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Gingerbread Granola

The Holiday Hussle

We are settled back in the town of Hakuba, Nagano, Japan for another winter season.  It’s a tiny ski town nestled in what’s called the Japanese Alps on the north-west side of the main island. I am starting to master living on the road as this last year I have lived in 3 different places with 3 different jobs.  This month even if you are not travelling abroad you are most likely travelling to work parties, relatives and friend’s homes eating and perhaps drinking more than usual.  So I thought I would put together a survival guide for the holidays.  Some little tips to keep you on track but able to enjoy the celebrations of winter solstice and the holidays!

10 Ways to Keep It Healthy During the Holidays:

  1. Drink water. Simple but important. During these dry months we need to consume adequate amounts of water.  Spice it up and add flavouring to your water like orange peels and a cinnamon stick. Or drink caffeine free herbal teas to keep you warm.
  2. Be realistic and don’t try to lose weight during this time.  Don’t put the pressure on yourself and just try to maintain your weight.
  3. Listen. Do you hear what I hear? Listen to your own body.  There are usually lots of buffet-style gatherings.  Fill your plate with little bites of everything, go back for your favourite and stop with the first sign of feeling full.  If you really get in tune with this built-in alarm you will avoid indigestion and interrupted sleep.
  4. Sleep.  Hibernate. Make sure you find downtime and use it wisely.
  5. There will be lots of temptations this month that you may or may not give into.  Keep the meals at home healthy and indulge when you are out.
  6. Build up your immune system.  Take the right precautions with foods, vitamins and supplements to keep your immune system strong during times of travel and celebrations.
  7. Before meals take a digestive enzyme (found at your health food store), this can help your digestive system break down foods, especially the ones you don’t eat too often.  There are some chewable digestive enzymes you can take after meals if you forgot to take them before-hand.
  8. If you happen to over eat some of your favourite holiday foods here are some things you can do:

    a.      Go for a 30 minute walk! Bundle up with the family and head outside for only 30 minutes before you sit down into your food coma.  A 30 minute walk helps stabilize blood sugars and digest your food.  

    b.      Have some peppermint, fennel or ginger tea (or mix both together). If you are super hardcore you can chew on a ¼ tsp of fennel seeds.

    c.       Mix ½ tsp apple cider vinegar with ¼ cup of water and drink.

    d.     ¼ tsp of fennel seeds. Digestive bitters tincture taken in a ½oz of water is my go-to! 

  9. If you are drinking, find ways to lower the alcohol percentage but still keep that cheery glow.  Make a holiday sangria or rose wine spritzer with floating cranberries. Drink some water in-between drinks.
  10. Give a gift of health for the holidays.  Buy or make your own. This large-batch Gingerbread Granola fills your home with a wonderful aroma of warming winter spices. It is versatile you can substitute a lot of the ingredients switch up the nuts, omit the chocolate chips and add Christmas coloured treats like crushed candy canes. It’s so delicious I’ll be surprised it makes it out of the house.

Gingerbread Granola

Makes 11 cups (fills 11x250ml mason jars)

Dry Ingredients:

  • 6 cups rolled oats
  • 2 cups nuts (I used pecans and slivered almonds)
  • ½ cup seeds (I used pumpkin seeds)
  • 1 cup dried fruit (I used cranberries & goji berries)
  • ¼ cup organic candied ginger, diced
  • ¼ cup white chocolate chips – for a pop of white (I cut up a vegan white chocolate bar)

Wet Ingredients:

  • ¾ cup coconut oil, melted
  • ¼ cup molasses
  • 6 Tbsp Canadian maple syrup

Spices:

  • 2 tsp ground true cinnamon
  • 2 tsp ground ginger
  • 1 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/8 tsp ground cloves
  • 1/8 tsp ground allspice
  • 2 tsp vanilla extract
  • 1 tsp sea salt
  1. Preheat the oven to 350 F.  Line two baking sheets with parchment paper.
  2. Combine wet ingredients and spices in a bowl and whisk together until it’s a syrup-like consistency.
  3. In a separate large bowl combine only the rolled oats, nuts and seeds. Using a spatula combine the wet ingredients to the oat mixture and combine until evenly coated.
  4. Spread evenly onto the two parchment-lined baking sheets and place into oven. Bake for 25-30 minutes, stirring every 10 minutes.  Watching the last 10 minutes as it tends to burn quickly.
  5. Remove from oven when golden brown and let cool completely.  Stir in dried fruit, white chocolate chips and candied ginger.
  6. Tip: To help cool faster lay out another sheet of parchment on your counter and spread half of the granola.