It’s Saturday and we are celebrating Christmas with the in-laws today. I am cooking up a Christmas feast for an early dinner and we’ll open some gifts. They are leaving on Monday so we had to have an early one for them. It should be fun.
Even though there are a few favorite items on the menu that are not quite on plan, I still make sure the majority of foods eaten are of a healthier nature. So I thought I would share today what is on our Christmas feast menu to give you a little idea of how to eat well while celebrating with picky family.
First, is the main star of the show, the turkey. I always brine the turkey overnight using Alton Brown’s wonderful brining recipe. Most people would worry about the salt content, but when you are active and in shape, sodium does not pose much of a threat. In fact, I have very low blood pressure and am encouraged to add a bit of salt to my meals. Following Alton’s recipe I bake the turkey for a couple of hours and we enjoy it for at least a week. With company over, it will probably be gone in a few days.
I don’t recommend frying a turkey simply because it is horrible for your health! Why take a wonderful source of lean protein and ruin it? Never understood that.
I use the neck and other parts to create a beautiful broth that simmers all morning at the back of the stove. While it cooks I create my homemade noodles with half whole wheat flour and half unbleached white flour. I have tried different combinations of wheat and white flours to get my noodles a little healthier. The kids protested when I used all wheat flour so every time I made it I added a little more white flour and a little less wheat flour. I finally hit the jackpot this Thanksgiving when I did a 50/50 combination. This is the only time of year I ever use white flour.
Next on the menu is wild rice with slivered almonds and parsley. I cook them with some of the turkey broth.
Our feast wouldn’t be complete without green bean casserole. I use fat free cream of mushroom soup and not as much of the fried onion mix as is on the recipe. I add some chopped water chestnuts for a little added crunch, as well as, some toasted almonds. This is one of the bad favorites on the menu, but I would be in trouble with the kids if I didn’t have this on the table.
I have a nice tossed salad with olive oil and balsamic vinegar on the table that only gets eaten by me, but I want to make sure I have my greens. Hubby will usually put a little on his plate. Probably just to be nice. Ha!
When it’s just the family I usually stop there because that is more than enough food for us. With company over, I will add smashed sweet potatoes with walnuts, cinnamon and a little pat of butter. Since it’s my in-laws and we’re all filipino, we’re not really big potato eaters and that is why I make wild rice. It’s something a little different than our typical plain brown rice that frequents our table (post workout only of course!).
Desserts are always hard to make healthy unless we eat some kind of fruit, but that will never do on a holiday feast! So, we created a version of pumpkin pie that is a little healthier. My daughter discovered a recipe for walnut pumpkin pie. The entire crust is made of healthy nuts. The filling has one can of fat free condensed milk so it is not perfect, but it is flourless and full of healthy fats. One small slice of this pie is all I need for dessert.
I did find a recipe this year for a pumpkin flan that looks amazingly easy and good. I haven’t attempted it yet. If it’s yummy I’ll be sure and post it.
So there you have it. This is our menu for our feast tonight.
Now, what is the single most important thing do make sure you do on Thanksgiving, Christmas, Easter or any other holiday that will involve a big, bad for you meal? Workout! Make sure you workout that day. Even if it is a quick one. I like to throw in a circuit workout because I can do a few rounds and be done in about 15 minutes. Here’s a good one you can do and all you need is a kettlebell and a timer:
Set your timer for 15 minutes. Do as many rounds of this circuit as you can until the timer goes off. Rest in between each circuit if you need to.
Do 15 reps of each exercise
Burpees (Squat Thrusts)
Kettlebell Swings (can use a dumbbell)
That’s it. You can get this quick little workout done while the turkey or ham is baking. No excuses! If family is visiting, have them do it with you. The kids will have a blast!