These Are Getting Me Through Christmas Chaos
Yes, that is a look of panic on my face! The holidays are upon us. That magical time of year when we spend time with our families and friends, going to parties, buying presents, preparing for houseguests, maybe traveling long distances. I'm not telling you anything new when I say how stressful and overwhelming December really is. This doesn't mean it isn't a month to look forward to - I love it - but come January 2 I can strongly feel the effects of overindulgence, too little sleep, and way too much work.As a chef this is my busiest time of year. Christmas orders, catering, parties, cookies, all while trying to keep up with my friends' socializing, and hopefully a quiet moment here and there with my dear husband. So with all this in mind I've compiled a list of the things that will be helping me get through the festive season this year and have partnered with many of the local small businesses I love here in Beirut to arrange a fantastic giveaway featuring the products I mention.Nutrition - I'm trying my best to limit the amount of caffeine I consume AND I'm getting older so if I have a coffee after 3pm I won't sleep plus I'm absolutely convinced I have adrenal fatigue (yes, my own internet diagnosis) which rears its head when you combine too much stress and caffeine! All that said, I love a warm drink later in the day that helps keep me happy and alert through the second shift of my day. Maca powder comes from a root also known as Peruvian ginseng, is high in nutritional value and promises to help relieve my anxiety and stress, increase endurance, balance my hormones, and improve my brain function. Now who wouldn't want all of that? Mint Basil Market offers Super Maca Powder which can be thrown in to smoothies, your morning coffee or tea or made into a warming maca latte like this one: 1 cup unsweetened almond milk1 teaspoon freshly grated ginger1 tablespoon maca powder1 teaspoon ground cinnamon2 dates, pittedsplash of vanilla extractBlend together all of the ingredients in a blender and combine until smooth and frothy. Now transfer the mixture to a saucepan and heat gently. Pour into a mug and drink up!Exercise - For me there is nothing more invigorating than a spin class at Exhale in Saifi Village. I love the rush of endorphins and endurance it gives me to help get through my very hectic and physical schedule. It may seem counterintuitive to exercise when you're running around (or climbing 4 flights of stairs laden with groceries as I often do), but trust me, there's nothing better to keep you energized through the chaos. Since it seems my clubbing days are over, but I still love to dance, I get to pretend I'm out in the crowds, moving to the beat when I dance on the bike. Plus, the community vibes at Exhale always leave me feeling restored and content (and they're opening a pilates studio next to Meat The Fish Saifi very soon!). Skin Care - Working in the kitchen all the time takes a toll on my skin, as do late nights, smoky bars, and a few too many glasses here and there. My meagre attempts at self care includes a Sunday night facial when I try to calm myself for the coming week and cross my fingers that my skin will cooperate. The Skin Kalpa Pink Clay Mask available on Mint Basil Market helps draw out impurities and sooth my borderline sensitive skin. They also claim it reduces the appearance of wrinkles and sun damage. Hallelujah!Pampering - If you know a chef you'll know that their hands can look like they've been to battle (well, they sort of have)! But I have to keep mine looking as nice as possible for all manner of events and photo shoots...and just as a public service really. And is there anything nicer than having someone pamper your feet when you stand on them all day for work? The fine ladies at Emak Urban Spa in Tabaris sometimes gasp in horror when they see what they have to work with, but I leave with beautifully soft hands and feet each time I make time to visit. I've also treated myself to one of the Biologique Recherche facials they now offer here (and loved) - OMG, if you haven't tried the P50 Lotion from Biologique Rechereche yet, you must! It's changed my skin entirely.Giving Back - This time of year we can often get caught up in commercialism and consumerism (have you seen ABC Achrafieh?!?!). In an effort to give something back, I'm providing some snacks as a sponsor for the premiere of Colette being distributed locally by Empire Cinemas. The December 12 event is in collaboration with local organization KAFA, and its aim is to shed light on all types of abuse against women whether it be emotional, neglect, or psychological. While the #metoo and #ibelieveher movements have gained momentum in much of Europe and North America, there's a very long way to go in this part of the world. My heart grows just a little bit bigger being part of an initiative like this and the help it will hopefully provide. That's the true spirit of Christmas. And, who doesn't love a good historical drama starring Kiera Knightley - a little culture never hurt anyone!A tipple - The right bottle of red can take a meal I've prepared from "meh" to "superbe!" Part of what I'm loving here in Lebanon is discovering all of the really delicious wines available but they're not always easy to access. Enter 209 Lebanese Wines the online wine delivery service that will help you pick the perfect accompaniment to your meal! Simply tell them what you're cooking, how much you'd like to spend and voila, you have a wine that people will talk about. Plus, while I fancy myself quite the West Coast wine geek, I'm completely obtuse when it comes to the different Lebanese varieties available, and 209 carries varieties and wineries I haven't seen in the shops. So now, whether I just need a glass to wind down after a rough day or need several bottles for an event I'm hosting or a hostess gift to take to a friend, I am making it my mission to drink my way through the wines of Lebanon....with a little help from 209.Breakfast - As a chef you might think I am eating all of the yummy looking food I prepare. You'd be wrong! Mostly I'm running around like mad and forgetting to eat until I'm starving and then ordering takeaway because I have been cooking all day and my own fridge is empty and I can't be bothered to prepare something healthy anyway (yes, my poor husband). Anyway, breakfast is the one meal I can control and always am in the mood for. Rolled oats are my go-to for both savory and sweet options...and yes, Mint Basil Market can bring them straight to your door. Check out my recipe for Savory Oatmeal on their site from earlier this Fall.My fabulous holiday wellness giveaway basket includes: A container of Maca Powder , a Kalpa Clay Mask, and a packet of Naturalia Jumbo Oats all from Mint Basil Market. A gift certificate for a mani/pedi at Emak Urban Spa. A gift certificate for a spin class at Exhale in Saifi Village. A bottle of local red wine from 209 Lebanese Wines. Two tickets to the Colette premiere event on December 12. To enter, you must follow me on Instagram @chefsallyjane, like the post, and share a holiday wellness tip of your own. Then please tag two friends who can share their holiday tips with us too. Good luck and Merry Christmas!