Ciao'd after making a holiday to-do list. Accent on "to do."

Today is December 1st, and that means the holiday race is full-on. Unless you've Black’d and Cyber’d to heaven and back covering everybody from kids to caretakers and all those in between, hired a caterer for your holiday host(ess)ing, and Paperless Posted your greetings, we still have things to do, people.  ‘Tis the season of the S. Shopping, stress and (in)sanity.

The elixir? Food. The kind that doesn’t taste like straw. I know, right? The prescription flies in the eyes of the Debbie and Donny downers who espouse that eating little and drinking less will make us happier during the holidays. They crow "advice" like "Eat an apple before the cocktail party, so you aren't tempted by the hors d'oeuvres." Or "Crudités (otherwise known as raw vegetables masquerading behind a French masque) laid out in the shape of a Christmas tree are fun and taste good, too."  I beg to differ, and science has my back. Here are ten foods that will help calm the holiday stress.

Avocados. Viva the fruit! Yep, fruit (technically, a single-seeded berry - rah, rah ag geeks).  Now you have a fun fact you can share at holiday cocktail parties, you erudite, you. Avos are rich in stress-relieving B vitamins and high in monounsaturated fat and potassium, which help lower blood pressure. A must when you can't find a parking spot at the mall. Guacamole for everybody!

Beef. The grass-fed kind. Bet you didn’t see this one coming. With more Omega-3s than grain-fed beef, it supports a positive mood. Plus grass-fed beef harbors the amino acid creatine which can decrease depression in women who, let’s face it, are the sherpas of the holiday season.

Salmon (and tuna and sardines, too). If you’re not a meat person, salmon is your best bet. It's rich in omega-3 fatty acids that help keep adrenalin from skyrocketing when you feel like you want to wallop the workmate whose desktop centerpiece is a musical Christmas tree that plays “Little Drummer Boy” over and over. And over again. 

Almonds. Rich in vitamins B2 and E, they help bolster the immune system. See below.

Dark chocolate. Finally something indulgent! Here’s something even more indulgent: dark chocolate-covered almonds. You’ll reap the healthful benefits of almonds plus dark chocolate’s ability to lower levels of stress hormones. Yay!

Oranges. Vitamin C lowers blood pressure. Opt for blood oranges. They’re pretty and delish. Maybe coat the peels with our friend, dark chocolate? 

Swiss chard, spinach and pretty much all leafy greens.  The folate in the greens produces dopamine, a brain chemical that promotes calm and happiness.  If you drizzle the greens with ranch dressing, I’ll keep your secret.

Spicy foods. Take your pick of take-out Chinese, Thai or Vietnamese (‘cause you ain’t gonna be making your own). The natural endorphins trigger feelings of euphoria and well-being.

I would be remiss if I did not mention my favorite food group, alcoholic beverages. In this case, red wine. The rosso is a natural sedative because it’s a central nervous system depressant. The trick is to drink a glass (or 2) not too close to bedtime. Maybe indulge when you’re enjoying that spicy food for a double whammy of goodness.

On the other end of the spectrum, water. It helps combat fatigue. Quaff at least 32 ounces (4 cups) a day. And then drink the wine.

Everybody breathe. In with calm, out with stress. Food is the chill pill for the holidays. And who doesn’t love that? Here's a simple recipe for Dark Chocolate-Orange Almond Bark. Enjoy a dose of protein, Vitamin C and antioxidants with each #dolcevitadelish bite.  You're welcome.