When I think of Thanksgiving, I think of food and then I picture that classic Norman Rockwell painting where mom is delivering the roasted turkey on a platter to the dinner table. Once a year, I pull out my Martha Stewart pie book. The crust recipe I use is on a page that is crinkled and dog-eared from its annual use in the third week of November. Yes, I still make my own pie crust, folks. I use a Spectrum product now (made from palm fruit oil) versus Crisco. No difference in flakiness and much healthier!
Writing about what to eat at the holidays is always a grueling task. The festivities roll around once a year, and for many it’s the only time they get to enjoy quality time with friends and family. Time for a little overindulgence? Last month I wrote about willpower. Research demonstrates that some of us control it better than others because of our brain chemistry. Studies also show that scents can impact emotions and mood, as well. It’s for this reason that essential oils are gaining popularity. Smells can definitely set off our desire to eat--try walking into a bakery and denying your self a treat! The same thing happens when that heavenly waft of holiday cooking greets you at the door on Thanksgiving Day!
Here are a few tips to help you stay the course; especially with some emptier calories:
Don’t arrive at your destination with growling tummies. That’s just asking for trouble at the appetizer table.
Choose a smaller plate and don’t load it up with a lot of food at the get-go. Look over the span of selections on the table and choose one or two items that you are looking forward to eating.
Alcohol can add lots of extra calories. And the more you drink, the less you are in control-that includes of foods, too. Always finish what’s in your glass before you top it off, otherwise you will lose track of how much you are drinking. Try to rotate drinks with a variety of non-alcoholic options.
Your dessert plate should not look like a sampler dish. Choose one serving of your favorite dessert. It’s okay to top with a dollop of ice cream or real whipped cream. I’m not a fan of the non-dairy whipped substitutes like Cool Whip, as they are loaded with hydrogenated fats. Apple cobblers are easy to make and serve, and are full of heart-healthy oats versus the added fat in pie crusts.
Pumpkin embodies the flavor of the fall season. Trifles are festive-looking when served in fluted stemware (please, no more mason jars!). Spoon vanilla pudding into the bottom of the glass; add crumbled pumpkin bread, and alternate ingredients until you reach the rim. Top off with pecans. Or layer vanilla yogurt with pumpkin granola.
But, most importantly, don’t forget what the day is all about. Remind yourself why you are thankful this holiday season, and keep in mind that others may not be so fortunate. If you are hosting a party, perhaps suggest to your guests that in lieu of bringing food for the party, they can bring a food item that can be donated to a local food pantry. Such acts of goodwill embody the true spirit of giving.