Smarter strategies for Thanksgiving – new traditions

Fennel-Celery-Salad-One-Hungry-MamaMy mom was an awful cook. That said, Germany to Alabama in her early 20’s transformed her quickly and she mastered mashed potatoes, green bean casserole, and Southern cornbread dressing. Painstakingly and proudly I sliced the celery for the dressing and, of course, I was put in charge of chopping the onions, too. Funny how moms delegate those tear-jerking tasks. Elbow deep smushing cornbread, onions, celery, eggs and veggie broth is still a heart-felt comforting place to be.

We’d gorge on roasted turkey, miles of mashed potatoes, sweet potato casserole with those little melty marshmallows, and the revered green bean casserole piled high with Durkee fried onions. Pass on the giblet gravy, thank you very much. Then stuff down pumpkin AND pecan pie slices. Then, I can’t remember a thing. Too intoxicated with fat and carbs.

Free from the parental units, I took up running. Glory be, the Turkey Trot 5K and the Jingle Bell Run that not only opened my body in breathless anticipation of the mountains of yum those holidays pour in, but instilled a bit of mindfulness. If I’m going to run this hard, I thought, I’m NOT going to refute it with an overdose of gluttony.

I dare you and your families to create new non-food traditions this holiday season – especially activities that get your heart pumping and brains cleared of Turkey Fog. A long walk or hike early in the morn, bike riding, jogging or if your’e competitive like me, a planned 5K or 10K. My gym opens early on holidays and offers vinyasa yoga, gravy-burning spin class, and Zumba, then a steam, shower and joy for the day. Tag football in the afternoon, frisbee, walking the dog, and ok, if you must, Wii.

Couple of ideas for you here to make this happen:

  • Eat normally. Don’t skip meals on the holiday in anticipation of the 3,500+ calories in that holiday meal. You’ll eat less. Yes. You. Will.
  • Exercise. Get breathless. Feel the sting of cold air on your cheeks.
  • Slice, chop, prepare some foods the day before (like the cornbread for the dressing). Chop all onions, celery, carrots for all recipes at one time. Zip-loc the goods until ready to use.
  • Set your table on the eve of the day. No stress then about finding the right napkins and oh, dang, the silver needs polishing. And it’s oh, so pretty.
  • Start today on your menu and choose heart-healthy options. Modify your traditional favorites by reducing saturated fat and sugar. Or ditch them altogether in favor of lighter fare.
  • Finally, right after the meal, package all leftovers so each person attending can take at least one meal home for the next day. Boom. Done.
Please send me your ideas to share with others.
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