Posts tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

Thinking of Thanksgiving

written by Jen

Thanksgiving has to be one of my favorite holidays. Growing up in a family of fantastic home cooks has always meant some pretty spectacular feasts. As a kid, Thanksgiving was always held at my maternal Grandmother’s house. We would start with Sweet Potato soup, a pureed soup similar to butternut squash soup but slightly thicker. Turkey was, of course, a highlight, but her creamy garlic mashed potatoes stole the show. After they retired to Florida, my mom took over hosting this holiday meal. Several new traditions were born, including a flavorful Cranberry-Apricot sauce and a crowd-pleasing French Bread Stuffing with Fennel and Sausage (both adapted from a Cooking Light cookbook). This year, I have the honor of hosting Thanksgiving in my Boston home. I will be keeping some traditions, as well as finding my own signature contribution. Here is a preview of some things that have caught Chelsea and my eyes stomachs, all brought to you from fellow bloggers!

Quinoa Salad with Butternut Squash, Dried Cranberries & Pepitas by Two Peas & Their Pod

Roasted Fingerling Potatoes and Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Garlic by Oh She Glows

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon by My Kitchen College

Honey Butter Pumpkin Dinner Rolls by Averie Cooks

Roasted Brussels Sprouts, Bacon & Apples by Little Pink Monster

Bourbon Apple Sangria by Climbing Grier Mountain

November 25, 2013 at 6:22 pm 1 comment

Happy Thanksgiving

There is so much in my life to be thankful for that it is overwhelming at times. Family, friends, boyfriend, health, roommate, home, school, mentors, opportunities. My life is beyond blessed, and I should remember to thank God on a daily basis instead of waiting for this season to roll around. This year, I am most thankful for a “big” family Thanksgiving again! Ever since my extended family relocated to Florida, Thanksgiving at my house has been a quiet affair. Not this year! My sister and I are both bringing home our boyfriends, and my best friend is bringing her husband and baby. We will have a table of 9 again! We will be eating on Saturday to accommodate schedules and travel, but it’s not the date that makes this day special. It’s the spirit of gratitude… and the food!

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There have been numerous Thansgiving recipes and round-ups floating around the blog-world this past week. So many are drool-worthy, but most of you probably already have your menus planned. My family has a few traditional favorites that we always make, but we usually incorporate or swap out one or two new dishes each year! This recipe was inspired by some flavors that grace some of my Mom’s traditional Thanksgiving dishes. The lemon and thyme have a Thanksgiving earthiness that welcomes it at any holiday table, but the lightness of this dish makes it a great lunch option for the days leading up to or following Thanksgiving. I know my stomach always needs a rest after the heavy meal! Make this and serve it warm as a gluten-free option for guests, and then have the leftovers as a cold and light post-holiday lunch!

Question: What are you thankful for this year? What is your favorite dish at Thanksgiving? Is your menu set yet, or are you still looking for ideas?

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Lemon Thyme Quinoa with Zucchini and Mushrooms

1 cup quinoa

2 cups vegetable broth (or water)

1/2 red onion, diced

1 tbsp minced garlic

1 tbsp olive oil

1 8-oz. package mushrooms, sliced

1 cup shredded zucchini

1/4 tsp pepper and pinch salt

1/2 tsp dried thyme leaves

2 lemons, juiced

Add quinoa to a dry pot and toast until you hear a faint popping noise. Add vegetable broth, bring to a boil, and then reduce to simmer until most of the liquid has been absorbed.

Meanwhile, cook onions and garlic in olive oil over medium-high heat for 3-5 minutes. Add sliced mushrooms and stir. Cook until soft, about another 5 minutes. Add in shredded zucchini and turn off the heat. Stir in salt, pepper, and thyme. Add the quinoa and stir well. Juice the 2 lemons over the dish. Turn the heat back on and cook for another 3-4 minutes until the remaining liquid has been absorbed. Serve warm or cold– tastes great either way!

November 19, 2012 at 12:18 pm 1 comment

WIAW Leftovers Edition

Thanksgiving may be old news, but I am still enjoying the leftovers from our meal on Friday! (Yes, we postponed Thanksgiving…) I tried to help my parents out by not leaving them with too much, so I took a few (read: 10) Tupperwares of goodies back with me on Monday. Good thing I did because I have been running with school pretty much ever since! Here is a glimpse into my day! Be sure to head back over to Peas and Crayons to check out Jenn’s fun food and find a new blog friend or two!

Breakfast: 7:30am

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I am more than halfway through my oatmeal project! Everything can be added to oatmeal, I swear! This bowl was simple: flax seed, cinnamon, homemade cranberry sauce and almond butter. Just the right amount of sweetness for the morning.

Lunch: 12pm

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Inspired by Mama Pea’s latest post about Shepherd’s Pie, I made my own leftovers version. I spooned some mashed potatoes into a ramekin, layered in some green beans, and topped it off with cornbread stuffing. After I microwaved it, I flipped it all back onto a plate and enjoyed a layered Thanksgiving lunch!

Afternoon Snack: 4:30

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I had my second consecutive day of being in the hospital today, but I am starting to get the hang of it! I finally remembered all of my diagnostic equipment (thanks to my new bag!) and was able to tote along sufficient mid-afternoon fuel. I had a handful of almonds and dried cranberries, transported neatly in a repurposed cinnamon jar, and a pear from home, and enjoyed a few chocolate covered almonds and peanut M&Ms from my  classmates.

Dinner: 8pm

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I was about to chew my arm off after yoga, and the walk home from the bus has never felt so long. Good thing dinner was simple! A mixed green salad topped with roasted root veggies leftover from Thanksgiving, a few walnuts, Balsamic vinegar and olive oil. Enjoyed with a leftover roll covered in TJ’s artichoke tapenade, and followed by another roll for sopping up the rest of the dressing! And water, lotsa water. Nothing makes your crave water like a good hot yoga class!

Study Snack: 9:30pm

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My roommate had a lot of work to do as well, so she made us a quick batch of lightly salted, air-popped popcorn to keep us productive! I love popcorn, and love being caught up on work even more!

Question: Are you still enjoying Thanksgiving leftovers?

November 30, 2011 at 6:33 am 7 comments

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle

Since most of our family lives in Florida, we usually find friends to share Thanksgiving with. Our camping family friends often join us for Thanksgiving dessert, and their daughter is an excellent baker. However, their plans changed last minute this year, and so we were left to recreate her beloved Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle on our own! I did not plan ahead for this dessert and had to improvise, but it came out pretty well! It has all of the traditional pumpkin pie flavors, but is a fun and beautiful way to showcase your dessert. This trifle has three layers: pumpkin gingerbread, pumpkin mousse, and a whipped cream layer. The pumpkin gingerbread is super simple to make, and the recipe I used is at the end of this post. You could also make this bread on its own, serving it for weekend brunch or frosted or with ice cream for dessert. To make the pumpkin mousse, I whipped pumpkin, evaporated milk, and brown sugar together with pumpkin pie spice. However, my mousse never took on the pudding consistency I wanted. This pumpkin mousse recipe is a safer bet if you are going to make this for friends and family! Lastly is the whipped cream layer. You may have figured this out when I substituted evaporated milk for cream in the mousse, but I forgot to buy cream! Instead, I mixed together greek yogurt and the rest of the evaporated milk with vanilla and honey to create a sweet yogurt layer. I really enjoyed this, but my sister missed the sweet whipped cream. Depending on your preferences, choose the creamy layer that works best for you!

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To assemble the trifle, choose a large, clear dessert bowl. Cut the pumpkin gingerbread into cubes, and then layer half of it in the bottom of the dessert bowl. Top with half of your pumpkin mousse, and then half of your whipped cream or sweetened yogurt. Repeat these layers, then top with chopped walnuts and a sprinkle of cinnamon. It is best to assemble this dessert close to the time you will be serving it, since the layers stand out best and make this dessert look really elegant!

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Question: What dessert did you enjoy most this Thanksgiving?

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Vegan Pumpkin Gingerbread

adapted from the Happy Herbivore and All Recipes

1/2 tsp baking powder

1 tsp baking soda

2 cups whole wheat flour

1 tsp ground ginger

1/2 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp cinnamon

1/2 tsp cloves

1 tsp vanilla extract

2 tbsp pure maple syrup

1 cup brown sugar

2 cups pumpkin puree

1/4 tsp lemon juice

1/4 cup milk of your choice

Mix all dry ingredients in one bowl and wet ingredients in another. Combine wet into dry ingredients until well combined. Coat a loaf pan with cooking spray and pour batter into pan. Cook for 1 hour in a 350 degree oven, or until knife comes out clean. Allow to cool slightly before removing from pan, slicing, and serving. Serve as is for breakfast, with ice cream or whipped cream for dessert, or use in a pumpkin gingerbread trifle.

November 27, 2011 at 4:00 pm 4 comments

Giving Thanks

There is so much to be thankful for this year. I got to be home with my family for several days. The family that we are not near, we have gotten to catch up with on the phone.  I have been able to spend time with my sister and my closest friends. I have not had to think about school or sneak away to get work done at all during this holiday. I am well and energetic, able to go for a run in the beautiful fall weather each morning. I have so many hobbies that I can enjoy, in both busyness and vacation: cooking, knitting, blogging, running. I have a fridge full of good food and have been able to spend days in the kitchen with my mom, experimenting with old and new favorite recipes. I am so thankful for the many blessings I have in my life, but am most thankful for the deep and meaningful relationships that I have. My sister was asked to sing at a church member’s funeral on Friday, and I was deeply touched by the message of how important relationships are in life. The pastor’s sermon emphasized her importance as a wife, mother, grandmother, and friend. The tributes recounted memories of time spent together and, even without knowing her well, I could see how deeply she had touched others lives. One day, we will look back and remember holidays, birthdays, and dinners spent together. Important things of the present like exam scores, work deadlines, and temporal achievements will fade away. I hope to carry this message with me throughout each day of the year, and not just let it permeate my mind during this holiday of thankfulness.

To celebrate Thanksgiving, we made our traditional feast, even if we were a day late! The rest of this post will be pictures and links, with a few teasers of some recipes I will post in the next few days. Enjoy the rest of the holiday weekend and continue to reflect on the many people who bless your life each day.

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An easy appetizer: canned crescent rolls with a spoonful of cranberry sauce and slice of brie cheese inside. A great way to use some leftover cranberry sauce as well!

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Our Thanksgiving spread

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Dad carving the turkey

potato process

The evolution of the mashed potatoes: roasted, then mashed, topped with roasted leeks. They contain no butter and just a splash of milk, substituting some steamed cauliflower instead! The recipe will be up soon!

Recipe to come soon!

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Sauteed green beans in the forefront, using red onions instead of shallot, and roasted asparagus in the back. My sister claims that she has never liked asparagus so much, so that simple recipe will be posted soon as well!

Sauteed Green Beans, a Homemade Adventure Original

Mustard Roasted Asparagus, recipe to come soon!

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We roasted the white and colored veggies separate, trying to keep the beets apart for as long as possible so everything didn't turn pink! Worked out well, and also allowed the unique flavors of the turnip, rutebega, parsnip, carrot, and beet separate! We spiced things up with some fresh sage, thyme and rosemary added before roasting the veggies.

Roasted Root Vegetable Candy, from the Pioneer Woman Cooks

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Spiced Sweet Potatoes, made with sliced almonds instead of pecans. Lesson learned: go shopping for staple items before Thanksgiving Eve! Our grocery store ran out of pecans! Pecans or almonds, this is so good that you will never go back to the marshmallow casserole again.

Spiced Sweet Potatoes, from Rufus’ Guide

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Mom's classic Sausage and Herb Dressing, recipe from an old cookbook.

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Cornbread Stuffing, made with homemade veggie broth and heated in a casserole dish instead of stuffed in the turkey. My first experience with this type of dressing, I was skeptical when we first put it in the oven, since I am used to the more rustic stuffing that my mom makes. The results sure were sweet, though!

Cornbread Stuffing, from Rufus’ Guide

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My homemade cranberry sauce, a new holiday favorite!

Homemade Cranberry Sauce, a Homemade Adventure Original

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Vegan Whole Wheat Dinner Rolls, so simple and easy!

Dinner Rolls from About.com (How did people cook before Google? ;)

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My Thanksgiving plate! Who says you need turkey on Thanksgiving? Love all of the colors from our veggies!

gingerbread trifle

A Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, with recipe to come! Adapted from a few different sources, this is a relatively healthy dessert and is a beautiful way to end your Thanksgiving meal!

Pumpkin Gingerbread Trifle, recipe to come soon!

Question: Which recipe do you want to see first?

November 26, 2011 at 6:38 pm 6 comments

WIA… on Thanksgiving Day

Happy Thanksgiving everyone! I hope your day was filled with good food, friends, family, and words of thanks for all of the many blessings we have in our lives. My family is being a bit non-traditional this year… we postponed Thanksgiving! My sister is splitting the holiday with her boyfriend this year, so we agreed to have dinner a day late in order to share her. Plus, I didn’t arrive home until Wednesday evening, and my mom and I wanted plenty of time to prepare a proper Thanksgiving feast together! So my Thanksgiving Day eats might not be what you expect…

Morning workout 8:30am

I went for a quick 2.5 mi run through my neighborhood this morning, just to get my legs moving again from the long car ride yesterday. I wanted to stay out for longer, but forgot my gloves and my tingly hands told me to give up early!

Breakfast: 9:30am

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I enjoyed this lovely bowl of oatmeal over a few cups with my mom as we sat and “solved the problems of the world.” No better time to discuss weighty issues like medical ethics, politics, and family drama like than pre-caffeine, right? This oatmeal was another fall special: apple sauce, cubed apples, cinnamon, sliced almonds and dried cranberries. So good!

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A preview of our lightened up mashed potatoes for tomorrow!

The rest of our day was spent cooking for Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, making as much ahead as possible. We have a lot of great things on our table this year, and I can’t wait to share pictures and a new recipe or two that we came up with! I couldn’t help but steal nibbles of the roasting potatoes, veggies, and bread cubes, so I wasn’t too hungry for lunch. I had of this morning’s breakfast leftovers and a crumble of cookie, but was too full for a real meal. After finishing our cooking, we took advantage of the warm weather to put up some of the outdoor Christmas lights. Can’t help but sing some Christmas songs when that happens…

Afternoon workout 5:30pm

My mom is trying to incorporate some stretching and weight lifting into her daily routine, so we tried out a 10 minute beginner’s yoga routine (free on Exercise TV on my parent’s cable) and I taught her a simple free weights routine that included high knees, tricep extensions, bicep curls, shoulder presses, and a few more fun exercises. It is simple and takes only 10 minutes, so hopefully it is something she can use on a daily basis!

Dinner: 6:30pm

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Roasted squash before making the soup - love the bright orange color!

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More great colors from the beets and carrots before mixing the salad.

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My mom made some wonderful fall treats, trying out some vegetarian recipes that she found. She has a Whole Foods app on her iPad and bookmarks any veggie recipe that reminds her of me so she has a full arsenal of things to try out whenever I come home! Tonight, she made a fall salad with apple, carrot, beet, turnip and a citrus dressing. We ate that along with a butternut and acorn squash soup, a real treat since she made it with cream cheese! I enjoyed it with some pumpkin ale and bread for a perfect fall meal with my parents.

Dessert: 9pm

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We were entrenched in a tough came of cards (anyone else play Canasta?), and needed a mid-game treat to pull us through. Good thing my friend and I made pumpkin chocolate chip cookies last night! The recipe is at the end of the post in case you need anymore post-Thanksgiving pumpkin! I went from losing at cards badly to winning the game by a tiny margin – cookies for the win? I think so!

Question: What are you thankful for this year?

Pumpkin Chocolate Chip Cookies

1 1/4 cup pumpkin

1 cup sugar

1/4 cup brown sugar

1/4 cup vegetable oil

1 egg

1 tsp milk

2 cup flour

2 tsp baking powder

2 tsp cinnamon

pinch nutmeg

1/2 tsp salt

1 tsp baking soda

2 tsp vanilla extract

2 cups chocolate chips

Mix together wet ingredients in one bowl and dry ingredients in other. Stir dry into wet mixture until well combined. Add chocolate chips. Drop by rounded tablespoon onto greased cookie trays. Bake at 350 degrees for 10-12 minutes or until lightly browned. Store in a sealed container.

November 24, 2011 at 11:27 pm 4 comments

What to do When You Don’t Eat Turkey on Turkey Day

Thanksgiving is the ultimate American tradition. Friends and family gather around a feast, often featuring traditional American dishes like mashed potatoes and green beans, but often also incorporating elements from their own heritage. Since my cultural background is rooted in American farm life, our Thanksgivings have always looked pretty typical. My mom and I do like to experiment with new twists on beloved recipes, however, to make them healthier or more flavorful than before. (You have never tasted anything like my mom’s stuffing, trust me!) The mainstay of this beloved meal, of course, is turkey. This leaves us veggie-lovers with a dilemma: how do I enjoy a meal that is centered around meat? I am the only vegetarian in my family, though, so many of our traditional dishes also contain meat or chicken stock. What is one to do? Here are some of my thoughts and strategies for vegetarians and vegans on Thanksgiving:

1. If you are not doing the primary cooking, bring a dish that you know will be friendly to your dietary preferences. Some great examples from other bloggers include an amazing looking vegan gravy from Daily Garnish. Also, don’t be tied to tradition if you want to bring a main course that will satisfy your needs, and can be enjoyed by others. This Mushroom and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto, also from Daily Garnish, or my Cranberry Quinoa, are great examples of something that could easily blend into a Thanksgiving spread.

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Mushroom and Asparagus Quinoa Risotto from Daily Garnish

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Cranberry Quinoa with Kale and Delicata Squash

2. If you are doing the primary cooking, it is easy to make most of your sides vegan/vegetarian. The biggest problem will lie in the turkey: just ask someone else to cook and bring it! If you are not okay with cooking a big bird and your friends and families are not okay with going without, compromise and ask someone to help contribute to the meal.

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Cornbread Stuffing from Rufus' Guide

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Spiced Sweet Potatoes with Pecans from Rufus' Guide

3. It is quite easy to get your fill of sides, even without the turkey! All of the other mainstays of traditional Thanksgiving, like sweet potatoes and roasted root veggies, are enough to fill me up, even without a plate centerpiece like turkey. If you are looking to freshen up some of your classics, here are some great ideas! The cornbread stuffing from Rufus’ Guide can be made with vegetable stock to make it vegetarian, and the spiced sweet potatoes with pecans look amazing.

4. Bring a vegan dessert to share! Vegan baking is often the hardest for others to accommodate, so take the burden off them and offer to bring a treat to share. Check out this recipe for a Pumpkin Brownie Pie from Oh She Glows, or this Vegan Apple Cranberry Crumble from the Smart Kitchen.

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Vegan Pumpkin Brownie Pie from Oh She Glows

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Vegan Cranberry Apple Crumble from the Smart Kitchen

5. Be flexible. For me, it is more important to enjoy the company of my friends and family than to worry if my mom made the stuffing with chicken or vegetable stock. If you do need to know if something has any animal products, ask the cook in a respectful way, and use it as an opportunity to inform them of all the things you can eat as a vegan/vegetarian.

Because it is a holiday that centers around rich food, it is a challenge to maintain your healthy eating habits, veg or not. In my opinion, it is okay to relax slightly and enjoy a few indulgences on this decadent holiday. However, going too far can lead to stomach aches, the “too-full feeling”, and tight waist bands. Did you know that the average American consumes 4500 calories in one sitting on Thanksgiving? This statistic is not meant to steal your holiday joy, but just to make you an informed eater. If you are looking to avoid the post-prandial food coma, here are some strategies to for the day:

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Holiday Salad with Apple, Pear and Walnuts from Oh She Glows

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Butternut Squash and Apple Soup

1. Preface your meal with a salad and/or soup. This fall themed salad from Oh She Glows has fruits, veggies, nuts and amazing dressing to kick off your meal. My Butternut Squash and Apple soup is low fat and calories, and is a tasty preface to the meal. By filling your stomach slightly with these, you are less likely to overindulge in the other holiday treats.

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Mashed Potatoes with Celery Root and Turnips from What Would Cathy Eat

2. Lighten up your mashed potatoes with less butter and cream, using skim milk and plain yogurt as substitutes, but fill up the flavor with unsuspected additions like turnips or parsnips. Leeks also add great flavor to mashed potatoes, and cauliflower can be used for added creaminess without too much flavor alteration. Check out this great mashed potato recipe featuring celery root and parsnips from What Would Cathy Eat.

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Sauteed Green Beans

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Sherry Mustard Sauce from What Would Cathy Eat

3. Don’t forget the green stuff! Fill up half or more of your plate, with salad and any other veggie that might make a Thanksgiving appearance. There are so many wonderful fall veggies, so don’t forget to make use of them in your Thanksgiving spread. These green beans are simple but delicious, and give Brussels sprouts a chance with this amazing recipe, another from What Would Cathy Eat.

4. Enjoy a bite of everything, but keep your portions small. There are so many things to sample, and of course you don’t want to leave anything out! Use the non-veggie filled side of your plate for small spoonfuls of the other, more calorie-dense sides. Getting a taste will satisfy your craving so that you won’t feel deprived by skipping a favorite.

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5. Watch for sneaky sugar! It often creeps into casseroles, sweet potatoes, cranberry sauce and dessert. Cut the sugar in your baked goods in half, and look for lower sugar recipes. My cranberry sauce is lower sugar than most store-bought versions, and the sugar can be reduced and still give sweet results!

Lastly, make sure you get some exercise, even if you are in a tryptophan-induced coma. My family always takes a long walk after holiday meals, taking the time to enjoy each other’s company and let our food digest before dessert. Even a simple half hour walk can burn 150 calories. If you are of my dad’s mindset, that means you get to enjoy an extra few spoonfuls of stuffing! ;)

Regardless of the food that you have at your Thanksgiving feast, I love some of the ideas behind this day: gathering together with people who you love, celebrating the blessings you have in your life, and taking time to be thankful. I hope you are excitedly preparing to share good food with people you love, and maybe you can find a new recipe or two from this post as you put together your shopping list! I haven’t made any of these yet, but am excited to incorporate a few of them into our holiday meal!

Questions: How do you maintain your healthy lifestyle as you approach the holidays? Do you allow yourself indulgences, or stay strictly to your normal eating habits? What is the one dish you are most looking forward to at Thanksgiving this year?

November 20, 2011 at 1:11 am 8 comments


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