Of itineraries for last-minute shopping, the end of the year brings a busy schedule that can lead to stress in the kitchen and beyond. If you try to eat a balanced diet, additional activities in combination with an abundance of holiday sweets can make it seem impossible to keep up with your healthy habits. While there is certainly space to enjoy your holiday favorites in moderation, make sure you stock your kitchen with these time-saving supply for some seasonal stress.
Citrus fruit: It seems as if the only trees of the season are covered with ornaments, but citrus fruits have their best result in the winter months. Full of vitamin C, everything from grapefruits to clementines are delicious and affordable this time of the year. A powerful antioxidant, studies show that vitamin C can help reduce stress, and provide immune-boosting qualities. Citrus fast fiber-filled snacks, tasty additions to salads to add bright color and a kick of sweetness without many calories.
Sweet Potatoes: Not just a Thanksgiving staple, this root vegetable is a smart thing to always have on hand during the holidays. Packed with beta-carotene, vitamin B-6, potassium and fiber, these root vegetables will satisfy the urge for carbohydrates desire a nutritious way. For a quick meal, give sweet potatoes a good scrub, prick with a fork and microwave until cooked through. Top with some salt, pepper and Greek yogurt for a low-stress food with plenty of fiber and protein. If you want to include in the big holiday meal, prep and cook your sweet potatoes a day ahead to save yourself some stress and time—when you’re busy with the main party.
Canned Fish: Canned tuna, salmon, sardines offer a no-cook protein option for a nutritious meal for when you have little time. In addition to protein, fish contains B-vitamins and iron, and is one of the few natural sources of omega-3 fatty acids, which are important for cognitive (brain memory and performance) and behavioral function. Omega-3 fatty acids have also been shown to help with blood flow and reduce inflammation, both of which are compromised during times of increased stress. Just one serving of Bumble Bee Omega-3 albacore tuna contains 500 mg of omega-3 fatty acids. To assist in achieving the recommended 2 to 3 servings of fish per week, a child-friendly tuna sandwich with pieces of red and green apples for some holiday flair, or go for a savory tuna salad nicoise that is sophisticated enough to serve holiday guests.
Pistachios: For a more mindful snack option this holiday season, keep pistachios on hand. Pennsylvania State University study found that in times of stress, pistachios helped lower blood pressure and heart rate in a sample of adults with high cholesterol. In addition, In-shell pistachios take longer to eat, and may encourage snackers to slow down and be more conscious of what they have eaten. A provisional behavioral-food study found that in-shell snackers ate 41 percent fewer calories than those who snacked on shelled nuts. A good source of protein and fiber, pistachios can help stabilize the blood sugar levels for renewable energy, as well as the offer of a festive green color that is perfect for the season.
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Oatmeal: A popular comfort food, oatmeal contains complex carbohydrates, which the production of the feel-good chemical serotonin in the brain, shown to help soothe the signs of stress. Plus, it is a “stick to your ribs” kind of grain. Beta-glucan, the type of soluble fiber found in oatmeal, has been shown to promote a feeling of fullness more than other whole grains. In addition to keeping hunger longer, studies have shown that children who eat oatmeal for breakfast stay sharper in the morning. Make a batch of the steel cut variety on the weekend, store it in the refrigerator and reheat on busy mornings.
Meal delivery: For a truly stress-free option, healthy food delivered to your door. Of pre-packaged meals supplied on request, to meals for the entire week, meal delivery services are becoming more and more popular. Healthy cooking easier for everyone, companies like HelloFresh offer seasonal fresh ingredients with recipe cards, simple, easy to follow, and do not take more than 30 minutes to make. Plus they have a full-time dietician on staff to make sure that your meals are nutritionally balanced. At about $10 per person per meal you can choose from weekly menus and most importantly – take the stress out of “What’s for dinner?”
Patricia Bannan is a Los Angeles based registered dietitian specializing in nutrition and health communications. She is the author of “to Eat When Time Is Tight: 150 Slim-Down Strategies and No Cook Food Fixes.” Fofollow her on Twitter, Instagram, Pinterestand LinkedIn.