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Food Is Love 

This holiday season, celebrate stress-free meals!

The holidays are a treasured time of gathering and appreciation for family and friends, often surrounded by food. In every culture and tradition, food is used to show love, feed a hungry soul or give thanks to how far we have come. The holidays and food simply go together! 

Here are some tips for "lessening the stress," so we can focus positively on all the wonderful reasons we gather during this special time of year.

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First, take pause to really value the time spent together during the holidays. Use this time to unplug from devices. Put down the constant reminders of Pinterest-perfect photos, and instead remind yourself that there are no expectations other than quality time with ourselves and those we love. 

Next, try to create an all-inclusive environment for everyone. Check politics and expectations at the door, set differences aside and focus on supporting each other with kindness. 

And when thinking about mealtimes, avoid skipping meals or setting restrictions. Eat as you normally would prior to the holiday meal and then let your body do the guiding when it comes to selection and quantity.   

Did you know? When we're stressed about food or eating, the stress hormones that are released slow down our digestion and metabolism. So, any angst about food can work against us in more ways than the obvious mental uncertainty.

It's especially important that we are conscious about how we talk about food in front of our children. I recommend that parents avoid labeling certain foods as "good, bad, healthy or junk." Not only are these terms not helpful, but they can start to take on a hierarchy of value, shaping our children's relationship with food in a myriad of ways. 

The good news is that if we eliminate the "labels" and simply call foods by their actual names or the way they taste­—calling cookies "something sweet," or referring to chips as "something salty or crunchy"—we help our children learn to remove perceived negative feelings around food altogether. This will help mold our children into confident eaters that use their intuition to guide their nutritional needs. 

Food is so much more than fuel and so much more than nutrition. Food is family, food is love, food is passion. And food is forgiving. So, let's enjoy it!

Natasha Dempsey is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist (RDN) at Synergy Health and Wellness.

Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

Recipe from Foodhero.org

We love this resource and often use the recipes when we're cooking with clients.  All of the recipes on this site are relatively easy to make, affordable and largely kid approved.  Consider preparing this recipe with your family—and make memories from the experience! 

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Pumpkin Breakfast Cookies

1 ¾ cups cooked, pureed pumpkin (15 ounce can)

1 ½ cups packed brown sugar

2 eggs

½ cup vegetable oil

1 ½ cups flour

1 ¼ cups whole-wheat flour

1 Tablespoon baking powder

2 teaspoons cinnamon

1 teaspoon nutmeg

½ teaspoon salt

¼ teaspoon ground ginger

1 cup raisins

1 cup walnuts or hazelnuts, chopped

Directions

Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Mix pumpkin, brown sugar, eggs and oil thoroughly.

Blend dry ingredients and add to pumpkin mixture.

Add raisins and nuts.

Drop by teaspoonfuls on greased baking sheet, 1 inch apart.

Gently flatten each cookie (use a spoon, bottom of glass or palm of your hand).

Bake 10-12 minutes until golden brown.

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