Tag Archives: thanksgiving

Healthy Plant Based Recipe Round-Up, Perfect for Thanksgiving

The holiday season is here! It came so quick; Thanksgiving is literally right around the corner. In this recipe round up, I am sharing delicious and indulgent plant based recipes that are perfect to enjoy on Thanksgiving. Who says that vegetables can’t be super satisfying?! From appetizers, entrees, side dishes and yummy desserts like sweet potato bourbon pie,  there is something for everyone. Make one of these recipes and take it to your Thanksgiving dinner, I promise it will be a hit. People won’t even know it’s plant based!  Continue reading Healthy Plant Based Recipe Round-Up, Perfect for Thanksgiving

Gluten Free Thanksgiving Round-Up

Happy Thanksgiving!!!

Before we get to the recipes, I want to know…

What are your plans? What is your favorite Thanksgiving tradition? Are you going to go Black Friday shopping?

Here are my plans for tomorrow:

  1. sleep in
  2. eat a super yummy breakfast
    (SO IMPORTANT! Don’t skip meals!)
  3. run my own virtual turkey trot – I was planning on running a 10K (6.2 miles) but considering I haven’t run in the last week, I may settle for 8K (5 miles)
  4. make a kale salad to bring to Thanksgiving dinner (and maybe a healthy pie, depends on how ambitious I am feeling)
  5. have a green smoothie before going to the party
  6. enjoy dinner & time with family!!!

Here’s a quick recipe round up of some of my Thanksgiving favorites. They are all gluten & dairy free and fairly easy to make. I looooove to eat whole foods, but I don’t like a lot of fuss and complications in the kitchen 🙂  I know you will find these recipes so delicious and that they will satisfy you in a healthy way on Thanksgiving, during this holiday season, or whenever you want to make them! 

Let me know which one of these recipes you would try by tweeting me (@sweetblondefit) or by leaving me a comment! 

Butternut Squash & Kale Salad

dsc_5010Why I love it: creative salad full of fall flavor, a great addition to the Thanksgiving plate & full of superfood nutrients! 
Adapted from Sur La Table cooking class
Yield: 4 servings

8 oz butternut squash, peeled & cut into 1-1/2in cubes
1/4 cup plus 1T extra-virgin olive oil, divided
1-1/2 tsp dijon mustard
2 T lemon juice
2 tsp maple syrup (omit if you don’t need sweetness on salad)
1lb kale, (Tuscan kale is my fav)  discard stems & cut into 1/2 inch ribbons
1/2 cup pomegranate seeds (about 1/2 pomegranate)
Kosher salt & fresh ground black pepper

To cook squash: (preheat oven to 350F)
1. place squash in large bowl and toss with 2T of olive oil until coated
2. season with salt and pepper
3. spread squash in even layer on baking sheet
4. place baking sheet in oven and roast until golden brown & tender (about 30 mins)

To make vinaigrette:
1. In medium bowl, use a whisk to combine mustard, lemon juice & maple syrup
2. Use a whisk and mix vigorously 
3. While whisking, drizzle in 2T of olive oil until well combined
4. Add salt and pepper to taste

To cook kale:
1. In large bowl, toss the kale with 1T of olive oil until coated
2. Place nonstick skillet on stove over medium heat
3. When skillet is warm, place enough kale in skillet to cover bottom of pan
4. Stir frequently until very lightly browned on both side and tender (about 4 mins)
Instead of cooking kale, massage in bowl with your hands, massaging makes kale more tender and not as bitter to eat. Same effect as cooking the kale without the warm salad. 

Transfer kale to a bowl and using spatula, add vinaigrette and butternut squash. Carefully mix, try not to mash/break up squash. 
Serve on large plate or in salad bowl. Sprinkle with pomegranate seeds immediately before serving. 

Thyme & Lemon Green Beans

Green-Beans-Lemon-Thyme_qi4idiWhy I love it: it’s a great alternative to green bean casserole! 
 12 servings, ¾ cup each

1 Tbsp. olive oil
2½ lbs. green beans, trimmed (about 10 cups)
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
½ tsp. sea salt
¼ cup water
1 tsp. finely chopped lemon peel
3 Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
¼ cup chopped fresh thyme

1. Heat oil in large skillet over medium-high heat.
2. Add green beans and garlic. Season with salt; cook, stirring frequently, for 4 to 6 minutes.
3. Add water; cook, covered, for 2 minutes.
4. Remove lid; cook for 30 seconds to 1 minute, or until water evaporates.
5. Add lemon peel, lemon juice, and thyme. Serve immediately.

Cranberry Quinoa Stuffing

Quinoa-Stuffing-Roundup_goog9zWhy I love it: great gluten free stuffing alternative, quinoa is a complex carb with amino acids and protein unlike the traditional stuffing with bread
 16 servings, ⅔ cup each

2 Tbsp. olive oil
1 medium onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
8 medium celery stalks, chopped (about 4 cups)
2 medium green apples, with peel (about 2 cups)
4 cups low-sodium organic vegetable broth
2 cups dry quinoa, rinsed
1 tsp. sea salt
1 tsp. ground cumin
½ tsp. ground black pepper
½ cup dried cranberries
½ cup chopped fresh cilantro
½ cup pine nuts

1.Heat oil in medium saucepan over medium-high heat.
2. Add onion and garlic; cook, stirring occasionally, for 2 minutes, or until fragrant.
3. Add celery and apple; cook, stirring frequently, for 8 to 10 minutes, or until tender.
4. Add broth, quinoa, salt, cumin, and pepper. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium-low; cook, covered, for 15 minutes, or until most of liquid is absorbed. Remove from heat.
5. Add cranberries. Cover and let stand for 5 minutes.
6. Add cilantro and pine nuts; fluff with fork and serve.

Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes

mashed-cauliflowr-recipe-7223Why I love it: its a great low carb/low glycemic version of traditional mashed potatoes. By using cauliflower you get a creamy texture and it’s full of veggies. No one will know! 

Yield: 4-5 servings

2lb cauliflower (1 very large head) 7-8 cups chopped
1T unsweetened almond milk
1 tsp kosher salt
1 1/2tsp garlic powder
1/2 cup white beans (cannelloni or navy beans), rinsed

1. in 4 quart pot, cook cauliflower in 5 cups of water, covered, until very soft (about 10 minutes)
2. Drain well using colander
3. Place cauliflower in blender, add almond milk, salt, & garlic powder.
4. Blend on low, 15 seconds
5. Push down cauliflower (be sure to get off sides) and blend on low again. Repeat as needed until reaching desired consistency.
6. Once coarsely ground, add beans and blend on low sped just until smooth but NOT creamed. 

Variations: use 1/2 cup baked potato  instead of white beans. 
Top with a little bit of grass-fed butter. 

Orange and Herb Roasted Turkey Breast

Turkey-Breast-Recipe-1Why I love it: Turkey breast is the leanest part of the turkey &  super juicy. It’s great if you aren’t having many people over for dinner or have a lot of vegetarians/vegans as it isn’t as big as a whole turkey.
from Inspired Taste

Yield: 6 servings

1 whole bone-in turkey breast, 6 1/2 to 7 pounds, thawed
1T minced garlic (3 cloves)
1T chopped fresh rosemary leaves
1T chopped fresh thyme leaves
1T chopped fresh sage leaves
2 tsp kosher salt
1/2 tsp ground black pepper
2T olive oil
2 tsp Dijon mustard
1/2 cup freshly squeezed orange juice
2T freshly squeezed lemon juice
1/2 cup chicken broth
1 orange, sliced

Preparation: visit Inspired Taste for the rest of the recipe! 

Delicata Squash Blossom

Delicata-Squash5WWhy I love it: this is the one recipe on here I haven’t tried, delicata squash is delicious, easy to slice (unlike other squash) and inexpensive. I modified the original recipe a little bit. This recipe is BEAUTIFUL and a great way to use this wonderful ingredient
recipe adapted from My Man’s Belly

Yield: 4 servings

2 Medium Onions (sliced thin)
¼ cup Olive Oil (divided)
2 delicata Squash
2 large cloves garlic (grated)
½ tsp Dried Thyme
Kosher Salt
Freshly Ground Black Pepper
Maple Syrup 

  1. Heat half of the olive oil in a large non-stick skillet over medium high heat.
  2. Once oil is hot, add onions.
  3. Cook onions until they are slightly browned and softened. Stir occasionally. This should take about 8-10 minutes. If they are browning too fast, reduce the heat and add a tablespoon of water. You want the onions soft.
  4. Remove onions from heat when done.
  5. While onions are cooking, cut the squash in half (lengthwise) and remove the seeds.
  6. Trim the squash ends and slice into thin half moons (about ⅛” thick).
  7. Preheat oven to 400F
  8. Spoon onions into 8″ oven proof pan and spread evenly.
  9. Top onions with sliced Delicata squash pieces. Begin arranging slices skin side up along the outside edge of the pan. Overlap the slices and continue arranging them in circles until you get to the middle and there is no more room to add any more.
  10. Pour remaining olive oil into a small dish and add the garlic, thyme, salt and black pepper. Whisk to combine.
  11. Brush the herbed oil mixture over top of the squash slices and make sure to coat the surfaces well.
  12. VERY lightly sprinkle the top of the dish with maple syrup (very very lightly)
  13. Slide into the oven and bake for 30 minutes or until squash slices have softened to your desired consistency.
  14. Remove from oven and let cool slightly before serving.

Stay Sweet!



Have you ever met a food pusher???

I have!!! 

Here is typical scenario: Your at Thanksgiving dinner, Aunt Joan made pie this year (she never bakes you know) and she wants you to try  a piece. She asks you 10 different ways and just won’t quit until you to try it.
Here’s another: Your co-worker bought bagels to the office from the world’s greatest bagel bakery and insists that you have one – who cares about the calories!
Or another: You’re at your friends birthday party, she made a special “diet friendly” dessert just for you (but it’s  not diet friendly at all). She tells you how she didn’t want you to be left out and only made it because she knew you were coming.  You feel so flattered that she went out of her way to make it, you struggle to figure out how to decline.

food pusher

There are many more scenarios I could give as food pushers come in all shapes and sizes. I’m sure you are remembering a time right now when you encountered a food pusher. With Thanksgiving being this week and the holiday season upon us, I wanted to share with you ways to deal with this as there always seem to be a lot of “food pushers” during the holidays with family and friends. 

food-pusher cats

“Food pushers” are people who usually mean well. I suppose that with some there could be an element of sabotage involved, but usually that isn’t the case. Most of the time they feel bad that you aren’t participating or partaking with them and everyone else and wish they had your willpower.  Food pushers aren’t trying to be bad people, they just think that they know more than you do about how much you should eat.  So, whatever the case is, remember that most people “pushing” food on you don’t even realize they are doing it!

keep-calm-and-just-say-no, food pusher

In anticipation of the upcoming holiday season, here are a few tips on how to deal with the person who likes to make your food their business – aka: food pushers.

First of all, let me say that there is NOTHING wrong with indulging. If you choose to eat something, it should be because YOU want to eat it and enjoy it, not because someone else PUSHED it onto you. 

  1. Someone says “It’s my speciality, you HAVE to try it!” 
    Response: “I will in a little bit”Stalling works so well because it momentarily takes the pressure off the situation. Most food pushers are going to follow up to see if you really tried the dish. If they ask later how you liked it, tell them you didn’t end up having room on your plate but you will certainly try some next time
  2. Someone says “You MUST try [insert high calorie dish here], it was always your favorite when you were little” 
    Response: “I’m really not feeling well today and I don’t think I could stomach it” OR “I really can’t stand [insert main ingredient here] anymore now that I am older” A white lie here does not hurt. While you are probably feeling fine, the way you would feel after eating that dish would not be good. And maybe you truly love that ingredient you said you didn’t like anymore, but you know that if you had a bite you couldn’t stop. Food pushers can’t argue with how you are feeling that day or how your personal food preferences have changed. No ones feelings are hurt and you can escape the  temptation of that high calorie dish.
  3. Someone says, “are you sure you don’t want to try? I only make this once a year!” 
    Response: I have already filled my plate, but I would love to take some home to have another day. Take it to go!!! Once you leave the party/get together, you can do what you want with the leftovers! Throw it out, give it to your neighbor, or hand to a homeless person on the street. You do not have to consume! If having it in your house makes the temptation too great, THROW IT OUT! This takes the pressure off at the party and the person has no idea what you do with it once you leave. 
  4. Scenario: your meal is already plated for you or someone gives you a second helping when you didn’t want one
    Response: move it around with your fork to make it took like you ate it. This is like the old “feed to the dog under the table” trick. I mean, you could really feed it to the dog under the table if that is possible 😀 but otherwise, move it around, make it look like you ate it, and move on. No need to consume or put it in your mouth. If you feel that you are still hungry or want a 2nd serving of something, opt for the veggies or salad. 
  5. Someone says “But it’s your favorite!!!”
    Response: “I’ve overdone it in the past, I can’t eat it anymore!”This one of something being your favorite can be the hardest to escape, because everyone knows you love it and sometimes people have made it especially for you. Most people know what it is like to eat so much of something that you just can’t stomach it anymore, so they are likely not to question. If the pressure is super high or people keep insisting, revert back to #3 and offer to take some home with you. Then dispose of after leaving. 
  6. Someone says “Looks like someone is obsessed with dieting”
    Response: say, “I’m just conscious of what I eat because I have been concerned about my health and I have adopted a new lifestyle and way of eating and since doing that I feel a lot better” 
    OR “I’m not obsessed, these are just the foods I like eating!”

    However you respond is your choice, just be sure to laugh it off and don’t validate the comment. Responding in anger to this will only escalate the situation.  Remember how good you will feel tomorrow after making these decisions and know that acknowledging your willpower and healthy decisions will inspire others. 
  7. Someone says “It’s only once a year, live a little!”
    Response: “these are the foods that I love and enjoy, so I am livin’ a little and enjoying this party as much as everyone else!”Sometimes we need to kindly remind people that all pleasure is not found in food and that you can still have fun and experience pleasure eating healthy items or only choosing to indulge in a few items at dinner instead of everything. This is another one that is important to laugh off and not take too personally.  


Other things that help with food pushers are:

  • Don’t make a huge stink over your special eating requirements by pointing out what you can and can’t have. Just serve yourself and eat what you wish, without making a big deal that you aren’t eating any stuffing this year. 
    If you have an allergy or sensitivity and are unsure if the dish is free of that ingredient, of course you can subtly ask the host or the person who made the dish if it contains whatever you are sensitive to.
  • Make a pact with a sibling or other family member to support each other. This can help you stick to your guns in the face of food pushers. There are power in numbers and you can both back each other up with support.  
  • The first year is the hardest.  Your family and friends will eventually become familiar with you new lifestyle and habits. The first year is challenging because people are afraid of change and they are often afraid that you will change as a person if your habits/likes change. They will soon see that is not true, but be patient the first year and eventually they will all catch on. 
  • Remember that saying “no” is okay! You really don’t owe anyone an explanation, you are free make your own decisions. If someone gets slightly offended, that is their problem, not yours & they will probably forget by the time the night is over. Know that you are silently inspiring other people to make better decisions with your example. If you think it will help, practice saying no in the mirror. For people that are serial people pleasers, practicing saying no is a valuable exercise. It sounds cheesy but if it will help with your resolve, it is worth it in the long run. 

 Finally, remember that there are other ways to show and express love and care other than with food. Expressing emotion with food has become a common practice, so people forget that is not what it is for. Remind people of that you are so thankful you are able to be spending this special occasion with them. Their physical presence is what matters most to you. 

Screen Shot 2014-11-25 at 3.47.14 PM

I hope these have been helpful to you to stay strong in the face of “the pushers”. Remember to make your decisions based on what you would like to eat, not on what others want you to eat. 

Stay Strong!!

Wanna Turkey Trot???

Thanksgiving is getting close and while some people like to start focusing on Christmas as soon as November rolls around, I really like to take time for Thanksgiving. I usually try not to do any Christmas until the day after Thanksgiving, but since we are going to be gone this year, I have given myself permission to start Christmas slightly early 🙂

My  favorite part about Thanksgiving is the time with family. I love that almost everyone has that day off from work. I’m not super tempted by the food, it’s not even the highlight for me, I just love being with family and hanging out.

While Thanksgiving is a day off from work and time with family, that doesn’t mean it is a REST day as far as exercise goes! I stay active on Thanksgiving and be sure to make time to do some sort of exercise that day.untitled

WHY?! The reasoning is simple

1)      I am a nicer and happier person when I work out. I wrote about all the benefits to working out in a previous post. I just feel so much better when I exercise, so why not be happier and nicer on a day you are going to be around everyone that you love?

2)      Usually there is little bit of extra time this day so fitting it in isn’t too hard (even if you are hosting and have tons to cook, wake up early and workout. The cooking with go much more smoothly & you will have more energy – trust me on this!)

3)      If you are tempted by food, it’s much easier to make better food decisions when you have gotten exercise in. Indulging is totally okay, but I find that exercise helps you keep control and not get too crazy.

Because of this, a tradition of a morning turkey day workout has been born. Now pair this tradition with my new love of running…. the obvious outcome is a TURKEY TROT right?!?untitled

So I decided to see if there was a Thanksgiving Day run that I could do here in the PNW. Here is what I found. There are 2 turkey trots, one the weekend before Thanksgiving and one on Thanksgiving. One is a route I run a lot, so I didn’t feel like paying to run it, plus that is the weekend before. I really wanted it to be ON Thanksgiving day. I looked at the course, and I wasn’t overly impressed, it’s not super close and I really didn’t feel like paying that much to run. I think really what is boils down to is I don’t want to have to deal with the crowds and be on someone else’s schedule that day…

SOOOOOO I thought, why not do a virtual turkey trot???? Two options, either a 5K (3.11 miles) or a 10K (6.2 miles) — you find a route in your area that is that amount of miles and you walk or run it on Thanksgiving day — heck, you could even do it on a treadmill…. you pick the time and place and there is no entry fee!! We’ll connect about it virtually over twitter, instagram and even FB if you want  what do you guys think?:? Would you do it with me??

Comment on this post and/or tweet me

— if there is enough interest we will make this an official thing! Picture-33Also – this year I am going to post a post-thankgiving (black Friday) workout, so be ready for that!

Stay Sweet!