Category Archives: healthy cooking

Thanksgiving!

So Thanksgiving is in just a few days!!!  Are you planning a healthy Thanksgiving?  Health(ier)?  Or not really looking to do anything different than the norm at all?

I am doing a combination of all of the above.  I do not believe in complete absence of tradition or self deprivation.  I also believe, above all, in being realistic.  I remember when doing WW some of the members would say they would just have a turkey sandwich and an apple and then be confused why they fell off that plan around 3 pm.   Before you finalize your Thanksgiving plans, think about the following to help you have the Thanksgiving you want without battling yourself the whole time.

  • Where are you celebrating?  Are you at home, a friend’s house, a family party and are you going to know the menu in advance?  Can you bring a dish or two if not at home to help you plan?
  • What food requirements are in the crowd (vegan, vegetarian, low fat, low carb, no special attention, ect) and how do these align (or not align) with your own diet?  If it is not your diet, what are you going to do for food before/after to make sure you really get enough food for the day to be satisfied?
  • If you are cooking at home, do you have a few healthier than normal options this year?  I am going to make the dressing and mac and cheese because they are my sisters’ favorites (and dressing is mine!).  But I also am eliminating most of the other sides that are not vegetable based and replacing them with different clean veggie options because we just don’t need more bread/carbs beyond those.  Making a clean cookie recipe in addition to the sweet potato pie my family wants.  So I can make a plate that has some of the favorites – but still have mostly healthy options.
  • Any good swaps possible?  I am going to delete the usual green bean casserole and making regular green beans instead.  A friend is making mashed sweet potatoes with a little butter and honey instead of candied yams.  There are many awesome ways to clean up something so you still get the essence of the item so to speak, but with a little healthy added.  Mix these in with some of the really awesome traditional foods you want and you have a nice mix for everyone in attendance.
  • What are your actual limits?  Decide in advance.  Are you eating dessert?  Are you going to have Auntie’s famous sweet potato casserole?  Are you going to stick to eating clean?  Decide right this minute what you are going to do and where you are going to give.  Write it down and read it ever so often and right before you go into the meal.  This step will take into account everything above so really think about it.
My Thanksgiving plan is pretty simple.  I will be picking up the honeybaked ham and roasted turkey breast because it’s just easier to buy that stuff and it tastes amazing.  Making cranberry sauce, dressing, mac and cheese, fresh green beans or collared greens, spinach salad with homemade dressing, roasted root vegetables, and a baked fruit side (probably pears or apples…not final on this one).  Dessert will be a sweet potato pie and pumpkin pie cookies (very clean recipe I found from @josiephelps on instagram).  A nice mix of new healthier traditions my husband and I want to start with some old family traditions.  
The swaps I am making from my usual Thanksgiving are:
      Old                                                       New
Potato Salad                                      Spinach Salad
Green Bean Casserole                        Roasted Root Vegetables
Canned Cranberry Sauce                   Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Last thing I will say about planning a health(ier) turkey day – burn some extra calories.  Agood way to help the fact that this is a food based holiday and for most of us not celebrating at home alone, it’s just what it is.  I plan on getting up and hitting INSANITY hard in the morning and getting my family up and moving with a walk or Dance Central (or both!) as the day goes on.  The moving is as much about working off some mac and cheese as much as it is to just get us away from the kitchen for a little while.  I tend to graze on Thanksgiving, even when the food is put up, because it is totally acceptable on that day to do it and nobody gives you that look you get 99% of the other days of the year of are you going to eat THAT??  Go put up holiday decorations, go shopping (stores apparently open at 8pm, whoa), dance, walk, crochet, knit, do SOMETHING that takes you just away from the food and keeps you busy when that feeling hits. I personally plan on making much smaller quantities than normal to help us not have leftovers for days, but I know for some of us that isn’t really possible because we aren’t in control of the menu.  
Okay…that’s long but I hope it helps.  Add on if you would like in the comments 🙂

Food Favorites: Eat Drink Smile

I found my new favorite food resource – Eat. Drink. Smile.  She has a meatless section and so far everything I have made has been delicious!  I have had to make some mods due to ingredients and availability…but in general love them.  I find that people that make vegan/vegetarian meals that are not vegan/vegetarian tend to make more filling meals.  Granted, it’s only been a few months of me even living in this world so maybe I should shut up 🙂  But I find her meatless section is full of stuff that I just love.  So far:

Black Bean Jambalaya – AMAZING.  Like seriously.  I didn’t use the hot sauce and instead added a few drops of liquid smoke.  Served it with bob’s red mill gluten free cornbread and it tasted way too delicious to be full of healthy ingredients.  This recipe is vegan but nobody will complain…trust me.

Eggplant, Mozzarella, and Rice Bake – Really really filling…more than I thought it would be.  I didn’t use the saffron – I balked at the cost of it (it’s like $20 for 5 pinches).  But it was fine without it.  Just remember if you use brown rice to cook it in the pan longer (about 2x as long) to make sure your rice isn’t crunchy.

Giant White Beans with Goat Cheese and Pesto – I don’t really live close to Trader Joe’s so I used regular old white beans.  To make it more like what she did, I chopped up 2 medium tomatoes and added them to the layers.  I then added more goat cheese…because who doesn’t love goat cheese???

I am thinking of the list below for the next few weeks:

Cabbage Au Gratin – comments mention adding zucchini to it…which sounds yum

Butternut Squash with Blue Cheese and Spinach

Roasted Asparagus Lasagna – because the 3 most delicious words in the English language are in the title

One of the things I have learned most about being a mostly vegetarian is that hearty meals are not so hard to find.  The main thing to do is to use hearty veggies and beans to beef up a meal.  An extra side of roasted veggies does wonders and don’t be afraid of grains in moderation 🙂  Also – fruit is the BEST dessert!