You’ve got a million things on your to-do list and the list seems to just be getting longer. With extra social engagements, school commitments with your kids and general holiday nuttiness, this “most wonderful” time of the year often becomes the most stressful for many of us. And, on top of all the present wrapping and cookie baking, we’re supposed to still make dinner for our families. Oh yeah, right.
Let’s all take a deep breath and remember that we can’t do everything perfectly all the time. The next few weeks are about prioritizing what’s really important: spending time with family and friends, celebrating the season and taking time to reflect on the past year. I hope these tips help you do just that.
1. Avoid the pre-dinner sugar binge. With so many treats around the house, your little ones may just help themselves to some gingerbread or chocolate once their stomachs start rumbling. Keep everyone happy until dinner with Rudi’s Gluten-Free Double Fiber Bread with Goat Cheese and Apples. I created this recipe with kids and adults in mind. It has a great sweet-savory combination and can be made in minutes. It’s just enough to hold everyone over until dinner, without filling them up. Keeping cut up veggies on hand also does the trick.
2. Make friends with the freezer. I’m a huge fan of fresh vegetables, but let’s face it, most of them take a little time to prepare. For those nights when washing and chopping just aren’t in the cards, I keep an assortment (broccoli, peas, corn) of organic frozen veggies on hand. I also always have frozen pie shells at the ready so I can whip up a quiche with whatever I have on hand—leftover veggies, chicken sausages, quinoa and a little bit of cheese.
3. Use my 1+1+1 rule. Make a meal from one frozen/packaged/purchased item, one fresh thing and one leftover. That way you never feel like you’re just heating and eating, and you’ll also help avoid the sodium overload that can come from packaged and processed foods. An example might be sautéed frozen shrimp + red bell pepper + brown rice = Shrimp Stir Fry.
4. Go big. If you’re going to take the time to make one lasagna or quiche or soup recipe, you may as well make two and freeze the extra. It may take a wee bit more time, but how nice will it feel when you come home from that office happy hour knowing you’re moments away from a home cooked meal? If you’ll need to defrost something in the morning, put a reminder on your smart phone to stick it in the fridge. That way you’re not dealing with a frozen solid mass when you get home.
5. Power down. Kindles, iPads and smart phones can be great tools for keeping kids busy and even have some educational merit, but they shouldn’t be at the dinner table. This goes for moms and dads, too! Technology is too distracting and takes away from those few moments we have each day to really connect as a family, especially during the most hectic time of the year.
Stay healthy, have fun and have a very happy holiday season!