The holidays can be a busy time. Yet as we make our way through the various events, I think it’s important to embrace ways to make a positive impact to ourselves — which ultimately radiates out to our neighbors, our gardens, our community, and our world.
I’d like to offer a few suggestions. Then I’ll follow with a new version of my all-time favorite pumpkin pie recipe.
‘TIS THE GREEN SEASON
The Kiwanis Christmas Tree Sale is open every weekend until Christmas. Trees, wreaths, garlands, and mantle pieces are waiting for you at 111 Bartel Avenue (Friday 4-7 p.m., Saturday 10 a.m.-4 p.m., and Sunday noon-4 p.m.).
And if you need to trim a few limbs from the bottom of your new tree, take those same branches and distribute them around your plants. Start with the most sensitive perennials and shrubs. By sensitive, I mean the ones most susceptible to cold, drying winds.
While you’re in the garden, collect a few slugs. Christy Matthews, apple grower extraordinaire who lives across from Ouzinkie, says slugs are alive and well. “I collected lots of slug eggs under most of the potted trees in the hoop house this morning. Those sneaky buggers. A gardener never rests!”
MAKE EXERCISE A HABIT
It’s been said that your environment is stronger than your will. Do you have a buddy you can exercise with? It’s too easy to talk yourself out of exercise. Find a walking or swimming buddy; join the gym or a fitness center, stroll around the harbor floats. Speaking of harbor floats…
LET’S LIGHT UP THE HARBOR
Mark your calendar. This year’s Harbor Lights Festival is scheduled for Dec. 21 from 5 to 9 p.m. Don’t wait until the day before to decorate your boat or kayak. Jump on those nice weather days to string up some lights. It’s so uplifting to see St. Paul Harbor lit up in Christmas lights!
GET SOCIAL AT THE PUBLIC LIBRARY
During the month of December, the Kodiak Public Library is hosting a variety of fun events. Drawing for Shy People (Tuesday and Thursday evenings at 5:30). Dec. 14 at 1 p.m. is Holiday Card Creations; and on Dec. 21 at 11 a.m. is a wonderful opportunity to get photos taken with Father Christmas.
SAY HELLO IN THERE: MAIL A POST CARD
Doesn’t it feel good to receive a hand-written card or note? Do unto others. Think of someone in your life that you haven’t contacted for a while. Drop a line. It might end up being a life-line. Make it a homemade card by attending the Holiday Card Creations at the library.
LIGHT UP YOUR NIGHT AND YOUR HEARTS ...
… at Galley Tables. On Dec. 13 is this month’s Galley Tables event from 7-9 p.m. at the Convention Center. This community happening features seven people sharing a personal story based on a theme. December’s theme: “Road Less Traveled.”
AND FINALLY ... WHAT’S FOR DINNER?
According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, heart disease kills 1 in 4 Americans. It’s the number-one reason we, and most of our loved ones, will die.
What’s the leading cause of heart disease? Fatty deposits in the walls of your arteries. This buildup of plaque is known as atherosclerosis. According to the Mayo Clinic, “Plaque buildup thickens and stiffens artery walls, which can inhibit blood flow through your arteries to your organs and tissues.”
I’m not trying to rain on anyone’s Christmas parade here. My intention is to encourage you to consider healthier options to holiday feasting and… everyday eating.
In the New York Times bestseller, “How Not to Die,” (available at the Islander Bookshop), author Michael Greger, M.D. says his patients often ask him, “Isn’t heart disease just a consequence of getting old?” No.
“A large body of evidence,” says Dr. Greger, “shows there were once enormous swaths of the world where the epidemic of coronary heart disease simply didn’t exist.”
For example, during a 3-year study in China’s Guizhou province, not a single death out of half a million people, could be attributed to coronary artery disease among men under 65.
Back to your dinner plate. The good news is that it’s never too early to start eating healthfully. “Simple dietary choices at any state of life may prevent, stop, and even reverse heart disease before it’s too late,” says Dr. Greger.
Dr. Neal Barnard, M.D., a pioneer in lifestyle medicine says, “Plant-based diets are the nutritional equivalent of quitting smoking.”
Of course, I’m writing this in a fish and game community. May I suggest watching the documentary film, The Game Changers, by director James Cameron. It features vegan Olympic athletes and bodybuilders like Arnold Schwarzenegger. Cameron, himself a vegan, debunks the common misconception that a vegan diet lacks sufficient protein.
You don’t need to go whole-hog (pardon the pun) by changing what you eat overnight. Take baby steps, starting with this pumpkin pie recipe:
PUMPKIN PIE FOR THE SOUL
This recipe is adapted from a Food.com listing. I’m matching it with a recipe for a crust made with just two ingredients.
For the filling:
2 cups pureed pumpkin, butternut squash, sweet potato or yam
3/4 cup brown sugar
1/2 tsp salt
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1/4 tsp allspice
1/8 tsp nutmeg
1 (10 oz.) package soft tofu
1/8 cup molasses
1 pie shell (recipe follows)
For the crust:
1-1/2 cups tightly-packed almond flour
1 TBL ground flax seed
To make the crust: Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix flax meal with 3 tablespoons water and set it aside for 10 minutes. Process almond flour in a food processor and while it’s running pour in the flax mixture. Pulse until dough is soft, smooth, and sticking together. Add more water if needed. Turn dough into a bowl, shape into a disc, cover with plastic and chill for an hour
Roll the dough in between two sheets of plastic wrap and then set it out into a pie plate, leaving a sheet of wrap on top. Press the dough up the sides of the pie dish. Finish edges using your fingers or a fork. Dock the crust (poke it all over with a fork). Bake for 15 minutes until the edges of the crust are golden.
To make the filling: Cream filling ingredients in a food processor.
Pour mixture into pie shell and bake for about 50 minutes. Serve warm or chill and top with non-dairy ice cream.