There is no way around the fact that while Christmas is “the most won-der-ful time, of the year”, there can be more than a little stress associated with it. I know. I just made up my “Do List” for the week. With stress comes eating, which can be attributed to the extra 8 pounds, on average, that people tend to gain during the holidays. In an article written for SELF magazine, Lucy Danziger suggests we do some of the following to help us not only during this season, but whenever stress rears its ugly head.
Try some of the recipes I’ve included as a way to kick-start good eating!
Go green! Three cups of spinach delivers 40 percent of your daily magnesium, a mineral that tames stress's effect on the body by preventing blood pressure from spiking, according to Beth Reardon, R.D., director of integrative nutrition at Duke Integrative Medicine in Durham, North Carolina. Rustle up a spinach omelet or a Spinach and Sun-Dried Tomato Frittata before making a big-deal presentation at work — it will keep you focused on the job at hand. SEE RECIPE!
Tension can wear down your immune system, a study from Carnegie Mellon University in Pittsburgh finds, but vitamin C appears to be the antidote to anxiety—it strengthens your body's ability to fight off bugs, so you stay well even when life is nutty. Sip orange juice during the crazy holiday season or other times when your calendar is crowded. You can also try marinating chicken or fish in OJ to bring out flavor and enhance tenderness. Orange you calmer now?
Hear that? It's the sound of chocoholics the world over (myself included!) breathing a collective sigh of relief. Science confirms what we fans of the sweet stuff have known all along—chocolate really does make you feel better. Cocoa increases your levels of neurochemicals, which deliver a sense of happiness and relaxation, says Alan Hirsch, M.D., director of the Smell & Taste Treatment and Research Foundation in Chicago. Keep a few dark squares in your desk drawer and tear one (or two!) open when you're tense. Or if your family dinners are a bit tense, serve your on-edge relatives a Chocolate Torte the next time they visit and watch them chill out! SEE RECIPE!
Omega-3 fatty acids in fish such as wild salmon, mackerel and swordfish can quell the jitters. In fact, people who ate more of these beneficial fats for three weeks leading up to a tough quiz halted a surge in stress hormones, a study in Diabetes & Metabolism
found. Throw some smoked salmon into your eggs or anchovies into your salad a couple times a week to reduce stress and up your heart health.
Goldilocks got it right—a bowl of porridge is a balm for your nerves. The B vitamins in oats spur the production of serotonin, a neurotransmitter that sends soothing signals to your brain as your body slowly digests the cereal. Linger over Hot Autumn Apple Oatmeal to start the day on an even keel.
1/2 cup julienned sweet red pepper
1/2 cup chopped onion
2 tablespoons olive or vegetable oil
1/2 cup milk
1 cup chopped cooked chicken (or other meats, or omit completely)
1 (10 ounce) package frozen chopped spinach, thawed and squeezed dry
1/2 cup shredded mozzarella cheese
1 tablespoon grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon pepper
1. In a skillet, saute the red pepper and onion in oil until tender. In a bowl, beat eggs and milk. Stir in chicken if desired, 1/2 cup spinach, mozzarella and Parmesan cheeses, salt and pepper (save remaining spinach for another use). Add to the skillet. Cover and cook over medium heat for 7-10 minutes or until completely set. Cut into wedges.
Download this recipe.
Lo-Cal Dark Chocolate Oatmeal Cookies
Serves @ 60
Note: This recipes has the dark chocolate, AND oatmeal!
1/2 lb. (2 sticks) butter
1 c. firmly packed brown sugar
1/2 c. granulated sugar
1 tsp. vanilla
1 & 1/2 c. whole wheat flour
1 tsp. baking soda
1/2 tsp. salt
3 c. Quaker Oats (quick or old fashioned, uncooked)
1 c. dark chocolate chips
1. Heat over to 350 degrees.
2. Beat together margarine and sugars until creamy. (It's better if you let the butter sit out and warm up; melting it in the microwave doesn't give the batter the right consistency)
3. Add eggs and vanilla. Beat well.
4. Combine flour, baking soda and salt in a separate bowl.
5. Add combined flour mixture gradually to sugar mixture.
6. Stir in oats and chocolate chips.
7. Make cookie balls the size of quarters and place one inch apart on cookie sheets.
8. Bake 8-12 minutes or until golden brown.
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