hot water if the soup is too thick. Transfer back to the pot and bring to a simmer and season with black pepper and a squeeze of lime juice.
- Serve over crumbled flaxseed crackers or top with quinoa salad.
Who doesn’t love mashed potatoes with their holiday meals. Try this healthy alternative. It contains garlic that may help rid the body of harmful bacteria as well as benefit our healthy bacteria.(3)
Mashed Garlic Cauliflower
- 1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 clove garlic, smashed
- 1/4 cup grated Parmesan cheese
- 1 tablespoon reduced-fat cream cheese
- 1/2 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.
- Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
- Transfer half the cauliflower to a food processor; cover and blend on high. Add remaining cauliflower florets, one at a time, until vegetables are creamy. Blend in garlic, Parmesan cheese, cream cheese, salt, and black pepper.
Of course it is a great idea to keep taking your healthy nutritional supplement like EpiCor to give your immune system the support it needs to stay healthy this season. From my family to yours, I wish you the happiest of Holidays!