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Staying Healthy and Gluten-Free During the Holidays

by Lyn Clark

Holistic Nutritionist and founder of The Health Nut

The holidays should be one of the best times of year, however, many of us lose sight of how to keep our bodies healthy and happy during the holidays. Here are just three simple tips to make sure you survive the holidays!

1.  Maintain good immune health  

With all the holiday preparations that lie ahead, make sure you take care of yourself to stay healthy and strong.  If you start to feel a little run down, you may want to increase your vitamin intake. The best vitamins to incorporate into your daily regime would be the ones that both boost and ensure your immune system is staying strong. I suggest that my clients take vitamin C and D3 this time of year.  A good multi-vitamin that’s gluten-free and made with whole foods is a good choice as well.  It is important to check with your doctor before starting a new supplement routine.  Probiotics are also key to maintain a healthy gut and immune system.

2.  Eat for optimal nutrition.

Focus on eating nutrient dense whole foods, such as green vegetables, gluten-free ancient grains and good fats. Avoid or limit eating processed foods and refined sugars as these will make you sluggish. The most nutritious gluten-free, ancient grain choices are teff, quinoa, amaranth, millet, brown rice and dedicated gluten-free oats. They are filled with higher amounts of protein, fiber, vitamins and minerals than processed white and wheat flours, as well as rice flours.

Healthy fats are important to incorporate into your daily diet as they help keep your body satisfied longer and aid in brain function. I recommend using cold-pressed coconut oil when cooking foods at high temperatures and olive oil when making salad dressings or cooking food at temperatures below 250 degrees.  Both can be used for baking as well.

Keep healthy gluten-free snacks with you at all times so that you can keep your blood sugar balanced. Great grab and go snacks are fresh fruits, raw nuts, cut-up vegetables with hummus and a Zemas Madhouse Foods gluten-free, ancient grain muffin. See here for their gluten-free Cinnamon-Oatmeal Apple Muffin mix.

Don’t forget to eat breakfast before you start planning and cooking for your holiday! Eating a healthy, gluten-free breakfast with ancient grains will help supply you with the energy you need to be productive during this hectic time of year.

3.  Love yourself.  While you’re trying to keep your energy up and complete all your holiday errands, don’t forget to love yourself.  Give your body time to recharge and relax. Try meditating, exercising, journaling, or take a relaxing bath. All of these   things will help reset your batteries.Enjoy this family favorite recipe:

Gluten-Free Stuffed Sweet Potatoes with Beans and Greens

Serves 4

Ingredients:

4 sweet potatoes

2 tablespoons of coconut oil

1 onion, diced

1 garlic clove, minced

¼ cup fresh cilantro

1/4-teaspoon red pepper flakes

1 1/2 cups (or 1 can) cooked and drained black beans

6 cups kale, trimmed and sliced into ribbons

Juice of 1/4 lime

Salt (to taste)

Chopped avocado (optional)

Preheat oven to 400°F.

Scrub the sweet potatoes and prick them in a few places with a fork. Place them on a baking sheet and bake until soft all the way through, about 45 minutes to 1 hour.

Start to cook the beans, onions, garlic and greens about 15 to 20 minutes before the sweet potatoes are done.

In a wide, deep saucepan with a cover, heat the coconut oil over low-moderate heat. Add the shallots and cook until softened, about 5 minutes. Add the garlic and red pepper flakes and cook, stirring, for about a minute. Add the beans and cook for 5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add the kale, cover the pan, and cook, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes or until the kale is soft. Stir in the cilantro, lime juice, and season to taste with salt.

To serve, slice each sweet potato lengthwise and push on the ends to open up the middle. Spoon the beans and greens into the center. Top with diced avocado.

Happy Holidays!

Lyn Clark can be found at http://healthnutbylynclark.weebly.com