by Tom Sims
Tom Sims searches the Valley for tips on eating healthy, buying healthy food, growing healthy food, and eating out healthy in the Valley, for this Healthy Eating in the Valley column. Feel free to share your suggestions of places and things to check out!
It is possible to have a Thanksgiving holiday that is a happy, celebratory, feast of laughter, good food, and festivity without damaging your heart, elevating your glucose, or adding inches to your waist. It just takes some thought and planning.
There are many things for which we can be thankful in our Valley. A celebration of Harvest makes sense in our breadbasket environment. Recent rains have reminded us that droughts may not last forever. We have hope and good food.
We have lots of good food.
Yet, we gravitate toward not so good food so often.
So, before eating, let’s do some warm-ups. A starting place would be a healthy attitude. A healthy attitude is, first and most, an attitude of gratitude.
However hard your year may have been, you will find much for which to be grateful.
Consider the bounty around you. We dwell in a place of plenty. Many are hungry and poor, but it is not because we are experiencing famine. We are blessed with bounty.
Count the blessings within. Within your circles of relationships and family are blessings that are often overlooked. Prepare for Thanksgiving now by making a daily list of blessings that are in your community, in your family, and in your own life.
Contemplate the beauty everywhere. Stop and smell the roses or whatever else is growing and be still a while. That will get you ready.
That is the buildup.
Now, fix yourself a cup of tea. It may still be dark and quiet outside. Make it an herb or fruit tea. Fix it the way you like it. Have some honey in it if you like. Awaken your senses and your digestive system. Begin to hydrate.
Perhaps you will have a piece of fruit with your tea to awaken your digestive system and your palate.
This could take a while. However, it will come time for breakfast and I trust you will not skip it. Never skip breakfast, but on Thanksgiving, you are in training. You also have time to enjoy a leisurely time over this important meal.
Take your time preparing it.
How many fresh vegetables can you get into your egg scramble or omelet? Chop and chop and when you are done chopping, sauté! Have each ingredient in a little pile. Put your carrots, jalapenos, and mushrooms on first for longer cooking. Then, start adding things like a little spinach, zucchini, and tomatoes. When things are just right, combine them into one pile.
You can add the egg several ways. In all of these, season to taste.
You can whip the white, fold in the yoke, and prepare for an omelet or you can beat the egg together with a little almond milk for a scramble. I like cheese. So, I beat in mozzarella strips and sometimes some Swiss cheese or parmesan. Another option is to use a whole egg in this dish and save the cheese for a topping.
Bring all of your veggies to the middle of the griddle (Yes, I know it rhymes). For a scramble, no order is necessary. Pour the egg over and start scrambling.
For an omelet, be a little more careful. Make a bed for the veggies and make it a bit flatter. Save some for sprinkling on top. You know what to do from here on.
For the whole egg, fashion a well with some veggies in the middle, but most circling the sides. Crack the egg into the well. Then cover the area with the top of a sauce pan or anything that will help it retain the heat. Before the egg is completely done, drop your cheese on top and let it melt.
One egg will seem like three. You will get protein and vegetables. Serve this with your coffee and some fruit. A rice cake might be a good and healthier substitute for bread. You can even have a little jelly with it or, you can heat up some blueberries in a small amount of water, add Stevia, and create a sweet and healthy syrup.
After I do this, I may take a brisk walk, do some chores, and take a nap. At least, I might read a book and then take a nap. Whatever I do, there is a nap in there somewhere, especially if I watch football.
A little conversation with family might be in order as well … and a nap, a chore, and a nap.
(Note, and in no order, Case de Tamales is serving up some pumpkin tamales from their new Tower location and you might want to pick some up ahead of time because you might want a snack after your nap.)
Parenthetically, speaking of naps and snacks, have a snack, a light one. Fruit or that rice cake you forgot to have for breakfast might be good. Nuts or seeds might be even better. It’s a holiday so some wasabi peas might be a worthy indulgence. You could also go outside with a bag of sunflower seeds and see how far you can launch the shells. That is recreation and eating all at once!
Pumpkins seeds are even better.
It keeps getting better and better.
Wake up for a light lunch unless company comes for big meal lunch. If you are the primary or even secondary cook, you probably will not get as many naps and chores, but don’t skimp on light snacks.
Personally, I prefer big lunches and small suppers, but my family tradition is to have the main holiday meal at 5 p.m., so I am having a light lunch. I eat fish these days. So, a can of sardines might do the trick. I found some crackers made with beans and seeds. Shop around the gluten-free section and find some food that is healthier for all of us.
I guess what you are really being very patient with me for is what you are going to be patient for next Thursday: the main meal.
What are you going to do with all those temptations?
Well, you are going to prepare and think and think and prepare. It does not have to be a health disaster. It can be a FEAST and I will use FEAST as an acronym:
F – Friends and family make the day. Make them your number one satisfaction. Enjoy conversations before, during, and after dinner. Tell stories’ laugh, and celebrate each other.
E – Eat and enjoy eating. It is a feast and it is not every day. However, less can be more; slower can be more savory and conversation can punctuate the pauses between bites. Slow down and enjoy the delicacies of smaller portions. If you eat meat, think of it as a side dish and limit it to the size of a deck of cards or less.
A – Appetizers can be main courses. Think about it. How many times have you wished you could have had an extra plate and bypassed the entre? Avoid breads and sugars.
S –Sample and substitute. Become a sampler of things that are less healthy. Don’t say, “No,” just say, “a tiny bit please.” You can taste without indulging. Then substitute healthy foods for less healthy foods. To avoid meats, create veggie patties, serve portabella mushrooms, bean-based, vegetarian meatloaf, or tofu turkey. That did not appeal to me much until I found the recipe in the link below and now I am making it for Thursday. You can cook most of your vegetables with less fat (and no animal fat), more spices, and great variety. Sweet potatoes are already a good choice.
T- Transform treats. Fruits and a little cream are colorful, sweet, and delicious. Have desert, just lean toward healthier deserts.
After dinner, take another walk and another nap. Enjoy the rest of your evening and then, go to bed with a clear conscience. You’ve had a healthy, happy Thanksgiving.
And yes, here are the ingredients for the tofu turkey and the video contains the instructions for making it:
Moon Cho’s Tofu Loaf with Vegetables
• Firm Tofu (3 cakes)
• Zucchini (1, diced)
• Mushrooms (8 oz)
• Frozen Peas & Carrot (1 1/2 cup)
• Frozen Spinach (16 oz. bag)
• Garlic (5 cloves, minced)
• Paprika (3 teaspoons)
• Cumin (3 teaspoons)
• Coriander (3 teaspoons)
• Salt (3 teaspoons)
• Pepper (1 1/2 teaspoon)
• Olive Oil (1/2 cup into casserole)
• Panko Breading (2 cups)
• Eggs (4 beaten)
This actually looks very good and the video is very detailed. I am going to try it. I love all the ingredients. There is much for which we can be grateful and a guilt-free, tummy-ache free thanksgiving is not far from the top!