Thursday, November 17, 2011

Planning My Thanksgiving Hearth: Day One

Wow, Thanksgiving is a week away, can you believe it? And with it comes the most challenging time of the year for most dieters.  From now until the new year we'll be bombarded with food, from savory to sweet, there's something for everyone. 

Last year I was "on" Jenny Craig, losing weight and feeling really good about it.  I even ate JC's turkey dinner for Thanksgiving!  All well & good except here I am, a year later, having gained back 13 pounds of the 20 I lost.  So, this year I need a new plan, a way to make it through the holidays without going up a dress size.  Losing a couple of ounces wouldn't hurt, either.

Tell me, dear friends, how do you intend to spend the next six weeks, eating-wise? Are you planning to stay on your current eating plan 100%? Throw caution to the wind and gobble up everything in sight? Or, perhaps, like me, do you intend to stay mostly on plan but allow for small indulgences?

For the next week I'm going to post recipes from my own Thanksgiving menu.  Some of these will be "diet-friendly," some not so much.  Balance is what I'm looking for, a way to enjoy the delicious part of the season without making that the entire focus.  After all, Thanksgiving is all about being thankful, but not just for food. There are so many other sweet ways to indulge without adding inches to our waistline, right?

As I've mentioned before, my family is made up of various eating styles, from complete carnivores to vegetarian.  Again, I find myself in between.  I love vegetables, hate the idea of eating animals, but can't resist a good piece of Genoa salami now & again! To please everyone, we will cook a turkey but that will be the only meat on our table. The rest of the meal will be veggie-friendly, such as this vegan stuffing Kali is planning to make:

Apple Sage 'Sausage' Chestnut Stuffing

6-7 cups diced bread cubes
3 Tbsp vegan buttery spread
1 cup onion, chopped (white or yellow)
1 1/2 cups celery, sliced thin
1/2 cup parsley, finely chopped
1 Tbsp poultry seasoning (spice blend)
1/4 tsp black pepper
1 cup roasted chestnuts, chopped
1/4 cup roasted chestnuts, whole
1 medium apple, chopped (granny smith, fuji or honeycrisp varieties are my faves)
5 leaves fresh sage, chopped
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
1 1/4 cups vegetable broth
2 links Apple Sage flavor of Vegan Sausage, chopped (about 1 1/2 cups)
*Field Roast Grain Meat Co. brand

1. De-crust your bread. Slice into small cubes. Set aside.
2. Prepare the diced vegan sausage by sauteing in a skillet until the bits become browned and a bit crispy on the outside. Set Aside.
3. In a medium soup pan, turn heat on med-high, and melt in the buttery spread. Add the celery, onion, parsley and poultry seasoning. Saute until tender.
4. Add in the black pepper, chestnuts, apple and 1/2 of your sage. Saute until tender.
5. Add in the remaining ingredients: walnuts and your veggie broth. Let simmer for a few seconds and go grab your bread.
6. Fold in your bread cubes. Try not to 'mash' the bread, but you also want it soaked through. You may need to add more or less bread cubes depending on the dryness of your bread. Too soggy? Add more cubes. Too dense? Add a bit more veggie broth.
7. Lastly, fold in your sausage bits and last bits of fresh sage.
8. Transfer stuffing into your "stuff it" selection and proceed as stated below.

"Where to Stuff Your Stuffing" Options:
#1: Simply scoop it into a casserole dish and cover tightly with foil.
#2: Stuff into individual servings of baked mini squash.
#3: Stuff into one medium-large (still has to fit in your oven) baked pumpkin - slice in half before serving. The two halves become pumpkin bowls perfect for scooping out portions.
#4: Scoop into a butternut squash puree and citrus slice lined casserole dish for optimal moisture.
#5: Wrap into individual fillo dough purses. The Fillo Factory brand makes a vegan organic fillo dough. In the freezer section of Whole Foods Market.
#6: Scoop into hollowed out baked apples.
#7: Scoop into baked, half-hollowed fuyu persimmon shells.

Baking Times for "Stuff it" Selections:
If using a large casserole dish, bake at least 20-25 minutes at 400 degrees. If you are stuffing a squash/pumpkin, baking time should be about the same, but larger pumpkins-longer time. You may want to decrease the oven temp if baking very small squash. Stuffing fillo purses? Fillo purses usually take around 15-20 minutes in a crowded oven. Simply wrap the purse, secure with a toothpick or tie and spray lightly with oil for browning. Yummy idea: You can even place a thin slice of braised tofu inside your filo purse and layer the stuffing on top.

Have a Beauty-Full Day,

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