My Sustainable Holiday Table

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Last month for Thanksgiving, Phantom Floranista and I collaborated to make a beautiful Thanksgiving table arrangement. We tried to use all compostable and sustainable materials to create a feeling of warmth, abundance of food, and elegance. The table arrangement was so beautiful that I had a hard time taking it apart once Thanksgiving was over and it was time to transition into Christmas. Therefore, we consumed all of the edible fruit and composted the flowers and some of the leaves. Even though, we didn’t have any specific plans to entertain during this month, I just had to do something with the table now that Phantom Floranista showed me the basics of floral arrangement. We also got our first tree as a married couple this year and decided to really get into the spirit of things by decorating our apartment. Inspired by magazines and in-store displays, I bought extra glass ornaments and other decorative knickknacks to put on our long, rosewood table.

I carefully placed large, round ornaments in places where the apples, corn, pomegranates, and mandarins were for the Thanksgiving table.

I also placed a few taller ornaments to give height and character.

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I also replaced the Fairy Tale pumpkin with a cubed vase filled with ornaments and decorative balls for the centerpiece. I bought the red cubed vase last year and filled the bottom with tissue to prop up the decorative pieces. I also used  tall candles that I already had to give more height and depth.

I covered up an empty aluminum can into a festive utensil holder with tissue paper, rubber band, ribbon, and an ornament.

Please share your holiday decorating tips and pictures!

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Eating Beyond The Holidays (With Recipe)

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A few weeks ago I attended a Thanksgiving cooking demo at We Olive SF, a sustainable olive oil store. Teresa studied holistic nutrition, manages Oak Hill Farm’s CSA program, and has started Can Can Cleanse. Teresa showed us how easy it is to prepare seasonal food for a holiday gathering. It got me to thinking that often times, Seasonal Food is also known as Holiday Food to be only consumed on holidays. Well then, what about rest of the season? We don’t need to wait until Thanksgiving or any holiday to eat fresh, homemade dishes. Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, sweet potatoes, are available throughout Fall and Winter and there a ton of ways to enjoy these foods.

The dishes served at the holiday dinner table are richer and more decadent (more fats and sugars), which makes that meal so enticing and is nothing to feel guilty about. Though, the same ingredients can be prepared in a healthier way for daily consumption. The food that is grown locally and seasonally should be eaten everyday and not just saved for Thanksgiving or Christmas.  The turkey or ham may take center stage, but the abundance of vegetables (green bean casserole, cranberry sauce, potatoes, Brussels sprouts) really make up the holiday table.

It’s always been all about the vegetables.

Butternut Squash soup is easy to make, delicious, and very healthy.

Brussels Sprouts are another typical holiday side dish that can be enjoyed any night of the week. Brussels sprouts are easy to pack also, so you don't have to resort to fast food for lunch.

Homemade Cannellini Bean and Rosemary Dip

Winter Squash Salad with Arugula, Feta & Pine Nuts

This recipe is modified from Teresa Piro’s Thankful Soups and Sides cooking demo at We Olive SF. It is a mouthwatering salad that looks really pretty and elegant. The salad is packed with antioxidants and flavor that you will want to eat it everyday. The warm squash makes the salad perfect for a cold, winter evening, also.

Ingredients
2 cups Delicata squash, seeded
1/3 cup olive oil
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1/3 cup pomegranate seeds
1/3 cup feta, crumbled
2 tbs pine nuts, toasted

1 tbs Extra Virgin Olive Oil
1 cup arugula

Preparation
1. Pre-heat oven to 350 degrees.

2. Cut squash into 1 inch squares. In a large mixing bowl,  toss squash,  sea salt, black pepper, and  olive oil to coat the squash well. Evenly lay out the squash on a baking sheet. Roast in oven for 30-35 minutes, or until soft, but not mushy. Remove from oven and let squash cool slightly.


3.  In the same mixing bowl, add roasted squash, feta, toasted pine nuts,  pomegranate seeds, extra virgin olive oil and gently toss. Garnish with arugula and serve.

A warm winter salad of squash, arugula, pine nuts, and pomegranate seeds is soul satisfying and super simple to make, and is a perfect everyday meal.

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My Thanksgiving Table

Follow me on Twitter Last Sunday, the morning after a hail storm, I walked over to the Farmer’s Market, wanting to get first dibs on farm fresh produce for my Thanksgiving table. What I had in mind was not literal. … Continue reading

Thanksgiving Without The Guilt

For the last 25 days you have 1) talked, thought, tested out recipes, and shopped non-stop for this meal  2) salivated over all the food blogs and TV shows, hoping someone can cook all that up for you 3) secretly dreaded the meal because you know it will mess with your health goals.

Family Meal

Image by _dbr via Flickr

It really is wonderful that you have been more conscious of your health and weight. You have made changes that will help you reach your health goals and  you have been on track for sometime now. If you really have been on track, eating well and being active regularly, then fear not. Even if you have not been on track, still fear not.  Thanksgiving is just one day and it is just one meal. It is the one day that you can allow yourself to enjoy creamy mashed potatoes,  turkey gravy, macaroni and cheese, and decadent desserts.  Here are some basic tips for healthy eating:

1. Enjoy the atmosphere. Take in the sights and smells of the food. Talk to the people at the dinner table.

2. Fill up your plate once and eat slowly. Bite, put your fork down, chew,  enjoy the conversations, then bite again. Slowing down helps you digest and you can actually enjoy the taste of the food. If you are still hungry, go for seconds of  only what you really only want to eat.

3.  Leave room for dessert. Instead of saying “There’s always room for dessert,” actually leave room for it. Eat a little less of everything else so you can have a piece of that pie with whip cream sans guilt.

4. Start the day with a workout, brisk walk, or anything active that will help kick-start your metabolism. If you are too busy cooking, cleaning, or driving, just do 10 jumping jacks. That may not seem like a lot, but it’s better than nothing, will make you feel better, and it only takes 60 seconds. Or suggest the family go for a walk after the meal instead of sitting down in front of the television.

Overall, it is just one meal.  If you overeat, don’t be so hard on yourself. It will not kill you or throw so off track that you can’t get back on. Your metabolism will adjust and you will burn off the extra 200 calories. Plus, you can get back to eating regularly and staying active the next day. Stop thinking about Thanksgiving as only about food and think about all that you have to be thankful for. It’s a time when you sit down and share the grand meal with people who mean something to you. Enjoy that thought. Happy Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving Side Dish: Potatoes Continued

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Yesterday, I stated a strong case for staying away from instant mashed potatoes. Potatoes in a box are not wholesome, real food. Instead, they are just chemicals made to fool your sensory perception. Anyway, making mashed potatoes from scratch is not that hard and they are absolutely delicious. Checkout these wonderful mashed potato recipes gathered from other foodies:

Basic

Simple Mashed Potatoes by Use Real Butter
Garlic Mashed Potatoes by 23 and Grain Free
Mashed Sweet Potatoes by Delish.com
Creamy Mashed Potatoes by Pioneer Woman (she beat Bobby Flay on Thanksgiving Throwdown) I suggest using unprocessed cream cheese.

Creative

Kale Mashed Potatoes by Cate’s World Kitchen
Fluffy Pesto Mashed Potatoes by Kayotic Kitchen
Kale and Olive Oil Mashed Potatoes by 101 Cookbooks\
Pumpkin Mashed Potatoes by Cake, Batter, Bowl

Image via Cake, Batter, and Bowl

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Thanksgiving Side Dish: Potatoes Mashed or Not

Follow me on Twitter Mashed potatoes are delicious, but they do take some (messy) prep work  and time which may make you resort the the instant stuff for your side-dish. Instant potatoes have been an American staple for decades. They … Continue reading