Wednesday, November 9, 2011

Holiday Season Is Upon Us

This is the time of year in which many cultures and religions celebrate many holidays.  Typically, when holidays are celebrated there is a meal at the center of the celebration that brings people together.  Even in our 3 person family, we use food to celebrate the holidays.

This brings food to the forefront of an awful lot of thought for me.  Because I do love to bake and cook, I like to break out those recipes that I shouldn’t eat all year long.  It also gives me a great excuse to play in the kitchen and to try recipes I’ve stashed away all year waiting for a reason to try them.

This year I am not in a good place with my weight.  While I’m not brave enough to share the actual numbers of my weight with you, I will say that as of the typing of this blog that I am 8 pounds above the top range of what I would ideally like to be.  That top range number is not even where I like to be but rather a warning number for myself that I need to set the fork down more often than I am picking it up.

I don’t know what happened.  Usually summer is my nemesis.  The loose schedule of the summer leads me to places I should not be going with my food consumption.  I have learned this over the years and I managed to get through summer only 2 pounds above my high range weight.  I considered this an accomplishment because at the end of last summer I was 12 pounds above that number.  I think relief set in after I saw that and I relaxed a little too much once fall set in.  Last week I was exactly where I was at the end of last summer…12 pounds above that high end number.  The number that is supposed to keep me from getting in any worse shape.

I now find myself just a couple weeks before Thanksgiving with weight to lose and holiday food to prepare and eat.  I have been doing very well with staying on track and am in a very good state of mind regarding my food.  I know miracles will not happen and prefer the slower weight loss (did I just say that?) because I do know that ultimately weight lost in the proper (slow) way tends to stay off longer.  Therefore, I need to figure out what is going to happen Thanksgiving day. 

Today I planned my Thanksgiving meal.  It’s nothing fancy, I guarantee you, but it helps me to have a plan so I can decide how to tackle it regarding my weight and my preference of trying to do it in a more natural way.

Here’s what I have planned:

Turkey
Mashed Potatoes
Gravy
Stuffing
Butter Rolls
Apple Turnovers
Something Pumpkin

See, nothing special at all.  However, I need to look further and figure out how I can best keep all of this low in points for my Weight Watcher’s plan and on budget for my eating “more conscious” plan. 

I’ve done some research and here it goes…..

Turkey

While turkey is the easiest as far as Weight Watchers goes, it’s a hard go when it comes to being more conscious. 

I’ve done some looking around online and have found that there are no conscious turkey farms that are too close by.  Even if there were some close by, we are talking anywhere from $3.49 a pound to $4.99 a pound.  I do pay these prices for some of the meat that we buy but it is usually boneless and I can buy it in smaller amounts so it’s easier to handle financially. 

I found that the average Thanksgiving turkey is 12-16 pounds.  With those prices you are looking at anywhere between $41.88 (for a 12 pound turkey at $3.49 a pound) to $79.84 (for a 16 pound turkey at $4.99 a pound).  I know, I know…they’re free-range, organic, better for the environment and the farmer’s health.  I visited a community organic farm on a field trip with my son last year and I was so loving the vibe of the place.  This farm is about 50 minutes from my home, which I’d be willing to drive if the price was right.  However, they say they have few turkeys at less than 16 pounds and their members get first choice at turkeys so I would not be guaranteed a smaller turkey if I were to order one.  So let’s say that I have to get an 18 pound turkey at $4.50 a pound.  $81.00.  Say I have to take a 20 pound turkey.  $90.00.  I’m all for doing what I can to eat better and help the environment and keep the earth healthy but jeez Louise!! 

With all that said, I am buying a turkey from a local supermarket.  Maybe I will just have to settle with buying from a smaller, very local chain to feel better about my purchase.  At least I’m not going to a big chain.  Does it make much difference?  Probably not but I think that is all I will be able to do as far as my turkey goes this year.

Mashed Potatoes

At Thanksgiving I like to break out the Death by Butter mashed potato recipe.  Check it out.  I saw it on a local show that reviews restaurants.  Butter, cream, asiago cheese, more butter.  It’s absolutely amazing.  If I had my choice to die of anything, it would indeed be by these potatoes. 

Since my weight is not going to go anywhere but up if I make these, I will be passing these up this year.  I was going to try to modify it but it is the butter that makes these what they are.  I will probably do the skinny mashed potato thing where you boil the potatoes in chicken broth then mash them with some of the chicken broth.  I’d like to “fancy” them up a bit so perhaps some I will look to the other recipe for that.  Asiago is such a strong tasting cheese that a little can go a long way. 

I always buy organic potatoes and chicken broth so this is very easy to work with my plan to be more conscious.

Gravy

I don’t make gravy.  You know how some things you have the knack for and some you do not?  Well, gravy is in my “do-not-have-the-knack-for” list. 

We are very lucky to have Willow Tree Farm in this area and they sell their gravy at a close by supermarket.  It’s not all those conscious things I want it to be but it is at least local. 

A ¼ cup of their gravy has 30 calories and 1.5 grams of fat.  It tastes much better than the jarred and canned gravy I have bought in the past.  It’s $0.99 for a 2 cup tub of it. 

How can this girl who can’t make gravy go wrong?

Stuffing

This is not an issue for me as I don’t eat it. 

I will make homemade bread for the stuffing and buy as many organic ingredients that I can find for it which usually isn’t too hard. 

The chicken broth, as I mentioned above, I always have on hand.  Celery is often reasonable.  I will have to see what else my boys will want in it.  They are always willing to try a new recipe with different ingredients.  Once we decide on a recipe, I will better know how well I can do with this one but so far, I feel good about it.

Butter Rolls

Rolls, rolls, rolls.  This has always been the highlight of any holiday meal for me.  Bread is one of my huge weak spots. 

Because this is one thing I really enjoy, I will make what I want the way it is supposed to be made.  The recipe is out of a bread machine cookbook that I have from over 10 years ago and it is just what is says it is…a buttery roll. 

These have eggs, sugar and of course butter in them.  All those things that make a roll taste so wonderful.  What I am going to do is make the smallest batch of these with organic sugar, local eggs and maybe even organic butter.

I will not be making these in a bread machine but the good thing about the bread machine cookbook is that for each recipe they have the ingredient amounts for small, medium and large loaves or batches of dough for rolls. 

The small makes 8, which is plenty for the 3 of us.  That means I will eat 2 of these. If we each have 2 with dinner there will be 2 leftover and I will just let the boys have the extra 2 with their leftovers.  I usually make the “large” which makes 16 rolls so we have enough for all our leftovers through the weekend.

Apple Turnovers

On a whim I bought a box of puff pastry at Trader Joe’s a while ago.  I had no real plans for it but had read how good it was and since it was a frozen product, I bought it so I’d have it on hand to play with when the mood struck me. 

Just recently I saw a recipe for apple turnovers in a Prevention Magazine email newsletter.  Their emphasis was on portion control since it was still using puff pastry and sugar in the recipe. 

Portion control is my issue.  With having puff pastry on hand and a recipe for apple turnovers, I now have a solution for my portion issues. 

When I cut a pie we get about 6 slices out of it and it’s gone in a day with the 3 of us eating it.  Knowing myself, I feel that having a dessert that is already baked in an individual portion will help me with portion size since I cannot cut it too large, it’s the size it is.  Sure, I could eat more than 1 but I am less likely to this way. 

The apples I will be using for these are from a farm in Northborough, MA so they are local.  They are not organic but their website says they use integrated pest management.  This method controls the way in which they use pesticides so that they do not use as many of them…as far as I understand. 

The Trader Joe’s puff pastry has 5 ingredients in it that are completely recognizable; flour, butter, salt, sugar and water.  Pepperidge Farms puff pastry has 8 ingredients in it which include hydrogenated vegetable shortening and high fructose corn syrup. 

Something Pumpkin

Something pumpkin? What is this? 

Since I do not like pumpkin, I don’t consider this an issue for myself.  I let the boys figure out what they want and then I make it for them. 

I have canned organic pumpkin in my cupboard right now so that is about all I know about what I can do for this part of the meal right now.  Typically they ask for pie but I would like to see if I can do something a little different this year for them.  It will likely still be pie but there are a lot of pumpkin pie variations out there and I want to play with something new!


There’s my breakdown of how I plan for this holiday dinner to go down.  I know I can do it; I have in the past and plan to this year.  Sometimes the 3 day weekend after the holiday itself is harder than the day of the holiday.  What I have to remember is a saying that one of my favorite Weight Watcher’s leader said one year:

It’s a holi-DAY, not a holi-WEEK.

With that, I will leave you to consider what you might do this holiday season to help yourself out with your goals and priorities.  Happy Thanksgiving!

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