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Eat Well and Create More Time with Friends and Family this December

Dec 07, 2014 11:57AM ● Published by Jennifer Neys

By Lesley Stiles

As the holiday season approaches, it brings happy faces, cheery lights, and parties galore. Shivering carolers sing bright songs on their mission to rev up any scrooges out there. Olfactory senses kick in with wafting cinnamon among a jumble of sweet and spicy, holiday scents. As ensuing madness lurks around every corner, take steps to command peace amidst the ruckus. Go for a walk and breathe deeply. Read a book for a few minutes in the middle of the day. Write a letter to a friend. Cortically switching energy from right to left brain takes away anxiety and calms your nervous system and can be done with as little effort as singing a song out loud, or as much as a yoga class.

Holidays have a way of heaping on more tasks - mostly senseless when you think about them. Food plays an integral part of adding to the stress of the holidays too. Sugar, as we all know, can cause anything from weight gain to a massive hot flash. Eating right to avoid the quivering shakes of uneven blood levels is easy. Planning is key. Shop a farmers’ market, roast a bunch of stuff, make a soup, have salad ingredients at your finger tips and you are ready to rock and roll. As adoring eyes of family gaze upon a hot dinner on the table, just remember how satisfied you will feel after a nice meal, not to mention having leftovers for lunch.

Invitations abound to all manner of celebrations, and most can be potluck. Take something you want to eat that can be made into a meal, like a nice quinoa salad with spinach and Fuyu persimmons or even just a big bag of Satsuma mandarins. There are several varieties of citrus available from local growers at the markets all winter, but Satsumas hold high status for their meltingly tender flavor, amazing capacity for holding juice, convenient seedless quality, and, most of all, their ease in peeling (so you can have four or five for a snack). These mandarins offer copious amounts of nutritious energy that won’t dip after ten minutes. Awesome all on their own, they are also yummy thrown into a spinach salad with crumbled feta and toasted walnuts. Create a tapenade by chopping Greek olives, garlic, oregano, olive oil, and orange peel, swanking up sautéed chicken breasts with wild rice pilaf. Smother cod filets with Satsuma segments, grated peel and sliced fennel, lube up with olive oil, and roast till golden in a hot oven. Slide a segment or two into chilled vodka before sinking your pearly whites into chocolate dipped Satsuma mandarin slices. Use the cocktail theory at parties, except instead of having drinks tempered with a glass of water in-between, have a Satsuma between Christmas cookies or See’s candy pieces.

As fog and wind sway through the valleys and inlets, get out and walk in it, feel it, and love watching it grow and disappear as the day ripens, giving your mind and body a work out. Spend less; be with friends and family more, and eat right this December. And if we can just get some rain, life will be perfect in our valley. Happy New Year!

Sautéed Assorted Greens w/ Golden Raisins and Pine nuts

Seasonally, there are any number of amazing vegetables available at the farmers’ market. I am especially partial to winter red Swiss chard, lusciously sautéed with good olive oil, fresh garlic, and this year’s crop of golden raisins. This identical application works equally well with broccoli rabe and rappini, and never forget the ever-beautiful red Russian kale. Why not mix them all together and see what happens? These greens are the iron fists of the cold weather nutritional world. Their colors are all over the rainbow, and they are loaded with calcium, iron, and fiber, to name a few of their attributes.

1 bunch chard, washed and sliced thin

1 bunch red kale, washed and sliced thin

1 bunch dino kale, washed and sliced thin

1 bunch mustard greens, washed and sliced thin

3 cloves garlic, chopped

¼ cup dried grapes

¼ cup toasted Pine nuts, walnuts or almonds, chopped

3 tablespoons olive oil

3 tablespoons veggie stock

Salt and pepper to taste

Heat olive oil in a sauté pan and add all the greens with the garlic. Sauté for 3 minutes and add the raisins, stock and nuts. Sauté for 5 minutes and season with salt and pepper. Serves 5 or 6.

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