Principles to Practice - thanksgiving slider

So often we hear recommendations for healthy living – drink 8 8-oz. glasses of water each day, eat in moderation, exercise for 150 minutes each week, get in 8 hours of sleep…and it goes on and on.

Unfortunately it can be hard to determine how to follow these recommendations in the midst of our busy, real lives.

Helping you take those principles and see how to realistically put them into practice is what this is all about. The nice thing about “practice” is that it means we don’t have to be perfect. In reality, we won’t all get in exactly 25 grams of fiber each day, stand and move around at least 1 minute every hour, or stay mindful each time we eat…and that is ok. Fortunately, our bodies don’t require perfection to be healthy, fit and energetic. Whew! That’s a relief!

Principles to Practice header

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, I want to take the opportunity to use the coveted (and feared) Thanksgiving meal as a prime example of how Principles to Practice works. We have all seen the MyPlate visual of how a healthy plate should look. Essentially, the point is that half of the plate is full with fruits and vegetables. The other half is shared by a reasonable portion of protein – which could be meat or a vegetarian option like beans – and grains.

My Plate with Principle Highlights

Now, for all of you gluten-free’ers out there, this can certainly be your place for quinoa or other gluten-free grain. For all of you anti-carb’ers out there, you can add on more veggies if you like but the point is not to fill half your plate with meat.

 

Using those same general principles, which really are based on a lot of research and sound science, this is how you can apply it to Thanksgiving. And look…this plate is still really full with many of your holiday favorites. They might be in a different proportion to what you were used to serving yourself, but that’s the point of the visual!

My Plate Thanksgiving example with highlights

Certainly, you can maximize on other tips such as choosing a smaller plate, eating slowly, and not showing up to the meal starving – a classic mistake!  If you want to enjoy Thanksgiving without being worried about what the meal will mean to your waistline, remember these simple tips for plating a healthy Thanksgiving dinner.

If you found this helpful and think others might too, I’d be so grateful if you’d share the infographic below. Just pin it and let the Thanksgiving begin!

PtoP Thanksgiving infographic long

 

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Minestrone soup is unaffectionaly sometimes referred to as the kitchen sink soup…meaning you can put just about anything in it! To me, it’s a God-send for staying within a food budget AND eating healthy. That combination isn’t something you come across every day.

Minestrone soup is essentially a broth-based soup with lots of veggies. You can add just about any vegetables you have on hand, or even better, use all of those veggies in the produce drawer that are on the verge of going bad. You can also make this soup on the fly, since frozen veggies work great too. For a little added protein, beans are a common ingredient, but I also added some leftover cooked chicken for this round. Leftover rotissere chicken or that half serving that won’t be enough for a complete meal are easy add-ins for this dollar-saver.

As with so many soups, you start with sauteeing the standard trio – diced onion, celery, and carrots. Feel free to add garlic to this combo too.  Once soft, it’s down to adding broth (vegetable or chicken work well), your veggies and protein. Canned tomatoes are another common go-to for this soup. I prefer diced tomatoes with garlic, basil and oregano, but fire-roasted can be awesome too. Sprinkle in any spices at this point. I prefer oregano or a bay leaf, but let your tastebuds guide you. Bring all of this to a simmer for at least 30 minutes so the flavors can marry – a fancy way of saying “makes it yummy”.

While there are many variations to this soup, here is the general recipe I use.

Easy Minestrone Soup

1 Tablespoon olive oil

1/2 onion, diced

4 stalks celery, diced

3 carrots, diced

2 gloves garlic, chopped

1 32 oz. container low-sodium chicken broth (can substitute vegetable for vegetarian option)

2-3 cups of vegetables, cut into bite-size pieces (Examples: zucchini, green beans, squash, broccoli, fresh spinach, mushrooms)

1 14.5 oz. can diced tomatoes with basil, oregano and garlic

1 15 oz. can canellini beans, drained and rinsed

1 cup chicken, cooked and shredded (optional)

Season to taste – salt, pepper, oregano

Warm oil over medium to medium high heat in a stock pot. Add onion, celery, and carrots and sautee until slightly softened. Add garlic and cook 1 minute more. Add broth. Then add vegetables, tomatoes, beans, chicken and seasoning. Stir to combine. Cover pot and bring to a simmer. Cook for 30 minutes.

Serve with a salad, whole grain crackers, cheese toast or all on it’s own. Enjoy!

Quest for the Best: Granola (part 1 - store bought)

 

 

I just love granola. And not because I now live in the Pacific Northwest. Yes, I know the stereotypical visions of people eating a snack with all of the flavor of cardboard as a survival tactic while on long hikes, stopping only to hug a tree or two along the way, right? Far from it!

For me, granola conjures up the comfort of a warm bowl of oatmeal in my grandma’s kitchen, the sweetness of dried fruit that I loved snacking on as a kid and the surprise of various spices that keeps my adult palate intrigued. It is filling without being fussy.

As a Dietitian, I find the idea of mixing whole grains with fruit and nuts or seeds as pure genius. Essentially, granola is a rare food that can combine sweet, savory, and crunchy while supporting the plant-based way of eating that is undeniably proven to promote health.

Yogurt parfait

So yeah, I’m a fan. What’s even better is the many forms and flavors that granola can take on.  That’s why I’m on a quest to find the best!

Today, I’m taking on granola in its pure form – loose, like a cereal. While I love combining the individual raw ingredients and custom making a granola to suit my mood for the day, there are times when I have to get real. I (and you) don’t always have time to make things from scratch. So, I wanted to test some of the pre-made granolas on the market.

Granola in bowls

Fortunately, I had this idea formulating when I was sent a free sample of Ladera Granola (no, they didn’t pay me to write a review, only to enjoy a free sample their product – no strings attached). To be fair, I added a few other granolas to the taste test – one that is a local granola from my closest farmer’s market, and two others that you can find on many store shelves nation-wide.

Sotre-bought granola brands

Along with a discerning taste panel (my kids), we had a blind taste test – well, not blind to me, but my kids had no clue which brand was in each bowl. While all of the granola samples were tasty enough, we found a clear winner. Here’s what our taste buds thought and how we chose to rank the four brands.

Number 4Bear Naked – I’ve long been a fan of this company and their granola, but I have to admit that this particular flavor ranked lowest. The granola had a very plain flavor punctuated with sweetness from cranberries. Bear Naked has recently introduced this higher protein line, which derives its extra protein from soy protein isolate – not the natural source I would have liked to see in a granola. Because of this and it’s lackluster flavor, it gets the lowest rank. This variety contributes 140 calories per 1/4 cup with only 6 grams of protein and 6 grams of sugar. I have seen this brand available in most major grocery stores, even Target, at a range of price points. This 11-ounce bag was priced at $4.88 (that’s $0.44 per ounce, which is the cheapest of the sampled granolas).

Number 3Hammer and Tuffy’s – This is a farmer’s market favorite for me. But before you start to leave a comment in vain, you can order this granola online too. I added it to the taste panel because I wanted to compare the flavor and texture of commercial granolas made in large-scale processing plants versus a small-scale variety like this one; the kind you would envision made with the attention to quality that you might think the big name guys wouldn’t be able to have. Surprisingly, the difference wasn’t as significant as I would have thought. Of course, I like the idea of supporting the local guy who supports my farmer’s market too. The Red Tractor Blend flavor is $9.95 for an 16-ounce bag (that’s $0.62 per ounce) and  runs 130 calories for 1/4 cup with 3 grams of protein and 7 grams of sugar. It has an added benefit of using gluten-free oats, if that’s your thing, and some organic ingredients. The flavor is slightly nutty with a hint of salt. Overall, a really nice balance of wholesome goodness.

Number 2Kind – I’m a big proponent of Kind granola bars, not just for their yummy taste, but mostly because they have limited ingredients, all of which are pronounceable real food items. The granola we sampled was their Oats and Honey Clusters variety and it was most noticeable that this granola was definitely in bigger “cluster” pieces and super crunchy, making it a much easier snacking option than the rest. It seemed to have a real nutty, almost peanut butter flavor, which is something I liked. This brand is also very easy to find at major retailers with a variety of pricing as low as $5.99 for the 11-ounce bag (that’s $0.54 per ounce). While the nutrition facts label reflects a 1/3 cup serving size, I’ll keep the comparisons the same by giving you the stats based on a 1/4 cup serving – which would be 98 calories, 2 grams of protein and 5 grams of sugar – impressively light compared to the rest.

Number 1Ladera – I have to say that I was surprised. I’m not easily swayed by the samples that I often receive on my doorstep, however this surpassed many homemade granolas I’ve tasted in the past. In fact, that was my comment after my first bite – that it tasted so fresh and homemade. This granola was distinctly loose, making it suitable for topping on yogurt or eating as a cereal, but a little messier to snack on…although I wasn’t afraid to try! The flavor profile was more complex than some of the other granolas, showcasing the natural goodness of the oats with a perfectly paired cinnamon finish, not to mention the caramelized almonds and pecans. With slight embarrassment, I had to admit that this granola was better than some of the home-made versions my kitchen has produced in the past. I haven’t gone so far to caramelize nuts in my own granola recipes, but after tasting this granola, I’m thinking it might be worth it! My son even said “kids don’t always like oats, but this will make them like it.” Since this is a relatively new brand, it might be a little harder to find. Of course, you can order directly from their website and if you are lucky enough to live in California, you can check out the store finder on their website to see which stores near you carry the granola. It costs $8.99 for a 12-ounce bag (that’s $0.75 per ounce; note online orders require a min of 4 bags per order) and weighs in a 150 calories for 1/4 cup serving with 4 grams of protein and 4 grams of sugar. Delicious!

If there is a brand that you have found in your own quest, I’d love to hear about it. If you are still on the hunt, I encourage you to try one of the brands listed above. I think you’ll be happy you did!

As for the homemade variety, I’m excitedly testing some recipes now. If you’ve got a recipe that you think is among the best (loose granola, bar or ball), let me know. Even if it isn’t featured in the my Granola Part 2 post- all about homemade granola, I’d be happy to add any (healthy) recipes to my Granola Pinterest board.

Creamy Squash and Carrot Ribbons

 

Yesterday was Ash Wednesday, the start of Lent which is the 40 days (not including Sundays) leading up to Easter.  Lent is supposed to be a time of reflection and preparation for Catholics, but for my entire life it has always meant answering the dreaded question “what are you giving up?”

While I prefer the idea of doing something good in preparation of Easter, and that is still something I promote with my children, my Catholic guilt always brings me back to picking some kind of sacrifice.

So, my dear readers, I’ve picked something this year that I think might benefit you in the long run. I’ve decided to give up meat. Yes, that’s right, I will avoid eating all beef, pork, chicken and turkey…although I will be able to eat fish. And since I’m not going vegan, I can still eat eggs and dairy products. I also will allow beef broth for soups, etc. because I think this is going to be change enough and I don’t need to be a purist to feel the challenge.

Now, some of you who are vegetarian might think this is no big deal. But I also cook for a family who is not taking on this same challenge, so I say “oh yeah, this is a sacrifice.”

On the upside, I’ll be sharing some of my meatless meals with you. Even if you have no interest in ever giving up meat, going meatless two or three days a week can not only be healthy, but it can be less expensive and kinder to the environment.

One of my favorite TED talks is Graham Hill’s speech about becoming a 2-day Veg(etarian). Even Meatless Mondays have become a trend that some families adopt as a way of easing into the notion of serving a meal without the need for meat.

And most recently, an article in the Journal of the American Medical Association showed that a vegetarian diet is beneficial at reducing blood pressure, a leading risk factor for heart disease. With the anticipated rise in meat prices predicted this summer, this might be the perfect opportunity to keep your grocery bill in line while improving your heart health.

So join me, or experiment with going vegetarian just one or two days this week. Either way, I’ve got some yummy recipes to share that will keep you satisfied and not missing the meat at all.

 

Creamy Squash and Carrot Ribbons

2 tablespoons olive oil

½ medium onion, chopped

4 large carrots, cut into ribbons using a mandolin

2 summer squash (can substitute zucchini), cut into ribbons using a mandolin

Salt and Pepper

Pinch dried basil

3 ounces neuftal cheese (light cream cheese)

3 tablespoons vegetable broth (more if you prefer a thinner sauce)

¼ cup pine nuts

 

Carefully cut the squash and carrot ribbons using a mandolin. If you don’t have a mandolin, thin slices work fine too.

Squash and Cucumber ribbons

Heat olive oil over medium heat. Add onions and sauté until softened. Add squash and carrot ribbons, salt and pepper, and bail; sauté until softened.

Saute vegetable ribbons

 

Remove the squash and carrots from pan. Add the cream cheese and broth to the pan, stirring to help the cream cheese melt. Add more broth if needed.

Melt cream cheese

 

Once the cream cheese has softened, add pine nuts to the pan. Heat for a minute, then return carrots and squash.

Add pine nuts

 

Fold to coat the vegetables in the cream sauce. Serve immediately.

recipe

7 Fresh Takes on the Typical Side Salad

I know many of you are trying to eat a little healthier than you did throughout the holidays, but it can be difficult to maintain a healthy diet when the monotony of grilled chicken, baked fish, and salad after salad after salad sets in.

Have no fear (da-da-da…you should hear superhero music in your head); I’ve come to show you seven different salads that are much more flavorful and exciting than your standard side salad. I want you to see that you can eat a completely different salad every day and not feel as though you’re living in a state of déjà vu. From savory to sweet, side dish to the main course, salads can be as individual and interesting as you are if you take a whole new approach. Of course, you don’t have to eat salads to be healthy, but these salads are so yummy(and easy to make) that you will want to!

  1. Panzanella Salad – Who knew that a salad could have bread as an ingredient? Yes, Ma’am! And the best part is that you can use almost any kind of vegetable you have on hand. This recipe is more of a traditional version, but try this salad using fresh green beans, summer squash, or broccoli. Seriously, any fresh veggie combination you like, works here.
    Panzanella Salad
  2. Grilled Lettuce Salad – The sheer notion of putting lettuce on a grill is crazy enough that you have to try this one. Don’t let bad weather stop you. This recipe is beautifully made on an indoor grill pan too.Grilled Lettuce Salad
  3. Beet, Pecan and Goat Cheese Salad – This plentiful salad is amazingly satisfying while packing very few calories. Use my cheater’s method of buying the prepared beets from Trader Joe’s or your local grocery (tip: use rubber gloves to keep from staining your fingers while you handle the beets) and this salad comes together in a few minutes.
    Beet, Pecan and Goat Cheese Salad
  4. Chickpea, Bell Pepper and Avocado Salad – No lettuce? As a bean-based side dish, this salad is packed with protein, healthy fats and vitamin C. If you are feeling bad for the lettuce, you can certainly serve this mixture over a bed of your favorite greens. With leftover chicken, this salad becomes hearty enough to be the main course.
    Chickpea, Bell Pepper and Avocado Salad
  5. Broccoli Slaw with Edamame and Ginger Dressing – Crazy healthy, crazy filling and super transportable is the story of this salad. It’s one of those recipes that gets better when made ahead of time and left to marinate in your fridge. High in fiber and protein, it is a perfect pairing with fish, soup, or all on it’s own.
    Broccoli Slaw with Edamame and Ginger Dressing
  6. Pesto Quinoa and Tomato Salad – Served warm or cold, this salad is a smart way to use leftover quinoa for an easy-to-assemble lunch. Top with chicken or shrimp and call this one a meal!
    Pesto Quinoa and  Tomato Salad
  7. Citrus Spinach and Walnut Salad – More along the traditional note, I love this one for it’s sweetness. Fruit on a salad is the perfect antidote for a boring salad binge. The crunchiness and healthy fats in the walnuts makes the salad complete. For a surprising twist, the dressing is thickened with an unexpected protein bonus of Greek yogurt.

Citrus Spinach and Walnut Salad

 

I can’t wait to hear which one you’ll try! Don’t be shy…leave me a comment. Tell me about your favorite salad. Do you usually eat them at lunch or dinner? Which one is more your style?

How to Slim Down Your Super Bowl

 

Super Bowl is the second largest food event next to Thanksgiving, which can mean big time penalties when it comes to your diet.

Superbowl statistic

Yikes!  To make sure your pursuit of health isn’t sidelined by meaningless munchies, I have a few suggestions that will help you enjoy the big game without making a big mistake.

1. Eat off a plate

 

 

It might sound obvious, but the mindless eating we do while watching the game can mean major calories without you even realizing it. Eating out of a package or constantly picking at a buffet of appetizers means you have no concept of the amount of food you’ve consumed. Mindfully portioning food on a plate at least gives you a reasonable stopping point, if satiety isn’t registering.

 

2. Keep the main dishes in the kitchen

 

 

I know no one wants to miss a key play or a hilarious commercial, but the act of getting up to refill a plate will make you think about what you are doing before you go for seconds or thirds. Keep lighter options like that veggie tray that never gets finished, soy nuts or a bowl of popcorn in the TV room if you feel the need to have munchies available for your guests.

 

3. Think twice about your beverages

 

 

If you are drinking beer or other libations throughout the game, you can easily tack on hundreds of calories that will go straight to storage (your waist, hips, thighs…you get the point!). Choose to drink flavored water, dilute alcoholic drinks with sparkling water, or alternate alcoholic beverages with non-alcoholic calorie-free options.

 

4. Learn to pace or chew gum

 

 

When the score is close, the sheer suspense of who will win can lead to anxious eating. Instead, chew a piece of gum or pace – but don’t feed your face as a way of staying calm. It won’t help your team or your waistline.

 

5. Bring a lightened dish

 

 

If you are going to a Super Bowl party, offer to bring a dish to share. You don’t have to bring salad or Brussels sprouts. But you can swap traditional ingredients for lighter choices and no one will know the difference. This way, you have something you know you can eat. Here’s a great slow cooker recipe that is a real fan favorite. Serve with veggies to make it even healthier and to help cut the sodium. I have several other recipes that perfect for any football party, in case you are the host. Either way, be in control so you can enjoy the game and time with your friends.

 Spinach Artichoke Dip

Slow Cooker Light Spinach Artichoke Dip

1 10-ounce package frozen chopped spinach

1 14-ounce can artichoke hearts, chopped and drained

1 teaspoon (2 cloves) garlic, minced

1 8-ounce block Neufchatel cheese (or reduced fat cream cheese)

1 cup nonfat Greek yogurt, plain

½ cup grated parmesan cheese

1 1/2 cups shredded low fat mozzarella or Italian cheese blend

2-4 tablespoons water (based on how thin you like your dip)

 

Directions:

1. Add all ingredients to the slow cooker and place on high for 1 ½ hours.

Slow Cooker Ingredients

 

2. Stir well and keep on high for 30 minutes more before serving. Serve with homemade tortilla wedges or store bought tortilla chips and veggies for dipping.

Slow Cooker after cooking

Serves:  8

Nutrition Facts per Serving (for dip only):

Calories: 175 calories

Fat: 10 g (Saturated 6 g)

Protein: 1.25 g

Carbohydrate: 7 g

Fiber: 1.5 g

Sodium:  415 mg

 

Nutrient Analysis based on USDA database
photo credit: dharmabumx via photopin cc

The Key to Health and Wellness is Simplicity

This is the time of year that every television network features their wrap up shows of 2013; a recap of news-making events, famous people who have passed on, and inventions/discoveries that will change our future. It is also the time that people predict trends for the upcoming year.

Well, here is my prediction for 2014. I believe that 2014 will be the year of Simplicity or getting back to basics.

Over the past year, more and more people have begun to question where their food is grown, what it is really made of, and how certain ingredients affect our health long term. Food companies are beginning to take note, advertising a return to simplified ingredient lists. Commonly used ingredients such as high fructose corn syrup and GMO’s are beginning to be voluntarily removed by companies due to the pressure from consumers. Remember, you vote with your dollar every time you shop!

Non-food companies have taken a cue from the simplicity movement too. A perfect example is the FDA’s recent inquiry over the benefit and long-term effect of antibacterial soap. Do the added ingredients really work better than good old soap and hot water at killing germs and what is the long-term effect of having SO many antibacterial products in our world?

Whether it is soap or food, we are starting to wake up to the notion that the things we use and ingest everyday need more thought. It is easy to look for the convenience of products, the “quick fix” that items promise and the solutions we’ve been sold.

To be sure, life will not become simplified overnight. We will still have more emails than we can comfortably read and respond to in a day, more things on the to-do list than we will likely accomplish and no matter what goals we are aspiring to, there will likely be an app for that; but there are certain areas of life for which we are stopping to take a long, hard look and choosing to simplify.

I personally am THRILLED about this trend. I have always said that the key to wellness is simplicity. Not to say that achieving wellness is easy, but that living well is about simple things – eating whole foods with limited ingredients, limited processing and less additives; and finding ways to be more active throughout our entire day. It’s about drinking water. It’s about balancing work and play, including rest and relaxation. It’s about restoring basic sleeping routines and rhythms to rise with the sun and not fall asleep with electronics. It’s about connecting with people in real conversation, not just through posts and tweets. It’s about paying attention to what gives us energy and happiness and what drains us.

That is the secret to wellness and I’m excited that 2014 gives hope for a return to simplicity.

If you need help finding wellness and restoring simplicity in your life, I’m here to help. Sometimes the only thing standing in your way of true success is finding someone who believes in you and can show you the steps to make wellness real in your life. Don’t let 2014 be another year of missed opportunity. If you are ready to simplify, find sustainable energy and realistic balance, sign up for my personal health coaching. To find out more, click here.
photo credit: Claudio.Ar via photopin cc

Avocado Recipe

When you think of avocados, you might find that your mind goes straight to thoughts of guacamole and Cinco de Mayo. Yet avocados are much more versatile than the traditional Tex-Mex fare. Fortunately it seems that the world is beginning to wake up to all of the possibilities of avocados in the kitchen, but you might find it hard to think creatively about this intriguing fruit (yes, it’s a fruit).

The mild flavor of avocados pairs well with vegetables, beans, and just about any kind of meat, poultry or fish. For instance, if you froze leftover turkey from Thanksgiving, there is nothing better than a turkey, avocado and bacon Panini. Chopped avocado, tomato and onion are perfect when served over flank steak. And seafood is a natural pairing with avocados. I mean, fish tacos just wouldn’t be the same without their creamy goodness.  I especially like to work with Hass avocados because they are easy to find, very economical, and really easy to use in cooking.

Additionally, avocados can be used at any meal…even breakfast. Avocado is delicious sliced or spread on toasted whole grain bread and topped with a sunny-side up egg. Yum!

 Avocado on Toast with Fried Egg

But what I really love about avocados is their ability to serve as an alternative to butter, mayonnaise, and even oil. They are a nutritional powerhouse with nearly 20 vitamins, minerals, and phytonutrients including potassium and vitamin C. Avocados contain carotenoids lutein and zeaxanthin – a mouthful to say, but a real benefit to maintaining eye health as you age.

And most notably, avocados are a natural source of good fats, which can be a part of a heart-healthy diet and may help to reduce overall calories found in alternatives. Just what we all need this time of year! With all of the amazing benefits of avocado, how can you help but love one today?

This is why when I was asked about writing a promotional post about Hass avocados, I jumped at the chance. Any time I can promote something that I already believe in, it’s a no brainer that I spend some time spreading the word to you, my readers. The timing was perfect too, because I have been working on a post about appetizers for holiday parties and avocados are a stylish addition to any party menu.

When it comes to appetizers, you may have seen avocado deviled eggs on Pinterest recently, heard about seafood salad served in an avocado half, or possibly have tried an avocado, mango and shrimp skewer. All of these are completely yummy ideas. One appetizer that I have created pairing two hot food trends is my Avocado and Quinoa Endive Bites. I’m happy to share this simple recipe for your next party and hope that you’ll check back soon for more of my appetizer ideas.

 Avocado Quinoa Bites on Endive

Avocado and Quinoa Endive Bites

1 Hass avocado

½ cup cooked quinoa

½ teaspoon sriracha (hot chili sauce)

Pinch of salt

12 endive leaves

¼ teaspoon smoked paprika

 

In a small bowl, mash the avocado with a fork. Add quinoa and stir well to combine. Add sriracha and salt. Using a melon baller, place one small scoop of avocado quinoa mixture on the center of an endive leaf. Arrange leaves on a plate and sprinkle with smoked paprika. This recipe makes 12 bites, but is easily multiplied for a larger party.

 

Sponsored Post Disclaimer:

Although I did receive financial compensation for writing this post, all views and opinions expressed on this blog are purely and entirely my own and based on my own unique experiences. For nutrition information on avocados, please be sure to visit the LoveOneToday.com website.

Essentially, what is written here is what I believe in my head and heart – money keeps the lights on, but doesn’t control these fingers. I like to share what I know and what works for me, my clients, and my family so that you can live the life you crave!

21 Ways to Stay Fit this Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving can be a foodie’s favorite day and a dieter’s dread. It all comes down to how you look at this holiday. While significant weight gain never occurs from one meal or one day, there are several small choices we can make to curb the damage that this feast can do. I have a list of simple ideas that will help you stay slim.

21 Easy Ways to Keep Fit this Thanksgiving

Whether you choose to follow all 21 tips or select your top few, make a choice to enjoy the holiday for what it is – a celebration of abundance and realize that we all have more than we need. Wishing you a day full of thanks!

 
photo credit: laffy4k via photopin cc

 Sweet Corn Soup with smoked bacon and homemade croutons

 

If you’ve been reading this blog for a while, you know I love soup. Seriously people, what is more comforting than soup?

Cream-based soups can be incredibly heavy in fat in calories and almost ALL soups purchased commercially are insanely high in sodium. It just doesn’t have to be that way. Most beginner cooks feel intimidated at the notion of making a soup from scratch, but I guarantee once you give it a try, you’ll wonder why it took you so long.

Homemade soups are not only healthier, but are MUCH more flavorful than anything you get from a can. This soup is a combination of sweetness from the corn and a hint of smokiness from the touch of bacon. Topped with the crunch of homemade croutons, this soup feels gourmet and it only takes a few minutes to make

 

Sweet Corn Soup with Smoked Bacon and Homemade Croutons

½ loaf whole wheat or chibatta bread (the mound-shaped kind in the bakery, not sliced sandwich bread)

3 Tablespoons Olive oil (divided)

Salt and pepper to taste

4 slices of bacon

1 medium yellow onion, diced

3 cups frozen corn

3 cups low sodium chicken broth (may substitute vegetable broth for a vegetarian dish)

1 cup 2% milk or half and half

 

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Cut the bread into bite-sized cubes. Place bread on a baking sheet (I prefer using a silicone liner). Drizzle 1 ½ tablespoons of olive oil over bread. Toss the bread to make sure it is coated with oil, and then sprinkle lightly with salt and pepper. Bake for 5-7 minutes or until the bread is slightly golden and firm.

Homemade Croutons

Now, you  can cook the bacon on roasting pan in oven (or preferred cooking method) to allow to bacon fat to drip below bacon strips. However, if you have a smoker, cooking the bacon on it will send this recipe over the top!

Remove croutons and bacon from oven and set aside to cool.

Add 1 ½ tablespoons of oil to the bottom of a large pot (stock pot or Dutch oven) over medium high heat and add onions. Saute onions for a few minutes, until translucent. Add corn to the pot and saute until warmed and softened slightly. Add chicken broth and half and half. Season with pepper and bring to a simmer.

Remove soup from the heat. Using an immersion blender, carefully blend the soup in the pot to the degree of smoothness desired. (You can batch-blend using a blender if you don’t have an immersion blender).

Chop bacon. Ladle soup into bowls and add bacon and croutons on top. Serve immediately.

makes 4 large bowls or 6 small bowls for an appetizer or side dish

This make a great first-course to a Thanksgiving meal. Give it a try and drop me a comment below to tell me what you think!

 Corn Soup

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