‘Tis the Season. How To Handle Holiday Stress + Root Veggie Au Gratin

November 25, 2014 / Molly Patrick /

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We’re officially kneecap deep in holiday hoopla and soon to be in full throttle tinsel mode.

I’ve always been neutral to slightly annoyed with the holidays, a privilege that comes with not having kids.

It’s such a colossal wave that’s built up in a crescendo of Christmas music, hot apple cider, pumpkin EVERYTHING, family, too much pie, wish lists, spiked eggnog, the smell of cinnamon EVERYWHERE YOU GO, Christmas lights, fuzzy socks, too many bottles of red wine, sweaters, inappropriate drunk uncles, presents, pine cones…and then it all comes crashing down and lands in a huge pile of ribbons, bows and crumpled up wrapping paper.

When it’s over, we wake up from the fog only to realize that we’re 10 pounds heavier and Jingle Bells has been stuck in our head since Thanksgiving.

It’s because of this “holiday crescendo” that people start acting weird this time of year, especially soccer moms, bless their hearts.

It starts a week before Thanksgiving and ends on January 2nd. A panicky, stressful vibe washes over them, but they’re still smiling from ear to ear because ’tis the mother fucking season to be jolly. 

So the edgy but permanent smile winds up looking more neurotic and scary, like maybe a nervous hospital is in order, but they carry on with their Christmas shopping, cookie making, lawn decorating, menu planning and stocking stuffer collecting.

Next time you’re at Whole Foods (specifically), be on the lookout, they’re everywhere. The good doing neurotic soccer moms about to lose their shit because chia seeds are out of stock or maca powder has been moved to a new spot. God for-fucking-bid.

And hey, it’s not just soccer moms. They might lose their shit right there in the middle of Whole Foods, between the organic yoga mats and the Fair Trade cashews, but we all have our moments during the holidays.

Eating sugar like it’s actual crack, scooping up cold mashed potatoes directly from the fridge with our fingers, forgetting that exercise is a thing, securely carrying around a bottle of wine like a protective mom, finding ourselves sitting in our living room wearing nothing but our underwear and a big red bow on our head, smack dab in the middle of an existential crisis, watching It’s a Wonderful Life over and over again. It happens.

Whatever it is that gets your tinsel in a twist this holiday season, just know that you’re not alone and it’s not just you.

I’ve prepared a short list of tactical to do’s to add to your holiday arsenal when you need some much needed balance.

You can thank me later.

When we feel off our game, it’s best to start with our vessel and then go from there. Once we give some positive, loving attention to our bod, we’re better equipped to handle the drunk uncles and the existential crisis at hand.

1. Coconut Swish (aka Oil Pulling) 

I’ve talked about this before, but it’s time for a recap.

If you’ve never swished oil around in your mouth, you’re missing out. I know it sounds kind of gross and you might want to throw up a little when you think about it, but trust me when I tell you, after the first time you will want to make out with yourself based on the freshness of your grill.

Here’s what you need to know.

Oil pulling started in India a long ass time ago – we’re talking thousands of years.

Pulling oil gently draws bacteria and toxins from the mouth. There are tons of health claims out there about the benefits. Everything from improving hormone imbalance to improving liver function.

I don’t know about all that, but what I can tell you from personal experience is that oil pulling or (coconut swish as I like to call it) has made my teeth whiter, smoother and upped my overall oral game (ew, not like that).

Good quality sesame oil, coconut oil and olive oil are most commonly used for pulling.

Do it first thing in the morning before you eat or drink anything. Place about a tablespoon of oil in your mouth and swish it back and forth, round and round for 20 minutes. If you use coconut oil, you’ll have to chomp on it or let it melt until it becomes liquid.

The timing is important because if you keep it in your mouth longer than 20 minutes your body will start to re-absorb the toxins. So after 20 minutes, spit out the oil in a trash can, toilet or outside somewhere.

It’s not a good idea to spit it out in your sink because apparently the oil can clog your sink over time. After you spit out the oil, rinse your mouth with warm water and brush those pearlies.

2. Neti Pot 

You might look ridiculous while you’re doing this, but that’s part of the fun of it. The Neti Pot offers a gentle form of nasal irrigation (sexy, right?) that’s especially handy when you’re experiencing allergies, sniffles, congestion, or too many chestnuts roasting on an open fire.

Here’s how to do it.

Fill your Neti Pot with lukewarm water, add a teaspoon or so of Neti salt, stir with a clean finger and put the Neti Pot to your nose. Next, stand over a sink (or outside), hinge slightly from your hips and tilt your head slightly up, in the direction of the Neti Pot.

You may have to play around with your positioning and angle, but you’ll know you have it right when the water starts coming out through your other nostril. The first time you do it is a trip.

If you have a cold, be warned that some crazy looking shit will come out of your nose. But even if you don’t have a cold, it’s a great thing to do from time to time to clean out gunk that wouldn’t otherwise come out so easily.

3. Make out with green smoothies, green juices or both. 

This is the fastest way to get nutrients to your bloodstream ASAP. And when we’re binge-ing on holiday goodness, that’s when we need it most (we need it all the time, but especially when we’re being naughty).

What’s the difference between green smoothies and green juice you ask?

I’m a step ahead of you.

The most obvious distinction is that green smoothies are made in a blender and green juice is made in a juicer. 

After that, the main difference between the two is that green juices have no fiber and green smoothies have lots of fiber.

JUICING
When you juice, the pulpy, fibrous part of the fruits and veggies gets stripped away and you’re left with a pure nutrient powerhouse boost in the form of juice. Vitamins, minerals and phytochemicals rush directly into your bloodstream because there’s no fiber to slow them down.

Because there’s no fiber to slow down the absorption of green juice, make sure that you’re not juicing super sweet fruits because it will spike your blood sugar. Stick to fruits lower on the glycemic index, like green apples, pears and citrus.

My perfect juice is: 
1 carrot, 1/2 a bunch of leafy greens, 1/2 a cucumber, 1 tart apple, 1 lime , a bit of ginger, and  few stalks of celery.

SMOOTHIES
You can think of smoothies like liquid salad (well, maybe not because that sounds gross and they’re actually really yummy). When you make a green smoothie, you’re pulverizing all the ingredients, so you get all the nutrients and the fiber.

Because you have fiber to slow down the absorption, a bit more fruit is okay in smoothies because it won’t spike blood sugar.

My favorite smoothie is:
16 oz. water, 2 or 3 big leafy green leaves (kale, chard, collard greens, spinach – all are great), a handful of parsley, berries, 1/4 of an avocado, about a tablespoon of chia or hemp seeds, and a banana.

Sometimes I’ll add some raw cacao powder to fancy it up, but it’s not at all necessary.

Avocado is an important ingredient. It not only makes the smoothie creamy and smooth, but the fat from the avo makes the nutrients from the leafy greens super easy to absorb.

Whatever you do, don’t go into analysis paralysis over which one is better, smoothies or juices; they’re both great and either way you’ll be getting way more veggies and fruit in just one juice or smoothie than you could eat in one sitting.

Just make sure make sure that the majority of your smoothies and juices are made up of green leafy veggies and not fruit.

I personally drink one green juice a week and a green smoothie every morning.

4. Lemon Water 

I’ve said it umpteenth times: lemon water is the perfect way to start the day. Lemon water flushes toxins out of the kidneys and liver and it also helps alkalize the system.

When our systems are overly acidic, they become the perfect breeding ground for illness. What makes an acidic system? All the fun stuff (boo). Processed sugar, alcohol, white flour, meat…basically the majority of Thanksgiving dinner.

So bust out the citrus juicer with me and let’s start to alkalize.

Here’s how to do it:

First thing in the morning, squeeze the juice from 1/2 a lemon into 8 ounces of room temp. water and drink it down 15 minutes before eating or drinking anything else.

This is so simple that you can make it part of your daily routine starting tomorrow.

So there they are, a few tricks to have in your back pocket when you need them. May they bring a touch of balance to your holiday cheer. Sometimes it’s the little things that make a big difference, and that’s a good thing because sometimes that’s all we have time for.

Alrighty lover – today’s recipe is one that must grace your holiday table at some point in the next month or so. It’s my take on Potato au Gratin, only using root veggies and a cashew based sauce.

Try it – you won’t be sorry. Celery Root never tasted so good.

Root Veggie au Gratin - Whole Food Plant Based

Author: Molly Patrick of Clean Food Dirty Girl

Ingredients

  • 1 large celery root peeled and cut in half
  • 1 average size parsnip just so it’s not as long, cut in half
  • 1 medium - large rutabaga peeled and left whole
  • 1 medium - large turnip peeled and left whole
  • 1 cup of cashews 135g, soaked for at least 10 minutes
  • 2 cups of veggie broth 475ml
  • 2 tablespoons rice flour
  • Pinch of salt and some fresh cracked black pepper

Instructions

  • Place the celery root, parsnip, rutabaga and turnip into a large pot and cover with water.
  • Bring water to a boil and let them cook for 30 minutes.
  • Strain the veggies from the water and let the veggies cool enough so you can handle them without burning yourself.
  • Slice the veggies into thin rounds and place them into a large bowl.
  • When all the veggies are sliced, preheat your oven to 350° F (175°C) and line an 8x8 baking dish with parchment paper. 
  • Layer the root veggies in the dish until the veggies come up to the top of the dish. You can layer them however you want (ie. a layer of just turnip and then a layer of just celery root, or just layer them randomly). Set aside for now while you make the sauce.
  • Strain the water from the cashews and place the cashews in your blender along with 2 cups of veggie broth, 2 tablespoons of rice flour and a pinch or two of salt (more or less depending on saltiness of the broth you use).
  • Blend for about a minute, until the ingredients are completely blended and there are no more cashew pieces.
  • Pour this mixture over the root veggies, top with cracked black pepper and bake for 35 minutes, until golden brown.

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I want you to have a KICK ASS week and remember, just because you have an urge for something doesn’t mean you always have to obey (but sometimes, that’s exactly what it means).

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Written by ex-boozer, ex-smoker, Co-founder, and CEO, Molly Patrick. They will help you eat more plants while throwing perfection down the garbage disposal.

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1 Comment

  1. Laurie on November 30, 2016 at 10:54 am

    This looks amazing! Silly question, though. I never had celery root. Does it taste like celery? A family member won’t touch celery.

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