The holiday season is traditionally both a time of celebration and a time of low immunity. White flour, cane and beet sugar, and processed foods can suppress the immune system’s response to the stress of travel, gatherings, and added commitments.

During this hectic season, try to make time to relax at the end of each day with a cup of tea. Whether it be ginger, peppermint, or chamomile, choose a calming, digestive tea that will calm your nerves and settle your digestion before bed.

You may choose to reflect on the day’s events and perhaps take time to create a meal plan for the following day. This practice can help remove stress from the day by offering you the opportunity to cook grounding, nourishing food.

The recipes offered below are both cleansing and comforting, offering an ideal change of pace from the richness of holiday food. Bon appetit!

Sweet Potato Pancakes

You will need:

  • 1 cup boiled, mashed sweet potato
  • 4 tablespoons flaxseed meal OR 2 eggs, beaten
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon each: cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg pinch salt

Instructions:

  1. Chop and boil sweet potatoes.
  2. Drain boiling water and let cool for 5 minutes.
  3. Place in a blender with all the other ingredients and blend well.
  4. Heat a skillet and add vegetable oil.
  5. Pour batter into skillet, making small pancakes.
  6. Cook on medium heat for 2 to 3 minutes, flip, and cook on low heat for 5 more minutes.

Here’s a quick overview of the ingredients:

Cinnamon: its anti-microbial activity stops the development of cold and flu viruses and bacteria. The active components in its essential oils warm the body.

Eggs: each one contains 6 grams of protein, 9 essential amino acids, and only 1.5 grams of saturated fat; rich in lutein, which helps prevent macular degeneration and cataracts; improve human lipid profile, thereby balancing cholesterol; contain naturally occurring vitamin D. Eggs are high in choline, the precursor chemical for acetylcholine, one of the body’s most fundamental neurotransmitters and hormone regulators.

Sweet potatoes: high in omega 3 essential fatty acids to tonify the internal organs and strengthen immunity; rich in carotenoids and omega-3s, whose anti-oxidant content offers anti-inflammatory support; high in vitamin C to boost immunity; rich in B vitamins to reduce stress.

Healing Bowl of Delight

First start by making the Garlic Ginger Tahini Sauce.

You will need:

  • 1⁄4 cup tahini
  • 1⁄4 cup water
  • 1⁄4 cup lemon juice
  • 1 teaspoon salt or tamari
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon turmeric
  • 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly chopped ginger root 1⁄2 teaspoon freshly chopped garlic

Combine all ingredients in a cup or small bowl and whisk well. Chill until ready to use.

Now on to the Vegetable Pilaf.

You will need:

  • 2 medium sweet potatoes, cubed
  • 2 rutabegas, cubed
  • 2 beets, cubed
  • 2 parsnips, sliced
  • Olive oil
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
  • 1 bunch (2 packed cups) of kale, chard, collards or spinach, roughly chopped
  • 1 teaspoon dry rosemary leaf
  • 1/2 avocado, sliced

Instructions:

  1. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Grease a baking sheet with olive oil.
  3. Spread the chopped sweet potatoes, rutabaga, beets, and parsnips out on the sheet.
  4. Drizzle a little more olive oil on top and sprinkle with salt and pepper.
  5. Toss with a spatula until fully coated.
  6. Roast in the oven for 35 minutes, tossing them with a spatula after 15 minutes.

For the greens,

  1. Fill a large shallow sauce pan or medium pot with about 1 to 2 inches of water.
  2. Place a steamer basket in the pot and fill the basket with the chopped greens.
  3. Cover the pot and turn the heat up to high. Once the water begins to boil, or after about 4 to 5 minutes, remove the kale from the basket and set aside.

Now,

  1. Place roots in a serving bowl.
  2. Add a generous serving of greens and top with slices of avocado and sauerkraut.
  3. Drizzle the sauce over the top and enjoy!

Another note on the ingredients:

Olive oil: monounsaturated and liquid at room temperature, first cold press olive oil is high in anti- inflammatory polyphenols, which reduce risk of heart disease, maintain a balanced cholesterol profile, and reduce the overgrowth of ulcer-inducing helicobacter pylori bacteria in the intestines. It helps increase calcium levels in the blood and enhances memory function by oxygenating blood.

Rosemary: antiseptic herb that contains rosmarinic acid, which stimulates the immune system, increases circulation, and improves digestion and concentration. Anti-inflammatory, digestive, and aromatic, the potent herb both aids in digesting fats and decreases the risk of infection from contaminated foods.

Tahini (roasted sesame seed butter): promotes elasticity of bones and joints; helps colon to extract water from food waste before elimination occurs.

Writer Lisa Mase is a culinary medicine coach, food writer, translator, and folk herbalist living in Vermont. For articles and recipes, visit Lisa at www.harmonizedcookery.com.

For educational purposes only. This information has not been evaluated by the Food and Drug Administration. This information is not intended to diagnose, treat, cure, or prevent any disease, or to sell any product.