Tuesday, November 24, 2009

Over the River and Through the Woods

Tomorrow is Thanksgiving. I love Thanksgiving. But, honestly, give me a reason—any reason-- to celebrate anything and I’m there. Pollyanna-like? Well, perhaps. But I have more and more reason to enjoy Thanksgiving as the years go on. Mainly, though, as a nutrition counselor I’m in heaven because when else is there so much conversation, preparation and consumption of and about vegetables?! Also, as someone who is pretty darn grateful every day, I love having a ceremonial date around the concept of gratitude. Yay.

Whether you are traveling to grandmother’s house or beyond for the holiday, having folks coming to you, or opting to spend the day in some quiet time, here’s the skinny, inspired by the holiday, from a wellness and nutrition perspective….mine.

The wellness part. How many times a day are you aware of saying thank you? Sure there is the “polite” side of us who responds with those words when someone has held open a door, picked something up that we dropped or has demonstrated another act of kindness. But it’s the “thank you” for the parking space that is open in the shopping center when we pull in,; the check arriving in the mail on the date it is supposed to do so; the rain that didn’t fall on the day of the big move,;the smile from the stranger in the street on a day when you’re feeling blue , or just the gratitude for getting up physically being well enough to get out of bed each morning, that resonates a bit differently. Appreciation feels good. It feels really good.

Here are some ways to soak it in:

-Using the holiday for traction, stroll into today with awareness of things you are grateful for. If you like, you can wait until the end of the day, looking back and seeing what stands out as either perfunctory thanks or atypical, extraordinary appreciation. It could be something as simple as no one in front of you on line at Starbucks. Or, it could be something as significant as receiving a phone call//text /e mail from someone you deeply care for.

-Do something for someone else without looking to receive anything in return. If you have some extra change and feel grateful for it, pay the toll for the car in back of you when going over a bridge. Or, whatever your inspired version of that is.

Human connection, when deeply rooted with some thanks, is a wonderful thing.

The nutrition part. So let’s talk a bit more about those vegetables Say what you want about the turkey. Yes, it is perhaps the literal centerpiece of most holiday tables. However it is the side dishes that really shine. Sweet potatoes, pumpkins, string beans, asparagus,, cauliflower, Brussels sprouts, squash, onions, spinach, cabbage, collard greens….the list goes on and on. Even if not every vegetable is a favorite, more than likely you will find several that float your boat and that take possession over part of your plate. Can you say that over the course of most other meals throughout a typical week?

There is something about the revelry….the pomp and circumstance around the vegetables on this particular day that is different than most others. As you take vegetables from the serving dishes notice what your favorites are and ask yourself if you eat them regularly. If not, why not? If it’s for lack of recipes, now is the time to stock up. Most newspapers and neighbors are sharing vegetables recipes this week. Or, type your favorite vegetable into Google and place the word “recipe” next to it and hit search. You will have at your fingertips, literally, delicious options spanning easy beginner to chef’s choice/options.

Or, if it’s the lack of energy toward cooking, focus on the beautiful concept of cook once, eat three or four times. The idea is in fine play the day after Thanksgiving when leftovers are the stars of the show. Revel in your fridge for the next few days. If you were a guest rather than a host then simply demand some doggy bags!

If you found that too much pumpkin or pecan pie was ingested ,remember the cleansing vegetables of cucumbers, radishes and onions (leeks, shallots, scallions too) and any of the leafy greens (Think of them as a feather duster going through your body) will help with digestion so that less “bloat” occurs faster. Lots of water too. (Seriously, you knew there wasn’t really going to be a post without the mention of hydration, right?)

So….what if every day were Thanksgiving? What if we would each stop at least once, if not more times through the day, and express some gratitude. What if we would eat several different vegetables with each of our meals? Would life look and feel any differently? Just asking…..

In deep appreciation and gratitude of this blog 's followers, here’s a recipe you might want to try next week…or anytime, really: Disclaimer: I’m not maintaining the recipe as my own because I don’t remember where it came from. It is every man (woman) unless/until someone wants to declare it. For now I’m just, you know, grateful for it.

Sweet Potato and Cranberry Bake
3-4 medium sized organic sweet potatoes
1 cup cranberries, chopped 1 apple
Dash of nutmeg
Dash of cardamom
¼ teaspoon of Celtic sea salt
3 tablespoons of organic unsalted butter
Slivered (or chopped) almonds (raw, not roasted)—to taste
Tablespoon and a half of Agave nectar

-Peel sweet potatoes and chop them into chunks

-Add potatoes to a pot of boiling water and cook until tender but not flaky (20-25 minutes or so) Drain and set a side.

-Preheat an oven to 350 degrees.- In a nonstick skillet, melt 2 tablespoons of butter in with peeled, cored and cubed apple. Sauté for five minutes. -Add ½ teaspoon of butter. When it is melted, add in the cranberries for 1-2 minutes.

-Then immediately take mixture and add with sweet potatoes to a shallow baking dish, and add in sea salt , nutmeg and cardamom; mix thoroughly

- Take slivered almonds and quick sauté them in 1 tbs butter and then drizzle with Agave, put mixture on top of sweet potato cranberry mix

-Add final ½ teaspoon of butter and bake in oven for 15-20 minutes.

Serves: 6

If you need some one-on-one help with overeating, not eating well/emotional eating and/or feeling blue through holiday season , you can contact me for a session at: Mela@wholebodyworks.net. I'll also be holding a teleclass for support around holiday eating on Tuesday, December 8th. E mail me for more details/sign up.