Monday, 12 December 2011

With Christmas, Comes Food...My Attempt At Keeping It Healthy

Christmas is fast approaching, and although I am far from my best physically and mentally, I can't help but TRY to get excited about Christmas morning.  I love it.  My daughter is 8 years old and not an early riser - even on Christmas morning.  She loves her sleep.  Christmas morning she is normally up no earlier than 7:30am.  She quietly tip toes down into our family room to inspect the outcome of Santa's arrival.  Santa leaves her one new small stuffed animal in her stocking each year and she can always find it poking its little head out the top of her stocking, greeting her that morning.  She then looks at the present Santa has left...I'd love to know what goes through her little brain that very moment.  She makes her way to our bedroom and quietly wakes us up (keeping in mind, some years WE have had to wake her up because WE were too excited to wait any longer!).

We go to the family room and out comes the camera.  Videos and photos are made as she opens her stocking and then her present from Santa.  She then normally curls on the couch or on the floor with her new "loot" and patiently waits till Grandma and Grandpa arrive.  My parents live in a city nearby and it takes them approxiamatley 20 minutes to drive over.  I have the coffee brewing and the oven is normally busy baking cinnamon buns or a baked breakfast dish or some sort...filling the house with the smell of comfort.  My husband grew up in The Netherlands, and one of his favourite traditions has been watching the movie "The Snowman".  We have now made that part of our family tradition, and as we eat, talk, laugh and open presents, The Snowman is playing on repeat in our DVD player.

Our presents are opened one by one...patience is the key Christmas morning on our home.  Nothing is rushed.  And in between each present opened, we take time to talk, take a washroom break, or go back for seconds or thirds of the breakfast I make each year.

So, how do I - the health conscious baker who omits sugar, replaces oils and butter with applesauce, and steers clear of red meat and dairy - make a delicious, comforting and shall I say, "scrumptious" breakfast?  Well, to date, I'm not quite sure...but I'm researching several recipes and finding ways to deliver a memorable and tasty breakfast that won't make my family feel tired and greased-out the entire day.  In the past I made "Monkey Bread"...think Cinnamon Buns with even more butter, if that's possible.  Unbelievably delicious, but sits like a brick in your stomach.  Then there was the layered baked dish...with layers of bread, butter, Dijon mustard, eggs, processed meat (ham) and more bread.  Ooey, gooey, and tasty...but dairy and processed meat?  Not anymore!

I will update my blog later this month with the final breakdown of Christmas morning breakfast, but thus far, I am thinking of Quinoa and Cranberries with Cinnamon (similar to oatmeal)...a spin on Cinnamon Buns using sweet potatoes or pumpkin...Whole Grain, Homemade Buns (maybe with some wheat germ)...Fresh Fruit Salad (my daughter has already claimed this as her contribution that morning...she wants strawberries, grapes, kiwi, bananas, pineapple galore), served with Greek Yogurt for dipping...and something savoury.  In the meantime I have found a few new blogs that are vegan and HEALTHY and I am so excited to try some of the recipes!

Healthy food can be FUN!  It takes time and you may find your pantry gets a complete makeover over time as new products such as Wheat Germ, Agave, UNSWEETENED Applesauce, Cinnamon and Ginger, Quinoa, PURE Maple Syrup (worth the extra money), Apple Cider Vinegar (organic and with "the mother of vinegar" is best...I've included a photo of the product I recently purchased), Flax Seed, Oats...and so many more.

Last night we had a "simple dinner night".  I was still not feeling 100% from the horrendous waves of nausea I've had lately, so my husband whipped up some tuna sandwiches.  As he was about to make the tuna salad, my daughter called out, "Daddy, can you please add crushed garlic to it?".  Fresh garlic is spicy for some, but this kid has loved spices of all kinds since a young toddler.  She is aware of the health benefits of garlic and loves the added flavour.  I love that she is aware of what she puts into her body and what will keep her body strong.  She's still a kid and we DO allow her to indulge in chocolate bars, pizza and a good burger...but in moderation.  She has never been allowed an entire chocolate bar...a 1/2 is more than enough for a treat.  And she'd prefer a homemade turkey burger or my Mom's homemade ribs to a McDonald's burger.

Kids adapt to any lifestyle you provide for them.  We have been fortunate that our daughter has embraced our healthy lifestyle with open arms, as I realize not all children would enjoy the changes...but even subtle changes make a world of difference.  So next time you're at the grocery store, think about your favourite ooey, gooey comfort meal, and challenge yourself to create the same dish using fresh, organic (if possible) and unprocessed products.  The smallest of changes add up and a healthier family you will have!

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