December 2008 A subscription based eBulletin devoted to your Smart Heart Living.

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In this issue:
Have a heart healthy holiday this year.

Give a hug for ChristmasGive a hug for Christmas

Hugs are good for your heart. Hugs lower blood pressure and reduces stress, which cuts the risk of heart disease.

At Christmas, hug your friends, your family, and your guests. Not only will it feel good, but it's healthy for everyone! What a wonderful gift - and it doesn't cost a penny!

It's the holiday season - a time when families and friends get together to celebrate the season and bring in the New Year. Holidays can be wonderful, but they can bring added stress and excesses.

So here are some tips to help you have a heart healthy holiday season.

Reduce Your Stress

Hosting Christmas parties and get togethers, visiting with family and friends, and having house guests can lead to upsets if you have unrealistic expectations of yourself or others. Go with the flow and keep things in perspective. So what if some eggnog gets spilled, the dog barfs, your aunts natter, or the shortbread is dry. Sure it may not be perfect, but in the big scheme of things does it really matter?

Christmas decorations don't have to be perfectAdjust your expectations. To quote from David Posen in his book The Little Book of Stress Relief "the quest for perfection is guaranteed to end in frustration and disillusionment, because nothing will measure up."

Not every meal has to be elaborate and the house doesn't have to be show home spotless.

And everyone can pitch in with the clean up. One woman remembers, "After a holiday feast all the grown kids in our family used to head for the kitchen and there we'd do the clean up while visiting and catching up. I have so many fond memories of those times."

Whether you are hosting guests and making the feast, or you are traveling to be with others, make sure you plan time for yourself to relax.

Christmas Dinner Can be Heart Healthy!

Turkey, the traditional mainstay of the Christmas dinner for many, is a concentrated source of protein, a good source of Vitamin B6 and niacin. And, it's recognized as a heart healthy food by many experts including George Mateljan, author of The World's Healthiest Foods, Essential Guide for the Healthiest Way of Eating. Turkey is also a concentrated source of sleep-promoting tryptophan, which is why a nap after Christmas dinner is often so appealing.

Consider getting an organically raised turkey, and roast it in the oven or barbecue. DON'T deep fry it in fat.

Winter squashes (Butternut, Acorn, Hubbard, Turban, Kabocha, and Spaghetti squash) are a concentrated source of alpha-linolenic acid, an omega 3 essential fatty acid that is very good for heart health. It's also an excellent source of Vitamin A.

Steam your squash and add flavor with fresh rosemary, honey, and nutmeg, toasted sunflower or pumpkin seeds, or sage and thyme.

Make your own cranberry sauce. It's fast and easy (really!) and so much healthier than the store bought kind.

Visions of Sugar Plums? How about healthy gingerbread instead!

Here's a recipe for gingerbread from Nourishing Traditions by Sally Fallon.

  • 2 2/3 cups spelt, kamut, or whole wheat flour
  • 2 cups buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt
  • 3/4 cup butter, softened
  • 3 tbsp. freshly grated ginger
  • 2/3 cup Rapadura*
  • 1/3 cup molasses
  • 2 eggs
  • 1/2 tsp. cinnamon
  • 1/2 tsp ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp ground cloves
  • 1 tsp powdered ginger
  • 1 tsp dry mustard
  • 1/2 tsp sea salt
  • 2 tsp baking powder

    Soak flour with buttermilk, kefir, or yogurt for 12 - 24 hours in a warm plan. Cream Rapadura with butter, molasses, and eggs. Blend in remaining ingredients and blend this mixture with the soaked flour mixture. Pour into a buttered and floured 9 x 13 inch pan. Bake at 350 degrees for about one hour. Serve with whipped or ice cream.

    * Rapadura is dehydrated cane sugar juice, which has been used in India for thousands of years. It's a natural sweetener in which the nutrients have not been removed.

    See Smart-Heart-Living's recipe page for recipes for Christmas dinner.

    Get Some Exercise

    Remember the joy of playing in the snowWhy not go for a walk while the turkey roasts? Getting outside when the air is crisp is rejuvenating, it's a great family activity, and when you return home the house will welcome you with rich aromas!

    Exercise is known to reduce stress levels, increase your energy, and improve sleep and digestion. After a plentiful Christmas dinner it will help burn off any additional calories you've consumed. Get the whole gang out for a 30 minute walk. Make it part of your Christmas ritual.

    What if it's snowing or raining? No matter - it can be a wonderful experience. Do you remember how much you enjoyed going out in the rain with an umbrella when you were a child? Or chasing snowflakes and trying to catch them on your tongue! One of my favorite memories is taking a Christmas walk after supper many years ago. It was dark and there were big fluffy snowflakes that sparkled in the light of the street lamps. Get the family out to build a snowman (if you have snow that is!)

    Don't let the weather stop you. Dress for the conditions and you'll be surprised at how enjoyable it can be.

    Share Your Blessings

    Christmas can be a difficult time of year for some. We can all make a difference by helping someone out - a neighbor or someone who is elderly, disabled, or alone.

    Offer to babysit for a busy mom or shop for a shut-in. Consider spending some time over the holidays volunteering at a hostel or shelter.

    What about helping a family in need by supplying everything they need (and more) for Christmas dinner plus gifts for the whole family. You can take gifts to the hospital or collect toys for Santa's Anonymous.

    If there are newcomers in your neighborhood, invite them over for a holiday meal.

    Still have some Christmas shopping to do? Check out the Heart Gifts on

    Happy Holidays! See you in 2009! was created as a resource for those living with heart disease, their loved ones, and anyone else interested in a heart healthy lifestyle. Browse the site, bookmark relevant pages, and send us your comments!

    If you're living with heart disease, share your story for the benefit of others by creating your own page on the Smart Heart Living website!