Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday because I just flat-out love cooking and feeding people, especially when I feel good about the foods I'm making. Over the last several years, I've slowly transitioned away from cooking and baking with refined sweeteners and wheat (and other grains that contain gluten), and I try to minimize dairy as much as possible.
This year's Thanksgiving was no different - and it did not disappoint! I made some old favorites, as well as a few new recipes that are definite keepers. I had planned to make homemade cornbread for cornbread dressing, but the thought of it made me feel stuffed - probably because it's the one food I over-ate last Thanksgiving! It's my mom's recipe and it's addicting, but honestly, we didn't even miss it. We ended up with a protein, two veggies, two starches, gravy and cranberry sauce, dessert, and wine. Yeah. We good.
Here's my complete Thanksgiving 2016 menu:
Turkey - my husband was on turkey duty once again. He cooked our 13-lb. bird in an oil-less frier. It uses infrared heat to cook the turkey. Deep-fried taste with no oil - MWAHAHA! So crazy and so good!
Brussels Sprouts with Bacon - I don't use a recipe for this, but if you need one, it's in the Thanksgiving Playbook as well.
Buttermilk Mashed Potatoes - a few Yukon gold potatoes, boiled and mashed. Then I added some reduced-fat buttermilk and a couple tablespoons of butter, sea salt, and fresh black pepper. I keep mashed potatoes simple and light.
Cauliflower Gratin - I used this recipe from Simply Recipes and it was my mom's and my favorite dish this year! I've never made it before but it will be back for Thanksgiving 2017! To make it gluten-free, I used a little Pamela's gluten-free all-purpose flour to thicken the sauce and skipped the breadcrumb topping.
Gravy - Store-bought. Since we use an oil-less frier to make our turkey, there are no pan drippings to make gravy with. You better believe I used a box of Trader Joe's Turkey Gravy and felt just fine about it. I did add some chopped up turkey liver to give it a little more flavor and make it less...I don't know. Boxy.
Spiced Cranberry Sauce - Homemade, and the first thing to disappear. I put cranberry sauce on everything. It's usually the food I start craving first a few weeks before the holiday. (Is that weird? Am I alone in my cranberry sauce obsession?) I keep this very simple and I like it on the tart side. It's a bag of whole cranberries cooked down with 3/4 c. of orange juice. Then I add ground cinnamon and a pinch of ground cloves and the zest of one orange. Get the recipe HERE.
This year, I wanted to make one dessert and make it amazing. We are all pumpkin pie fans in this house, but this year I wanted to....I don't know. Elevate it somehow?
I knew it would add a little more work, but please refer back to the first sentence of this post. I love to cook and bake for people, especially when I know that a little extra TLC in the cooking process will yield a finished product that's even better, healthier, and more nourishing for my friends and family.
I took a risk and tried a new pie crust recipe and it was the first thing my mom commented on!
"This crust is good!"
YEP! And it was gluten-free and dairy-free, but you wouldn't know it! Have you ever had a pie crust made with coconut oil?! Me either - so when I found a recipe for it on a blog called "A Little Insanity", I had to try it!
The filling was a little more involved than normal, too. HEY - there's nothing wrong with using the recipe on the back of the Libby's Pumpkin Pie filling. I love that pie and most people do too! (It's a classic for a reason!) I didn't want to get crazy with toppings and other weird additions, so I kept the pie filling traditional, all while lowering the sugar content and pumping up the flavor and texture. Secret ingredient: A cup of mashed roasted sweet potato.
For a silky-smooth pie filling, I cooked the pumpkin and sweet potato together on the stove-top for about 10-15 minutes to cook the water out and make the filling less watery and less likely to curdle and break apart. Then, once the whole custard was combined, I strained it in a fine mesh sieve. I was shocked at all the small particles and bits the strainer caught, and was really happy those weren't in our pie!
FAT LOSS FOODIE BAKING HACK
The original recipe called for 1/4 c. maple syrup and 3/4 c. sugar. I keep the maple syrup but used coconut sugar instead of white sugar, and only used 1/4 c. The filling was almost sweet enough just like this, but I added 4 packets of Stevia in the Raw for just a bit more natural sweetness. The original recipe also called for a cup of candied yams, but I like to cut sugar where I can and already had extra roasted sweet potatoes from the Maple Bourbon Sweet Potatoes.
One slice of this decadent-tasting pie will only set you back 264 calories. Each slice has only 17 grams of carbs (2 g fiber), 15 g fat, and 5 g protein.
I don't believe we have to workout to "earn" our food.
I do, however, always workout on days where big meals are involved. I know I will make better choices and feel better overall, not to mention, with the right kind of training and eating, you can actually use a big meal to IMPROVE your body, not make it fatter.
You won't catch me in aerobics classes or jogging on the treadmill on a holiday. I always lift weights, whether it's teaching BODYPUMP®, doing my own workout in the gym, or doing a circuit workout of body weight exercises like pushups, dips and lunges.
Lifting weights creates an afterburn effect known as EPOC, meaning: you'll be burning calories at an elevated rate for hours after the workout is complete. With cardio, the calorie-burning stops when you stop jogging or dancing or aerobicizing.
When you live a fat loss lifestyle year-round (lifting weights, exercising smarter, and eating a high protein, high-fiber, modified-carb diet), you prime your body to handle calories more efficiently. When you do eat a few extra hundred calories (as we all do on Thanksgiving), they will go more towards muscle repair and recovery instead of storing them as fat. For people who do mostly cardio and/or spend all year dieting and trying to eat less and move more, the opposite is true.
I check my body composition and weight every 4 weeks now, but I was curious about my post-Thanksgiving body and whether anything had changed. I hopped on the scale at the gym Saturday morning before I taught and it was exactly as I suspected: 150.5 (I'm around 5'9"-5'10"). Zero change. Exactly what I weighed two weeks ago. Body fat still at 16%. And I'm making some great strength gains in the gym without killing myself. This is my autopilot, and it frees me up to do other things like focus on my career. So. Stinking. Happy.
Seriously. It's this Fat Loss Foodie lifestyle! That's what it is. It's not about being crazy, or restrictive, or depriving yourself, or being obsessed! It's finding a way of living that you can do year-round, year after year, while slowly getting stronger, leaner, and fitter and continuing to eat great food.
This week was a good mix of gym workouts and being active outside. My mom arrived Thursday afternoon with her dog, Hallie, a Doberman Pinscher. (She's in the photo above with Duke and Silva.) We all got tons of exercise playing with the dogs and taking them on walks from Thursday through Sunday morning.
This year, here's how my Thanksgiving week workouts shaped up:
Monday: taught BODYCOMBAT®
Tuesday: Taught BODYCOMBAT® Express + CXWorx, then a 30-minute walk at the Nature Preserve with Silva. That night, I did tested out a quick 40-minute upper body workout for my clients (bench press, lat pulldowns, dead rows, A-presses, and a killer upper body burner at the end: a Battle Rope Tabata finisher.
Wednesday: 20 minutes of treadmill sprints + lower body workout (squats, deadlifts, lunges)
Thursday: My husband and I team-taught BODYPUMP® on Thanksgiving morning. I filmed a quick back porch workout for my Instagram followers, too!
Friday: I took a rest day and my only exercise was walking while we shopped the Black Friday sales.
Saturday: I taught BODYPUMP again, and did lots of walking with my mom while we visited some of my favorite places around Greensboro and Winston-Salem.
Sunday: 30 minutes of treadmills sprints + upper body workout later today. Maybe. It might also be a rest day. Depends on how I feel.
Okay - that was a lot. LONG POST, right? What can I say? I love sharing my weeks here with you guys and giving some insights into the Fat Loss Foodie lifestyle. I am accepting a limited number of one-on-one Fat Loss Nutrition Coaching clients before the end of 2016. It's a 12-week commitment. If something in this post resonated with you and you'd like to get off the crazy train BEFORE the New Year's Diet insanity hits in a few weeks, drop me a line at LeslieAnn@FatLossFoodies.com and let's set up a Skype sesh and talk about your goals!
Hope your holiday was delicious and amazing!