3 Tips for a Healthy Holiday

Winter is upon us — brrrr! Cold weather coupled with the busy holiday season can be taxing on our immune system, which can cause us to get sick, leaving us not so jolly.  Although there are many great strategies and power foods to strengthen your immune system, today we will focus on my top three, specifically designed to keep you healthy during the often hectic holiday season.

1. Lather Up!

Washing your hands is crucial for preventing illness — get in the habit before leaving a public place, like the gym, to hop in the bathroom and wash your hands. And before each and every meal. Antibacterial soap and piping-hot water aren’t necessary; just apply soap to wet hands and rub vigorously for 15 seconds. (It’s the scrubbing that matters.)

2. Get adequate sleep

To keep yourself looking and feeling energized, strive for an optimal 7-8 hours a night. Inadequate sleep is known to depress the immune system, making you more susceptible to illness. A recent study found that after a short night’s sleep, adults ate about an extra 300 calories and tended to choose higher-fat, higher-calorie foods — yikes!

3. Load up on Sweet Potatoes and Garlic

You can buy the hummus or the wrap at La Patisserie in Winchester.

The lining of your lungs and digestive system are the front lines of the infection war — they depend on potent antioxidants. Few foods rival the sweet potato for it’s beta-carotene content. Roasted, pureed, or fried all do the trick. My Sweet Potato Hummus is great to have on hand during the holiday because it is so versatile. Kids love it too! Which makes mom happy, because the kids are getting a good dose of power veggies and protein. No need for chicken nuggets!

And garlic? Garlic combats a rogues’ gallery of invaders. Regarded as one of the most potent cold and flu fighters, it fights off bacteria, fungi, parasites, and viruses, thanks to the presence of polysulfides. Garlic’s most dynamic compound, allicin, blocks enzymes that help viruses spread. Allicin lies dormant in a clove until it’s cut or crushed. This means that Roasted Garlic Soup is both a comfort dish and a potent weapon against illness!

Sweet Potato Hummus
For the kids, try substituting cumin with cinnamon.

Makes 4 cups

Ingredients

  • 1 pound sweet potatoes
  • 1 can (19.5 oz) chickpeas, drained and rinsed
  • 1 Tbs lemon juice
  • 1/4 cup tahini
  • 2 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 2 tsp ground cumin
  • 1 garlic clove, peeled and chopped
  • Coarse salt and ground pepper, to taste

Directions
Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Place sweet potatoes in oven and bake for 25 min until soft. Let cool and then scoop out sweet potatoes from skin. Transfer to a food processor. Combine chickpeas, lemon juice, tahini, oil, cumin, and garlic in the food processor. Puree, about 1 minute; thin with water if necessary. Season with salt and pepper and let cool; refrigerate, in an airtight container, up to 1 week. Serve with whole wheat pita chips and crudites. Or make into a delicious wrap or sandwich!

Denise’s Tip
Here is another use for Sweet Potato Hummus: spread it on a flatbread pizza and top with caramelized onion, goat cheese and crispy sage. A beautiful appetizer your guests will love!

   

   

Roasted Garlic Soup
This soup is so simple and comforting —  make a double batch and freeze one for entertaining.

Ingredients

  • 2 heads garlic, halved crosswise
  • 1 Tbs extra-virgin olive oil
  • 4 cups low-sodium chicken stock
  • 8 ounces Yukon Gold potatoes, peeled and chopped
  • 1/4 cup freshly-grated Parmesan, plus more for serving
  • Coarse salt and freshly ground pepper

Directions

1.  Heat oven to 375 degrees. Drizzle garlic heads with oil. Wrap tightly in foil and roast until tender, about 40 minutes. Let cool, then squeeze garlic from papery skin and set aside.

2.  Bring stock, potatoes, and roasted garlic to a boil; reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 12 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in Parmesan.

3.  Let cool slightly, then puree in a blender until smooth. Season with salt and pepper. Sprinkle with Parmesan and serve with toasted Ezekiel bread.

 

Download recipes now!

 

Remember this is the season to Thrive! Try some of these tips and recipes so you will stay healthy and skipping through the holidays!

— Denise

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