Is It Time For You to H.A.L.T.?

Frustrated woman waiting for a phone call in Christmas kitchenDuring the holidays, there’s a lot of emphasis on love and joy, family togetherness and endless festivities.

But what if the holidays find you alone?

What if you’re dealing with a recent break-up, or illness, or worse still – a death in the family?

Perhaps you can relate?

While there’s no question these things are difficult any time of the year, the pain and heartache increases ten-fold during the month of December.

When you’re up against life’s challenges, do you still find time to take proper care of yourself?

I experienced this first-hand in the past two weeks, when my mother spent the weekend before Christmas in the hospital. Even though her caregiver stayed with her, I still made numerous trips back and forth from home.

I didn’t feel like cooking. (There was little time to shop).

The holiday cookies I had planned to bake were put on hold. I found myself eating on the run – grabbing a quick snack from the fridge (or cupboard) to tide me over. It being the holidays, there were plenty of sweets on hand so my choices weren’t always the best (even though they met my gluten-free, dairy-free, sugar-free criteria).

While sugary anything is very easy to come by this time of year, it’s certainly NOT what you or I, or anyone needs during times of stress.

Yet, there it was – comfort food that fit a need.

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A Gluten-Free Cookie is Still A Cookie

TrufflesThe holidays are in full swing, no question about it.

And with that comes temptations galore, as you fend off one sweet, gluten-filled treat after another.

But do the holidays – or any special occasion for that matter – really mean you have to forego everything that’s sweet and tasty?

Of course not!

There are hundreds of blogs and cookbooks available to you, filled with mouth-watering, delicious recipes that cater to your special diet – be it gluten-free, vegan, or something in between.

So perhaps the bigger question is this:

Can a cookie – or any sweet treat – still be part of a ‘healthy- aging’ lifestyle?

And my answer is “Yes, absolutely!”

However, there is a caveat.

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A Sugar-Free Christmas? Bah Humbug!

Lebkuchen3lA couple of years ago, I decided to cut back on my intake of refined sugar.

And I’ve shared my various successes baking with alternate sweeteners here and here.

Of course, there are lots of reasons why you might want to consume less sugar than the Standard American Diet (aka SAD).

However, if you’re experiencing any kind of digestive distress, or chronic illness, then sugar is one of the first things I’d recommend you eliminate.

After gluten, of course!

(Both gluten and sugar, along with dairy, are considered the top three most inflammatory foods).

So, that’s reason #1.

Here’s another reason to eliminate sugar: a yeast or bacterial overgrowth, such as Candida or SIBO (Small Intestine Bacterial Overgrowth).

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Avocados, Chocolate & More

I just had to share an amazing new recipe that I came across, one that features the unusual combination of avocados and chocolate!

The recipe is for an Avocado Chocolate Pudding, created by nutritionist Michelle Babb, of Eat, Play, Be – a Mind-Body nutrition practice located in Seattle.

I made this luscious chocolate pudding earlier today, and I can tell you that the taste is incredible – creamy, chocolaty and velvety-rich, just like you’d expect chocolate pudding to be.

Yes, the ingredients are unconventional.

But that’s what I love about it! Plus, it is sugar-free, relying instead on a sugar substitute such as agave nectar or maple syrup.

I, for one, am trying to cut back on my sugar consumption this holiday season. I’m challenging myself to bake less, and stick with a few favorite recipes that can easily be converted to a gluten-free treat that is also low in sugar.

Of course, you can certainly create a perfectly lovely gluten-free pudding using traditional dairy or cream, and refined sugar.

I’m just saying there are alternatives.

If you’re looking for something a little different to tickle your taste buds, I think this tasty treat will likely satisfy your cravings.

Next week, I promise to share some of my own favorite holiday recipes. Meantime, I’ve been invited to two holiday parties this week alone!

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