holiday wellness

Wellness Wednesday: Help for the Elves

Are you that truly time strapped gift giver with the finite budget ? Have you been reading all that advice about scaling back this holiday ? Are you tired of the materialistic holidays, the stress, and the excessive spending ? Here is some SMART advice to help you through. SMART means specific, measurable, attainable, relevant and time bound. Instead of saying, I’m going to do better this year, have a SMART plan for getting your tougher gifts done. 

They say the best things in life aren’t things. Here are some: 

Home made paper or gift certificates for activities with YOU ! Examples: 

  • a movie
  • lunch out or lunch in 
  • a hike in the outdoors 
  • spa day 
  • craft day 
  • joint workouts 

Here’s athoughtful gift for that person who has enough “stuff” : A donation to their favorite charity, cause or advocacy group, (usually able to be made online). You can send a card or a decorated email to announce the gift. 

For those who would like to give, but are perhaps late on mailing things to faraway relatives, ebooks and audiobooks come to the rescue. You can send an inexpensive but special ebook instantly even on Christmas eve and be right on time. is my go-to for the instant gifts. Your recipient can read them on any device, not just a Kindle. Kindle apps are available on virtually all platforms including the desktops PCs and Macs, as well as Android and IOS. Your gift can combine an ebook and an experience if you gift the book and buy one for yourself, then propose that you and even a faraway friend can read it “ together”. is my source for ebooks since I am a member. This service is certainly worth looking into, especially if you ever have long commutes, flights, or road trips. 

For an even more economical gift, you can send music, even just one song, or an app, as a gift. These too are electronic, and thus accomplished at your desk in the wink of an eye. 

It’ s the small things that count. So send valuable information ! Most of us have a recipe or two that is special to others. Write it up with nice paper or digitally with graphics, and send the recipe or a collection of them as a gift. 

Other small things include thumb drives - perhaps one filled with your best photos of activities you and your recipient have shared. Tie it with a ribbon or some twine and you have a very easy, very economical and very special gift. 

Making celebrations and gift giving is fun but can be overwhelming. Get inspired, and stretch a little, but do not stress or worry yourself. That would be missing the forest for the Christmas trees ! 

Enjoy these last few days before Christmas ! 

Wellness Wednesday: Holiday Wellness Collection 

Here is a little collection of holiday wellness quick reads from my past blog posts. I hope they help the next week or two be merry and bright. 

Holidays, the Happy Disruption

Holiday Wellness

Gratitude is at the Center of Wellness

Look forward to more post collections during the holiday week while I take a little time off from writing and just highlight the “ need to know “ stuff. 

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year. 

May the light of the season be within you. 


Food Friday: Holiday Menu Planning 

I don't know about you, but right now I am trying to figure out the menu for not one but several holiday dinners to come in the fairly near future. To try and minimize stress with these events which are supposed to be fun, I've decided to do a little advance planning and let you in on it too.

Sometimes it's best to stick to tradition, and include menu items you know are family favorites. But particularly when you have more than one meal to present during the holiday season, you can afford to be a little bit creative. Let's take a quick look at four different cuisines which you might consider. Christmas is really big in each of the five countries which I will present, but you can probably think of many more countries that cherish the holiday as well. You can explore their cuisines too. Suddenly there is no shortage of menu ideas when you consider it in this framework. The challenge will be choosing what to leave out ! 


A Mexican inspired Christmas “ Navidad” 


  • Virgin Margaritas
  • Quesadillas with fresh salsa for starters 
  • Ponche - a hot fruit and cider punch 
  • Mexican Christmas Eve Salad _ this is colorful salad mixture of lettuce, beets, apple carrot, pineapple, jicama, pecans and pomegranate seeds. 
  • Tamales with a chocolate chili mole sauce. 
  • Rosca dee Reyes- A sweet spicy fruity bread containing assorted dried  or candied fruits. 


A French Inspired Christmas “Noel” 


  • Champagne, Perrier
  • Amuse bouche ( hor d’oeuvres) - olives, seasoned nuts, vegetable platters with dips etc. 
  • Boeuf (beef) Bourguignon ( A thick stew made all day with red wine and meat cooked until fork tender eaten with crusty baguettes. ) 
  • Haricots Verts ( green beans roasted with olive oil) served with lemon 
  • Salade Nicoise - Tomatoes, boiled eggs, and tuna on a bed of greens 
  • Diverse fruit and cheese platter 
  • Buche de Noel- An amazing rolled chocolate sponge cake filled with mocha cream, frosted with chocolate buttercream to look like a log and garnished with meringue mushrooms
  • Sorbet 


An Italian Christmas “ Natale” 


  • Pellegrino 
  • Antipasti- tuna, fresh salmon, cured meats, olives, cheeses, bruschetta, crostini, Caprese salad- with fresh mozzarella, basil and tomatoes
  • Pasta, such as ravioli filled with extravagant fillings, such as meat, spinach, ricotta, figs, and even chocolate and candied citron. 
  • Parmesan chicken in red sauce 
  • Lemon tart 
  • Gelati


Scandinavian Christmas recipes “ Yul” 


Glogg- spiced mulled wine 

  • A “ julbord” , meaning a smorgasbord especially for Christmas
  • Cold foods like Gravlax ( salmon cured in sugar, salt and dill), cured meats, cheeses, pickles, beet salad, breads and butters
  • Warm foods like meatballs in berry sauce, potato dishes and cabbage dishes. 
  • Desserts like Pepparkakor ( gingerbread cookies) and saffransbullar ( sweet buns)



One traditional Christmas in America, with some twists


  • Turkey
  • Mash potatoes
  • Cranberry sauce
  • Green salad 
  • Asparagus
  • Pie À la mode


Turkeys is front and center at Christmas time as well as at Thanksgiving. But this time give it a little twist. Consider encrusting the bird with herbs, or having it smoked. For the stuffing, go beyond simple breadcrumbs and try wild rice stuffing. Try a twist on traditional cranberry sauce and add orange. For your salad, add every favorite salad ingredient you can think of from olives to capers, dried cranberries, two colors of tomatoes, and even candied nuts. For the mashed potatoes, consider the very exotic purple potato, or for a very healthy twist, sweet potatoes. If you really want some color on your table try all three. And whatever you do with the potatoes, flavor them well with olive oil, butter, sour cream, salt, pepper and even herbs, garlic, or cheese. Regarding your traditional pie, consider one two fruits not one. Great combinations are apple raspberry, or rhubarb strawberry.

Warning: Each of these menus require several days preparation and several people to accomplish. But, as I read through all my material about holiday and meal traditions the world over, I realized that the affectionate time and extra effort spent preparing these magnificent celebratory meals together is the essence of the holiday. 

Merry Christmas all week long to all the cooks ! 




Wellness Wednesday: Holiday Wellness

Here are just a few tips to make this most intense part of the holiday season less stressful, more relaxing and more celebratory. 

1. Take a look at your calendar from now until New Years. Make sure you are neither overbooked, nor forgetting about events that are meaningful to you. Make sure the schedule is realistic and that your family members are all on board with the plan. 

2. Take a hard look at your budget and stick with it for your Holiday expenditures. A great source of holiday stress is financial. Reduce costs by decorating with natural elements, entertaining pot luck, and by making or baking homemade gifts. Consider also gifts of outings. For example, give a certificate good for “one Sunday afternoon walk in the park with me”. 

3. Ramp up the consistency of your workouts. You will feel better about yourself and avoid the Holiday weight gain. 

4. Be choosy about your indulgences. Eat slowly and savor your treats. Drink ample water through the day, and be sure to consume the sights and sounds of the season, not just the tastes. Consider being the amateur event photographer of the family. It takes your appreciation of the season far beyond the food. 

5. Relatives coming from out of town ? Make a sound plan for their accommodations. A little advance planing can save a lot of stress. 

6. Anticipating stressful interpersonal encounters ? Plan ahead and adjust your attitude. Try to see the good in everyone. Blessed are the peacemakers. 

7. Bon chic, bon genre - This is a French saying meaning that if you dress well, you bring your best self forward. Dress to present yourself thoughtfully, and to indicate your respect, enthusiasm and cheer. Never dress to impress. Dress to delight and to put others at ease. 

8. Consider the deeper meaning of the season. This is, of course, the best way to put the shine on the season. 


Happy Holidays from Dr. Gina 




A very nice reference for more reading :