Hugh Jackman’s African Sweet Potato Stew

I found this recipe in Mark Hymans cook book a year or two ago and have made it several times since. I love all the flavor from the curry, spices and peanut butter and the sweet potato adds a nice consistency and makes this stew more filling. My kids on the other hand don’t love this dish. But here’s the thing: at least once a week I make a dish they don’t like that I really do, because that seems more than fair considering all the other days of the week, I cook things most of them enjoy.

Hugh Jackman’s African Sweet Potato Stew

3 T extra virgin olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 tsp grated peeled fresh ginger (or 1/2 tsp ground dry ginger)
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 Tbsp mild curry paste
1 medium sweet potato, peeled and chopped into 1/2 inch cubes
1 1/4 c vegetable broth
1 (28-ounce) can diced tomatoes
2 c mushrooms, chopped
1 heaping cup baby spinach, chopped
3 Tbsp natural peanut butter (like Adams)
2 Tbsp chopped fresh cilantro, plus more for garnish (optional- I’ve made this without when I didn’t have it on hand and it still tastes great)
Sea salt and freshly ground black pepper, to taste (I just had it out on the table for people to sprinkle it on top if they wanted)

Heat the olive oil in a large pot over medium heat until shimmering. Add the onion, garlic, ginger and cayenne and cook gently for 10 minutes. Add the curry paste, stir well, and cook for 1 minute. Stir in the sweet potato and cook for another 3-4 minutes. Add the broth and tomatoes and bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, until the sweet potato is fork-tender. Add the mushrooms and cook for another 5 minutes, then stir in the spinach.

In a small bowl, mix a couple scoops of stew with the peanut butter and stir well, then mix this back into the stew. Stir in the cilantro and add salt and pepper to taste(or just leave on table for individuals to add to their own). To serve, ladle the stew into bowls and garnish with additional cilantro.

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The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies


It has been awhile since my last post! I created a couple of new posts with recipes I love that I wanted to share, but I experienced several technical difficulties with wordpress and eventually forgot about it and moved onto other things(like my book I’m writing and training our new puppy!). Then we made these delicious, soft, melt-in-your-mouth chocolate chip cookies and I decided to try to create a post again. Turns out wordpress has made some changes and updates since my last post attempt, so I’m crossing my fingers that this post will work, because I need to have this recipe saved with my other favorites on here.

This recipe was inspired by two recipes: the Lion House Bakery recipe which we’ve been making for years, and a recipe we love that comes from a friend of ours. I ended up combining the two (they were  similar already), and the combination was perfect! We live in Utah and they set up nicely in our high altitude area, and don’t require any shortening to do so. Here’s the recipe:


The Best Chocolate Chip Cookies
*makes about 32, fairly big, cookies (3 TBSP dough each)

2 c butter, softened (Not melted; if butter is so soft it’s melting, put dough in fridge for 20 minutes before baking. I use unsalted. If you use salted, you can decrease the salt to 1/2 tsp)
1 1/2 c granulated sugar (white sugar)
2 c light brown sugar, packed
2 tsp vanilla extract
4 large eggs
6 c white flour
1 1/2 TBSP baking soda
2 tsp sea salt
4 c chocolate chips (or whatever chips you like…I made a few with white chocolate chips)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. In a Bosch or Kitchen Aid with wire whisks, cream butter and sugars together. Beat in vanilla and eggs. Here I switch out my wire whisks for the cookie dough paddles. Add in flour, baking soda and salt and mix to combine. Add in chocolate chips and mix. Roll 3 Tbsp(I use an ice cream scoop) of dough at a time into balls and place them on an ungreased cookie sheet (or you can line the cookie sheet with a silicone baking mat or parchment paper if you choose). Bake in preheated oven for 10-12 minutes, until barely golden brown on top. They should look a little undercooked/doughy. Let them sit on the baking sheet for a few minutes before removing to a cooling rack so they continue to set up(remember they’re a little doughy in the center when they first come out, but they’ll set up more as they sit on the pan during those few minutes, and then as they cool).

*these do not need to chill before being baked.
*you can freeze cookie dough balls for later. I usually bake half the dough right away and freeze the other cookie dough balls for a later day. I let them thaw at room temperature for a couple of hours before baking.

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Vegan chicken salad

Summer is here and I am loving the more relaxed schedule! It hasn’t gotten too hot yet, here in Utah, but warm enough that I’m not wanting to have oatmeal for lunch anymore and am preferring something cold. I often have a mexican salad (romaine greens, a chipotle black bean burger, tomato slices, salsa and guacamole), but when I want to mix things up, I’ll make this for dinner, and eat the leftovers for lunch over the next few days. This is a recipe I got from my sister last year when she was visiting from Seattle. We made it multiple times over the few days she was here, because there were several of us that loved it. But to be completely honest, most of my kids don’t really like this meal, so they’ll eat the croissant with a little bit of this salad. But I love it, so I’m happy to have leftovers to enjoy for lunch for a few days! My kids ask me why it’s called vegan chicken salad, when there’s no chicken in it. I tell them it’s because if I called it vegan salad, that could mean anything. This way we all know what chicken salad is, and it’s that, just minus the chicken with some white beans instead :).


Here are the ingredients you’ll need. If you don’t have a red onion, that’s fine. You can use white or yellow. The color of the red is nice in this salad. Also, some brands of the garbanzo beans (like Walmart’s brand), are a lot harder to mash than others. So you may want to experiment.



Here you see the beans I mashed up with the spices, mayo and onion. Next we’ll stir in the grapes and celery.





It’s nice to be able to have something yummy to eat in the summer, without having to turn on your oven and make your house even more hot. I hope you enjoy it!



Vegan Chicken Salad
*serves 8

2 cans garbanzo beans, drained and rinsed
1/3 c red onion, chopped fine (white or yellow is fine too; but I like the color from the red)
2 Tbsp Dijon mustard
1/4 tsp salt
1/4 tsp black pepper
1/2 tsp garlic powder
1/2 tsp onion powder, or dried chopped onion
3 Tbsp veganaise or Mayo
1 c grape halves
1/2 c chopped celery (about 2-3 stalks)

Place the garbanzo beans, onion, mustard, spices and mayo in a medium mixing bowl. Smash together with a potato masher. Stir in grape halves and chopped celery. Allow to sit in fridge for an hour before serving on croissant, or bread (I like to put it on a slice of toasted whole wheat bread; open-faced). *You can also eat this right away, but allowing it to sit in the fridge for a short time will not only chill the salad, but also allow the flavors to blend more fully.

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Creamy Coconut Korma

My husband and I love Indian food. Our kids are okay with some of the sauces, and they like Naan bread, but they are not big fans….yet. But, just as the author from French Kids Eat Anything says, they’ve got to try it many times (I think 12? And I’m going to go even further and say 20) to develop a taste for it. It’s also good for me to remember that food always tastes better when they’re hungry, so I’ve got to remember to not let them snack an hour or two before dinner.

As you can see, we use a lot of spices in this recipe. You might be wondering where in the world you can even find some of these things, like fennel seeds, and cumin seeds. Most you should find at your local grocery store, Walmart, Target, Sprouts etc and I picked up a couple from an Indian store near by but  you can also use the powdered form of any of these spices, and you should be able to find the powdered form anywhere. I like to use whole spices because they keep their flavor longer, so especially for things like fennel or cardamom, spices you might not use very often, having the whole spice is nice.

Also, you don’t have to use the entire jalapeno. I do. But I like spicy foods. And so does my family. Just as a frame of reference, when I order Indian food at a restaurant, I ask for medium heat, and that’s what you’ll get with this. Which, Indian medium heat, might feel too hot for some. So feel free to use half, a quarter or even less jalapeno if you’re not into the heat. You’ll still get a little from the cayenne and chili powders.


There are a few ‘optional’ things you can do with this Korma. You can add cooked chicken, or steamed veggies, or paneer (a soft cheese), or raisins. If I’m doing chicken, I’ll usually throw it in the crock pot in the morning, on low with some broth, mostly because I’m lazy and I just want to dump it in and forget about it. If I’m adding in steamed veggies, I will steam them as I’m cooking my sauce. The paneer or raisins, I just add once the sauce is nearly done.

Alright, so first thing you’ll do is put your cashews in a bowl with some cool water and let them sit for 15 minutes while you’re putting the other paste ingredients, starting with your water, into your blender. By soaking the nuts, you break down the phytic acid so it can be more easily absorbed. Nuts also have enzyme inhibitors making them hard to digest, but soaking them neutralizes the enzymes for proper digestion.

Once all your ingredients are in there, drain and add the cashews and blend until smooth. As a side note, when I add my ginger, I just peel it and then drop the 1 inch piece in the blender.



Once that’s done,warm your oil over medium heat in a large frying pan. Cut up your onions like so (they don’t need to be diced because they’ll go into the blender), and add them to the warm oil. Next, add your spices to the pan and let them cook together for a few minutes, until the onions are translucent. Add your fresh and canned tomatoes and cook a few minutes longer.


Add these veggies and spices to the blender with your paste.img_9401

Blend until smooth.



Pour the blender contents back into your pan. Add about 1/2 cup  water to the emptied blender jar, put lid on, and swirl it around to get all the paste sticking to the inside of the jar, and pour into the frying pan. Keep pan on medium-low heat and stir in your coconut milk until blended together.

Add your optional cooked, shredded or cubed chicken/veggies/raisins,or just keep it as a plain Korma sauce. Allow the flavors to cook together another 5 minutes before serving over brown basmati rice (or any cooked rice; I often have it over just steamed broccoli and cauliflower). I don’t like to add a lot of salt to the recipe, so I will sprinkle a little bit on the top before, just before I add my chopped cilantro.  Also great with a side of Naan, or whole wheat pita bread that’s been toasted.



Vegetable Korma

*serves 8


1/3 cup raw cashews (soaked in a bowl of water for 15+ minutes, then drained)
1 c water
1/2 cup unsweetened shredded coconut
1 Tbsp coriander seeds (or 1 Tbsp ground coriander)
2 tsp fennel seeds (or 2 tsp ground fennel)
1 tsp cumin seeds (or 1 tsp ground cumin)
6 whole cloves (or 1/2 tsp ground cloves)
4 green cardamom pods (or 1/4 tsp ground cardamom)
1/4 tsp black peppercorn (or 1/4 tsp ground)
1 jalapeno (can do 1/2 or less if you’re more of a ‘mild’ spice person)
4 tsp minced garlic or 8 cloves
1 inch ginger, peeled

Combine all paste ingredients into your blender and blend until smooth.

2 medium onions, chopped (red, yellow, or white)
1/2 tsp sea salt
1 tsp curry powder
1/2 tsp turmeric powder
1/2 tsp red chili powder
1/2 tsp cayenne pepper
1 large Roma tomato, chopped
1 14.5 oz can diced tomatoes (or any cut)

1 can coconut milk with full fat (I like Thai Kitchen brand)
chopped cilantro to garnish
optional: 1-2 cups chopped and steamed veggies like carrots, potato, peas
optional: 1/3 c golden raisins or 1/2 cup cooked garbanzo beans
optional: cooked, shredded chicken or cubed paneer. (I’ll usually put a frozen chicken breast in the crock pot with some vegetable broth in the morning and cook it on low all day)

In a large frying pan, add 1 Tbsp coconut or olive oil over medium heat. Add the chopped onion with 1/2 tsp sea salt, yellow curry powder, turmeric, chili powder, and cayenne pepper, and cook until onions are translucent, about 5 minutes. Add tomatoes and cook until they are mushy, a few more minutes. Add these veggies and spices to the blender with your paste. Blend until smooth. Pour the blender contents back into your pan. Add about 1/2 cup  water to the emptied blender jar, put lid on, and swirl it around to get all the paste sticking to the inside of the jar, and pour into the frying pan. Keep pan on medium-low heat and stir in your coconut milk until blended together.

Add your optional cooked chicken/veggies/raisins,or just keep it as a plain Korma sauce. Allow the flavors to cook together another 5 minutes before serving over brown basmati rice (or any cooked rice; I will also often have it over just steamed broccoli and cauliflower). Sprinkle your serving with a tiny bit of salt, and then garnish with chopped cilantro. Also great with a side of Naan, or whole wheat pita bread that’s been toasted.

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Pineapple Julius

We like to call this concoction, Pineapple Julius, because the foaminess reminds us of an Orange Julius. This is super easy and fast, with only a few ingredients, all of which I conveniently always have on hand. Our family loves this drink, which we offer after dinner, as a treat…we don’t normally have treats during the week, but this is an exception as the only sugar is from the pineapple and it’s juice.

Pineapple Julius
*makes about 4 cups. Serves 2- 4

5 oz almond milk

5 oz canned coconut milk (from a can; I like Thai brand. Unsweetened, full fat)

1,  20 oz can pineapple, in its juice (including juice; doesn’t matter how the pineapple is cut as it’ll all go into the blender)

1 c ice

Place in a high power blender and blend until smooth (about 20-30 seconds in my Vitamix.).

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Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

It has been awhile since I’ve posted here! Over a month! But I have so many recipes on here already, that I only want to post ones we really love. And since we tend to find what we love and stick to it, sometimes a month or two goes by before we pick up another that we want to add to our list of favorites. But we have added a couple recipes recently, so let’s get to it!

We have a pancake recipe we really like that calls for cottage cheese. We don’t make it often, because we don’t often have cottage cheese on hand. One week, we had Ricotta cheese and thought we’d use it as a substitute for cottage cheese in pancakes, and then my husband suggested we try to make a Lemon Ricotta pancake recipe instead, since we love Lemon Ricotta cookies :). It was a stretch, but a good stretch. In fact all five children loved them so much they said they like them better than the pancakes we normally make every Sunday. And they LOVE those! And we still love those, but we LOVE these too, so give them a try! They smell and taste divine!


We’re going to have these for breakfast on Valentine’s Day. You could either add a little pink food coloring or beet puree, or you could just top them with some strawberry slices, like in the picture below. 

I love that on Sundays we have the whole family home and we make dinner together. Here are some of us, 3 of our 7, helping prep dinner. And of course it’s a mess, and of course the fridge is wide open! We use the zesting side of our cheese grater to zest our lemons. We always have lots of lemons on hand since we put lemons in our smoothies, and we drink hot lemon water in the mornings.

Pretty simple recipe. Mix dry ingredients together. Mix liquid ingredients together. Combine and cook.


Lemon Ricotta Pancakes

*Serves 8. Makes about 30 pancakes.

3 c whole wheat flour
4 tsp baking powder
1/2 tsp baking soda
1/2 tsp sea salt
2 T pure maple syrup (or sugar)
1 3/4-2 c milk (cow or unsweetened almond milk. We usually start by adding 1 1/2 c milk, and then add a little more if needed. The amount changes depending on the day, but you’re going for the somewhat runny/lumpy pancake batter consistency and we usually do get pretty close to 2 cups, maybe 1 3/4c)
1 1/2 c Ricotta cheese (whole or low fat)
6 eggs
2 tsp vanilla
1 Tbsp butter, melted
zest of 2 lemons (about 2 Tbsp)
juice of 2 lemons (about 1/2 c)

Preheat an electric griddle to about 300 degrees (or medium heat). In a mixing bowl, whisk together flour, baking powder, baking soda and salt until combined. In a separate medium mixing bowl, whisk together milk, ricotta, eggs and vanilla until well blended. Add butter, lemon zest and lemon juice to milk mixture and stir until combined (lemon juice will cause it to curdle a little, which is normal). Pour milk mixture into flour mixture and whisk just to combined (batter should be slightly lumpy). Pour 1/4 cup batter onto griddle or skillet and cook until bubbles begin to appear on surface and bottom is golden brown, then flip and cook opposite side until golden brown. Serve warm, drizzled with maple or berry syrup. Other optional toppings: whipped cream (we like coco whip), peanut butter, sliced strawberries, or blueberries. These are great as leftovers. Can also be stored in a freezer ziploc bag and frozen and used within a month.

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Vegetable Pot Pie

I love Pot Pie and being vegetarian, I normally just pick out the chicken when I make this for my family, but this week we didn’t have chicken on hand and I thought I’d just add in some extra veggies and make a veggie pot pie. It was so yummy! My kids liked it too, though one mostly ate the potatoes and one mostly ate the crust…eh, it’s all good. I think this dish is more about the gravy, potatoes and the pie crust anyway! I even found a whole wheat pie crust at the store so this dish was pretty easy to put together.

This is what I put in my pot pie, but you can use a variety of veggies depending on what you have on hand. As you can see I used a little fresh and frozen. I think next time I’ll add in some cauliflower, too.

I made my homemade vegan gravy as the veggies boiled, and then I mixed veggies and gravy together and put them in the bottom of my mostly unbaked pie crust (You bake it for 5 minutes prior to adding in the veggies).

I placed another unbaked pie dough on top, pinched the edges, cut a few slits in the top to let the steam out and then placed it on a baking sheet (in case some gravy dripped out while cooking; I hate cleaning ovens) and put it in the oven.

Vegetable Pot Pie (vegan)
Serves 6-8

1 c diced carrots
1 russet potato, peeled and cubed
2 stalks celery, thinly sliced
1/3 c white or yellow onion, diced
1 c frozen green peas
optional: 1 c diced cauliflower, 1 c corn, etc
2 c gravy (CLICK HERE for my favorite gravy, and it’s vegan)
two 9-inch unbaked pie crusts (I used a whole wheat version but can use gluten-free or regular pie crust)

Preheat oven to 425 degrees. Line a jelly roll pan or baking sheet with silicone or foil to keep any filling from dripping and burning in your oven. Place one 9-inch pie dough crust in a pie pan and bake for 5 minutes and then set aside. In a medium saucepan, combine carrots, potatoes, onions and celery(or whatever optional chopped veggies you choose). Cover with water, bring to a boil and cook until the potatoes are tender, about 15 minutes. During the last 3 minutes, add the frozen peas. Remove from heat, drain and set aside. While that’s cooking if you haven’t yet made gravy, do so now. Mix the gravy and cooked vegetables together and pour into the partially baked pie crust. Top with the second unbaked pie crust, pinch the edges together and cut a few slits in the top with a knife so the steam can release. Bake for about 25 minutes or until crust is golden. Allow to sit for 10 minutes before serving. Cut into 6-8 slices and serve.

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Vegan Sweet Potato Enchiladas

While taking my whole foods plant based nutrition class( aka WFPB, which I recently finished!!! Woot, woot!!), I searched our library and checked out various “China Study Cookbooks” …a total of 5. All of these cookbooks are WFPB which basically means the recipes not only vegan with no animal products, but also no processed foods including oils, refined sugars, and flours. I’ve been experimenting with the recipes and so far we’ve found a few keepers, one of which, is this recipe for Sweet Potato Enchiladas, which I adjusted some. My husband wasn’t too excited about the idea of having enchiladas without cheese, but he gave them a try and during dinner he commented a couple of times on how good they were, and afterwards he suggested we hold on to this recipe :). So, into my blog it goes because this is where my collection of our favorites are and I love that anyone in my house, can look up the recipe and make it, without mom!

You’ll want to make sure you’ve baked your sweet potato ahead of time. I prick the potato before cooking, put it in a 9×13 pan lined with foil, and cook it in the peel, without washing for about an hour at 400 degrees. You’ll know when it’s done because some of the juice will start seeping out of the holes from where you pricked it. Allow it to cool before peeling the skin so you don’t burn yourself.

Start off by preheating your oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute onions, garlic, cumin and coriander in vegetable broth over medium-high heat until the onions are light brown. Add the coconut aminos/soy sauce and spinach. Cook for a minute or two until spinach wilts. Remove from heat. Fold in sweet potatoes, black beans and salt.

Place a couple tablespoons of the mixture into the center of each tortilla and roll. Place the enchiladas, seam-side down, in a 9×13 baking dish.

Pour salsa on top and cover with aluminum foil. I like my food with a bit of spice so we used a Medium-heat salsa. I like this La Victoria Brand, and also Pace or Picante. Bake the covered enchiladas for 25 minutes.

Serve warm with sides. We love brown rice/quinoa, black beans, greens, corn and guacamole or chopped avocados.

Sweet Potato Enchiladas
*Serves 6

3/4 c diced onions
4 garlic cloves, minced (or 2 tsp minced garlic)
2 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
2 Tbsp vegetable broth
2 Tbsp coconut aminos (or soy sauce or braggs liquid aminos)
1 c chopped spinach
1 c baked sweet potato, mashed
1 c cooked black beans (or canned black beans)
1/4 tsp sea salt
14 corn tortillas
2 c favorite salsa (I love the medium heat La Victoria or Pace)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. In a large skillet, saute onions, garlic, cumin and coriander in vegetable broth over medium-high heat until onions are light brown. Add soy sauce and spinach. Cook for a minute or two until spinach wilts. Remove from heat. Fold in sweet potatoes, black beans and salt. Place a couple tablespoons of the mixture into the center of each tortilla and roll. Place the enchiladas, seam-side down, in a 9×13 baking dish. Pour salsa on top and cover with aluminum foil. Bake 25 minutes. Serve warm with a side of brown rice/quinoa, black beans, corn and guacamole.

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While my husband and I were visiting Italy and Austria last year, we noticed that nearly every breakfast we were offered, in various cities, had Muesli. We ate it regularly. Then we came home and forgot all about it. That is, I forgot until I was reading through some recipes and watching videos from my Whole Foods Plant Based nutrition course and they had one that looked quick and easy so we gave it a try and loved it. Most everything I had on hand, though I did subsitute a couple of things: ground flax for wheat germ, and mixed rolled grains (like triticale, oats, barley etc) for regular rolled oats.

I added all the ingredients to a large mixing bowl, stirred it all together and then stored it in an airtight container. My husband and I have been eating it for breakfast or for a snack. He likes to put warm milk over his, and I’m sure I will too as the weather gets cooler, though for now I’ve been having it with cold milk.

If it’s not sweet enough for you, you can either add fresh fruit to your individual serving (like sliced strawberries, peaches or blueberries), or you can flavor your milk first by adding a couple of dates or some raisins and blending that together before pouring it over your Muesli. 

This will store well in your pantry for a couple of months. 

*Makes about 8 cups

4 1/2 c rolled oats (or other rolled grains…I sometimes get a blend of rolled red and white wheat, oats, triticale, barley and rye)

1 c raisins

1 c chopped dried fruit (I like chopped dates and dried cherries…just make sure there is no added sugar)

1/4 c ground flax

1/2 c chopped walnuts

1/2 c chopped or sliced almonds

1/2 c unsweetened shredded coconut

1/4 c raw sunflower seeds

Optional: 1/4 tsp cinnamon

Combine all ingredients in a large bowl and mix well. Store in an airtight container. Muesli keeps for 2 months at room temperature. Serve with unsweetened almond milk (or milk if choice). Can have this cold or warm…if warm, place in microwave for a few seconds after adding milk. You can also top this with fresh fruit like strawberries, blueberries or peaches.

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7 Tips for Eating Healthy Over the Holidays

We are nearing the end of October, which means we have multiple holidays coming up, all of which seem to revolve around food. It can be really hard to eat healthy during this time of year, and by eating ‘healthy’, I mean, eating real food. A lot of the ‘food’ we eat, especially during holidays is more “food-like-substances”. What do I mean by that? If you look up the word “food” in the dictionary, the first definition you’ll see will read something like this:

Food: “any nourishing substance that is eaten, drunk, or otherwise taken into the body to sustain life, provide energy and promote growth, etc.”

Food is nourishing. To provide nourishment means it will “supply what is necessary for life, health and growth.”

What kinds of “foods” come to mind when you’re thinking about Halloween, Thanksgiving and Christmas? Here are some ‘foods’ that quickly come to my mind surrounding those holidays:

Halloween: candy

Thanksgiving: turkey, white rolls, pies, potatoes, pumpkin rolls, cakes and breads

Christmas: cinnamon Rolls, sugar cookies, shortbread cookies in the metal tins, assorted cookies, candycanes, tamales (My dad was from Mexico), meat, oranges, chocolate oranges

Looking at this list, you can see why it would be hard to eat healthy, or eat real ‘food’ around the holidays. But it is very possible and I want to share some ideas with you that have helped me stay on track over the years.

  1. Plan Ahead. Make a menu before hand that will contain plenty of healthy food items; if you’re not the host, bring healthy food to share, I’ll often bring a big salad with nuts and grains inside, plus another side dish (like my healthy sweet potatoes for Thanksgiving) and you can even bring a healthier dessert if you’d like.  You can also have the fun, traditional food items, but make sure you have some foods available that will fill and satisfy you, which will help you to not overdo it with the other items. Now this is a little trickier with Halloween because if you have children that want to trick-or-treat, even if you plan a healthy dinner and they all eat — which may prevent them from overeating candy that night — you’ll still have leftover candies for days, weeks or more. But here are some helpful ideas around Halloween, all of which we have personally used:  1) call around and find a dentist who will buy your candy. My kids dentist will weigh their candy and pay them accordingly. He then ships it overseas to troops. 2) You buy the candy from them. Give them $5 or $10, or have them exchange their bag of candy for a toy or something else they’ve been wanting and then toss the candy or bring it to work or some other function/gathering. 3)Don’t go trick-or-treating. Do another fun activity in it’s place. We talked with our kids before Halloween one year and just said, ‘is there another fun activity you’d like to do instead of trick-or-treating? You know we don’t let you keep much of the candy anyway, so if you’d rather do something else, we’re up for ideas.’ We ended up dressing up in costumes, going bowling and then out to dinner. It was a lovely evening, everyone had a ton of fun and then we didn’t have all the candy hanging around. 4) Let them each pick 5 items and then store the rest. You can bring it to an event, or save it for making Gingerbread houses. We’ve actually done this the past few years. I freeze chocolate bars in a large ziploc bag and keep them in my garage freezer, under other things so they’re not always being seen. The other candies I’ll sort through, some we toss, some we save in a ziploc and I store them way up high where they’re out of sight, and then come Christmas time, we invite friends over to make gingerbread houses, and we don’t have to buy any candies, and we have plenty to share. They do eat some while we make the gingerbread houses, and I’m okay with that, but again, plan ahead, make sure they have just eaten a good lunch or dinner before you’re planning to make the gingerbread houses, and they’ll eat a lot less; or tell them before hand they can each pick 2 to eat while working on their gingerbread house.
  2. Start your day off right. By this I mean that it’s much easier to eat well when you’ve gotten enough rest the night before, when you’ve exercised that morning and when you’ve eaten healthy foods leading up to this holiday feast, being sure to include foods with lots of fiber, like fruits and vegetables, as they’ll satisfy hunger and are lower in calories. When you ‘win’ those battles early on in the day, it boosts your confidence and makes you feel good and so you’re more willing to keep that going, and exercise self control.
  3. Drink a tall glass of water before you eat. This will help you feel a little less hungry and it will slow you down and give you time to think. Mindfulness is so important when it comes to eating, especially if you struggle with food, or if you love food the way I love food. While you’re drinking your water, look over the foods available, and decide what you’re going to start with, which healthy foods you’re going to fill your plate with and eat first, and then also choose which foods you want to idulge in, maybe there’s 5 pies and 3 other desserts, and you’re going to pick your one or two favorites, or a small sampling of a few.
  4. Load up on the healthy, real food items first. Fill up a plate with vegetables, salad, whole grains and eat all of that before going back for the other items.
  5. Have smaller dessert  portions (or other indulgence-foods). Once you decide which treats you want to indulge in, either cut the serving in half, and only eat that smaller portion, or have a sampling of bite-sized pieces if you want to try several things. If a smaller plate is available, use that for your dessert as it’ll make it seem like you have more.
  6. Sit and enjoy your food while you’re eating it. Really take the time to eat your food slow, and enjoy each bite noticing the taste and texture. Of course visit with loved ones, but stop eating for a moment while chatting, and then continue. Don’t multi-task, don’t eat while on your phone, and don’t eat while standing. You don’t want to end up next to the buffet table, snacking, and not really paying attention to what or how much you’re eating.  When you find that you’re no longer hungry, that you’re feeling content, or that you’re not really enjoying your food anymore, stop eating. Even if you have food left on your plate. And just know that when you’re hungry again, you can eat more.
  7. Don’t hang on to leftovers. One day of splurging is not going to make a huge difference, but when the foods are hanging around for days, it’ll start to add up.  If you’re hosting the party, send leftovers with friends/family. Don’t let tempting foods sit around for a week, calling to you every day, so create a good environment for yourself where you don’t have to continually deal with that struggle. If you don’t have guests to take leftovers, or lots of kids who will probably finish it the next day (my case), you can toss it, or just don’t make as much in the first place, only make what you think your family will really eat. If my husband likes to have leftovers, I might ask him to take it to work and keep it in the fridge there.  But I’ve found that my husband usually doesn’t want leftovers for more than a day, so I can just make him a plate and give away the rest, or freeze the leftover meat for another week. Same idea with Halloween candy. If you’re going to give it out, buy it the day of, if it’s hard for you to leave it alone, and then toward the end of the night, put whatever candy you have left in a bowl on your porch, and I think you’ll find that oftentimes, it’ll all get taken.

You can still enjoy your favorite occasional indulgences, but in moderation. Plan ahead and be mindful of what you eat, for holidays, and always.

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