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The Easiest Thanksgiving You’ll Ever Make!

I can’t be the only one who just realized Thanksgiving is next week.

I also just realized how small my guest list will be this year and that none of us needs to cook as much as we think we do.

Thanksgiving Table

As I recently told you, last year we had about 12 people, but we made so many dishes we had more leftovers than we could use – and wasting food is just wrong. If you serve 8 dishes, no one can have more than a couple of bites of each. At the end of the meal it looked like the platters had barely been touched! I felt ridiculous for having cooked for two days!

Next week is filled with parent teacher conferences and other regular obligations, such as my usual hours of training for the half marathon. I thought about what it might look like to make a big meal – just because we’re supposed to make enough for an army and to have leftovers for a week (which means we keep stuffing ourselves with rich foods that make us feel terrible).

What it might look like

My kids will be off school. Instead of spending time together playing outside or doing art projects, the grown ups will be in the kitchen telling them to stay out of their way. The kids will say they want to watch TV but then quickly get bored and try to “help” in the kitchen. Tension will grow and everyone will be miserable while they’re supposed to be creating a joyous time. Is time off work and school for stuffing ourselves silly or having fun together? The two are not one and the same.

I often start out with intentions to keep it simple and then get carried away anyway. Not this time!

Here are my 3 rules to keep it simple this year

1. Focus on whole foods, not candied versions of them.

2. Recipes optional.

3. No more than two hours prep!

Sound crazy? It’s possible.

I have someone else in charge of the turkey – and I’m eating and providing a vegetarian menu anyway – so let’s put that aside for now. If you choose to cook a turkey, live and be well but I certainly can’t help you and have no idea how long it takes! :) -

Menu

(Pick and choose from the choices below. Recipes at bottom of post. They can also be found The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook)

 

“Help, I have to make dinner?!? Shepherd’s Pie”

Lentils w/Onion & Bay Leaf, Organic, BPA free lined can+       Farmer's Market Organic Canned Butternut Squash Puree, 15 Ounce (Pack of 12)    or   Product Details

= the easiest main dish ever!

 

Corn on the cob

Corn

 

Maple Squash Pudding

(or simply bake sweet potatoes – marshmallows on top are optional – and call it a day)

maple squash kugel

 

Green Beans

Simply roast in some coconut or grapeseed oil. Throw in some toasted, sliced almonds if you must make it a bit fancier.

Green Beans

Additional dishes, if you’re feeling up to it

Brussels Sprouts with fresh cranberries and orange zest

(or simply roast Brussels Sprouts in coconut oil and sprinkle with salt and pepper)

Brussels sprouts

 

Rainbow carrots

(Cooked from frozen bag or make rainbow carrot fries, using the recipe in The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook.)

2015-08-12 02.52.50

Cranberry Sauce

Easiest side dish ever! See recipe below.

Dessert

A Diana Stobo special recipe (my recollection of it): Stuff a pecan into a medjool date. Sprinkle on some cinnamon if you’d like and bake at 350 until warm.

Or buy a pie!

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Some people might feel like they need to make a big holiday meal where they cook for two days. That’s great. I do that so many times a year I couldn’t even count (one of the perils/joys of being an observant Jew!). When it comes to Thanksgiving, I just want to relax. If we don’t have enough leftovers for Shabbat, I’ll make more of the simple choices.

If you noticed stuffing is missing, you’re right. I’m trying to take out all the guilt-inducing dishes. You’ll be so full from all the fresh, healthy veggies, you won’t even notice it’s missing. You can also sit back and enjoy not feeling badly about yourself or like you can’t stop shoveling addictive food into your mouth. Enjoy that!

Looking for more easy, healthy recipes?

I gotcha covered with the Healthy Family, Healthy You Mama’s Guide and The Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook!

Recipes

“Help, I have to make dinner?!?”
Shepherd’s Pie
Serves 6
2 15-ounce cans Eden Organic lentils, flavored with onion and
bay leaf 1 15-ounce can organic butternut squash puree (found with
the pumpkin at health food stores and in the natural foods
section of some regular grocery stores)
⅓ cup unsweetened apple sauce
1 cup whole wheat or gluten-free Panko type bread crumbs
Heat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a glass pie plate with non-stick
spray.
Rinse and drain each can of lentils and place bottom of a pie plate.
Spread the butternut squash puree in an even layer over the lentils.
Mix together unsweetened apple sauce and Panko bread crumbs
and then spread evenly over the top of butternut squash puree.
Bake uncovered at 350 degrees until lightly browned on top,
approximately, 30 minutes. Let cool for at least 10 minutes before
serving and be careful it is not too hot before you take a bite!
Tasha’s Tip: This dish can be mixed up in the morning and stored
in the fridge covered with plastic wrap. When you return home
from school/work, all you need to do is heat the oven, remove the
plastic wrap and bake as directed.
If you are really feeling adventurous and have an extra few minutes,
you can make individual pies for each member of the family in
small ramekins. That can be fun for kids. In addition, ramekins or
the Healthy Family, Healthy You Cookbook
soufflé dishes make an especially nice presentation.
If you are having guests, this is a very easy recipe to double for a
larger group.

 

Maple Squash Pudding
Serves 8
When I first tasted the delicious, and later ubiquitous, butternut
squash kugel, I thought I was eating something healthy. However,
there is a reason it tasted like cake: It was cake.
My Shabbat (Sabbath) host readily admitted that the kugel was
full of flour, sugar and oil. That was many years ago. Since then,
some version of squash kugel (made from sweet potatoes,
butternut squash or pumpkin), has graced most Shabbat tables
at which I have had the pleasure of eating, including my own. I
never could bring myself to make the classic recipe.
Instead, for years I used a www.Hungry-Girl.com recipe that called
for egg beaters and artificial sweetener. As I no longer eat animal
products or artificial sweeteners, I had to come up with my own
healthy alternative.
I don’t think you will find an easier recipe that can be made so
quickly and for a crowd. For my tester, this has become a dish she
makes regularly for Shabbat, Passover and Thanksgiving.
Tip: If you want to play with the servings, figure that you will use 1
small sweet potato per person or 1 large sweet potato for every two
people. In addition, you will want 1 Tablespoon of maple syrup per
large sweet potato.
4 large sweet potatoes, cooked until completely soft
¼ cup maple syrup
½ to 1 cup dried cherries or cranberries
½ to 1 cup pecans
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Peel the well-cooked sweet potatoes. If they were cooked earlier,
re-heat them for 2 minutes in the microwave in a glass or ceramic
dish.
Using a food processor, whip the sweet potatoes and the maple
syrup until light and fluffy. You can also use an immersion blender
for this step.
Place the mixture into individual ceramic crocks or 1 large serving
dish and smooth out the top. Decorate with dried cherries and
pecans.
Place in the oven for 25-30 minutes. Serve warm.

 

Brussels Sprouts with fresh cranberries and orange zest
Serves 10-12
Approximately 2 lbs Brussels sprouts
4 Tablespoons coconut oil, melted
1 cup fresh cranberries
Zest of 1 orange
¼ cup maple syrup
Salt and pepper
Optional: Vegan Parmesan
Heat oven to 400 degrees.
Wash Brussels sprouts (you may be able to buy them already
washed and trimmed). Trim ends off sprouts and remove any outer
yellow leaves. Cut in half. Dry if still wet from washing.
Toss Brussels sprouts with coconut oil and cranberries in a bowl
and place in an 11 x 13 baking pan with low sides. Roast for about
30 minutes total, following these directions: After 15 minutes, turn
over and at 25 minutes add the orange zest. At 30 minutes, Brussels
sprouts should be browned, crisp and done.
Toss with maple syrup and add salt and pepper to taste. Sprinkle
vegan Parmesan on top if using. Serve warm.
Tasha’s Tip: You can only buy fresh cranberries in the fall. I buy a
bunch when they are on sale, and put them in the freezer to have
all year round. If you use frozen cranberries, allow them to thaw on
the counter for 20 minutes or so before using in this recipe.

Cranberry Sauce
Serves 6-8
2 cans whole cranberrries
1 can pineapple tidbits in pineapple juice, drained
cinnamon
1 large jar of mandarin oranges, drained

Mix cranberries with pineapple and 1 or 2 shakes of cinnamon.
Pour into beautiful serving dish, such as a crystal bowl. Cover with mandarin oranges. Optional: Dollop with non-dairy whip for serving!

 

 

 

Are you like most health-minded people that make this mistake?

Healthy fuel for exercise

Step away from the sports drink!

As many of you know, I’m deep into my training for the Miami Marathon this coming January 24. I’m walking a half marathon to benefit Friendship Circle of Maryland, an organization that promotes friendship and inclusion for children with special needs. As I analyze what I eat and drink pre and post workouts, I know one thing: I’m not going to go the route of Powerade and Gatorade.

I’m going to give you a number of healthy exercise fuel tips over the next few months, leading up to the race. Today, we’re talking liquids and electrolyte hydration. When we truly physically exert ourselves we lose electrolytes our bodies need to function, such as salt and potassium. At extremes, when you’re doing something like running a marathon (not jogging 3 miles), it can be dangerous not to replace them.

Why Sports Drinks are not good for you

Contrary to popular advertisements, humans were not designed to require high fructose corn syrup and food coloring – with a side of electrolytes – to re-hydrate after physical activity. Some kids – and adults – are consuming these drinks on an almost daily basis. Yuck! Talk about negating all the good you’ve done through your physical activity… What if someone asked you to drink gasoline for your health? That’s what food coloring is made from.

Petroleum.

As many of you know, I’ve been on a tear to eliminate food coloring from my family’s diet. I am 100% sure that my son needed an exorcism the last time he had too much food coloring. I’m going for almost zero digestion on the home front because, unfortunately, I cannot control what other people give my children. You would think in an era of life-threatening food allergies, people would stop giving other people’s children food without permission. Somehow, candy (without nuts) is considered a no-permission needed food and is still being used as a reward in and out of school. But I digress….

So that’s food coloring. On to high fructose corn syrup. Whether or not you believe that this substance is worse than sugar or responsible for the increase in obesity in the United States, I think it’s common sense to limit our consumption.

Now that you know traditional sports drinks are a bad idea, what are some good alternatives?

Alternatives to Sports Drinks

Coconut water: Naturally contains electrolytes, and slightly sweet without added sugar or corn syrup

coconut

Tart Cherry Juice: Good for inflammation and muscle recovery

Juice

Beet Juice: Good for blood flow and optimal muscle performance

Beetroot

A friend of mine said that she makes a natural sports drink using tart cherry juice and salt. I’m not sure if she adds coconut water or not. I think I’ll try this and add a scoop of the dehydrated coconut water powder*

Product Details

I bought to throw into green smoothies. I’ve also taken to adding chia seeds to my green smoothies. The effect is like a bubble tea smoothie with healthy fats and protein. In fact, there is a new “gel” for extended physical exertion, made from chia seeds.

Chia Seeds in a glass 3

(Sports gels will be a topic for another blog post). There are also new products made from very concentrated beet juice so you can ingest one or two liters per day, without actually drinking that much beet juice.

Have a great, physically active, hydrated day!

___________________________________________________________________________________________________________

*This link will take you to my new Amazon store (look under Your New Pantry Essentials).  For a direct (affiliate) link to the product on Amazon, click on the picture of the coconut water powder. I wanted to make it easier for you to find all of my recommended products in one place. I will earn a small commission if you purchase products through my store. I didn’t want to set anything up like that for a long time because I’m a journalist, not a blogger (bloggers typically make money from referral commissions). However, in my efforts to make things more convenient for my community, the natural set up happens to give me a commission, so I’m just going to take it. I hope you don’t mind!

 

 

Ready? Set? Schedule!

For my book launch event, I talked about how, as a community, we can transform each others lives. What if we didn’t have to feel guilty and disgusting after a Shabbat or yuntof (holiday) meal? What if we didn’t put our friends and family in the position of having to make difficult decisions at every meal? What if we didn’t feel like we were set up for failure at every meal? What if we could make hearty, healthy meals where our guests leave full, satisfied, and happy, instead of miserable and hating themselves? We have the power to do that.

I told the attendees that I’ve done that with the heartiest of 6 foot 3 meat eaters and you can too.

I’m eager to hear about how we can work together to support your community.
If you looking for a fundraising event that is also inspirational and educational and supports or transforms the health of your community members, talk to me today (even if you aren’t in the DC area).

Supporting your community in a commitment to a healthy lifestyle is priceless!

Are you a…

FUNDRAISER
Raising money for a cause, organization or event?

Show your community you care about them at the same time you provide a fun bonding event with real value and healthy support – and raise needed funds with my easy fundraising formula/event plan.

Email me at Natasha@HealthyFamilyHealthyYou.com to start a conversation about your goals and what would be best for your organization. I will then send you more details and my specific recommendations.

Example Workshops:

  • Healthy Cooking demo night
  • 10 tips, tricks and tools to make your kids enjoy eating their fruits and veggies
  • How to get dinner on the table in 15 minutes or less
  • Comprehensive Healthy Shabbaton
  • “Help! My kid is a vegetarian!”
  • Fun/healthy kitchen tools demonstration
  • Healthy Shabbat substitutions
  • Chinese Shabbat in an hour
  • 3 Steps to a Healthy Family and a Healthy You
  • 3 Secrets to Sanity in the Kitchen
  • Fruit Funshops
  • Green Smoothie workshops
  • Simple cooking for college students and new graduates (Everyday dinners, Healthy Snacks and Shabbat/Holidays)

Natasha@HealthyFamilyHealthyYou.com
I look forward to hearing from you!

For more options and information you can also go to my workshop page: http://www.healthyfamilyhealthyyou.com/healthy-workshops-events/

Yours in health,
Natasha

HFHY Front Cover with dash Cookbook Front Cover