holiday eating

Happy Thanksgiving!

Yay! Thanksgiving is almost upon us. I am a huge fan of the holiday. It has some of my favorites foods. I love the mashed potatoes, I love stuffing, I love pumpkin pie!

Thanksgiving dinner is a feat in itself. I remember when Michael and I did Our First Bird. We had a bunch of friends over and did thanksgiving at our place. It went well but yeah…it was a lot of work!

Over the years I’ve written a lot of posts about the holiday and how to balance the splurge and still lose weight. You can read some of those old posts here:

Any Way You Slice That Pumpkin Pie

Repost: Why You Don’t Quit for the Holidays

Repost: Setting a Skinny Table

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In the past I usually started reigning in the food and alcohol intake after Thanksgiving until Christmas, trying to be balanced and eat in moderation without going overboard. Inevitably I’d gain around 3-5 pounds between Thanksgiving and New Year’s but I’d lose it pretty quickly and easily in the new year. This year feels a little different, obviously. I’m not trying to lose weight, I’m not too worried about gaining a few pounds, and my priorities have shifted a bit.

Instead, I wanted to share some favorite recipes you may want to try at your holiday:

Appetizers

Grandpa’s Atomic Garlic Dip – My grandpa’s famous dip. It’s super garlicky, like prepare-yourself-garlicky, but it’s SO good. It’s a fabulous appetizer to take to your holiday party and goes great with raw veggies.

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Buffalo Celery Appetizer  – Another easy appetizer that is low in calories.

Side Dishes

I love me some Brussels Sprouts! I have two favorite recipes I wanted to pass on. The first is a super easy and fast side dish (that we often do with just dinner on a regular night):

Sautéed Brussels Sprouts with Bacon & Onions:

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This Shaved Brussels Sprout Salad was one I made for a previous Thanksgiving holiday and it was absolutely delicious and a hit. Plus, even people who weren’t fans of Brussels Sprouts, liked this recipe!

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Martha Stewart’s Mac n’ Cheese – I don’t know that this is really a “side dish” but it’s an AMAZING recipe and is a must-make for any holiday party Michael and I get invited to. He made it once and now it’s requested. By everyone. It’s seriously that good. This particular recipe is a huge time investment but it’s so worth the effort.

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Red Quinoa and Carrot Salad with Currants, Chickpeas and Cashews – This would be a great side dish for Thanksgiving or Christmas. It’s healthy, delicious and goes with everything.

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Butternut Squash Cashew Soup – another great option for a side dish or appetizer. Make a small batch and serve it in tiny bowls or even in shot glasses!

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Main Dish

If you’re not a fan of turkey, but want to do something similar, check out this recipe that was a fantastic dinner: Crockpot Cranberry Chicken

Another alternative to turkey: Roasted Garlic, Herb and Lemon Cornish Game Hens

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We’ve done Cornish Game Hens instead of turkey a few times. On years when we were not getting together with family and doing the big “thing”, this was a nice option because it was MUCH less work, similar to having a turkey, but no massive quantities of leftovers.

Breads

Here are few recipes for bread type things:

Apple-Cranberry-Pistachio Bread

Star’s Cornbread – Her cornbread is amazing! Cheesy, moist, spicy…all my favorite things!

Cornbread Stuffing – Okay…for most of my life I was a firm “traditional stuffing” kind of girl…then I had cornbread stuffing and don’t want anything else now! I love cornbread stuffing and have had a few different variations of it and it’s all good…some cashews, some spicy sausage mixed in? Delicious!

Now it’s your turn: what are your favorite alternative recipes for the holidays? Share your links here!

Holiday Weekend

I love long holiday weekends! Sleeping in, not having every minute planned, not having to go to work….yay! The weekend held the typical weekend chore stuff but I also brought out the Christmas decorations. A little early for me but I had the time so decided to make the house festive.

Thursday

Thanksgiving day I slept in a little bit and then went to the Warrior Room. I was grateful they had some morning classes on the holiday. My gym is open until 2pm on Thanksgiving but it is such a madhouse every year that it’s a miserable experience and I just didn’t want to do that this year. Seriously, even getting up super early and going to the gym to try and miss the crowds I’d have to park at the mall across the street and walk because the garage was full and every machine would be used. It was never an enjoyable experience, that’s for sure.

Warrior Room was packed but much more enjoyable! I got in a great workout and my friend Debby joined me. Ashley started the class saying “let’s burn 10,000 calories so we can drink 3 bottles of wine and eat pie!” Sign me up! You had me at pie. The workout was hard and there many moments where I thought I might be pushing it…but in the end, I made it through the workout still standing and burned a lot!

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After that Michael and I took Bella for a walk before the rain set in. I ate light most of the day because I knew I’d be indulging later. I stuck with a small salad for lunch. Then Michael and I went over to his mom’s house for the holiday. Michael’s step-brother got the entire meal already done, you just have to pop it in the oven for a little bit before serving, from Zupan’s. He did this last year and it was wonderful. The food is so good!

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I ate a lot. I tried to be responsible but ended up overeating anyways. Honestly I’d been having some anxiety about Thanksgiving all week–knowing it was going to be a big calorie bomb. It was discouraging to feel like all the progress I had made lately would be entirely undone with one meal. SIGH. Trying to lose weight this time of year is like running up hill pushing a boulder.

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I did go easy with the dessert, though. I was honestly too stuffed to eat much more. Pumpkin pie is my favorite thing! And we did not break into this giant chocolate turkey:

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Seriously, it was huge! It looked amazing, too! Once we were all getting sleepy it was time to go. Michael and I went home to be with Bella and ended up laying in bed with the animals watching House of Cards in our PJs. 🙂

Saturday

Another Warrior workout! Honestly I was still a little sore from Thursday. I ended up going a little easy on myself during the workout as a result. Thankfully there weren’t a TON of squats during this class! My hamstrings were not happy.

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Then I met my friend Robyn for a sushi lunch date. It had been awhile since we’d gotten together (I think it might have been my wedding!!) and a lunch date was perfect. We both ended up getting a Bento Box for lunch. I’ve never had Bento before. It was kind of a nice change, even if I had been craving sushi and that craving hadn’t been satisfied.

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I went with the teriyaki salmon. It was a small piece of salmon, around 3 normal-sized bites. It came with rice, a side salad with cucumber and shredded carrots, a California roll and tempura vegetables. It was really tasty and super filling. It was really nice to catch up with my friend and we drank a TON of green tea and chatted long after the food was gone.

We parted ways and I headed home. I’m not into Black Friday/Christmas shopping and generally avoid the malls and stuff. I did most of my Christmas shopping online and I’m basically done except for two more things I need to get. Now it’s just a waiting game for the packages to arrive so I can wrap them before nosy busy bodies try and sneak a peak. 😉

When I got home Michael and I took Bella for a long walk before the rains arrived. The sun was out but there were some dark, dark clouds off in the distance. Bella got a bunch of walks over the long weekend and was happy with that–as I was happy with getting some extra exercise in!

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Sunday

Sunday finally came, sad that meant that it was back to work soon. 🙁 I went to the gym (it was very cold and very blustery but the sun was out) and did about 40 minutes on the elliptical (3.35 miles) then it was time for yoga. After being sore for several days that yoga class felt spectacular!

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The rest of the day was uneventful until it was time to go to Michael’s mom’s house for a party. She hosts a charity party the weekend of Thanksgiving every year and this year we were actually available to attend! She sells wreaths for a charity and people come over to pick up the wreaths and enjoy a holiday party at the same time.

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They unwrapped the chocolate turkey! (Sadly Michael and I left before they carved into that thing!)

We went over a little bit early to see if she needed help setting up. The places was already decorated to the max. Tons of cute Christmas decor, the tree was up and decorated and holiday music was playing. The place was packed! There was also tons of food. It was mostly finger foods. There was crab rangoon, vegetable spring rolls, crab and artichoke dip, orange chicken and then meatballs with various dipping sauces.

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The meatballs were really good. There was a chipotle cranberry sauce that went with one of the platters and it was really good. Sweet but not overly sweet. I basically ate dinner full of finger foods. I had 2 crab rangoons, 2 spring rolls, about 6 meatballs, and 3 orange chicken pieces.

Look at these adorable wine stoppers:

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How funny is that? We stayed for a few hours, munching on food, mingling with people. Then it was getting late and we decided to head home. Michael was still hungry (I was not, I ate tons of finger foods) so we stopped at Five Guys on the drive home so he could get a burger.

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He did give me two bites of his burger. I went overboard all weekend. I knew it would be a challenge with the events we were going to. At the party I tried to stay away from the buffet table to keep myself from just mindlessly munching, but I admit, it was hard. The festivities made it easy to splurge. 🙁 Anyways, Monday morning and back on track!