Hello dear readers!

Can you believe it? Don't we all say it every year?

"I can't believe the holidays are here again!"

What a lovely time of year; friends and family gathered together, sharing laughs, tears, hopes, fears, and dreams for the future.

Oh yeah... and food! Lots and lots of food.

This time of year brings about easy feelings of joy, gratitude and love.

But for some people it also increases feelings of anxiety, stress and even guilt.

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"I always end up feeling stressed out and overspent during the holidays."

"With my family all together under one roof, I just hope I make it through!"

"I can't be with my family this year, so I'll be lonely and depressed."

"I eat too much junk every year and then I feel guilty for gaining weight."

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Okay folks, anyone who's feeling like that - let's take a step back and regroup!

Modern society has turned the holiday season into a crazed and frenzied time of year. Deadlines for this and that seem to abound, financial worries can make you feel overwhelmed, family tensions can get heated, and then there's all the cookies, candy and other stuff all around... Oh my goodness, we're all goners!!!

Don't give in to stress...

Okay, but truly, to a large extent, you can experience the holidays however you choose to!

So, let's focus on the good stuff and minimize the craziness.

I know, I know, it can be a challenge - the grocery store around the corner from our apartment started playing holiday music the day after Halloween and that is not an exaggeration.

But again, you can choose to experience the holidays your way.

No anxiety necessary...

Remember to relax, and give yourself space in your weekly schedule to slow down and breathe. Nourish yourself -- with healthy foods, healthy thoughts, healthy activities and healthy relationships.

Make time for your favorite hobbies and friends.
What can you do to get into the spirit of the holidays?
What do you like to do? Here are a few ideas:

-- Get holiday tasks done earlier than usual, so you have less to stress about! It's a sweet feeling (and a happy accomplishment) when you've got your stack of addressed cards all stamped and ready to put in the mail. Or making and wrapping gifts a few weeks in advance of the holidays.

-- Are you feeling strapped for cash this year? With the economy in poor shape, why not ask your family and friends to put a small dollar amount on gift exchanges? Or no gift exchanges, just enjoy spending quality time together!! Or propose the idea that everyone receives one name, and simply buys one gift for that person (like drawing names out of a hat). Keep it simple!

-- Make home made cards! I've been having fun in the past couple of years cutting up old magazines and making collage cards - it's pretty neat what you can create with a scissor, a glue stick, some blank card stock, and pages and pages of holiday photo spreads and ads. Each one you make is unique, and with a little eye for design, you can make some good looking cards.

-- Make a special chutney, or spiced nuts, or your own herbal blend for tea and pack into interesting containers to give as gifts.

-- Make a personal compilation of your favorite holiday songs to give as gifts.

Enjoy the whole process...

So, yes, it's true... Thanksgiving weekend is just a few days away! And then the remaining winter holidays are not far behind.

Having family visit? Hosting the meal?

It can be a lot of work, although for someone like me, it's truly a labor of love. Hopefully if you're hosting the meal it means you enjoy being in the kitchen!

Take a moment now and then during all that shopping, cooking, table setting, and house cleaning to reflect on the day, and the table full of smiling faces who will enjoy the foods you will be serving.

Do try to relax when it's finally time to sit down and eat. Look at the lovely setting, smell those delicious aromas, and enjoy the fruits of your labors.

Offer a little "thanks" when everyone is gathered at the table. Thank everyone for being there and tell them in a heartfelt way that it's your pleasure to share a special meal together. Too hokey? Okay, do it your way, but you know what I'm getting at :)

Give up the guilt already!

For many of our readers the arrival of the holiday season means it's a sure bet that a lot of food will be eaten, and it won't all be "health food." Oh man, I can hear the voices of all those guilty consciences starting to whimper already...

But here's an alternative - Why not enjoy it!? It's totally possible to indulge in your favorite holiday foods without having to feel guilty.

When it comes to eating - let's have a guilt-free holiday season!

Guilt creates stress, and stress weakens the immune system just as much as "less than healthy" food does.

So, we all know what a healthy daily diet looks like. And we all know that the body needs more than "treats" to sustain good health. And it's okay and FUN to have an occasional day of indulgence. As long as we can maintain a sensible diet most of the time we can certainly eat decadently now and then.

It's tempting to overeat. In fact, it's kind of built in to our whole cultural experience. But a good thing to remember when sitting down to a holiday meal (or any meal) is to be aware.

As you fill your plate, take a moment to think ahead to the end of the meal and how you would like to feel. Being "stuffed to the gills", after wolfing down a huge meal is not pleasant. Take sensible portions, and enjoy each bite. Enjoy the conversations going on around the table. Set your fork down occasionally between bites and breathe...

Remember, you can always go back for second servings, but first, see how you feel a few minutes after you finish your plate.

"But what about the holiday parties?"

Okay, sure, there will be lots of foods, sometimes a whole table full of "unhealthy" offerings.

So here's a trick, I'm sure you've heard it before, but it really does help:

Have something to eat before you go the party!

It doesn't even have to be a full meal, just eat something that makes you feel satisfied and nourished. Then when you get to the party, even if you snack a little it won't be the same as making a whole meal of cookies and chips.

Keep Moving...

As the colder weather and shorter days kick in, our tendency is to want to curl up and get cozy. But don't forget to move!

Make a little time every day to do something physical, whether it's going to an exercise or movement class that you like, or even getting up half an hour early each morning to do some stretching in your living room, maybe with the radio on.

It's really amazing how good movement can make you feel. Not only physically, but mentally as well. We're not programmed to be sedentary creatures, our bodies prefer to be active.

If you're more of a couch potato type, you can even do things on the couch. Put your favorite show on but instead of slouching back and kicking your feet up on the coffee table, do some twists and arm movements. Get that blood moving!

Get plenty of rest.

You will stay more focused, your immune system will function better, your mood will be lighter, you will feel stronger, and you will have less of a need for big portions of food when you are well rested. Have you ever noticed how you need more food on days when you've barely slept the night before? Your body compensates for the lack of recharged energy by craving more fuel.

Try not to get run down. Keep a supply of movies and a good book or two from the library at home, along with a variety healthy, nourishing foods in the fridge. Cancel or reschedule evening plans on days when you feel really wiped out. Take it as a sign to head home early and take care of yourself.

Okay, I think we've covered all the bases... I wish you a truly happy and healthy holiday season!

~ Susan

P.S. I've included a satisfying treat you can whip up, and it's good for you too!

Recipe for the Holidays

Special Note:

If you need a good stevia conversion chart for baking or cooking, please take a look at the website. There is a page called "Stevia Conversion Chart" in the Coconut Recipes section. You can also find it by scrolling down the Home page (http://www.candida-cure-recipes.com), where you'll find a list of links to every page on the whole site as you scroll to the bottom.

Pumpkin Pie (or tarts) with a Nut Crust

This is one that all of the relatives might even enjoy!

3 large eggs

2 cups cooked pureed pumpkin (or 1 15 oz. can plain unsweetened pumpkin)

1 1/4 teaspoons liquid stevia extract (more or less for how sweet you like your pie)

1 teaspoon cinnamon

1/2 teaspoon ginger

1/4 teaspoon nutmeg

1/8 teaspoon ground cloves

1/2 teaspoon sea salt

1 1/2 cups coconut milk

Preheat oven to 425 degrees.

Lightly beat the eggs, then beat in remaining ingredients, mixing well. Pour into 9 inch pie crust (see recipe below). Bake 425 degrees for 15 minutes. Reduce oven temp. to 350 degrees and bake for an additional 40-50 minutes or until toothpick inserted halfway between center and edge of pie comes out clean.

Nut Pie Crust:

1 1/2 cups ground pecans or almonds (or you can simply use use almond flour)
1/4 - 1/2 teaspoon sea salt (I tend to go with 1/2 teaspoon)

1/4 cup melted unsalted butter or ghee
2 tablespoons agave nectar (or 4 drops liquid stevia extract mixed with 1 tablespoon water)

Grind the nuts in a food processor and put them in a mixing bowl. Sprinkle in the salt and toss together well. Combine the melted butter with the sweetener of your choice and mix together with the nuts. Press into sides and bottom of 9 inch pie dish or tart pans. Fill and bake as above.