thanksgiving

Thanksgiving 2013-Obligatory Recap

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The unofficial over of my first cookbook, "How the F*** do I make this Food?: Cooking with Jess."
The unofficial over of my first cookbook, “How the F*** do I make this Food?: Cooking with Jess.”

To celebrate family and colonialism this year, I traveled to the motherland (aka New Jersey). Wednesday night, my mom and I had dinner and then prepped a few things for the next day.

Thanksgiving morning was pretty chill. I mean, aside from being balls-cold, it was very relaxing. Since we’re all early risers, we hung out in the kitchen with some coffee and make-your-own breakfast until it was time for my mom, sister, and I to head out for a hot yoga class. I really dug that the instructor focused a lot on balance—something I didn’t give a crap about when I was younger, but which has become a big focus of my practice in the past year.

At the end of class, this was on my mat:

follow your dreams

Kind of love that.

The meal itself was really nice. My mom and I contributed a dish of butternut squash roasted in coconut oil and tossed with wilted greens and a roasted garlic, white wine sauce. It was the perfect complement to all the other Thanksgiving foods.

Am I the only one out there whose favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal is the turkey?  I mean, it’s also accurate to say that I love pretty much any roasted veggies, and I usually take some stuffing and cranberry sauce, but I can take or leave the potatoes and green bean casserole. For dessert this year, there were a couple store-bought pies and a caramel apple tart that my mom made from a friend’s recipe. We also enjoyed some wine with the meal.

All in all, it was a really nice day. I don’t think we’re doing the Black Friday thing this year, though I definitely am taking advantage of the opportunity to buy my feelings—and some Christmas gifts—at a discount online.

How was your Thanksgiving? 

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What I’m grateful for this Thanksgiving

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Cinnamon Tempest tea

Seriously! This stuff is wonderful—and extremely close to my favorite Harney & Sons tea (and for way less money). In a completely different way from coffee, tea is one of those little pleasures in life that can help you slow down for a second. It doesn’t get much better than a hot cup of the stuff on a dreary day.

I’ve been trying to keep any complaints or “I’m so run down”-speak off the blog, but November has been very demanding, and after an emotionally challenging October, I’m more than ready for the stay-cation I have coming up. I can’t think of many better ways to celebrate my birthday than by not setting my alarm clock for a whole week.

I’ll be back later this holiday weekend with some food-related thoughts and photos, but for now, enjoy some tales of Thanksgivings past…

2011 Thanksgiving Photobomb--one of my favorite family pictures ever
2011 Thanksgiving Photobomb–one of my favorite family pictures ever

Thanksgiving 2012

Thanksgiving 2011

Thanksgiving 2010

Thanksgiving 2009

What are you grateful for this Thanksgiving? Any favorite Thanksgiving foods? 

What I Ate Wednesday #138

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Happy almost-Thanksgiving! I know a lot of you are probably deep into your Turkey Day prep. I’m heading to see my family after work sometime later today. My aunt is hosting Thanksgiving this year and having a lot of the meal catered, but many of us are bringing dishes as well. Predictably, I’m making a few vegetable sides.

Before the holiday madness starts, let’s take a second for a little What I Ate Wednesday, shall we?  Since the last few weeks, I shared Sunday meals with you, here’s a glimpse of what I ate last Thursday, when we served an early Thanksgiving dinner to the patients at the facility where I work. Thank you as always to the lovely Jenn of Peas & Crayons for hosting the weekly link party. Take a visit to see more WIAW from other bloggers!

Since I was staying late last Thursday to help with dinner service, I didn’t have to go in until 11. It was nice to sleep in until 7:30 (hah) and, like, have a morning at home. I even got to run a few errands before heading to work. The day flew by pretty quickly, and soon it was time to go put stickers on the table cloths in front of people on modified-texture diets so servers would know who was puree, mechanical soft, etc. As the dietitian, my job was mostly to keep on eye on things and be on hand to answer questions and handle any issues like “Can this person have the potatoes on their diet?” or “Am I allowed to give more soda?”

I hate being told to “just watch over things.” Maybe it stems from my experience working banquets in college or just being one of those people who always feels the need to be doing something, but I’d much rather be scooping food onto plates in the kitchen or even walking around refreshing drinks. I’ll get up and talk in front of 500 people or pass plates, but ask me to stand in the back of an auditorium and make sure everybody gets the right diet texture, and I’m a twitchy ball of nerves. Go figure. Luckily, everyone seemed to enjoy the food, and the live band got a lot of people up and dancing—walkers and all. I’d say it was a successful night, but goodness, am I happy it’s over with!

Here’s what I ate to stay fueled throughout the day…

  • Breakfast: Eaten at home for a change! Still not sick of these pumpkin cranberry oats–especially topped with PB & cranberry sauce.
  • Lunch: Big salad—I also added some tuna for extra protein.
  • Snack: (unpictured) Dry-roasted edamame and a macintosh apple
  • Dinner: Shortcut shakshuka and (unpictured) toast with hummus & eggplant
  • Snack: A sliced banana with nonfat ricotta and a drizzle of maple syrup (loving this lately)

What are your Thanksgiving plans? 

What to Eat on Thanksgiving Morning

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For all my non-American readers, apologies for adding to the plethora of Thanksgiving-centric posts. In a few days, this will all be over and we can get on with the winter wonderland madness.

I know there’s a lot of hype out there about the upcoming food holidays, but I’m just here to tell you that it’s okay to eat the amount that feels right to you—no matter if you’ve got an aunt pushing pie or even if you feel weird to not have reached that sweet, satisfied spot of The Perfect Amount even though the cousins have already started the “OMG I’m so fat” talk.

We are all different bodies with different appetites, and it’s important to be kind to ourselves and let our own inner cues tell us when we’re hungry and when we’re full. Put a little bit of the things you really, really want on your plate and enjoy it.

Now that we’ve got that out of the way…here are my two favorite ways to start your holiday off on a good foot:

1.) Do something active—nothing like a little endorphin boost to help you face the fam.

2.) Eat breakfast. Non-negotiable.

Oats & flax topped w/ veggies, goat cheese, turkey bacon, and a poached egg
Oats & flax topped w/ veggies, goat cheese, turkey bacon, and a poached egg

I know it sounds counterintuitive, eating before a big meal, but trust me. Putting a balanced dish in the bank will keep your metabolism going and ward off the urge to polish off the entire cheese plate before cocktail hour is even halfway over.

So what to eat? In a word: protein. Some of my favorite sources include plain Greek yogurt and eggs and egg whites.

3 Forty omeletEven better? Add some whole grains and fibrous fruits and/or veggies to keep you satisfied until the main event and more in check with what you’re really craving. A little healthy fat in the form of nut butter, olive oil, or avocado can also give you some staying power. Some easy, healthy options:

  • Greek yogurt with chia seeds and fruit
  • Egg white omelet with lots of veggies and a side of whole wheat toast—or an egg white scramble if the idea of an omelet is too f***ing labor intense on a major cooking day—totally been there
  • Oatmeal with ground flax and chopped apple cooked in, topped with some PB or almond butter. Or this.
  • Savory oatmeal: with spinach, scallions, garlic, and a poached egg on top (like so)
  • Skim  or 1% latte and a piece of fruit

IMG_2542Have a wonderful Thanksgiving, if you’re celebrating.

What’s on the menu for your Thanksgiving?  

Thanksgiving & my First Black Friday

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Even though my very first course in undergrad involved a lesson on why Christopher Columbus was evil and Thanksgiving is actually a commemoration of blood-thirsty colonialism (in exchange for scholarship money, I took on a lot of “white guilt” debt), I still look forward to spending time with family & friends and eating good food every year.

the usual turkey, green bean casserole, brussels & cranberry sauce plus a kale salad and pumpkin lasagna
This flour less chocolate torte was all my wildest PMS dreams come true
I heart port (and if you think my thumb is crooked, you should see my middle finger)

I come from a family of food-loving winos, so there was plenty of edible enjoyment to be had yesterday. My sister and I also got a little silly with some of the decorations on the table. For the record, she’s the one who grabbed that old photo of us from the dining room shelf.

“Wait! I forgot the crystals!”
Problem solved. There are always lots of crystals lying around my parents’ house.

This year, I also had my first Black Friday experience with my mom, sister, and aunts. After almost a year working in the hospital, getting up at 6 a.m. is nothing, especially when there’s a trip to Kohl’s involved.

Cheesy photo-op

We also hit some other stores and made out like bandits, crossing almost everyone off our Christmas lists. I have to admit, I also scored a few birthday presents for myself. Another bonus was running into several old friends I hadn’t seen in way too long—so much better than running into ex-boyfriends at a townie bar. I should admit, though, one of my girlfriends and I totally wound up in the towniest bar of them all when the diner was closed last night. It was great to catch up, though—the setting was kind of hilarious, since we were some of the only customers there…and drinking decaf coffee.

Anyway, this has been one of the nicest Thanksgivings I’ve experienced ever, and I am so grateful to have had a few days off to enjoy it. I’m sort of in denial about going back to work on Monday, but I’m sure by then I’ll be ready, especially since I have Friday off next week.

How was your Thanksgiving? Do you do Black Friday? 

Friendsgiving

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Yesterday, my sister and her roommates hosted “Friendsgiving.” Everybody brought stuff, and she and her roomies made a turkey, which they named Rita. Naturally, there were many crude jokes made at Rita’s expense, but it was all in good fun.

This picture cracks me up for some reason

Rita was, of course, delicious. You’d never have guessed this was the girls’ first time roasting a turkey! 

We had quite the spread. I contributed homemade cranberry sauce, garlicky greens (based on this recipe—thanks to Raechel of the Rebel Grrrl Kitchen for the inspiration), and a red lentil risotto with roasted butternut squash & dried cranberries. 

I also have to give a nod to the pumpkin mac & cheese my sister made—so freaking good! I remember some of the ingredients because I helped make the sauce, but I would love the recipe! Hint-hint…

I tried to study a bit for today’s exam, but it’s hard sometimes to focus when you really want to just kick back with the people around you. Hopefully all the prep work I did last week will get me through. I stopped pressuring myself to get straight-A’s years ago (especially in biochemistry), but I still work really hard to do my personal best.

balance

I had to head home before dessert happened, but I’m told my mom’s apple pie made an appearance. Here’s the recipe—it’s seriously one of the easiest, most delicious apple pies ever.

With a nice weekend (complete with lots of yoga, a poetry reading, and to-do list ass-kicking) under my belt, I’m ready to take on the new week—and a new rotation. Today is my first day of Ambulatory Nutrition. It will be weird not to be working in the hospital every day, but I’m looking forward to trying something different.

Do you do “Friendsgiving?” What are you looking forward to this week? 

How Many Calories are in Thanksgiving?

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Thanksgiving-from turkey to…turkey-shaped cakes…

While I’m not exactly an advocate of calorie-counting, I spend the better part of my workday trying to figure out appropriate calorie ranges for patients. As someone who loves to cook and really digs food science, I always find it interesting to learn how many calories and nutrients are in popular foods and how changing various components of an item can alter the nutrition profile. Wow—I sound really boring.

Not boring: this piece from the New York Times which estimates that the average Thanksgiving meal clocks in at around 4,500 calories. I like the way author Tara Parker-Pope walks you through exactly this is possible, if not exactly easy to accomplish.

Do you think your Thanksgiving contains 4,500 calories? What are your favorite Thanksgiving foods?