Chestnuts roasting on an open fire... and you are trying very hard not to think about all the foods that are a part of the holidays but not a part of a healthy diet.
Don't despair. We bring you news of great joy: you can have a healthier, happier holiday season. Here are four ways you can improve your holiday season:
1. Put a Spin on Holiday Classics
You can still have most of your favorites, only slightly improved. It's OK to tweak Mom's recipe, especially if it calls for a can or two of Cream of Whatever Soup. Go for the real food version. Season your food with spices and herbs. Replace the canned creaminess with a simple bechamel or veloute sauce, or use cooked blended veggies.
Veloute sauce is basically the same as bechamel; instead of milk, you use a stock of your choice. The beauty of making your own sauce is that you know exactly what's in it and you can make adjustments for people with food insensitivities and allergies.
Now, imagine the "traditional" green bean casserole, made with fresh green beans, sauteed mushrooms, a touch of homemade bechamel sauce with nutmeg and fried onions on top. All the familiar textures and flavors will be there, it will just taste ten times better.
This article brings few more tips for healthier "swaps". Do you have a new and improved holiday classic? Let us know in comments!
2. Knowledge Is Power
First, know your enemies. There are many offenders in the "traditional" holiday fodder. Number one? Sugar. We have been told for decades to avoid fat like plague but it's really sugar that's responsible for a host of health issues.
Sugar is rather addictive and it can be hard to eat it in moderation. The Whole30 program talks about a "sugar dragon" inside of us that grows bigger with each sweet bite and as it grows bigger, it demands more sugar.
To make things more difficult, the cold, short days of the holiday season often bring us emotional discomfort and sugar seems to be the perfect substance to chase away the holiday blues.
Second, know yourself. It's important to understand why you eat what you eat. It's twice as important when it comes to sugary food. If you absolutely have to have your Mom's Christmas cookies because the taste brings back good memories and she would be hurt if you didn't eat any, go ahead. Eat slowly and mindfully. Savor every bite. That way, it will be much easier to really eat just one.
If you know that sugar is your drug of choice to cope with more difficult issues, try to look for alternatives. If you can, go for a walk or stretch. Hug someone you love. Try to do something rewarding - your brain chemistry will provide you with that same "sweet" feeling and your body won't need to cope with all the negative side effects of sugar.
Do you still just want that sweet taste? Good news: Mother Nature gave you plenty of sweetness in a form that's much healthier than that white stuff (no, I don't mean snow). Have you guessed yet? Right! It's fruit! To get the most health benefits, choose whole fruit over fruit juices; the fiber in whole fruit will help your body process the naturally occurring sugar more slowly. Unsweetened dried fruit can be a good choice as well, just keep in mind that the sugars are more concentrated, so you should only eat small amounts.
3. Fill Up on the Good Stuff
Before you head to the next party, eat something healthy. Go for protein and vegetables, to feel satisfied but not uncomfortably full. The veggies that are in season during winter months are hearty and many are perfect for roasting. How is that for comfort food? Add a quickly seared serving of grass-fed beef and you are ready to face whatever the season throws at you! Or, whatever is served at the party.
If you like spicy food, 'tis the season to eat some! Especially if you are worried about portion control. That wonderful heat will not only brighten your day, it will also tame your appetite.
Our holiday to-do lists tend to be too long for comfort. In order to get everything done, we often put a lot on a back burner, including eating. Going hungry all day and stuffing yourself at dinner is far from ideal. Stopping for a quick bite at a fast food place is also a bad idea. Be prepared: stock up on healthy snacks that are easy to carry around.
The holidays tend to center around food but it doesn't mean we should focus on it too much. Remember, stress is not healthy! So, if you are stressing over eating too many cookies, take a deep breath and give yourself a break. That extra adrenaline is worse than the extra sugar.
Managing stress during the holidays will help you manage what you eat. Here are a few tips:
The most important thing to remember about the holiday season: all of it is supposed to be fun and bring you joy.
Thanks for reading! We would like to wish you and your family a peaceful and healthy holiday season.
What is the first thing that comes to your mind when somebody says “healthy food”? Let me guess: it’s not meat.
Meat consumption has been blamed for a slew of health problems. But high-quality meat is really a superfood!
Here is why:
Meat is a great source of protein
Meat is an excellent source of complete, easily digestible protein. There are many plants that contain protein as well, but only a few have the complete protein that your body needs. So if you are on a vegan diet, you need to make sure you understand your protein sources and plan your meals carefully. If you just want to eat well without too much fuss, add meat to your diet. Stick to healthy meats that were raised naturally. Or, grab one of our bars.
What’s the big deal with protein?
Simply put, we would fall apart without protein. Proteins are often referred to as “building blocks” of all lifeforms and we humans are no exception. Our body tissues are made of protein.
Protein is also a source of energy, along with fats and carbohydrates. Unlike carbohydrates, protein helps you feel full longer and it doesn’t cause energy spikes and crashes. If you feel hungry often, consider a protein-rich snack. If you are trying to lose weight, a diet high in protein and low in carbs will help you lose body fat and keep the muscle.
What’s a complete protein?
Protein is a type of chemical compound with large, chain-like molecules consisting of smaller units known as amino acids. We need them to digest food, repair body tissue, grow and much more. Our bodies are capable of creating some of the amino acids, while others, called the essential amino acids, need to come from food.
The complete protein contains all nine essential acids. Essential acids are, surprisingly, essential for our well-being. Our bodies cannot make them and also they are unable to store them. If your diet doesn’t provide enough essential amino acids, your body will extrude them from your muscle. People who lack essential amino acids in their diet can also experience weakness, fatigue and increased anxiety levels, among other symptoms. This means essential amino acids should be a part of our daily food intake in a form of protein, preferably complete protein.
Meat Gives your immunity a boost
With cold season creeping upon us, we would love to boost our immunity, right? Let’s eat some meat, then! As we mentioned earlier, a healthy amount of complete protein you get from meat helps your body to perform its best, but that’s not all. Meat is an excellent source of zinc. Zinc is crucial for a proper function of your immune system. Zinc deficiency is on the main causes of weakened immunity. Many doctors recommend taking a zinc supplement to help you battle common cold. Here is an idea: how about a diet rich in zinc? Try grass-fed beef or lamb; they are both rich in zinc and quite tasty!
Meat Contains Iron
Iron is a mineral essential to our survival. It’s a major component of hemoglobin, a protein in our blood cells that is responsible for oxygen distribution. Iron deficiency results in anemia, or low red blood cell count. Anemia causes fatigue, pale skin and you can also experience shortness of breath. While there are plants that contain iron, your body doesn’t absorb it as well as the iron from meat. The best sources of iron include liver, sardines, oysters, clams, and beef (100%grass-fed is the best).
Yes, Meat Is Full of Vitamins!
Meat is well known for high levels of B vitamin complex (B1, B2, niacin, B6, and B12), as well as vitamin D. Vitamin B12 can only be found in animal-based foods.
Vitamin D helps calcium absorption, among other things, so it is important to your bone health.
It's Easy To Eat
Let's face it, there are numerous foods that you know you should eat but you don't exactly enjoy them. Meat is tasty and a little bit goes a long way. A 3oz steak will give you 22g of complete protein, whereas a cup of cooked beans will get you about 15g. Unlike beans, meat, when consumed in moderation, won't give you any unpleasant digestive issues.
Hungry for meat? How about a tasty meat snack?
Rosemary adds its woodsy, crisp flavor to lots of popular dishes. Today, we use rosemary mostly as a seasoning, but you can take full advantage of its health benefits by using it in a variety of ways. You can inhale its scent, clean with it or eat it. If you need a quick rosemary snack, grab one of our Mediterranean Lamb bars. The new Apple Pork Wild Zora bar combines rosemary with the familiar notes of parsley, sage, and thyme.
Throughout history, rosemary was prized for its many qualities, beyond culinary use. Ancient Greeks and Romans believed rosemary improved memory; when preparing for exams, students wore rosemary wreaths on their heads.
In Medieval and Renaissance times, rosemary was used to ward off plague and as a deodorizer. It was still believed to help memory and later it became the symbol of remembrance and faithfulness. As such, it was often used at both weddings and funerals.
Here are three easy ways rosemary can boost your health:
#1. Plant it for mental clarity
Wearing a rosemary wreath while studying might seem silly, but rosemary stimulates brain activity. If you struggle with "foggy brain" every afternoon, try diffusing rosemary essential oil or rub a fresh rosemary sprig between your hands and inhale deeply.
Rosemary is easy to grow in pots, so try keeping a small plant close to your work space. You can grow it outside, too. In warm climates, rosemary is a perennial and will grow into a nice shrub. If you live in an area with cold winters, you will have to replant your rosemary every year, or you might keep it in a large planter that can be moved indoors during the cold months.
#2 Spray it to kill germs
The medieval beliefs that rosemary will ward off plague were not without merit. Rosemary has strong antimicrobial properties. If you like to clean your home without toxic chemicals, rosemary will be your best friend. By killing bacteria, it neutralizes odors and leaves your home smelling fresh and clean. Use fresh rosemary, lemon and vinegar to make a simple all-purpose cleaner.
Photo by Mick Telkamp
#3 Eat it for your digestive health
It's not a coincidence that rosemary is often paired with pork or lamb. It tastes wonderful, but more importantly, rosemary helps you digest those meats. Because it stimulates the bile flow, rosemary is crucial to digestion of fatty foods. Like other herbs in the mint family, it helps with indigestion, excessive bloating, and stomach cramps.
When cooking with rosemary, try to use it fresh. Simply strip the leaves off the woody stem (if the stem is soft, you can skip this step), and give them a rough chop before adding them to your dish. You can add whole sprigs to stews, soups and sauces, but be aware that the leaves will fall off and you might need to strain them. If you use dried rosemary, crush it well, because the dry leaves stay hard and are not pleasant to eat.
Try this recipe:
Not in the mood for a large meal? On the go? Traveling? Get the wonderful benefits of rosemary from a healthy snack, like Wild Zora Mediterranean Lamb Bar. Don't forget about the new Apple Pork bar! It combines pork with rosemary, parsley, sage and thyme for your taste buds and your digestive health.
How do you like to use rosemary? Let us know in comments!
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Nightshades, a large family of plants that include such kitchen staples as tomatoes, peppers, potatoes and paprika, are a dietary issue for some people. Wild Zora now offers TWO delicious nightshade-free snacks.
Nightshades are blamed for increased inflammation and a host of other medical issues, such as migraines, GI tract irritation, and arthritis flare-ups, among others.
The culprit is a group of alkaloids these plants contain. One of them, called solanine, impacts metabolism of neurotransmitters which means it can negatively affect your nervous system if it builds up in your body. That certainly sounds scary, but remember that many nightshades, like peppers and tomatoes, are full of vitamin C and other antioxidants. Furthermore, ripe nightshade fruits and vegetables contain only traces of alkaloids and won't affect most people.
Artichokes, cherries, huckleberries, and blueberries don't belong to the nightshade family, but they also contain solanine.
At this point, there are no major scientific studies on the effects of nightshades. Anecdotal evidence has linked nightshade consumption to rheumatoid arthritis in certain people, however, there are also many people who suffer from rheumatoid arthritis, but nightshades don’t seem to have any impact on them. It has been suggested that some people are more sensitive to alkaloids than others.
Some can also have an allergic reaction to nightshades. The reactions can vary from a rash to anaphylaxis. The nightshade allergy is rather rare, so is not considered a common allergen.
How do you find out if nightshades cause your painful arthritis flare-ups or leaky gut?
1. Start by keeping a food journal. Check labels carefully and ask questions when you eat at a restaurant. Don't forget to write down any medications, vitamins, and supplements you take. Note all the symptoms you experience.
2. Try to avoid nightshades for at least two weeks. This can be tricky because nightshades are common ingredients in many foods. Be careful with spice mixes and store-bought salad dressings, as they often contain paprika or cayenne pepper.
3. Share your food journal with your doctor. The information you gathered will help you both determine whether nightshades are the culprit behind your condition.
Eating a nightshade-free diet can be challenging, but it's not impossible, and Wild Zora is here to help: our Mediterranean Lamb bar was our first nightshade-free flavor and we added a new nightshade-free Apple Pork flavor.