Buckle Up!

Approaching the holidays can be daunting.  We become busier than usual, consumed with more cooking, eating, socializing, gift buying.  If you are someone who is dealing with food sensitivities or a special diet, the holidays can create extra stress in your life.  I know this first hand.  This post is intended to help you breeze through Thanksgiving day.

Five Tips for People with Food Sensitivities on Thanksgiving:

1. Be prepared
The holidays are likely filled with foods you are trying to avoid, for example, gluten or dairy.  Knowing this in advance is one thing, but being prepared is another.  For example, I know the Thanksgiving gravy is going to have flour and possibly milk in it (and I can’t have either of them), so I am toting my own to the gathering, with, of course, plenty to share (see the yummy recipe below).  Consider bringing something along to share that you can enjoy.

2. Be prepared (again)
So don’t just bring one thing.  If you know you are also going to struggle at, say, dessert, then consider bringing a dessert you can eat and add it to the table.

3. Don’t make faces
Seriously, the holidays are a time to celebrate, so if you know something is on the table you can’t eat, just politely pass it along to the next taker and delight in the company.  No need to bring up your sensitivities at dinner, nor is it a place to judge.

4. Remember the 80/20 rule
Depending on how strict you need to be (and assuming there isn’t a dire consequence of eating something that bothers you), try to relax your standards a bit, especially on a holiday such as Thanksgiving.  It’s no fun to deny yourself when there is a veritable feast surrounding you.  So if you are physically able to partake in the feast, then do it without judgement or regret.  Life isn’t 100% anything and if you can breeze through the day mindful of keeping a balance in your life, you’ll be a lot more sane.

5. Be grateful
Yes, having food sensitivities can be all-consuming if you let it be.  Rather than focus on what you cannot have, focus on what you can have: delicious foods, delightful family and friends, many blessings.  Your life is rich in many ways that have nothing to do with what you put in your mouth.

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Gravy (paleo)
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Ingredients:
Drippings from your turkey
Arrowroot flour (3/4 cup to 1+cup depending on your drippings)
2 boxes of sliced mushrooms (I used shittake, but you can also use white)
1 large onion, sliced in half and then sliced thin half moon style

In a large skillet saute the mushrooms and onion until dark and carmel-y.  Remove from heat.
Take your drippings into a separate pan (or use the turkey pan) onto medium heat.
In a separate bowl, combine 3/4 cup of arrowroot flour with hot water and mix until there are no lumps, then add to the drippings, combining well with a whisk.
Add water to the pan and whisk together, letting it thicken.  You may want to add more arrowroot if it appears too thin.
Add the mushrooms and onions to the gravy and sprinkle in some thyme and a pinch of salt.  Let the flavors combine.
Serve and enjoy!!

Going Home

I had a wonderful visit with my parents, siblings and their families last weekend.  It was good for the soul, so nourishing.  When we surround ourselves with people who unconditionally love us, that is how it is.

In my yoga classes this week, I taught on visiting our own “home” inside us, our sparkling light within, where our soul resides.  We are often too busy in our day-to-day lives to uncover it and connect with it, to make the trip.  Sometimes we need to sit and meditate to connect, other times roll out the mat, or go for a long walk; it’s different for everyone.  But that connection is vital to our existence.

I’ve heard the reason that people crave milk is that it is comforting, like being in the care of your mother.  I think I’ve even read that when people hit rocky times they crave dairy just because it gives them that motherly comfort.

As someone who is dairy free, working on resolving a leaky gut, I use a lot dairy-free milks, such as coconut milk or almond milk.  I was recently made aware that a key ingredient in many of these milks, carrageenan, may not be good for you–I was specifically advised to stay away from it.  So yesterday I made my first batch of almond creamer (a bit richer than milk).  We had it in our coffee today and it was delicious!

So while you may not get the same comfort in it as going home, either literally or figuratively, I think you’ll at the very least think it is tasty–and it is a snap to whip up.

Enjoy!

Almond Creamer
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1 1/2 cups of whole organic almonds (unroasted, unsalted)3 cups of filtered water
Nut milk bag (you can buy them at Whole Foods)

Take the almonds and place them in a glass bowl and let them soak in room temperature water for 24 hours.  This allows for the minimization of phytic acid inherent in almonds which is crucial because it binds to minerals and blocks their absorption (not good!).

Rinse the almonds after soaking and place in a high powered blender with 3 1/2 cups of filtered water.  Blend on high for 1.5- 2 minutes, or until completely smooth and milky.

Straining the milk through the bag this can take a little while once the majority of liquid passes.  Squeeze it out with your hands and let gravity do the rest of the work (see photo below).

The yummy yield is about 19 ounces (2 1/4 cups).

Enjoy!
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Turning Back the Clocks

If only it were that easy.  We turned back the clocks for daylight savings time this past weekend and gained an hour.  For those of us who managed to get that hour in sleep, it was delicious, a real treat.

In our day-to-day lives we aspire to take good care of ourselves, but in reality we rarely do.  We burn our energy like an iPhone battery, sending it out to others, and suddenly we are in the fated red zone.  Over time we are diminished, depleted.  We need to turn back the clocks and gain back more of the energy and vitality we are sending out.

There is a reason why the airlines tell us to “put the oxygen mask on first.”  If we can’t sustain ourselves, we’ll be of no use to anyone else.  We need to nurture ourselves so that we can be at 100% battery (or close to it).  Nurturing yourself reminds you that YOU MATTER.  It’s important to take a time out and spend time feeding your mind, body and soul with goodness.

I am very excited to share some tips and tricks tomorrow evening, November 5th, at 7:30 p.m.at Elliott Physical Therapy on Morrissey Boulevard in Dorchester.  I am speaking on “Nurturing Yourself” and will focus on various aspects of slowing down and caring for your whole self.  If you attend, you can take home one of these homemade sugar skin scrubs!  It will feel like you’ve turned back the clocks on your skin!  It is especially nice on hands and feet.

If you are interested in attending, please contact Elliott Physical Therapy at 617-506-7210 to RSVP.  If you cannot make it on Wednesday night, I will be there again on Thursday November 6th at lunchtime.  I hope to see you there!

Lavender Sugar Scrub

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Lavender Sugar Scrub is a snap to make and is a special treat on the skin, especially during the dry winter months.

Recipe for the scrub (use organic ingredients if possible):
1/2 cup raw almonds1 cup oats
2 cups brown sugar
2 tablespoons vitamin E oil
1 cup avocado oil
20-25 drops of lavender essential oil

In a food processor, start the almonds alone and process until they are pretty small pieces, but not flour-like.  Add the oats, and process until very small as well.
Add the sugar and oils and process until the scrub is stuck together and well mixed–don’t overdo it.

As you can see, I have put the scrub in small jars as gifts, but you can also put the scrub in glass jam jars (such as Ball jars) and leave it in the shower for a scrub treat!

Enjoy!