It’s important to eat well to sleep well over the holidays

Keep yourself in good shape for the holiday overindulgences by eating and sleeping well.

That may be easier said than done but Alysa Dobson with SleepWell Consulting Inc. suggests you start by examining your food and drink choices.

“Avoiding caffeine and alcohol near bedtime will lead to a more restorative sleep. These substances keep the brain’s alerting system turned on and these effects can last for up to nine hours,” she said.

For afternoon coffee time, try decaffeinated or herbal tea. Peppermint tea after meals soothes the stomach and chamomile before bed relaxes you.

While an alcoholic nightcap makes you sleepy initially, it has a rebound effect that can interfere with sleep and wake you up in the middle of the night often thirsty for water.

Sipping water throughout the day should help to keep you hydrated and your body operating smoothly.

Dobson advises completing dinner at least two hours before bedtime to avoid heartburn and acid reflux. Settling comfortably into sleep is also important.

“It’s during the sleep cycles in the first part of the night that our bodies benefit from the human growth hormone, which is essential for our vitality and necessary to feeling rested,” she said.

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For holiday menus, aim for simple and delicious and enjoy sweets in moderation. Certain food choices will also contribute to our body maintaining a relaxed state and restful sleep.

Sweet Cranberry Turkey

Impress your guests with this easy but elegant turkey dish without the preparation of a whole bird. Turkey fillets are becoming more widely available and offer the amino acid tryptophan, a component of the brain chemical serotonin that gets converted into the sleep inducing hormone melatonin. A turkey dinner can lead to quality sleep.

  • 6 turkey breast fillets
  • 1 c. Catalina or French dressing 250 mL
  • 1 can whole cranberry sauce or 1 1/2 c. home made cranberry sauce 375 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped onion 60 mL
  • 1/4 tsp. paprika 1 mL
  • salt and pepper to taste
  • 2 tbsp. chicken bouillon granules (or one cubecrushed) 30 mL

Grease the slow cooker. Place the turkey breast fillets in the bottom. Combine the dressing, cranberry sauce, onion, paprika, salt, pepper and bouillon. Spread over the turkey, then turn to cover both sides of the meat. Cook on high for about four hours or on low for six until turkey is cooked through and juicy. Serves six.

Note: The dish can also be prepared in the oven. Bake at 350 F (180 C) for 1 1/2 to two hours.

Serve with a rice dish that also gives you some sleep power. You can choose plain brown rice or try this pilaf for some added nutrition and flavour. Whole grain brown rice is a complex carbohydrate that helps us produce serotonin. Simple carbohydrates such as white rice, pastas, cookies and cakes can often take away from restful nights so go green with a spinach, kale or lettuce salad.

Brown Rice and Lentil Pilaf

Barbara Sanderson shared this recipe many years ago.

  • 1 tbsp. oil 15 mL
  • 1 tbsp. butter 15 mL
  • 1/4 c. chopped of each carrots, mushrooms and onions 60 mL
  • 1 1/3 c. long grain brown rice 325 mL
  • 1/3 c. lentils 75 mL
  • 1 tsp. thyme 5 mL
  • 2 1/4 c. chicken stock 560 mL
  • 1 1/2 c. water 375 mL
  • 1 tsp. salt 5 mL

Add the oil and butter to a slow cooker or casserole dish depending on your method of cooking. Add the remaining ingredients and stir to combine. Cover and cook on high for three hours in a slow cooker or in the oven at 350 F (180 C) for approximately one hour or until rice and lentils are tender. Makes six cups (1.5 L).

Cherries are a natural source of the hormone melatonin, a sleep aid. Use frozen fruit such as sour prairie cherries to top your holiday dessert or sip on some cherry.

Tart Cherry Cheesecake

This festive red dessert combines some frozen cherries with some pie filling and Greek yogurt. This unbaked dessert is ideal for those make ahead menus.

      • Crust
      • 1 1/4 c. graham cracker crumbs 300 mL
      • 1/4 c. butter or margarine, softened 60 mL
      • Filling
      • 1 (8 oz./250 g) softened cream cheese
      • 3/4 c. icing sugar 175 mL
      • 1 tsp. vanilla 5 mL
      • 1 c. whipping cream, whipped 250 mL
      • 1/2 c. Greek vanilla yogurt 125 mL
      • Topping
      • 1 21 oz. can cherry pie filling 620 mL
      • 3/4 c. tart cherries 175 mL

Mix together the graham crumbs and butter. Press into the bottom and sides of a pie plate.
In a mixing bowl, beat the whipping cream until stiff. In a separate bowl, beat the cream cheese and sugar together until smooth. Gently fold in prepared whipped cream and Greek yogurt into the cream cheese mixture until well combined. Spread carefully over the graham crust and smooth the top.
Refrigerate for at least three hours or until firm. Mix together the pie filling and tart cherries and place in a covered bowl. Before serving, spread the cherry mix filling over the top. Chill until ready to serve. Serves six large or eight small slices. – Source:

Simmering Cherry Sauce

      • 2 c. frozen cherries 500 mL
      • 1/3 c. sugar 75 mL
      • 1/4 c. water 60 mL
      • 1 tbsp. cornstarch 15 mL
      • 1/8 tsp. cinnamon .5 mL

In a saucepan over medium heat, cook all ingredients about six minutes until the sauce thickens slightly. Remove from heat and cool slightly. Spoon over vanilla ice cream, frozen yogurt or Greek yogurt. Sprinkle with toppings such as shaved dark chocolate or nuts/seeds.

Serving a treat that combines oats and ginger can offer protection from the effects of a sugar buzz.

      • 1/2 c. butter at room temperature 125 mL
      • 1/2 c. sugar 125 mL
      • 1/4 c. molasses 60 mL
      • 1 tbsp. oil 15 mL
      • 1 egg
      • 1/2 tsp vanilla 2 mL
      • 1 c. plus 2 tbsp. flour 250 mL
      • plus 30 mL
      • 1 c. oats 250 mL
      • 1 tsp. baking soda 5 mL
      • 1/2 tsp. salt 2 mL
      • 1/2 tsp. of each cinnamon and ground cloves 2 mL
      • 1 tsp. ground ginger 5 mL

Preheat oven to 350 F (180 C).
In a mixing bowl, cream the butter with the sugar. Add the molasses, oil, egg and vanilla, blend.
In a separate bowl, combine the flour, oats, soda, salt and spices. Slowly stir together with the wet mixture until thoroughly combined.
Scoop onto a prepared cookie sheet and bake for nine minutes. Cool and enjoy. – Source:

Jodie Mirosovsky is a home economist from Rosetown, Sask., and a member of Team Resources. Contact:

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