Ah, yes…it’s that time again. The joy and nostalgia of family traditions, tinsel, eggnog, decorations, homemade ornaments, and…creating your own holiday food traditions! There is nothing quite like the familiar and heartening scents of baked ham, pecan pie, rum balls, and popcorn for the stringing of popcorn and cranberries. Becoming a parent – and then a grandparent – you become intimately tied to the memories that your children and grandchildren will remember for years to come.
Food reminds us of home. Combining the family recipes that you could never stop making for fear of mutiny (baklava and Russian teacakes in my family) with exciting new holiday recipes (check these out!) that will “Oooh” and “Ahhh,” are the best way to craft holiday memories in your kitchen!
One of my most poignant winter memories as a child was the sight and smell of homemade bread rising on the side of the huge kitchen wood stove. Even though life in my house was chaotic and dysfunctional, with alcoholic parents and constant uncertainty, nearly fifty years
later that positive association between my mother’s homemade bread and a warm, fuzzy feeling is still with me. I see it in my own children today. My son-in-law threatening (jokingly, of course) to be a Christmas no-show if baklava isn’t on the menu, and my daughter and her children sneaking the cookie dough (also my mother’s recipe) before I can even get it in the cookie press!
In recent years, holiday food has become known as a “frenemy,” notoriously recognized as being loaded with calories, fat, sugar, and salt, but being so darn good that we can’t help but splurge. If you eat pretty healthy all year long, should you worry about a holiday food binge? Probably not. However, there are some delicious recipes you can incorporate into your holiday feast that are healthful and could easily become a memorable family dish. Try substituting wheat flour in your blueberry oatmeal muffins or using organic produce. I love browsing online recipe sites for creative sweet treats and sinfully yummy casseroles!
Most families have their traditional dishes, passed down through the generations, but don’t be afraid to update or change your menu a little to create your own holiday food tradition – or incorporate the traditions of new family members.
The holiday food memories created in your kitchen will remain long after we are gone, so savor not only the smells and tastes, but the time spent with the loved ones that will carry on our rituals. Healthy and Happy Holidays!