In less than two days, most of the United States is going to consume more calories in one sit-down meal alone, than they should normally eat in an entire day! Numerous reports have shown that the average American consumes close to 3,000 calories in just one Thanksgiving meal. When you think of all of the sugar-loaded, buttery side dishes, and desserts that are usually served right beside the turkey, it’s not that hard to figure out how this is possible. (thus, this marks the end of my recitation of boring census statistics.)
A Small Glimpse Into Reality...
I LOVE Thanksgiving! It is hands-down my favorite holiday of the entire year, and much of the reason for that is the food! You see I am an Irish girl, which means my utter love for potatoes and subsequent desire to eat them (mashed, baked, fried, roasted, scalloped, etc...), courses so thick through my Irish veins - its almost primal. Thanksgiving is the only guilt-free day of the year that can rationalize my personal mass consumption of them, so I am unwilling to give it up(.) Let’s face it. For most of us, Thanksgiving just wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without the tried and true family recipes that have been handed down, generation to generation. If someone ever tried to replace my great-grandmothers cream cheese, sour cream and milk churned mashed potatoes with a healthier alternative, I’d probably take them out the door they walked in, and tell them not to come back. Ok... maybe that is a little extreme, but you get the point. DON’T MESS WITH MY POTATOES.
Soooo ... while I have a 101 tips on how to eat clean and stay on track during this very special holiday, more often than not, I’ve found that you ladies aren’t so unlike MYSELF -- in that, you don’t really want to hear them! NO. What you really want is to be told that you can stuff your face, have dessert -- and go back for seconds. Well I have good news for you -- YOU CAN. (Time out: put your eyes back in your sockets, and close your mouths -- you heard me correctly!) One day of binging is not going to wreck your diet, or ruin all the blood, sweat, and tears you’ve been pouring into your workouts with me!
It’s all about DAMAGE CONTROL. If you plan on eating that many calories Thanksgiving day, and enjoying every single one of them (as I do!) -- then you better be prepared to offset them via exercise! My best advice is to a.) start preparing now by ramping up your workouts and b.) you better plan on getting rid of all the leftovers after your Thanksgiving feast! C'est la vie. I mean it -- All of Them. I started this post by saying that one day of binging won't ruin your transformation efforts, but three, four, or five days of eating left-overs ABSOLUTELY WILL. And don't think you'll magically muster the will power to avoid devouring them when they're sitting in your fridge calling your name -- you won't. GET RID OF THEM.
Fail to plan, plan to fail -- right?! So, What’s the PLAN? Don’t worry, I’ve got the specifics covered! For those of you angelic health-nuts who honestly began reading this post for my promised delivery of some healthy Thanksgiving recipe alternatives -- don’t worry, I’m still including them below. Freaks! J/k .. I LOVE YOU ALL -- even when you make me look bad :)
SAVORY GLUTEN-FREE STUFFING
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
1 loaf gluten-free bread, cut into 1 1/2 inch cubes
- 2 tablespoons olive oil
- 10 ounces (about 4 links) sweet Italian sausage, removed from casing and broken into small pieces.
- 2 cups chopped celery (about 4 large stalks)
- 2 cups chopped onion (about 1 large onion)
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic (about four cloves)
- 1 1/2 teaspoons dried basil
- 1 teaspoon dried oregano
- 1/2 teaspoon ground sage
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme leaves
- 1 teaspoon kosher salt
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
- 4 cups gluten-free turkey, chicken, or vegetable stock, divided
Preheat oven to 325 °F. Divide bread cubes between two large baking sheets. Toast until bread is golden brown and dry, about 30 minutes. Remove pans from oven and allow bread to cool.
Grease a 9x13-inch baking sheet and set aside. Place bread cubes in a large bowl. In a large pot, heat olive oil until shimmering. Add sausage, break apart into small bites with a fork as it cooks. Cook until no pink pieces of sausage remain, about three minutes. Remove the sausage from the oil using a slotted spoon. Place sausage on a plate and set aside.
Add celery. Cook until celery just begins to soften, about two minutes. Stirring frequently. Add onion. Cook for two minutes, continue to stir frequently. Add garlic, herbs, salt, and pepper. Cook until celery and onions are soft and aromatic. Spoon vegetables onto the bread cubes. Add sausage pieces and stir.
Pour about two cups of the broth over the bread. Stir until cubes absorb the broth. This takes a minute. Add an additional cup of broth. Continue to stir until broth is absorbed. If bread seems dry, add final cup of broth. (Bread cubes should be moist but not soggy. It’s okay it the some of the cubes fall apart. This is normal.) Transfer stuffing to prepared pan.
Cover pan with aluminum foil and bake in a 325 °F oven until warm, about 30 minutes. Remove foil and return pan to the oven and bake until golden brown, about five minutes. SERVE and Enjoy!
SUGAR-FREE CRANBERRY SAUCE
MAKES 6 SERVINGS
- 1 loaf
- 12 oz Cranberries
- 1 cup Powdered erythritol
- 3/4 cup Water
- 1 tsp Orange zest
- 1/2 tsp Vanilla extract
- Combine the cranberries, water, erythritol, and orange zest in a medium saucepan. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a gentle simmer. Simmer for 10-15 minutes, until the cranberries pop and a sauce forms.
- Remove from heat. Stir in the vanilla extract.
- Serve and Enjoy!
SAVORY MASHED FAUX-TATOES
MAKES 4 SERVINGS
- 12 Cups cauliflower, roughly chopped
- 1 cup chicken broth
- 2 teaspoons salt
- 2 teaspoons pepper
1. Add all the ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil over medium heat. Reduce heat to low and cover with a tight-fitting lid. Simmer for 15 minutes and then remove from heat.
2. Purée in a blender or food processor until smooth. Add 1 tablespoon of additional chicken broth at a time (*if necessary) to help get the mixture moving.
** For additional flavoring, try adding your favorite herbs to the mash.
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