How to Not Lose It This Thanksgiving

It’s that time of year again, Thanksgiving is upon us and ready to kick off the holiday season! I love Thanksgiving for all that it is: a time to gather with friends and family, practice gratitude for the big and the small, and of course, a time to feast! Thanksgiving is the tastiest of holidays, and I embrace every part of a traditional Thanksgiving meal; and I am definitely not the only one who loves this feast so much.

24304 Betty Crocker's Guide to Your First Thanksgiving

Unfortunately, I have found that many people harbor a great deal of anxiety around this meal because of its nature of being much heavier than we are used to eating on a normal basis. A lot of people feel that the indulgences of a traditional Thanksgiving meal are detrimental to their weight and shape. Furthermore, many people see Thanksgiving as the start of a generally feast and treat heavy season, and that it might be easier to simply give up on trying to maintain healthy weight, shape, and eating practices by indulging from Thanksgiving on through New Year’s, all the while beating up on themselves mentally and emotionally the entire time about any bodily changes that may occur.

I have been someone who has over indulged on Thanksgiving, hated myself for it, then threw in the towel for the rest of the holiday season, continued to over indulge, and treated myself poorly in my mind the entire way. This is not healthy and it truly does not serve anyone. People, we celebrate with food. We should be able to enjoy that food. And there are ways to enjoy that food without undoing our “gains”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again, it’s all about moderation. If you can practice moderation in the treats and feasts that arrive with and after Thanksgiving, you can feel fulfilled in partaking in the tasty joys of the season without undoing your shape and treating yourself unkindly for it.

So, I wanted to give you a few tips for “How to Not Lose It This Thanksgiving”; how to not undo your healthy eating completely, how to not undo your shape, and how to not undo your mind by being mean to yourself for enjoying your life!

Give yourself permission to eat and enjoy –

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It’s Thanksgiving. This is a time to indulge a bit, eat more carbs, eat more butter, and the like. Premise yourself to eat these foods and allow yourself to savor and enjoy them. Give yourself permission to be present when eating the meal without worrying about the consequences, because really there are none.

Exercise –

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Try and get some type of movement and sweat in. This will allow your body to use some of the food that you do eat to replenish excess spent calories and to restore your muscles. Plan on the exercising the following day as well to give yourself a burn after you’ve indulged.

Eat Breakfast and Snacks –

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A lot of people make the mistake of starving themselves before Thanksgiving dinner. This is wrong for a couple of reasons: 1. You are going to feel even hungrier when you sit down to eat the feast, so you are probably going to eat even more and 2. Your body goes into starvation mode after not eating for more than 4 hours, so when you do eat at Thanksgiving dinner, it is going to store the excess calories as fat because it is concerned it isn’t going to be fed again for a long time. It is better to have a healthy breakfast and some snacks leading up to the feast so that your metabolism stays active and working. Try my Frittata for a protein and vegetable packed breakfast and snack on vegetables and hummus leading up to dinner.

Have a bit of everything –

Homemade Turkey Thanksgiving Dinner

Make a plate with all the Thanksgiving foods. Don’t avoid anything, don’t overload on anything. Simply serve yourself a few bites worth of each Thanksgiving dish. Then eat slowly and savor each bite for the different flavors that they offer.

Allow yourself some seconds –

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It’s common place to have seconds at Thanksgiving, right? Of course, this can quickly turn into a whole second heavy meal. Rather than filling up your plate again, simply allow yourself 2-3 more bites of 2-3 of your favorites rather than each dish. For example, my favorites are stuffing, yams, and green bean casserole, so I will allow myself 2-3 more bites worth of each of those dishes, but pass on additional turkey, cranberry sauce, potatoes, etc.

Small Slices of Pie –

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It isn’t Thanksgiving without pie; you just can’t skip it. And typically, there are 3-4 pies at a Thanksgiving feast. Rather than having a slice of each, have small slices of each so that when you put them all together, it really is just like 1 normal serving slice of pie. This way, you get all the flavors of the different pies, but just the calories of a normal slice.

Hydrate –

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Staying hydrated before and after the meal really helps. If you are hydrated before the meal, you are likely to be less hungry and therefore desire to eat less. If you hydrate after the meal, you are helping to combat your body’s reaction to the higher amount of sodium you’ve just in took which will help to minimize bloating.

Give Thanks –

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This is the point of Thanksgiving; we feast and we give thanks. Instead of focusing on the indulgence of the food, focus on why you are sitting down to eat that food and how that food is part of a celebration of recognizing our many blessings. As long as this is the main focus behind your meal, it makes it that much easier to enjoy it and then move on from it peacefully.

So those are my tips for how to not lose it this Thanksgiving! Remember to sip, savor, and enjoy! Happy Thanksgiving my friends!

Autumn Slaw

When you just can’t have another salad with your soup or sandwich but are still wanting to get your fibrous greens and veggies in, slaws are the way to go! I bring my lunch to work almost every day, and I like a side salad of some sort to accompany my main soup, sandwich, or wrap. However, there are weeks where I just cannot bring myself to prep another line up of basic salads. When I have these weeks, I turn to slaws.

There is something about slaws. They’re crispy and crunchy, they have their own feels and tastes that distinguish them enough from salads while also still providing you greens and fiber. Especially in the Fall and Winter when delicate lettuces, tomatoes, and other salad toppings are not in peak season, slaws become even more optimal by utilizing Autumn-Winter produce such as cabbage, dark leafy greens, and Brussels Sprouts.

When we turned the corner into Fall this year, I sought to create a slaw that is comprised of some of the great seasonal offerings, that is crunchy-fun to eat, and of course, tastes fantastic. And so, I came up with this Autumn Slaw. Really, this slaw is perfect to take us all the way through Fall and Winter to Spring.

Curly, earthy green kale, shredded Brussels Sprouts, rich purple cabbage, crisp and bright fennel, and tart pomegranate seeds in a zingy apple cider vinegar dressing make this dish fresh, dynamically flavorful, and hearty yet light. It is a fantastic side dish for lunch or dinner in place of salad; and it could even be a snack. I feel fantastic eating this slaw and love how you can prep at the start of the week and enjoy it all week long. I hope you enjoy this healthy and delightful recipe too!

Autumn Slaw

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 20 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3 cups kale, cut or shredded thin
  • ½ a purple cabbage, shredded
  • 1 bulb fennel, sliced thin
  • 1 cup Brussels Sprouts, shredded
  • Seeds of 1 pomegranate
  • ¼ cup apple cider vinegar
  • 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
  • 1 teaspoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • Salt and Pepper

Directions:

Add the kale, cabbage, fennel, Brussels Sprouts, and pomegranate seeds all together. Whisk together the apple cider vinegar, mustard, honey, oil, and a pinch of salt and pepper. Pour over the slaw and mix with your hands, massaging the slaw until tender.

You can also divide slaw into containers, make dressing in container, and only toss when ready to eat.

From Here

Like many of you, I am still struggling to accept the results of the United States 2016 Presidential Election. Lost, confused, devastated, and fearful are just a few emotions that I have been feeling after Donald Trump was elected president. In the past 24 hours, I have experienced moments where I yearned to rush out into the streets and join the protests, screaming at the top of my lungs that these results just cannot be, I explored the immigration websites of Canada, Australia, and New Zealand, I have wondered who of my international friend base would be willing to marry me so that I could gain citizenship in their country; and I even seriously prayed to God to start the raptures mentioned in Revelations. In other words, I am taking this just as hard as the millions of Americans who voted against this outcome.

There are abundant reasons I could write about at length as to why I believe that America has made a terrible mistake in electing Trump to be president, but you have already heard all of it; there are plenty of other publications out there highlighting the consequences that are ahead for our nation and the world. Rather, I write about where I will go from here, from this defining and upsetting moment in our nation’s history.

One of my favorite authors and inspirations, Elizabeth Gilbert, shared a thought-provoking and moving Facebook post the day after the election, all focused around the question, “Who do I want to be in this situation?” A simple question, but one with deep meaning, especially now.

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Who do I want to be in this situation? This situation that is so uniquely distressing? With all of this happening, who does Johnny La Pasta want to be in this situation? When I sat and thought about this question for myself, I realized that I had two choices: I could allow myself to be so shaken, hateful, and angry that I start to behave in ways that are not reflective of my true self OR I could choose to continue being me.

The truth of it is, that while I believe that many of the people in America made a mistake in who they elected for their president, they do not get the opportunity to elect the person that I am at my core. I cannot control who the next president is, I cannot control what he will do, but I can control my actions, my reactions, and my beliefs.

So, who do I want to be in this situation? I want to be a person who is kind, I want to be a person who is warm, I want to be a person who is accepting, I want to be a person who is loving. I want to be a person who pours passion into my writing and my teaching so that my written and spoken words impact positively. I want to be a person who leads a healthy and happy life and be a good example for others to do the same. I want to be a force for good and light in the world, no matter how harsh and dark it may feel around me. And so, I elect to be all of this rather than allowing myself to be defeated and broken.

Another of my favorite authors and life inspirations, J.K. Rowling, tweeted the following:

jk

And these words are also representative of who I want to be in this situation. I want to be a strong person. I want to be a warrior for my beliefs and values. And so, I elect to be that warrior. There may come a time where my friends in the Black, Hispanic, Asian, Muslim, and otherwise generally non-white communities, and my friends in the LGBT community, and my friends in the feminist community are compromised and threatened even worse than they are today. Who do I want to be in these possible situations? I want to be passionate, determined, and filled with conviction. I want to be a champion and a warrior for them. I will be a person who shields them, shelters them, and stands for them, because that is the person I am and will always choose to be.

So where do we go from here? We had a choice as a country, and we’ve regretfully made it. However, we still have a choice for each of our individual selves. Who do we want to be in this situation, now that so much has changed and will continue to change? We can be fearful, we can be angry, we can be hateful, we can be violent. OR, we can be kind, we can be light, we can be love. We can still be champions for what is right. We can continue to be progressive even if others wish to regress. We can still defend and cultivate good in this world; no one can take that away from us.

 

Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

One of the best parts of travel is indulging in the foods of the lands in which you are visiting. You enjoy the distinctive flavors and cooking styles, and maybe even receive a little culinary inspiration to take home with you! When I was in Scotland this past October, my mum and I stopped in at a little place that had been recommended to us by several locals: Clarinda’s Tea Room. Clarinda’s Tea Room is a truly quaint establishment with soft tea-time-like décor, serving up affordable, comforting, tasty breakfasts and lunches along with a bounty of cakes, scones, biscuits, and of course, tea.

We enjoyed lunch at Clarinda’s, opting for the half sandwich and soup special. That day, the soup du jour was a Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup, and it was delightful. Being Scotland in the autumn, the weather is quite gray, cool, and rainy, and so many seasonal dishes feature hearty root vegetables that are warming and comforting; this soup was exactly that.

Clarinda’s Tea Room – Honey Roasted Parsnip Soup

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Whilst eating the soup, I received the inspiration and came up with the concept for my own root vegetable soup. Just over a week after returning to America from the United Kingdom, I put that culinary inspiration to the test and this was the very tasty result!

My version! Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

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This Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup is both sweet and savory, soulfully warming and superbly comforting. It reminds me of that Parsnip Soup I had at Clarinda’s, and is in many ways a colorful cousin to that soup. Sweetly roasted carrots and parsnips, savory sautéed onions, pungent garlic, and woodsy thyme and rosemary give this soup great depth of flavors that contrast and complement one another. The addition of cannellini beans makes this soup even heartier with a boost of protein, but also helps the soup to become creamy when pureed without the addition of any dairy products. This soup is completely vegan, requires very few ingredients, and can be put together in a pinch!

I’m really proud of how this recipe has turned out, and am even more taken with it as it was conceived in Scotland; now, anytime I make it, I will always remember my incredible journey there. And all of us can eat this soup for its great and cozy flavors that are perfect to be enjoyed all fall and winter long!

Honey Roasted Carrot and Parsnip Soup

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Time: 50 minutes
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 large or 3 medium parsnips, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 3 large or 4 medium carrots, peeled and cut into chunks
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 1 yellow onion, diced
  • 2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 sprig fresh thyme, leaves removed from stems
  • 1 sprig fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 1 15 ounce can cannellini beans, drained and rinsed
  • 5-6 cups vegetable stock
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 2 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 400°F. Arrange the parsnips and carrots on a baking sheet. Drizzle with 1 tablespoon of the olive oil, the honey, half of the salt and pepper, and the thyme leaves. Toss until all the carrots and parsnips are coated well. Roast for 30 minutes until tender and slightly caramelized. Remove from the oven.

Over medium-high heat, heat the remaining olive oil in a large soup pot. Add the onion and season with a pinch of salt and pepper, cook until tender, about 3 minutes. Add the garlic and cook 1 minute. Add the roasted parsnips and carrots, toss all together. Add the beans, vegetable stock, rosemary, and bay leaf. Season with remaining salt and pepper. Stir. Bring to a simmer, reduce heat to medium-low, and continue to simmer, covered, for 15 minutes.

Uncover and remove the bay leaf. Puree by use of immersion hand blender or by transferring the soup to a food processor in small batches. Puree until completely smooth. Serve and enjoy!

Let It Go

I recently happened across an inspirational quote that truly spoke to me:

“You’ve done your best today, now let it go.”

A simple sentence with a deep and impactful meaning, one that I very much needed to read, and feel many others could benefit from as well.

Like many, I have an extremely busy life: full-time job (the American version, not the French or Swedish version, meaning over 40 hours per week as oppose to under 36 – get on board USA), a second job (teaching yoga), this blog (the writing and the social media management that comes with it), a household to run, an elderly dog to care for, and dedications to my family, friends, and interests. My plate is very full, sometimes to the point where I doubt my ability to manage all of it. In recent months, I have found myself struggling to keep up with all of my commitments and responsibilities, often feeling overwhelmed and drained.

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7 Johnny La Pasta Recipes To Make This Fall

Fall is here in all its glory! I, like so many others, adore this cozy and colorful season (even if Southern California still gets random Summer heatwaves).There is something special about this time of the year, you can just feel it in the air, and what’s more, you can taste it in the food! Fall centric food is definitely my favorite; the warming flavors and seasonal ingredients, it’s all so good!

I have several recipes of mine that are perfect for this time of year; a few of them even embody Autumn themselves! And as we move ever into October, I thought it would be nice to consolidate all those recipes in one place for you to peruse, study, and cook! So, here are 7 Johnny La Pasta Recipes you should make this Fall!

(1) Stuffed Acorn Squash

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My Stuffed Acorn Squash is the foodie personification of Autumn! Sweet and warming acorn squash contrasted and complimented by a stuffing of spicy Italian sausage, crisp celery and onions, tart green apples, crunchy bread crumbs, and earthy sage. All topped with melted Havarti Cheese. This is my favorite Fall recipe.

(2) Vegan Cauliflower, Mushroom, and Red Bean Chili

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A Vegan’s delight! This Chili is so hearty and rich while being completely plant-based! One of my most popular recipes!

(3) Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza

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My Butternut, Brussels, and Bacon Pizza  is THE Pizza of Fall! Roasted Butternut Squash and Brussels Sprouts, Crisped Bacon Pieces, Caramelized Onions, and Balsamic Sauce make this one incredible gourmet, artisan pizza!

(4) Garlic Rosemary Chicken

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Garlic Rosemary Chicken – the simplest and most flavorful roast chicken recipe ever! My go to especially in Fall and Winter! Healthy and hearty all at once!

(5) Johnny’s Tomato Soup

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A hearty and healthy Tomato Soup that feeds both the body and the soul. This soup is made hearty in flavor by bold rosemary and bay leaf, and is made creamy by pureed cannellini beans that also add a punch of protein. Mindless to prepare, easy on the wallet, and tasty to the tongue!

(6) Easy Bolognese

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Nothing is more comforting than a bowl of pasta with Bolognese sauce; and no recipe is easier than this!

(7) Vegan Pumpkin Nice Cream

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My Vegan Pumpkin Nice Cream is the perfect healthy Fall dessert! Just a few ingredients for this nutritious treat!

Vegan Pumpkin Nice Cream

Fall is here! One of the many reasons that I love Fall, like so many of you, is the incorporation of sweet and warming pumpkin into all manner of dishes (though, I really do feel like pumpkin spice popcorn and salmon have taken the whole pumpkin craze too far). Anyway, I am a big pumpkin fan and get very excited to eat more of it this time of year.

YAY PUMPKIN! #basicanddontcare

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Southern California, however, doesn’t always get the memo that it is Fall and we want to cozy up against crisp weather. No, October here by the beach typically brings random heat waves that trump the temperatures that Summer brought. It’s annoying. But I have learned to adapt to it by getting my pumpkin dessert fix through cooling, but seasonally tasting Pumpkin Ice Cream! And anyway, who doesn’t love ice cream any time of year regardless of the outside temperature?

You’ll recall in the Summer that I posted a recipe for my Vegan Chocolate Peanut Butter Banana Nice Cream; a recipe that utilizes frozen bananas, cocoa, and peanut butter to make a cool and sweet dessert that is totally guilt free. Well, Oops! I did it again because I’ve now made a Vegan Nice Cream that highlights the flavor of the season: PUMPKIN!

Oops! I made another Vegan Nice Cream recipe!

oops

This delicious dessert utilizes the base of frozen bananas with unsweetened pumpkin puree, good and smoky maple syrup, and pumpkin spices to create a dessert that is cooling and sweet with the flavors reminiscent of pumpkin pie and lots of nutritious benefits. This recipe is simple and inexpensive, and also healthful and seasonally comforting. I hope you enjoy my Vegan Pumpkin Nice Cream!

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Vegan Pumpkin Nice Cream

  • Servings: 3-4
  • Time: 5 hours
  • Difficulty: Easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 6 bananas, cut into chunks and frozen
  • 12 oz. organic pumpkin puree, unsweetened (about ¾ of a 15 oz. can)
  • 3 tablespoons maple syrup
  • 1 ½ tablespoons pumpkin pie spice
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon

Directions:

Pulse the frozen banana pieces in a food processor until blended and resembling vanilla ice cream. This can take some time and you may need to scrape down the sides of the bowl, so be patient.

Add the pumpkin puree, maple, and spices. Puree until smooth. Pour into a freezer safe bowl and freeze until solid.

Defrost and serve into bowls, topping with additional pumpkin pie spice and nuts as desired. Enjoy!

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