A Gluten-Free Clean Christmas Eating Plan
By Amie Valpone
Living life to the fullest and enjoying the holiday season is what this time of the year is all about. But between running around baking Christmas cookies and shopping for gifts, we often neglect to take care of ourselves and keep our immune systems healthy with Clean, pure foods. What is Clean food? Well, it’s about eating closer to the source and relying on Mother Nature for seasonal produce to keep our bodies balanced. By eating Clean food, our bodies are able to reap the maximum nutritional value needed to fuel our everyday schedules. It’s a great way to make healthy choices and can lead to fabulous short and long term health benefits. So, why not give yourself and your family something truly fabulous this Christmas and take the time to plan your Clean meals and learn how to incorporate fun, flavorful food.
It’s easy to get caught up in the TV advertisements and supermarket specials that show flashy, shiny packaging and claim to have ‘Low Carb’ ‘Low Fat’ or ‘Fat Free’. But is this really what eating food is all about? I surely don’t think so. Life is about enjoying your meals and taking time to savor delicious food. There’s no need to diet or deprive yourself of the foods you love; that won’t get you anywhere but back to square one where you started. Simply focus on bringing in more Clean foods and crowd out your not-so healthy fare. I’m not asking you to go from cheese fries to strawberries overnight because transition takes time and by gradually adding in these new vibrant fruits and veggies, you’ll train your body to enjoy eating health. So why not make a New Year’s resolution to get your body on the Clean eating bandwagon? Believe me, it’s easier than you think and you’ll be thanking me in no time.
Start by taking a look at your daily eats. Are you consuming those brightly colored fruits and veggies you see at the farmer’s market? Start with adding in a new vegetable and fruit every week; kale, spinach, bok choy and Swiss chard are perfect for a stir-fry dish. You can add apples, pears, berries and melon to salads, oatmeal, yogurt parfaits and smoothies. How about tossing in some broccoli, fresh basil and cherry tomatoes to your macaroni and cheese? Or tossing pureed pumpkin and squash into your tomato sauce? Have a passion for pizza? No problem; add some fresh rosemary, balsamic vinegar, sliced chicken and hummus to your whole grain crust. Stumped on what to bring to a holiday dinner party? How about a homemade guacamole with ripe avocados, watercress, arugula, beets and cilantro? Sounds delish, doesn’t it?
Eating Clean is about creating a healthy lifestyle and not about following the newest food or diet trends. It’s about what works for you and your body; we’re all different so it takes time to know what your body wants and how it feels after eating it. The purpose of Clean eating is to bring healthy, delicious foods into your meals and snacks. Start Clean this week and add a rainbow of color to your plate every time you sit down to munch. Reach for eggplant, bell peppers, squash, fennel and leeks at the market. Not sure how to prepare them? Simply steam ‘em up. Wash, slice and toss into a large pot with a steamer basket, cover and cook for 6-8 minutes. Pretty easy, isn’t it? How about going beyond your typical iceberg salad and create a masterpiece with bok choy, spinach, romaine, berries, flax seeds, olive oil, vinegar and fresh herbs? Not sure what to make for your breakfast Monday thru Friday? How about cooking up a batch of oatmeal on Sunday night and storing it in your fridge for an easy go-to breakfast for the week ahead. You can top it with Greek yogurt, bananas, cashews, berries, chia seeds and cinnamon for a sweet way to start your day.
We all need more Clean food in our lives. From veggies and whole grains to lean proteins and healthy fats, it’s about empowering yourself to make healthy choices and setting yourself up with the tools to make nourishing food possible every day. So what are you waiting for? The holidays are right around the corner and this is your time to shine. Go have some fun at the farmers market and pick up a jicama just for me. Not sure what to do with it? Stop on by my blog, The Healthy Apple (www.TheHealthyApple.com) and I’ll help you create some fun, tasty and easy ways to keep your taste buds yearning for more Clean goodness.
Photo courtesy of The Healthy Apple
Gluten-Free Almond Truffles
Gluten-Free and Vegan
• 1 cup raw almonds
• 2 Tbsp. brown rice syrup
• 3 dates
• 4 dried apricots
• 1 Tbsp. green tea, brewed
• 1 tsp. ground cinnamon
• 1 1/2 Tbsp. cocoa powder
• 2 Tbsp. unsweetened coconut flakes
• 1 tsp. orange zest
• 1 ripe avocado, peeled, pitted and sliced
1. Place all ingredients into the food processor; pulse until smooth.
2. Transfer to a piece of wax paper, wrap and store in the refrigerator for 2 hours.
3. Remove from fridge; mold into golf-ball sized balls and serve.
4. Store remainder in a sealed container in the fridge.
Additional Information about Amie Valpone:
In addition to The Healthy Apple culinary nutrition work, Amie is a Food Media Expert and was previously the Culinary Nutritionist for the NBA Fit Program. Amie’s experience spans from Marketing, Branding and Advertising at Ralph Lauren Corporate, VOGUE Magazine and the NBA. Her work as a Marketing Consultant spans the hotel, spa, restaurant and FMG sectors—creating menus, developing marketing and PR efforts and building brand awareness for her clients.
Not limiting her focus to companies and brands, Amie works hands-on with individuals and groups as a Food Allergy Concierge and Healthy Family Pantry Stylist to guide them through their transition into a healthier lifestyle. Amie works with Whole Foods Market as their Gluten-Free Manhattan Cooking Instructor and is a Gluten-Free Industry Innovator when it comes to helping clients, the community, companies and client live a healthy and happy life. She understands how difficult it can be to find time in our hectic lives to create a home cooked, nutritious meal, but is here to show you how easy it can be. Struggling with Lactose and Gluten Intolerance from a young age, Amie’s recipes cater to the Dairy, Soy and Gluten Free lifestyle, without sacrificing taste.
Amie believes in everything in moderation. Never using the word ‘diet,’ she stands by the truth that “each of us has control over what we put into our mouths and these choices impact our bodies now and in the future.”