This time of year, I’m often reminded of my favorite “Saturday Night Live” holiday skit, where the kids (and the dog) open a pile of incredible Christmas gifts but Mom’s reward after all her hard work is a bathrobe with the “40% off” tag still attached.

When you’re a caregiver, the holidays can feel like another task on your never-ending to-do list. Yet this year, I’m giving myself permission to do less, and you should too.

Focus on the holiday activities that bring you joy and energy. It’s OK to skip the rest (including gift-giving, if you’re like me and find it stressful).

After all, our mental health is vital to our overall health. In this edition of “The Iowa Dish,” we take a closer look at the connection between food and mental health – and why diets and weight loss aren’t the solution. It’s a good reminder as clever marketers try to sell us diet foods and plans in the New Year.

And while the weather this fall has been mild, we know the cold and snow are on the way. We talk to an Iowa farmer about how she cares for farm animals in the winter months – and why cattle actually prefer cold weather.

Plus, as my gift to you, I’m sharing my favorite Christmas recipe, classic Peanut Butter star cookies. It took me years to find the “perfect” recipe of this childhood favorite.

And a reminder: If you’re able, please donate to your favorite nonprofit or charitable organization this holiday season. Experts recommend giving to a cause that has a personal connection to you.

This fall, the Iowa Farm Bureau and Fareway donated over 57,000 pounds of ground protein to Iowa food banks. Iowa farmers take pride in their work to provide safe, nutritious foods for all.

Wishing you a happy, healthy holiday season!

Teresa Bjork
Editor, The Iowa Dish

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