What I've learned about family and food [recipes inside]

Some of my favorite holiday memories involve food. Spending hours baking endless batches of cookies with my mom, challenging my brother and cousins to potato pancake eating contests, enjoying seriously gourmet Christmas Eve feasts cooked by my grandfather like homemade pasta and beef wellington.

Food is so much more than just calories or macro-nutrients - it's how we as humans have socialized for centuries, and it's a primal way that we can show love. 

Which is why it can be tough if you decide to follow a certain diet, or meal plan, and your loved ones aren't necessarily on board. "Breaking bread" is not exactly the same if everyone is eating from different loaves. I struggled with connecting with my family over shared meals for years as my own diet went from vegetarian, and then vegan, even raw for a hot second. I knew which foods made me feel good, so I couldn't understand WHY my mom was so upset that I wasn't eating her Christmas cookies or brisket or homemade Irish soda bread. 

Now, I'm not saying that you should eat foods just because everyone else is, and I'm not saying that you should convince your whole family to skip the turkey and eat tempeh instead. I only share my own experience in hopes that it may provide you with insight and help you understand if "stuff" comes up around food this time of year (or any time of year really).

So what can you do?
How can you make peace with your plate and in your home?

Here are a few suggestions...

- You can bring delicious, "healthified" dishes to share at your holiday table [see some ideas below!]

- You can practice compassion for those around you who may be at a different place on their own journey with food and health. Just because someone doesn't want to eat your gluten-free, dairy-free (yet still delicious!) creation doesn't mean they don't love you. 

- You can give your host a heads up. Whether you are planning on limiting your desserts because you are trying to loose a few pounds, or if you aren't eating a certain food, it always helps to have the conversation up front so you aren't stuck in an awkward place in the middle of dinner. Explain why you are choosing to eat a certain way (i.e. because your troublesome digestive issues disappear when you limit X, or you feel so much more energized when you eat Y). Your loved ones love you and they want you to feel good. I've found friends and family are WAY more understanding when I explain the WHY behind my choices, instead of focusing on the WHAT. 

- You can breathe and do the best you can. Chances are every single meal won't go exactly as planned, and every single person won't understand your choices. Breathe. Do the best you can in each situation and know that it's all okay.  

I selected the recipes below because they appeal to all taste buds and are totally adaptable, so that you can have delicious dishes to share with your whole family, whatever plan your follow or don't follow. 

Holiday recipes everyone can get down with:

- Orange and Pomegranate Salad with Buttermilk Dressing
- Creamy Mashed Cauliflower 
- Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Capers, Walnuts + Anchovies
- Sweet Potato Latkes
Shepard's Pie with Sweet Potato and Broccoli Mash
Sweet and Spicy Holiday Almonds
- Paleo Cinnamon Apple Streusel Bread

What's your favorite holiday food tradition? Leave a comment below - I'd love to hear from you.