By: Amy Chen
The holiday season is always a time of celebration and reconnection with friends and family, but sometime there’s too much glee and not enough reality.
Whether it is gift buying, hosting dinners, paying the bills, or vacation planning, the holiday hustling and bustling can leave us in layers of mayhem and stress that we often don’t realize until the party’s over. To prepare for a healthy, joyful and stress-free holiday season, our financial, food, wine and health experts have offered tips to help you get a head start before the New Year.
Our Financial Expert - Judy Poole:
What are your tips to control holiday spending?
Judy offers three tips:
1. Do what you have said you're going to do every year! Start early. Okay we're too late for early, start NOW.
2. Work with your family to set parameters. Maybe, like us, you give "consumables". Maybe your gifts could be from the thrift shop. If everybody agrees it can be a lot of fun.
3. Set a budget. Stick to it. That's the beauty of starting early... You actually have a chance of paying with cash.
Our Food Expert - Angie Quaale:
We (TH) asked Angie a few questions:
What is a fun, must-have tool for this holiday season?
My favourite seasonal tool is a nutmeg grater (photo below). Perfect for topping the NOG, baking, special coffees etc. There really is NO replacement for freshly ground nutmeg.
TH: What is the easiest dish that will be a crowd pleaser?
Warm roasted vegetable salad with fresh dates & feta (recipe below).
4 small whole red onions peeled and cut in four
4 carrots sliced thick on the diagonal
6 small beets, peeled & cut into chunks
2 small parsnips, peeled & sliced thick on the diagonal
1 kg butternut squash skinned, seeded and cut into 4cm pieces
¼ cup olive oil
100g feta cheese
salt and freshly cracked black pepper to taste
8 fresh dates – pitted and cut in four
4 tbsp pomegranate molasses
3 tbsp toasted sesame seeds
¼ cup cilantro
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Put the carrot, onion and squash in a roasting pan. Add the oil, season with salt and pepper and toss to evenly coat all the vegetables. Bake 30 minutes until all the veggies are tender. Remove from the oven and transfer to a large serving bowl. Sprinkle on the dates and the feta. Drizzle with the molasses and additional olive oil if wanted – toss to coat. Sprinkle with sesame seeds and cilantro – serve at room temperature or warmer.
TH: A tip for the holiday season?
Cook once, eat twice. I call it “Planned-overs”. It is a busy time of the year. When you are roasting a chicken, roast two – same mess, same fuss only you have a few meals rather than just one. Turn the second chicken into sandwiches, a pot pie, soup, salad… Planning ahead is the ultimate holiday stress reliever!
Our Wine Expert - Bailey Williamson at Blue Grouse Winery:
Your top three wine recommendations for…
1. Host/Hostess gift- Pinot Noir to go well with any holiday dinner, especially turkey.
2. Entertain a crowd- Any whites for easy drinking, such as 2012 Quill White.
3. Big meal - Multiple wines with every course, with lots of glassware so I can have different wines on the go at all times. Suffice to say lots of wines and the menu would dictate varietal and style...
Our Health Expert- Darnelle Moore at Eastside Fitness:
What are three realistic, simple tips for healthy holidays?
1. Get outside as much as possible. Try for at least once or twice per day! Don't use the cold, rain, snow or icy conditions to keep you indoors. Even a brisk 20 min walk will be enough to get your blood circulating a little more rapidly through your body, bringing fresh oxygen to your brain and extremities. The cool air will wake you up and refresh you. It does get dark early but this is great time of year to check out the Christmas lights around your neighbourhood. Remember, you don't have to make this complicated. Walk to the mailbox, the corner store, the bus stop.
2. Christmas treats don't have to be bad. Cookies and chocolates are part of the season. So are mini oranges, mixed nuts and popcorn! Keep lots of those healthier treats within reach around your home and work place and you will find that you will snack on them too. Also, have lots of cut up veggies and healthy dips (hummus, tzatziki etc) in the fridge ready for when you have the munchies or guests come to visit. Try having a ratio of three healthy (yet tasty) treats on the table to one tray of chocolates and baked goods.
3. Breathe deeply. Set your watch to remind you every 10 mins. Wherever you are, whatever you are doing, stop. Raise your hands above your head while breathing in through your nose. Touch your hands together at the top and hold your breath for one second. Lower your arms and breathe out, audibly, through your mouth (like a sigh). Repeat 2 or 3 times. If you have the time and the space, try doing a Sun Salutation at least once per day. www.youtube.com/watch?v=6IUyY9Dyr5w One per day can keep the doctor, physio, chiropractor away!
Now that you've read these tips, what are your tips to make it through the holidays?