Everything has its beauty. Some will see it, others will taste it.
With Halloween just a memory, it’s time to gear up for the next, as Rachael Ray puts it, “triumvirate of holidays” — Thanksgiving, Christmas and New Years! All of these bring family and friends closer and build a spirit of togetherness that endures for a lifetime. What or where you eat isn’t as important as the fact that you are setting aside time to get together. Meals aren’t just about food; they are a way for families to thrive.
The true spirit of Thanksgiving is about being grateful for what we have, and this year that includes, not just the tradition of sharing with friends and family, but amazing indigenous and local ingredients, and an abundance of recipes to make the day all the more enjoyable.
One of the hottest culinary trends is the local food movement suggesting that food choices be limited to anything grown within 50 to 100 miles of where you live. Just for starters, you can incorporate a few samples of local and seasonal ingredients into your Thanksgiving menu and serve many of the same dishes that were served at the first dinner the Pilgrims and Native Americans enjoyed. Check out nearby farmers’ markets and truck stands or ask your supermarket if it carries locally grown food. Look for seasonal offerings such as squash, pumpkins, parsnips, turnips, mustard greens, kale, pears, cranberries and apples. Locally produced dairy products, honey, jams and turkeys are also available in some communities.
Then, consider those sweet, tangy California raisins as another way to enjoy the bountiful harvest. Dried in the hot California sun, there is no extra water weight to deal with so they conserve energy as they are shipped to your local supermarket, too.
Getting into the spirit of the holidays often leads to suddenly throwing a whole year’s worth of nutrition know-how out the window. From Thanksgiving through New Year’s, the whole world turns into a moveable feast and temptation is everywhere. How do you keep from falling off the wagon as you go over the river and through the woods to that Thanksgiving dinner or to the office party or all those other gatherings, galas, and festivities? Try these!
Emphasize low calorie vegetables and good-for-you fruits.
Serve a light vegetable salad as the first course.
Begin the buffet with a bowl of veggies or pass them first at the table.
Add eye-appeal and interest with more vegetables.
Avoid adding butter, oils or cheese to potato and vegetable preparations.
Fortify the turkey dressing with vegetables like diced onions, celery, or carrots.
For an even more nutritious dressing, omit the salt and use whole-grain bread or brown rice.
Make gravy a choice or omit it altogether.
Be mindful of portion sizes.
Provide plain fruit options for dessert.
Provide plenty of water and non-caloric beverages at all time.
Finally, pick one of Valerie Waters’ Health and Fitness Video Tips and workout, everyday. Then, follow her tip to be consistent. As she says, “Being healthy means consistently making wise choices over time. Nobody gets fit in one workout, nor do they change their eating habits in one week. It is important to be consistent in the messages you deliver to your kids. You will make a greater impact explaining the importance of exercise to your children, if you are committed to your own exercise routine.”
With Halloween and those jack o’ lantern pumpkins out of the way, it is only natural that we turn to that same seasonal squash for the most traditional of Thanksgiving desserts — pumpkin pie. California Raisins has a couple of variations on that theme, too. See Pumpkin Pie Surprise for a way to break away from plain old pumpkin pie.