Balancing a healthy lifestyle while honoring family holiday traditions can often lead to frustration, anxiety, and dread — and result in a hiatus from your healthy routines.
Phoebe Lapine knows this all too well. After being diagnosed with an autoimmune disease in her 20s, Lapine spent a year revamping her lifestyle and diet. She was determined to lead a fulfilling, healthy life in spite of her illness. Lapine chronicles that year in her book, The Wellness Project: How I Learned to Do Right by My Body, Without Giving Up My Life, which is filled with practical and insightful tips for anyone seeking a healthy balance — including at the holidays.
We hope her tips (and Gluten-Free Buckwheat Blinis recipe!) below help take the stress out of balancing health — and fun — this season.
- Don’t consume holiday punch on an empty stomach. A small bite of fiber-rich food (even a handful of peanuts off the bar!) can slow absorption and limit the negative effects sugary drinks have on your blood sugar and hormone levels.
- Embrace the potluck. If you come from a big family, holiday meals are likely a massive undertaking. Offer to bring a dish to the party, and make sure it’s something that you will feel good about eating. Especially for those of us with food allergies, it’s important that there’s at least one option on the table that’s safe (and delicious!). Try my recipe for Gluten-Free Buckwheat Blinis With All the Fixings below.
- Alternate your alcoholic drinks with water. Even if you’re drinking in moderation, alcohol causes dehydration. Having a glass of water after every drink can help lessen the blow to your liver and slow down your total consumption by giving you something else to sip on between eggnogs.
- Choose a sacred night to refuel. Picking and choosing social plans so you can get eight hours of sleep will make you a better friend to others and yourself. Especially during the holiday season, when cocktail parties abound, it’s important to block off parts of your calendar for some downtime and detox.
- Start the day with an anti-inflammatory latte. When we wake up after an imperfect night’s sleep, the first thing we crave the next morning is a cup of the antidote: caffeine. The holidays can turn into a vicious vice cycle if we’re not careful. Instead of depending on coffee to add pep back in your step, try something like a Golden Milk Latte with turmeric, which can help limit inflammation and won’t set you up for another crash by lunchtime.
- Brown bag your lunch. Since the evenings might be more out of your control than usual during the holiday party marathon, try to make more of an effort to set yourself up for success at lunchtime. Set aside one weekend afternoon to make a few healthful options for the week ahead.
- Add fermented foods to your diet. One of the consequences of too many cocktails and puff-pastry canapes is that it throws off your gut bacteria. Eating lacto-fermented foods with your meals can help mitigate some of that damage. Kefir is great in smoothies or dressings, kraut and kimchi can be used to top homemade sausage or grain bowls, and organic white miso can be whisked into soups.
- Put a pitcher of water or reusable water bottle on your desk. This will give you a visual reminder to drink water during the day, which can help ease a hangover headache or prevent one in the first place.
- Sweat it out. The end of the year tends to add more stress to our days as we try to finish up all those nagging tasks before the new year. Getting in 30 minutes of movement in the morning can help our minds unwind and shed excess toxins through our pores.
- Host your own holiday party! The good news about opening up your home to friends and family is that you have control over the menu and can make sure there are sufficient options for the dietary challenged, or those looking for some whole-food options beyond pigs in a blanket.
Gluten-Free Buckwheat Blinis With All the Fixings
These gluten-free blinis use a mix of buckwheat and paleo flour, but you can easily substitute any all-purpose gluten-free flour you have on hand, and even white-rice flour. If you aren’t concerned about dairy, you can stick with traditional buttermilk instead of the coconut milk–lemon juice combo, though you can barely taste the difference!
The blinis taste great at room temperature, but you can also reheat them for five to 10 minutes in a 350-degree oven. They are a great option to make a few days before your holiday party. Or simply pre-prep the batter.
As for the fixings, I used Greek yogurt instead of sour cream or crème fraîche, and I even mixed in a little curry powder or turmeric to make it more colorful. Diced roasted beets, smoked salmon, fresh dill or chives, and chopped kimchi are other favorites. And, of course, to get really festive, you can serve them with caviar.
Prep Time: 20 minutes
Cook Time: 10 minutes
Total Time: 30 minutes
- One 13.5 ounce can coconut milk
- 2 tbs. lemon juice
- 3/4 cup paleo baking flour or all-purpose gluten-free flour
- 1/2 cup buckwheat flour
- 2 large eggs
- 2 tbs. unsalted butter or ghee, melted
- 2 tsp. honey
- 1 tsp. sea salt
- 1/2 tsp. baking powder
- 1/4 tsp. baking soda
- Olive oil, for brushing
- In a food processor or blender, combine all the ingredients except the olive oil. Scrape the batter into a large bowl and let stand for 15 minutes.
- Heat a large nonstick skillet or griddle over medium heat until very hot. Brush lightly with the olive oil. Spoon scant tablespoon-size amounts of batter into the hot skillet to form 2 1/2-inch rounds (you’ll make six to eight pancakes at a time, depending on the size of your skillet). Cook until bubbles form on the surface and the blinis are browned on the bottom, about one minute. Flip the blini and cook for 30 seconds longer. Transfer the blini to a baking sheet. Brush the skillet with oil as needed and repeat with the remaining batter, layering the cooked blini on the baking sheet.
- Serve alongside sour cream, crème fraîche, or Greek yogurt (you can mix in a little curry powder or turmeric to make it more colorful), diced beets, smoked salmon, fresh dill or chives, chopped kimchi, caviar, or any other creative toppings you fancy.
If you make this, tag @phoebelapine and #feedmephoebe — I’d love to see it!
Recipe printed with permission from Phoebe Lapine.