Holiday Wishes by Elizabeth Brown. MS, RD

Dear Santa,

For Christmas I would like an official Red Ryder carbine action two-hundred shot range model air rifle with a compass in the stock and this thing that tells time. Oh, no, that was on Ralphie’s wish list. Besides, I had a BB gun and a bow and arrow when I was a kid. It was fun to shoot at targets in the safety of my father’s backyard. But since I won’t even kill a spider, what’s the point?

What I want for Christmas is nothing material, for that goes against my Buddhist nature of simplicity and non-attachment. Admittedly, I do want to have a nutrition science-based cooking show where I can clarify nutrition concepts while demonstrating pertinent recipes and food facts, kind of like I do in my articles. This has been my goal for the past 22 years. Steadfastness is another Buddhist principle I practice daily.

While researching the various holiday festivities that occur during the months of December and January, I have found that there are many ways to celebrate the season depending on a person’s religious beliefs or family traditions. But what I like most is that food plays a big part in most celebrations. Whether its grandma’s recipe for chocolate chip cookies or Uncle Jim’s famous nog, food is the tie that binds.

Perhaps that is why I am drawn to Eastern religions, like Buddhism, that teach all religions are a path to enlightenment. There is no one perfect way. I take the same approach when exploring and teaching about nutrition. No one diet is perfect but all conscious decisions surrounding the selection, preparation and consumption of food are potential paths to better nutrition.

I think I have found something we can all agree upon—Celebratory food is fun!

However, once the Holidays have passed, we often find that calories linger. Those chocolate chip cookies were so good, what harm will one or two do? No harm, provided you can stop at one or two. At 110 calories per cookie, even half a dozen could be half a day’s worth of calories. Does this mean that we must deprive ourselves of these taste sensations? Absolutely not. What we should do is always strive for balance: everything in moderation.

To help you on your journey of balance, I offer two of my favorite recipes. One is a portion-controlled version of homemade chocolate chip cookies. The other is a belly-filling recipe for homemade vegetable soup.

All I really want for Christmas is for every one of you – no matter how you celebrate – to have a safe, happy, healthy holiday season.

A Single Serving of Homemade Chocolate Chip Cookies
Makes 4 small cookies for you to enjoy or share with a loved one.
Multiply ingredients by 16 to yield 64 cookies.

1 & 1/2 teaspoon Tahini (sesame paste)
1 teaspoon butter or soy margarine (vegetarian)
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Honey
1/4 teaspoon Vanilla
1/4 teaspoon Tamari
(soy sauce)

2 Tablespoon + 1/2 teaspoon Whole Wheat Pastry Flour (or Bob’s Red Mill gluten free flour)
1/16th teaspoon Baking Soda
(fill 1/8 teaspoon half way)
1/16th teaspoon Cinnamon

1 Tablespoon + 2 teaspoons Oats
1 & 1/2 teaspoon Walnuts, chopped
1 Tablespoon + 1 teaspoon Dark Chocolate or Carob Chips

Preheat oven to 325. In a small mixing bowl, mix Tahini & butter until well blended. Add Honey, Vanilla, & Tamari. In another mixing bowl, blend flour, baking soda, & cinnamon. Combine dry and wet ingredients in one bowl, then add oats, walnuts, & chocolate chips and mix well. Place four equal portions of dough onto a small oiled cookie sheet. Bake for 12 minutes. Remove from oven and cool for five minutes on a cooling rack. Place the cookies on a pretty little plate and garnish with sliced fresh fruit and serve with warm tea. Eat and enjoy! Per serving, 4 cookies: 220 Calories, 10g Fat, 28g Carbs, 4g Fiber, 6g Protein. Significant source of the B Vitamins as well as Iron, Selenium, Copper, Zinc, Magnesium, Manganese & Phosphorus.

Vegetable Soup
64 ounces organic vegetable broth
5 medium size carrots
, peeled and chopped into half moons (2 cups)
5 stalks celery, chopped (2 cups)
1/2 bunch flat leaf parsley, chopped
1 yellow onion, chopped (1 cup)
5 cloves garlic, minced (1/4 cup)
1/2 head green cabbage, chopped into 2 inch long pieces,
about 1/4 inch wide
15 ounce can chopped tomatoes
1 tablespoon fresh thyme or 1 teaspoon dry
2 bay leaves
2 tablespoons Tamari
Sea salt & pepper to taste

Pour a little broth into a heated, 1 gallon (128 ounces) pot. Sauté the onion then add the rest of the vegetables. Add tamari & herbs. Stir in tomatoes. Add the rest of the broth and simmer for 30 minutes. Two cups of soup: 100 calories. Add chicken or tofu plus 1 cup soba noodles or brown rice for an additional 200-230 calories.


  1. What a perfect meal. Vegetable soup and healthy cookies for dessert! Thank you!