For the record, starting this year, I’m no longer accepting the misconception that the holiday season must be about overindulgence.
Since I started my weight-loss journey going on four years ago, I’ve discovered strategies for losing and maintaining weight that work well for me. One of those has specifically helped me to deal with social gatherings and the holidays, which are fast approaching. That strategy consists of taking control – a skill that I lacked before my weight-loss journey began.
For example, if I’m invited to a friend’s house to share a meal, I typically offer to bring something healthy so I have at least one item that jives with my eating plan. Also, something that I used to do more often than I do now is initiate dinner outings with friends so I could have some say over where we ate. As selfish as all of this sounds, it has worked for me and symbolizes a lesson I had to learn early on: that everyone is only their own first priority. Not only does that mean that I have to be mine, but it also means that I can’t be theirs, too.
At the end of next week, I’ll be hosting my first holiday with extended family. While it’s unreasonable to think that I won’t struggle with making healthy choices, I recognize that I have control and the most important kind: self-control. I’m exercising self-control by taking a cleaner, leaner approach, because that’s the only way to guarantee that I’ll make good decisions that I’ll feel good about. My mother-in-law is an outstanding cook, so my goal is to keep my last name and for none of my loving family members to starve. It would be an added bonus to shock everyone with how much these recipes taste like the unhealthy recipes that inspired them!
- 2 Tbsp. extra virgin olive oil, divided
- 2 onions, diced
- 2 bunches of celery or one bag, diced
- 6 sage leaves, chopped
- 4 cloves garlic, minced
- 2 sweet potatoes
- 2 cups quinoa
- 4 cups ⅓ less sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- Fresh parsley, chopped, to taste
- Black ground pepper to taste
- 1 Tbsp. cumin (optional)
- Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in medium skillet. Add onions and celery, and cook over medium heat until onions are translucent, for about 10 minutes. Add sage and garlic, stir to combine, and cook 3 to 4 minutes.
- Preheat oven to 375 degrees F. Poke sweet potatoes with fork a few times, and heat in microwave for 5 minutes to soften. Allow to cool before peeling and cubing. Toss sweet potato cubes with remaining oil and a pinch of sea salt, line baking sheet with aluminum foil and cooking spray. Place potato cubes on baking sheet, and bake for 45 minutes or until brown and crispy. Remove from oven, and set aside.
- Put quinoa and chicken broth or vegetable broth in pot, and cook according to instructions on package.
- Put onion/celery mixture, roasted sweet potato cubes and quinoa in a large bowl, and mix.
- Add parsley, cumin and pepper to the mixture and serve.
- 4 heads of cauliflower
- 4 garlic cloves, minced
- White pepper to taste
- 2 Tbsp. chives
- Cut cauliflower into florets.
- Steam until florets slightly change color.
- Place into a food processor with garlic, white pepper and process. Serve, and garnish with chives.
- 2 lbs. green beans, trimmed
- “Fried” onions:
- 2 tsp. coconut oil or olive oil, divided
- 1 onion, halved and sliced
- ½ cup regular or panko plain bread crumbs
- ¼ cup Parmesan cheese
- Creamy mushroom sauce:
- 1 Tbsp. coconut oil
- 12 oz. mushrooms, chopped
- 6 garlic cloves, minced
- 6 oz. ⅓ reduced-sodium chicken broth or vegetable broth
- 5 Tbsp. flour
- 12 oz. nonfat milk
- Blanch green beans for about 3 minutes, place in a bowl of ice water to stop cooking and set aside.
- “Fried” onions:
- Heat 1 tsp coconut oil in pan on medium-high heat until melted (if using oil, until simmering).
- Saute onions while separating with spatula until golden.
- Reduce heat to low and, in same pan, add 1 tsp coconut oil, bread crumbs and Parmesan cheese for two minutes, tossing frequently. The bread crumbs will absorb the oil.
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees F, line baking sheet with aluminum foil and cooking spray, place onion/bread crumb/Parmesan cheese mixture on baking sheet and bake for about 15 minutes or until crispy.
- Creamy mushroom sauce:
- In same pan, heat 1 tbsp coconut oil on medium-high heat until melted (if using oil, until simmering), add mushrooms and garlic and saute until mushrooms are soft and darker and water has cooked off. Add broth.
- In a small bowl, whisk flour and milk to make a slurry, and add to pan with mushrooms, garlic and broth. Reduce heat to medium, and cook while stirring frequently until thickened.
- Drain green beans, place in casserole dish lined with cooking spray, mix in creamy mushroom sauce, and bake in oven on 350 degrees F for 30 minutes.
- Top with “fried” onions, and serve.
I don’t plan on missing the traditional versions of stuffing, mashed potatoes or green bean casserole, and I hope you don’t either!