It’s December…December?! How did this happen? Where did the year go?!
Every single solitary year, I start the holiday telling myself, This year, I am going to slow down, or This year, I am going to focus on what really matters. I am not going to give in to the stress. I am going to breathe and be present. I am going to relax and enjoy my family, my friends and all of the festivities…I am not going to be a Grinch… (Side-note: the Grinch is my all time favorite character so this really isn’t the greatest metaphor, but you get what I mean, right?) I will not get road rage in the mall traffic. I will find patience in the long lines… and so on, and so on, and so on.
Oh, you know all about this? Yes, it’s my perfect holiday tradition.
And then, Poof! It’s somewhere around December 20th, and I am Scrooging it up all over the place. I over commit and pack my schedule way too tight. I partake in all of the holiday food and drink and lose any form or routine or normalcy. I don’t get enough sleep or exercise and by the time Christmas rolls around all I want to do is go to bed or hide away from the world! Now that’s not very festive at all, is it?
The biggest issue for me over the holidays is that my routine is completely lost. And when my routine is lost, I feel like I lack any form of control and that has anxiety written all over it for me. I feel calm and in control when I have a routine and know what to expect. When I have a good idea of what I will be doing each step of the day, what I will eat, when I will exercise, etc. all feels right in my world. But when day after day my normalcy is completely lost and I lose all sight of the day’s routine of events, needless to say, I get a bit “off.”
But the holiday season is the holiday season. And I begin it each year with such good intentions only to end up in the exact same place each and every year.
So what’s the answer? Easy! The “b” word, of course!
Oh, come on, you know I wasn’t talking about that “b” word! I am talking about balance!
Balance is the easy answer to it all. Finding it amidst the heyday of the season is the hard part. The first step to understanding balance is throwing every bit of the concept of perfectionism out the door. That’s right, get rid of it. Balance is in the same category as moderation, and moderation shuns the concept of perfectionism, so leave it at the door. Is that hard for you? It is for me too, but if I don’t let it go, I am only going to be all the more miserable. Perfectionism is what holds you to unattainable ideals. It is what shames you when you have that piece of pumpkin pie when there was a perfectly good salad right next to it. It is what makes you feel guilty when you miss just one workout. Perfectionism is that nagging voice that gives you a hard time for every decision you make so just tell it to go away. NOW.
Another big part of balance encompasses the concept of time. Sure, the holidays are all about partying it up. But it’s all about the yin and the yang. If you are scheduling lots of time for festivities with friends and family, then you have to balance it out with a cozy nap by the Christmas tree, a relaxing bubble bath, some mindful breathing, anything that allows you to slow down. And if you don’t pencil this time in for yourself, it’ll never happen. So counteract the festive times with a little R&R time just for you.
Then there is movement. We worry about all of the holiday treats and that they are only going straight to our hips. So typically we do one of two things. We either spend the entire month of December running rampant on the treadmill and allowing ourselves only a tiny morsel of a Christmas cookie or we say to heck with it all and tell ourselves we will start dieting in the New Year. Guess what? Neither of these make us happy or in any way balanced, so let’s bypass them both. The key is yes, to move, but not to obsess so much about working out that we can’t even enjoy the fun of the holiday food and drink. Allow yourself the treats that you really love and don’t punish yourself. And for your own sanity and general happiness, find a way to move during the holidays even if it’s just a simple walk through the neighborhood to see the lights at night. You’ll just feel better overall.
So while it may be easier said than done, to enjoy the holiday season, it’s all about balance. The easiest way to start working on this is to get rid of perfectionism and unattainable ideals for ourselves. This should be true for the entire year, not just the holiday season. Step two in finding balance is all about time. If you make time to party, make time to relax. And last, remember to move. Not in the way that you have to work off every treat you eat, but enough to get the blood pumping and to give the mood a boost.
Personally, I think these are the three heavy hitters for me. If I can work on these three things, my potential of having a holiday in which I am present and enjoy fully will be very high. All I have to do is remind myself again and again that it’s ALL about the “B” word!
Cinnamon spice and everything nice, that’s what the holidays are made of, right?
When Anthony and I were first married, I was so excited to decorate our apartment for the holidays. I had an apartment on my own for years and while I would put a few things up to get festive then, it really wasn’t as much fun when I was the only one to enjoy it most of the time. So needless to say, I went a bit overboard that first year. I love the smell of cinnamon; candles, soap, in baked goods, you name it. So that year in particular, I grabbed several bags of the cinnamon scented pine cones. Anthony came home after a long day of work, and to my dismay, he did not have the same excitement over the perfectly decorated apartment. Instead, he coughed and coughed and asked why the air in the house tasted like a big bowl of Red Hots.
Oops. Apparently several bags was a few too many. Needless to say, I only grab one bag each year now.
But when it comes to cinnamon in any type of dessert, I need a lot of it!
I have been a bit obsessed with the versatility of cashews lately. These tasty nuts can be morphed into creams, sauces, cheese and so much more. And did you know you can make “cheese”cake with them? You can! And I did! And the texture was unbelievable. Cashews are packed with vitamins and minerals to promote overall health so why not have them in the form of dessert here and there as well?
The key to this Cinnamon Dolce Cheesecake is blending it enough so that there isn’t any grittiness to it when it sets and just a touch of lemon juice to add the light almost sourness you get from a cheesecake. The lemon is not a necessity but it just gives a bit more of a true cheesecake flavor. Other than that, this recipe is quick and easy as long as you remember to soak the cashews overnight or for at least 4 hours.
Also, feel free in any of my recipes to use your own crust if you prefer a different crust. Graham cracker crusts are always great as well. An optional twist to this is to add some dark chocolate chips to the crust!
Cinnamon Dolce "Cheese"cake
For the Crust
- 1/2 heaping cup raw pecans
- 1/2 heaping cup raw almonds
- 1 tsp vanilla extract
- 1/2 tsp cinnamon
- Dash of sea salt
- 5-7 medjool dates pitted
- 1/3 cup dark chocolate chips optional
For Cheesecake Filling
- 3 cup raw cashews soaked overnight or for at least 4 hours
- 1/2 - 2/3 up pure maple syrup
- 1/2 cup coconut oil melted
- 1 T vanilla extract
- 1/2 - 1 T cinnamon
- 1 tsp lemon juice
- Dash of sea salt
- In a food processor, combine the pecans and the almonds for the crush and process until grain like consistency.
- Add in all other crust ingredients and process until dates are completely processed and almost a dough begins to form.
- Press the crust VERY firmly into a small dish lined with parchment paper or lightly greased with coconut oil. An 8 or 9 inch pan should work.
- Place the dish in the freezer to set.
- Add all the filling ingredients into the food processor or blender.
- Process or blend until very smooth.
- Pour mixture over the crust.
- Place in the refrigerator to chill for about 45 minutes to one hour or until firm.
- Once set, enjoy!
I LOVE cinnamon. Start with 1/2 T and if you want more add it.