.........for a fun, indulgent, but not gluttonous, holiday

Dana knows fabrics, but Dana does not know Cooking! So this is finally my opportunity to get a guest blogger on the Everly & Monet page. So excited to feature another local mom entrepreneur & local author Natasha Rosenstock Nadel. I've known Natasha for years because she is the twin sister of my uber stylist Lani Inlander, who has given several talks in the store. So I am so happy to feature her as my first guest blogger.

A couple of years ago I hosted about 12 people for Thanksgiving. We made so many different dishes that 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 were barely touched! I felt ridiculous for having cooked for two days!

For me, the days before Thanksgiving are usually filled with parent teacher conferences and other obligations. I thought about what it might look like to make a simple meal and buck the idea that we’re supposed to make enough for an army and have leftovers for a week (which means we keep stuffing ourselves with rich foods that make us feel terrible).

Here are 4 tips and 4 recipes to make for a fun, indulgent, but not gluttonous, holiday.

1.     Self-loathing should never be part of Thanksgiving – or any holiday. Instead, in your mindset of giving thanks, feel thankful for the abundance of food on your table. Sit with it and absorb how blessed you are. No one is taking that food away from you in an hour or two. It will still be there later that day – and the next. If there is really a pumpkin pie emergency, you can always make or buy more.

2.     Start with one bite of everything, savoring each and every one, or choose to have two bites of half the items on the table. If you eat super early, when everyone goes back to the kitchen for leftovers in the evening, you won’t feel guilty for taking a bite or two of the dishes you didn’t get to earlier. And you’ll enjoy them so much more if you’re not so full you want to puke. Make sure that second helping is before 7pm so you won’t even need to get heartburn and your sleep won’t be disturbed by your digestion.

3.      Eat well the day before and the morning of Thanksgiving. Focus on raw fruits and vegetables if you can, as there is usually a dearth of those on the traditional Thanksgiving table (including mine!). For satisfying protein and healthy fat, along with a delicious berry taste, try a smoothie with nut butter, greens and berries, such as Reboot With Joe’s Goji, Cinnamon, Almond Smoothie. Just one glass will keep you going for half the day in the kitchen. If you want to munch while you cook, munch on the raw celery and carrots that will go into your stuffing. Even better, start Wednesday through Friday of Thanksgiving week with a family walk! You’ll be energized and feel great about yourself and your ability to take care of yourself going into the holiday.

4.     Keep the guilt-inducing dishes down to only about 1/3, rather than 9/10, as is tradition. 

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Maple Sweet Potato 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.

“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.

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