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Tis the season to feel stressed

Tips offered for keeping the holidays jolly

by: REVIEW PHOTO: BARB RANDALL - Be sure to have nonalcoholic beverages available at all your holiday events. The drinks should be as festive and delicious as the rest of the party food and beverages.

Get jingling those bells. It’s time for decking the halls, brewing wassail, hanging mistletoe and the rest of the fa la la la-ing. Can you feel your blood pressure mounting? This joyous time of year is not without its stresses.

Hazelden, a national nonprofit organization that helps people reclaim their lives from addiction, reminds us that the stresses of the season are even greater for those in recovery from addiction to alcohol and drugs.

“Stress can trigger relapse, especially for those in early recovery,” said Jan Vondrachek, executive director of Hazelden in Springbrook, one of the Oregon facilities. “The good news is there are ways to reduce stress that we all can use.”

Vondrachek said that whether or not you are in recovery, these tips could help you and loved ones reduce stress and enjoy the holidays:

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  • Slow down. Set aside quiet time for yourself each day, no matter how busy you are. Relax. Meditate. Reduce your expectations. You don’t have to do it all.

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  • Take care of your health. Maintain a balanced diet. Exercise. Get enough sleep. And go easy on the sweets.

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  • Manage your time. Plan ahead and maintain a schedule. Avoid waiting until the last minute to plan that dinner or buy gifts.

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  • Enhance your support system. Avoid isolation. This is the time to reach out, not withdraw. Reach out more frequently to your support system, whether a therapist, sponsor or support group.

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  • Create new ways to celebrate. Discover new rituals. Spend time with people you like who don’t abuse substances. Host a party for recovering friends.

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  • Let go of resentment. Emotions can fester. See the humor in things that annoy you. Have fun. Focus on what’s important for you to take from the holiday season.

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  • Offer support. If you have a loved one who is recovering, offer holiday activities that don’t focus on alcohol. Provide alternative drinks. Acknowledge their recovery in a low-key way, and let them know you’re glad they are sober.

    Great tips, Jan. She also encourages those in need of support or who are in crisis to call Hazelden at 503-537-7300 or 866-537-4662. Those numbers are staffed seven days a week from early morning hours until past midnight during the holiday season, through Jan. 5. You can learn more at hazelden.org.

    Thinking you might need some recipes for alternative beverages, I asked my friends Vicky Davies of Gourmet Productions and Rhonda Johnson of Celebrate Catering to share their favorite nonalcoholic punch recipes. Serve these in festive glasses with garnishes, just as you would a cocktail.

    Here’s Vicky’s recipe: “I’m about to reveal my top secret to making punch. I like this one, a variation of Betty Crocker punch. In a punch bowl filled with ice, pour 6 cups of apple juice, 3 cups cranberry juice, 1 cup of Monin brand ginger syrup and top with sparkling water or ginger ale. Add orange slices and cranberries for garnish.”

    Rhonda’s concoction — made of orange juice, cranberry juice cocktail and 7UP — is easy, colorful and very tasty.

    To go with those beverages, I offer two very simple and beautiful appetizers that are relatively low in calories and extremely tasty, two assets that will make them hits at any party.

    I think Jan’s first tip bears rereading: Slow down. You don’t have to do it all.

    Bon appétit! Eat something wonderful!

    Herbed and Spiced Goat Cheese Balls

    Makes about 3 dozen

    1 1/4 pounds soft goat cheese

    2 tablespoons finely chopped parsley

    2 tablespoons finely chopped dill

    2 tablespoons finely chopped pecans

    1 tablespoon freshly cracked black pepper

    2 teaspoons paprika

    2 tablespoons olive oil

    1 teaspoon red pepper flakes

    Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Form 1 tablespoon of the goat cheese into a small ball. Transfer to the baking sheet. Continue with the remaining cheese. Refrigerate the balls for 10 minutes to set slightly.

    In separate bowls, place the parsley, dill, pecans and pepper. Roll several balls in each of the coatings and set aside. To make the paprika band, sprinkle the paprika in a straight, thin line on a cutting board. Straighten the edges of the paprika with a knife. Roll some of the balls down the line to form the paprika stripe.

    Pour the olive oil onto a serving platter. Sprinkle the oil with the red pepper flakes. Arrange the goat cheese balls on the platter and serve with toothpicks.

    (Recipe adapted from Martha Stewart’s “Hors d’Oeuvres Handbook.”)

    Pomegranate Arils in Endive Petals

    1 pomegranate

    2 to 3 heads endive

    To remove the pomegranate arils, score the rind around the circumference and then twist the pomegranate in two.

    Hold half the pomegranate in one hand over a bowl, and with a wooden spoon in the other hand tap the rind of the pomegranate to release the seeds.

    Separate the leaves of the endive, wash them and trim the root end. With a spoon fill the endive leaves with arils. Serve on a festive platter.

    — BR

    Randall welcomes your food questions and research suggestions. She can be reached at 503-636-1281, ext. 100, or by email at brandall@lakeoswegoreview.com. Follow her on Twitter at @barbrandallfood.

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