Tag Archives: potatoes

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 –

cheers

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 –

frittata

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 –

seonds

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 –

pie

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!

Shepherd’s Pie

Saint Patrick’s Day is tomorrow! Besides good beer (Guinness anyone????), comforting Irish food is one of the best parts of this previously-religious and now fully-universal cultural holiday! Fish n’ Chips, Corned Beef and Cabbage, and most importantly: Shepherd’s Pie!

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Years ago, I used to author the now extinct blog “Confessions of Two College Foodies” with my dear friend Nicole. At that time, we developed a Shepherd’s Pie recipe that was out of this world, Celtic-god worthy divine. It has now become a St. Patrick’s Day staple among my friends and I.

While Confessions of Two College Foodies no longer exists, I used to guest write for the Los Alamitos-Seal Beach Patch and we posted the Shepherd’s Pie Recipe on their blog…which is still live! Meaning: you can get the recipe by clicking here!  And because I’m really nice, I took the recipe and reposted below so you can also get it here!

You have today and tomorrow to get the ingredients and make this for your St. Patty’s Day dinner! And it will probably last you well into the weekend. Enjoy it my friends!

Shepherd's Pie

  • Servings: 8-10
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • For the Potatoes and Cheese layers:
  • 8 medium Yukon Gold Potatoes
  • ¼ cup milk
  • ¾ stick of butter
  • 1 tablespoon crushed garlic
  • Salt and pepper
  • 1 ½ cups grated aged white cheddar
  • 1 ½ cups grated smoked cheddar
  • For the Meat and Vegetable layer:
  • 1 large onion, chopped
  • 4 carrots, chopped
  • 5-6 ounces white mushrooms, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 1 ½ pounds ground beef
  • ¾ of a bottle Guinness beer (the ¼ cup remaining, is left for you 🙂
  • ¼ cup tomato paste
  • 1 lb bag frozen peas

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 375°F.

For the Potatoes: Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Quarter the potatoes and add to the pot. Cook until fork tender, about 20-25 minutes. Drain and return potatoes to the pot. Using an electric hand mixer or potato masher, begin creaming the potatoes. Add the milk and butter and combine together. Combine the grated cheeses in a bowl until well mixed. As you are blending, add 1 cup of the cheese. Keep blending until the potatoes are smooth and creamy. Salt and Pepper to taste. Set aside.

For the Meat: Heat 3 tablespoons of butter over medium-high heat. Add the onions, carrots, mushrooms, and garlic. Season with ½ teaspoon of each salt and pepper. Stirring often, cook until the carrots are tender, and the onions translucent about 5 minutes. Add the beef. Using a wooden spoon, break up the meat into small chunks, cook until browned, about 5 minutes. Pour in the Guinness and allow to evaporate into out, about 3 minutes. Stir in the tomato paste. Stir in the frozen peas and cook until warmed through, about 3 minutes. Season with additional pepper. Remove from the heat.

To assemble: Spray a 9×13 inch-baking dish with non-stick cooking spray, or you bake in individual gratins. Spread the meat and vegetable layer in an even layer at the bottom. Spread the potatoes in an even, flat layer over the top of the meat. Cover the potatoes with the remaining cheese mixture. Bake in the oven for 25-30 minutes, until the cheese begins to bubble and turn golden. Remove and allow to rest for 10 minutes. Cut into squares and serve.

A Simplified Thanksgiving

Ciao all! Johnny here with a few different recipes for that delicious holiday that is coming up sooner than we can imagine: Thanksgiving! Now, the post that follows is from four years ago when I was blogging on Confessions of Two College Foodies. PLEASE FORGIVE THE PHOTOS! They are older and I didn’t know what I was doing back then, but hopefully the instructions serve you well! 

Thanksgiving is an affair that calls for a lot of cooking, which means a lot of work and preparation. And I love it, as long as I am feeding a large crowd. However, if you’re only feeding four or fewer people, do you really want to roast a whole turkey with the stuffing and all the sides? Probably not. Also, a lot of Thanksgiving food is oven-based, well, what if you don’t have a double oven?

With this meal, you don’t need one. The traditional Thanksgiving menu can be a little too intensive and expensive for someone who is having a more intimate and quiet Thanksgiving. So, if this is you, you are probably wondering about some alternative dishes you could make that is more practical for a smaller group, but still packed with all those marvelous Thanksgiving flavors. Well, look no further. I have developed a simplified Thanksgiving feast that you and your friends will love!

We start with the star of the show: the turkey! On Thanksgiving, we all love to see a huge, stuffed bird come out of the oven all browned and crispy, it really is a wonderful picture in American households. However, a whole turkey is A LOT of work; sometimes too much work.

If you’re entertaining a small group, why not roast smaller turkey pieces with a delicious herb-garlic rub and serve each person a little dark and a little white meat? Roasting turkey pieces takes way less time in the oven than a whole turkey and takes almost seconds to prepare. I roast turkey thighs and a half turkey breast with a rub of garlic, woodsy herbs, lemon, orange, and good olive oil. That’s it! You still get a delicious turkey entrée, but for a lot less effort and money. I present my Garlic-Herb Roast Turkey Dinner.

Garlic-Herb Roast Turkey Dinner

  • Servings: 4-6
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 2 turkey thighs, 1 ½ turkey breast, bone in with skin on
  • 2 tablespoons fresh sage, chopped
  • 2 tablespoons fresh thyme, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
  • 3 tablespoons crushed garlic
  • 2 teaspoon lemon zest
  • 1 teaspoon orange zest
  • 2 tablespoons of both lemon and orange juice
  • 2 teaspoons of salt
  • 2 teaspoons of pepper
  • 3 tablespoons extra virgin olive oil
  • 1 cup white wine or chicken stock

Preheat the oven to 325°F.

Pat the turkey pieces dry and place skin side up in a roasting pan. In a small bowl, combine all the ingredients except for the wine or stock. Mix well. Rub all over the turkey pieces, making sure to get underneath the skin. Sprinkle with extra pepper if desired. Pour in the wine or chicken stock.

Place in the oven and roast for 2 hours until the skin is golden and crispy. Remove from the oven and place the turkey pieces on the cutting board or serving dish, cover tightly with foil and allow to rest for 15 minutes.

Slice into small pieces and serve both light and dark meat to each person.

If desired, you can create a gravy using the drippings from the turkey and follow the directions on a good store bought turkey gravy. Or you could melt down ½ cup of orange marmalade and ½ cup of cranberry sauce and glaze the turkey slices. Serve and enjoy!

Great Turkey - minimal cost and effort.

Great Turkey – minimal cost and effort.

Now, Thanksgiving is not complete without some kind of starch vegetable. I find that every family is different. Some families always serve mashed potatoes at Thanksgiving dinner. Some, like my family, serve a yam casserole with the marshmallows on top. Others do sweet potato casseroles. For this meal, I decided to choose a happy medium and do Sweet Potato Mash -similar to mash potatoes in texture and style, but sweet like yams.

Sweet Potato Mash should please everyone. You can control the amount you want to make for your dinner by how many potatoes you use – I figure about 1 potato per person. Sweet potatoes, in my opinion, are easier  mash than regular potatoes, and they’re far easier than a yam or sweet potato casserole. Make first and then warm while the turkey cooks. This Sweet Potato Mash brings a Thanksgiving feel to any plate.

Sweet Potato Mash

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 3-4 sweet potatoes
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon pepper
  • 2 tablespoons brown sugar
  • ¼ chopped walnuts

Directions:

Preheat the oven to 425 ̊F. Place the sweet potatoes on a baking sheet. Stab all over with a fork to let steam in the potatoes escape during cooking. Roast for 45 or so minutes until fork tender. Remove and allow to cool slightly.

Remove the skins and place the sweet potatoes in a food processor. Add the salt, pepper,  and sugar. Puree until smooth.  Stir in the nuts. Warm in the oven while the turkey cooks!

Of course, you’ve got to have something green on your Thanksgiving plate, and the traditional thing is of course, green beans. Everyone has the green bean casserole with those little French onions on top, but you might not want to prep it and make the amount that a casserole tends to make. So, here is a simple, and tasty green bean dish that can work on any Thanksgiving menu. My mom actually came up with this one, and I love it. It’s her Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots. Just a few minutes on the stove, and you’ve got the green beans ready to go.

Green Beans with Bacon and Shallots

  • Servings: 4
  • Difficulty: easy
  • Print

Ingredients:

  • 1 16 oz. bag of trimmed green beans
  • 4 thick cut bacon slices, cut into ½ inch pieces
  • 2 shallots, minced
  • 1 teaspoon of salt
  • 1 teaspoon of pepper

Bring about 2 cups of water to a boil. Add the green beans and cook for about 3 minutes. Drain and then shock in and ice water bath. Set aside.

Sautee the bacon pieces until nearly crispy and golden, about 3 minutes. Add the shallots and cook until tender, another 2 minutes. Add the green beans in. Sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss and cook another 3-4 minutes. Serve and enjoy.

Now that's some greens anyone would eat!

Now that’s some greens anyone would eat!

Now, we have reached a point where we are done cooking. You made 3 of the quintessential Thanksgiving foods, you’ve done more than enough. However, there are still more crucial Thanksgiving items that you need, so what do you do? You either have someone else bring them, or you buy them! Here are a few tips on some store bought goodies.

Everyone loves cranberry sauce on Thanksgiving. And like all Thanksgiving fanatics, I like to make it from scratch, but sometimes it is just too much of a hassle. So, buy it from the store! There are a lot of wonderful brands that sell delicious cranberry sauce, and you really can’t tell the difference between what is homemade and what is not. My favorite store bought cranberry sauce comes from Trader Joe’s. They sell their cranberry sauce in tubs rather than cans and it’s wonderful! You can buy the traditional cranberry sauce, or mix it up and buy orange-cranberry sauce, or raspberry-cranberry sauce. It’s all up to you!

Pies are also huge on Thanksgiving. And here’s my thing, if I’m cooking the main meal, someone else should at least be able to pick up a pie or 2. However, if you’re set on providing everything, I recommend that you go to your local bakery restaurant and pick up some pumpkin, apple, or pecan pie, or a combination of two or all three! You might want to place an order in advance though just to make sure they don’t run out without reserving one for you, you Thanksgiving all-star!

A full plate, but not so much of the effort.

A full plate, but not so much of the effort.

I hope you found this post helpful if you are looking for an alternative and simplified Thanksgiving menu. Remember, you can edit the classics and still keep that holiday flavor that we all live for! Have a wonderful holiday my friends, Boun Appetito and Happy Thanksgiving!!!