This year has been, well….. a lot of things. Challenging and unpredictable, and also slower, eye-opening & a great teacher in so many ways.
Heading into the holidays feels different in 2020, no matter what your plans are this year and who you’re spending them with.
I know people who are opting to get together with family (in their pods), social distanced style to eat outside spaced apart and enjoy each other’s company. And, I know people who would rather stay home and celebrate more quietly with just their partner and/or little ones. And there are probably a million options in between those scenarios.
No matter what your holidays look like this year, can I invite you to join me in making sure they’re still intentional, thoughtful and special?
Because if 2020 has taught us anything, it’s that we can choose how we approach the things that look and feel different than the norm. We can choose to see them as burdens, or as opportunities. And for me, I’d much rather pick opportunity… to be more present, to practice gratitude, to let go of the judgment (towards others AND myself).
It’s so important every year, but this year especially.
And you know I’m all about ditching any kind of all-or-nothing approach to anything health or wellness related…. but that also goes for the holidays, too.
Just because we NORMALLY do things one way doesn’t mean they can’t be beautiful another way. Just because tradition and past years say one thing doesn’t mean we can’t adjust and find a new normal to embrace this year.
That’s really what it’s about, at the end of the day. Making space for adaptation. Allowing room for new rhythms– and to be more flexible and playful with things when we’re not in our control. It’s a great opportunity to try and test and play around— who knows, maybe you’ll learn something that you want to take with you next year.
So this year, I thought it might be fun to chat about Thanksgiving, simplified. Because no matter what, chances are that this will be a different year–so let’s embrace it. Make the most of it. And focus on what matters most– where our hearts are at. Making things special and marking occasions the best ways we can: with the simple things. A great meal is always part of that in my book.
So, whether it’s paring down some of your favorite traditional dishes (see below for my picks and a easy meal plan you can use too), or it’s ordering out from your favorite local restaurant, or taking a an entirely new direction (pizza night? risotto or paella night?). Now is the time to experiment and play around!
If you need any healthier versions of your favorite holiday classics, also don’t forget, I have an entire healthy holiday recipe e-book you can download here. From a full Thanksgiving spread to lighter cozier meals you can make from now through December, to upgraded apps, healthier cocktails, etc it has recipes to pick and choose from to complete your holiday table with ease and zero stress in the kitchen (always a win). Find it right here!
This year, my goal is just to BE PRESENT. To be with our little family and my parents, make some great food together, but without any pressure or stress. And make it a memory that we’ll all be telling our grandkids or great-grandkids about one day. What are your plans? Tell me below. It’s so fun to see what everyone is doing.
Ok, now for the FOOD!
Here’s what I believe: that for anything that you love (be it comfort food, dessert, cocktails, etc) there is a way to upgrade the ingredients to make it ALL REAL FOOD. Which will make you feel a million times better, tastes a million times better, and often it’s much more simplified time wise too. So that’s how I roll, everyday, but especially in the holiday season.
Keep it simple, keep it real, keep listening and being kind to your body. I promise you, it makes such a difference to how you show up, how you feel daily, your energy, your mood….everything. You are worth the good stuff.
So, this week: a little gift from me to you…. I want to share a simple mini-menu for those who are doing smaller Thanksgiving gatherings this year.
Here are THREE recipes I’d serve for groups of 6 or less:
SALAD/APP: The Roasted Apple, Fennel + Yam Salad (or The Fall Salad You Won’t Be Able to Quit or The Kale, Quinoa & Roasted Squash Salad if you want more of a green salad)
Makes approximately 4 servings
Notes: This is such a great side dish, especially in the fall and winter months! Optional to add raisins, white or garbanzo beans, lentils, curry powder, or cinnamon depending on your tastes. Perfect served on its own, scrambled with eggs and potatoes for a breakfast hash, over a green salad, or mixed into cooked quinoa or wild rice.
2 apples (any sweet variety), cut into ½ inch cubes
2 fennel bulbs, feathery fronds removed and bulb sliced
2 small to medium yams, cut into cubes
1 squash of your choice cubed (about 1 cup)
½ onion, thinly sliced
Preheat oven to 425°F. Line a baking sheet with parchment paper. Add apple, fennel, yam, squash, and onion pieces to the sheet. Drizzle with olive oil, and sprinkle with sea salt and pepper. Toss with your hands to coat, and roast for 30 minutes or until slightly browned on all sides.
MAIN DISH: Roasted Chicken + Veggies
Makes 4 servings
Notes: This is a true one-pan wonder and the most comforting, delicious meal to cozy up to in the fall or winter. Great for having people over, or making on Sunday to have leftovers for the week.
12 brussels sprouts, halved
8 Yukon gold potatoes cut into quarters, or 1 cup baby potatoes, halved
5 carrots, chopped into ½ inch pieces
2 large bone- in organic chicken breasts
3 tablespoons olive oil
6 springs thyme, leaves only
2 tablespoons herbs de provence
2 teaspoons sea salt
2 teaspoons pepper
Preheat the oven to 450ºF.
Add the chicken breasts to a large rimmed baking dish and scatter veggies around the sides. Drizzle everything with olive oil and sprinkle with herbs and spices and rub in well to coat everything. Bake for 50-60 minutes, checking halfway through to rotate veggies, until the meat is cooked and juices run clear. Broil for last 3 minutes to crisp and brown the chicken skin. Serve warm.
SIDE DISH: Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes with Garlic + Herbs
Makes approximately 6 servings
Notes: Mashed potatoes, made healthy? You’ll believe it when you taste these. Olive oil easily replaces the heavier cream, butter and flour in this decadent seeming and delicious rendition of a classic comfort dish. Great for the holidays too!
4 Russet or 6 Yukon Gold potatoes, whole
½ cup olive oil
2 cloves garlic, whole
½ cup fresh herbs of your choice: parsley, tarragon, basil, dill, or rosemary
In a large soup pot, bring enough water to a boil to cover the potatoes. Once boiling, add potatoes and cook for 15-20 minutes or until the potatoes are easily poked with a fork. Add garlic to the pot in the last 5 minutes. Drain water, but reserve ½ cup of the cooking liquid in the pot. Mash potatoes with a hand masher, or blend with an immersion or regular blender to whatever consistency you like. Add olive oil, extra cooking water, herbs, and a generous amount of sea salt and pepper. Add more olive oil if necessary to taste.
And, a couple more tasty holiday recipes here:
- Winter Greens Gratin
- Butternut Squash and Sage Risotto
- Butternut Squash Soup or the Roasted Kabocha Squash Soup
- The Best Apple Cranberry Sauce
- The Best Crumble (make it with apples or pears)
- Healthy holiday cocktails round-up (to fuel your holiday cooking ventures this season!)