This may seem oxymoronic on what is traditionally a heavy drinking day but one of the best ways to ring in a happy and healthy new year is to stop drinking alcohol, or certainly to drink less. Personally, I find it easier to not drink at all than to stop at one. So, to use an apt holiday metaphor, I advocate quitting cold turkey* with Dry January.
We are most successful at making change where we can objectively measure improvement. Declaring “I will drink less this year” will, in all likelihood, achieve nothing. But if you give yourself an explicit goal and commit to tracking your alcohol consumption to see how you stack up, you will vastly improve your odds of success. This is where Dry January comes in.
I am a believer in the 80% rule. As in, eat healthily 80% of the time and you may indulge a bit the other 20%. Another 80% rule to keep in mind over the holidays is the Japanese principle of hara hachi bu, which roughly translates to eating until you are 80% full.
One indulgent meal is unlikely to have a lasting effect on weight or fat mass. While you may notice an extra pound or two on the scale the next morning, this is typically due to water retention as a result of a higher than usual intake of carbohydrate and sodium-rich foods. And it will resolve itself within the next day or so. Unless, of course, you continue to eat carbohydrate and sodium-rich meals.
Which is what we often do during the holidays. Sometimes this is due to the “what-the-hell-effect” (i.e., I’ve already blown my healthy eating pattern out of the water so why stop now?). But often it’s because we have copious quantities of food left over which we feel we must consume as quickly as possible.
One way to avoid this is to send leftovers home with your guests. Another is to simply make less food in the first place. The pandemic has meant smaller gatherings for many of us. So this month I’ve offered up a Festive Feast for Four. Not only is cooking a turkey breast simpler and faster than a whole bird, it means far fewer leftovers.
I hope you enjoy this flurry of festive foods, flavours and colours!
For me, Christmas and clementines are inextricably linked. The holidays in my family have always been heralded by the arrival of a crateful of clementines. Although my mom made fantastic Yule logs, mince tarts and pies, my holiday treat of choice was a clementine with a few favourites from the splendid array of cookies she baked in the weeks leading up to Christmas. My perfect plate included a chocolate yum yum, pecan puff, rum ball and a shortbread wreath.
While my mom passed away years ago, my happy memories of her and our Christmases cooking together remain. As do the clementines. But I’ve never mastered her cookies. So these days I’m more likely to pair my clementines with super dark chocolate from Giddy Yo Yo and a few walnuts. Clementines are great dipped in chocolate too, like this. And I might add a Mabel’s shortbread (or two).
My darling clementine
But my darling clementines aren’t just for dessert any more. I love to adorn a winter cheese board with them! They are a classic with roast meats like duck, chicken or pork and work beautifully in tagines. My traditional Christmas Eve tourtière wouldn’t be the same without the spinach, clementine and toasted almond salad I serve with it. And the thick slices of Pulla Bread we enjoy Christmas morning (as a nod to my Finnish heritage), simply buttered and accompanied by a few clementines, starts the day in a festive way. The mimosa helps too, though this year I might sip on this Clementine Fizz. 😉 Come the holidays, I’m always grateful for a crateful of clementines. Read on for 41 more ideas of what you might do with yours.
Dishing It Up for the Holidays
- Be grateful for a crateful of clementines
- Fall in love with veggies for the holidays
- How to De-Seed a Pomegranate
- 7 Healthy Eating Habits for the Holidays
- The 2021 Well Holiday Gift Guide from The New York Times