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12:04 pm

Your Guide to a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Did you know that a typical American Thanksgiving meal is an average of 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat?!!! Whaaaaatt????
That's way too much for your body to handle in one sitting or even one day for that matter. Don't ruin your healthy eating or get off track this year. Try some of these quick, healthy, yet super delicious side dishes. Some of these are vegan and some are raw to suit all dietary needs in your family. They're all full of fiber, anti-oxidants and vitamins to nourish every cell in your body.
Start by choosing a pastured turkey from a local farm. Those close to me in Northern VA are blessed to have plenty of options here. I love Whiffletree Farm's birds and this is my fifth year buying a pastured turkey (that means they're raised outdoors on green pasture and eat bugs and grass - their natural diet). These turkeys are juicier, leaner and even cook faster than a conventional, store-bought turkey. Yes, they do cost more, but it's totally worth it  - YOU are worth it.
Make sure you pick off all the meat and save those bones for making stock later on too! (For those not local, visit www.eatwild.com to find a farm near you.)

One Tip: Be ready for faster cook times. Pasture-raised turkeys will cook faster than factory-farmed birds. Figure on 12-15 minutes per pound, uncovered, at 325 degrees as you plan your dinner. That said, oven temperatures and individual birds will always vary. Use an internal meat thermometer to know for sure when the bird is cooked. They’re done when the breast reaches 165° F.

I usually stuff the body with an onion cut in half, a few pieces of celery and sometimes a lemon. Rub olive oil and salt & pepper on the outside. 

Healthy Side Dishes
These are quick and healthy side dishes your whole family will love! Start with fresh, whole ingredients and locally grown is always best.


Quinoa Squash Un-Stuffing

quinoa squash unstuffing
Ingredients:

1 cup quinoa, rinsed well
1 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tbsp light olive oil or ghee
1/3 cup chopped shallots
2 cloves garlic, chopped
1 1/4 cups (6 oz)  diced butternut squash, 1/2-inch dice
1/2 cup fresh cranberries
2 tbsp pure maple syrup (or honey)
1 cup baby spinach or kale
3 sage leaves, chopped (or 1/4 tsp dried)
2 tbsp chopped pecans or walnuts
1/4 tsp crushed black pepper
Directions:

1.     Place 2 cups of water and 1 cup of quinoa in a medium saucepan on high heat. Bring to a boil. Once boiling, turn down to low and simmer with a lid on for 15 minutes. Fluff with a fork when done. Set aside.

2.     Heat a large skillet over medium-high heat and add olive oil or ghee.  Add shallots and garlic and sauté over medium-low heat for 4-5 minutes, or until golden. Add butternut squash, cranberries, maple syrup and 1 tablespoon water and cover; cook on low for 10 minutes.

3.     Remove lid and add kale or spinach, salt, sage, and pepper, cover and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Mix in pecans or walnuts.

4.     Add this mixture to the cooked quinoa and stir to combine.

 I did a demo of this recipe on WUSA-TV, Great Day Washington. Watch it here.

me on WUSA
Lemony Brussels Sprout Salad

raw Brussels sprouts
1 lb Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp mayo
1 Lemon, zested
2-3 Tbsp of fresh lemon juice
Salt & Pepper
1/4 cup olive oil
1 clove garlic, minced
Chopped pecans, dried cranberries (optional)

Trim ends of 1 lb. of raw Brussels sprouts. Cut in half lengthwise. Place in a food processor and shred. Combine 2 T mayo, grated zest of 1 lemon, 1 clove garlic, minced, 1/2 tsp salt and pepper, ¼ cup olive oil and 3 Tbsp lemon juice. Whisk together dressing and pour over raw sprouts.  Can be made up to 4-5 hours in advance. Keep in fridge. You can also add chopped pecans or walnuts or dried cranberries.
This is really good - probably my favorite creation this year! So fresh and lemony!

Massaged Kale Salad

kale salad
Serves 6 as a side

1 head organic kale, de-stemmed (any type will do)
2 Tbsp lemon juice
2 Tbsp olive oil
1/4 tsp sea salt
1 handful sunflower sprouts
1/2 cup coarsely chopped walnuts (omit for Nut-Free option)
2 Tbsp olives
Options: Feta Cheese, Dried Cranberries

Instructions:

1. Slice kale leaves into thin strips, transfer to a large mixing bowl, drizzle with the

lemon juice and olive oil, and sprinkle on the salt. Gently massage them for 3 to 5

minutes, until they start softening and the color gets dark and beautiful. Set aside.

2. Add in the sprouts, walnuts, and olives, and toss with more olive oil and lemon juice.


Roasted Sweet Potatoes and Red Onions

sweet potato thanksgiving
(Serves 4-6 servings)

Ingredients:
2 large orange-fleshed sweet potatoes, cut in 1 inch cubes
2 small red onions, cut into pieces just larger than 1 inch
2 T olive oil (or slightly more, enough to coat all the veggies with oil)
½ tsp sea salt and black pepper
Zest of 1 orange
Juice of 1 orange
Dash of cinnamon, ground ginger

Instructions:
Preheat oven to 450° F.  

Peel sweet potatoes and cut into cubes about 1 inch square.  Peel red onions and cut into pieces slightly over 1 inch square.  Put sweet potatoes and onions into a bowl and toss with 2 tablespoons olive oil (or slightly more if you need it to get all the veggies coated with olive oil.)  Add orange zest and juice to coat the sweet potatoes. Sprinkle spices over the veggie mixture and toss until all the vegetables are coated with the seasonings.


Spread the vegetables out on the baking sheet (use two baking sheets if they're even slightly crowded.)  Roast about 20 minutes, then flip them over with a turner.  


Roast 10-20 minutes more, or until the sweet potatoes and onions are both nicely browned and sweet potatoes are soft.  (They don't get very crisp, but there should be some browning on the edges.)  Total roasting time will be 40-50 minutes, depending on the size of the sweet potatoes, your pan, and the oven.

Happy, Healthy Eating!
Cindy
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6:17 pm

How to Avoid Holiday Weight Gain

We have now entered the “danger zone” between Halloween and New Year’s Eve. The time in which we indulge, we sloth, we get stressed, we forget about ourselves and put our health on the back burner until January 1 and make silly resolutions that we never keep. Sound familiar? I was on this very same cycle for years when the holidays would roll around. I would sneak extra pieces of Halloween candy when no one was looking, put heaping portions of turkey and 12 sides on my plate and then shovel holiday cookies into my mouth like it was my job! Then, I’d slink on the scale come January 2 and go into shock that I had gained anywhere from 5-10 pounds over the holidays! Well, thankfully that nasty cycle ended six years ago when I started working with a Health Coach, enrolled in nutrition school and made some serious changes to my diet, my lifestyle and my outlook on life.  Now, 50 pounds lighter and much healthier to boot, I find myself finding new ways to spend the holidays with new recipes, new traditions and a brand new approach to life.  It is possible to avoid the holiday weight gain, you just have to set a few routines in motion and stick to them!

Focus on Managing Stress first. You can say no to those extras that pop up around the holidays. There’s no reason you have to do it all. Delegate.  Set aside 10 minutes a day just for you and your favorite activity.  Read a juicy gossip mag or get a pedicure or shop online for a pretty new dress or listen to your favorite music. Whatever makes you happy needs to be on your agenda. Try this breathing technique when you get stressed: Inhale for 4 counts, hold for 7 counts and exhale for 8 counts. Do this 3 times. Deep belly breaths get oxygen into all the cells of your body and promote relaxation. Stress causes cortisol levels to rise and this cuts through your body like razor blades if it happens repeatedly. Caffeine can exacerbate the problem as well. It spikes cortisol, dehydrates you and causes sleep problems. Try cutting back on your morning java to just one cup a day, but do it slowly. Removing caffeine too fast can cause headaches.

Next up – nix the sugar! Take one day out of the week and write down everything that you eat and drink. Then, tally up the grams of sugar you consume. My Fitness Pal is a free app that can tell you how much sugar is in a particular food or beverage. If you go over 25 grams a day, you’re adding stress, inflammation, the potential for weight gain and even disease down the road. Sugar demotes our health in so many ways and if you can cut back now, your health will greatly improve. Start by tossing the leftover Halloween candy – just throw it away. Don’t take it to work and add it to the bowl on the counter in the break room. Next, review your holiday menus. Where can you cut back? Do you usually have 2-3 pies or a pie and a cake or couple dozen cookies? Cut down to one and try serving sautéed apples or pears as a dessert.

Now, get moving! There’s no reason to wait until January to start an exercise program or weight loss journey. I have clients who have lost weight over the holidays and have done so myself too! It’s getting cold outside, so find a fun video or exercise you like doing. I bought a second-hand stationary bike from a neighbor and that’s how a get my cardio in. I also have a mini-rebounder in my home gym which is fun to jog on. But my personal favorite is using kettlebells to work out with. Find your favorite and get moving!
Lastly, after you have focused on self-care for you, work on giving for others. The act of giving and random acts of kindness promotes feelings of well-being and elation. When you're down, helping others and giving your time to them actually makes you feel better (no anti-depressant needed!).
The holidays can be a really tough time for some, especially those who have lost loved ones. Open your heart and home to someone and give the gift of kindness.
Peace and love,
Cindy