Gratitude, Not Food

November 19, 2009

Photo Courtesy of katiescrapbooklady on Flickr

This time of year always gets me thinking about the true meaning of the holidays versus what it comes to mean to most of us. Stress, shopping, parties, and TOO MUCH FOOD! I like to remember that Thanksgiving is about gratitude, not food.

This year, I am grateful for family and friends who have supported me tremendously during an exciting but sometimes difficult year of transition. I am also grateful for the gift I have been given to be able to share my knowledge about health and wellness with my loved ones and clients. As I watch them work towards transforming their own lives, I feel inspired and proud.

As my gift to you this Thanksgiving, here are some tips to help you enjoy your holiday while still being mindful of your health:

Watch portions! Our tendency is to overeat during the holidays because…well it’s all just so darn good! Try using a smaller plate and fill it up with more of your favorites in smaller portions.

Chew, chew, chew! Digestion begins in the mouth, and the more we give it a head start, the less energy our bodies use to break it down – meaning more energy for you. Plus, by chewing your food you can automatically keep your portions in check as you will be more aware of when you are truly full.

Get moving! Take a walk after your meal. This helps digestion and will keep you more alert through the evening so that you have more quality time with your loved ones.

Express your gratitude! Take a few moments before eating to appreciate the food on your plate and the fuel it gives you for your life. Have everyone at the table share what they are grateful for to create a greater shared experience.

Make room for your sweet treats! No need to deprive yourself, just try to make wise choices and watch your portions. If you can, avoid refined sugars and opt for more natural sweeteners that contain more vitamins, minerals, and enzymes, and are much easier on your blood sugar.

Speaking of sweet treats, I was ecstatic when my parents asked my brother and me to contribute some healthier food options to our Thanksgiving dinner this year! My brother plans to make some scrumptious cupcakes he found through one of our favorite whole food cooking shows, Christina Cooks, on PBS. Here is the recipe, one I hope you might share with your families:

Orange-Scented Chocolate Cupcakes(Makes 24 cupcakes)

1 1/2 cups whole wheat pastry flour
1/2 cup semolina flour
1/2 cup cocoa powder, NOT Dutch processed
2 teaspoons baking powder
Generous pinch sea salt
1/2 cup avocado oil
1 cup brown rice syrup
3/4 cup rice milk or almond milk
1 teaspoon brown rice vinegar
2 ounces coarsely chopped non-dairy, grain sweetened chocolate chips
2 teaspoons grated orange zest

Chocolate Frosting:
1 cup non-dairy, grain-sweetened chocolate chips
Scant 1/4 cup rice milk or almond milk
2 teaspoons brown rice syrup
Grated orange zest, for decoration

-Preheat oven to 350 degrees and line a 12-cup muffin tin with papers.
-Whisk together flours, cocoa powder, baking powder and sea salt.
-Whisk together oil, rice syrup, rice or almond milk and vinegar until smooth.
-Mix wet ingredients into dry to create a smooth batter. Fold in chopped chocolate and orange zest (you can also add some chopped nuts to incorporate more healthy fats)
-Spoon evenly into cupcake cups – fill no more than 2/3 of the cup to allow cakes to rise properly.
-Bake for 20-25 minutes, until the tops of the cupcakes spring back to the touch.
-Remove from oven and allow to cool enough to handle the cupcakes. Remove from the tin and cool completely on a wire rack. Make the frosting while the cupcakes cool:
-Place chocolate in heat-resistant bowl.
-Bring rice or almond milk and rice syrup to a rolling boil and pour over chocolate.
-Whisk together until thick and smooth. Cover loosely and set aside for 30-40 minutes
to set frosting.
-Whisk to loosen frosting and spread over the top of each cupcake, garnishing with a sprinkle of orange zest.


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