The holidays are upon us and I am certain that memories for all of you, like me, include the flavors and smells of childhood. I admitted once that the holidays used to be a decadent pile of excess. Now the holidays, and the deliciousness, are deliberate, considered, and most definitely planned.
If you grew up with sweet potatoes with marshmallows and a casserole of canned green beans with canned soup and canned crunchy onion food…..STOP! 🙂 And please listen. If that is your childhood, as was mine… stop the madness and make new traditions! Let’s talk turkey now . . .
I admit to you, as the carb addict I have confessed to be, that I didn’t know if I liked sweet potatoes or not. They came in a can labeled “Yams” and were covered with little marshmallows. That was a vegetable? No wonder my journey has been a struggle at times. This year, I implore you. Buy fresh sweet potatoes. Peel and cube them. Toss with oil, salt & pepper, and then decide… sweet? or savory? If sweet, add a bit of brown sugar or even better, a rich agave. If savory, (my vote!) add some oregano. Use dried oregano and not too much as it is potent dried. It is a lovely seasoning with root veggies. Oven roast the sweet potatoes. They become soft and creamy inside (who needs marshmallows!) and crispy outside. And oven roasting brings out the natural sweetness of this luscious produce.
Green beans for me came from a can. By the time they were cooked and put into a mushroom soup bath and canned onions were added on top, I knew it was tasty and was convinced it must be healthy because it was a vegetable, right? However, I had no idea what a fresh green bean tasted like, or what mushrooms tasted like, or what onions tasted like. Consider a lighter, fresher option. Buy fresh green beans. Yes, you have to trim them. Eh, no big deal. Steam them. Now add a quick saute mix of one onion (a real one – chopped into long thin slices) beautifully caramelized , some fresh mushrooms (cleaned and chopped), a little salt & pepper, and some garlic. Put this on the steamed (and still nutritious) green beans. Garnish with some almond slivers! YUM!
When you plan for the crowd you have, consider what Boyfriend said years ago to me. When Christmas dinner was done and we were cleaning up I commented on the lack of leftovers and how good it all was. Boyfriend said, “Yes, Momma, the point is to make enough food for the people who are here . . . and for them to eat it!” Duh. So while it is all well and good to make extra for planned leftovers, resist the urge to overeat, or to encourage others to do so. If you plan each meal you have an easier time shopping. Make the list from the menu! It is a great stress reliever. And it assures that though holidays include some indulgences, and that’s ok, you maintain a fresh healthy diet.
I am not cooking for Thanksgiving, but for Christmas I have a houseful – love it!! We’ll have Tammy and Mike home a few days before and Courtney and Kenz home a few days after. Rather than trying to throw everyone’s favorite on the same table on Christmas day, I plan the meals for the days they are home now. I spread those favorites out for the meals they will enjoy with us. I can accommodate favorites, and preferences, this way. Courtney, for example, is not a meat eater at all. The meals when she is here will be heavy on vegetables, beans, pasta, and grains. Tammy and Boyfriend are carnivores! Barry and I are too. Those meals will revolve around scrumptious meats and be complemented with light veggie sides. I even plan breakfasts with frittatas and ‘Mommalettes’ so that all of those ingredients are ready to go.
Let me list some thoughts ~ in no particular order! LOL:
- Plan every meal.
- When you have company or family returned home, serve breakfast and dinner only. Lunch can be leftovers, healthy snacks, or “Go get your own!” Trust me with the meals I plan, they need to snack light midday!
- Plan snacks: not candy and cookies . . . plan a charcuterie tray, cheese and fruits, healthy dips and veggies, and the like . . . baked brie is a lovely indulgence that always comes out in our home.
- Use healthy and fresh ingredients!
- Avoid as many canned or processed foods as you can!
- If you must, choose fresh frozen veggies in lieu of canned.
- Watch out for high carb, high fat, and high sodium content!
- Read labels.
- Buy food without labels . . . they are called fresh! LOL
Have a healthy and delicious plan for your holidays. We need to talk portions too, but that can happen another day! What does your holiday menu look like!? The healthier the menu, the more holidays you will have to spend with your loved ones! ❤
Happy planning! And enjoy!