Monday, November 24, 2014

What To Do With Thanksgiving Leftovers: Mini Turkey Pot Pies with a Mashed Potato Crust

To be honest, I am never overly excited about the Thanksgiving meal. I like turkey alright, but it’s far from being my favorite.

While the actual Thanksgiving meal isn’t my favorite, I love what I make with the leftovers every year: individual turkey pot pies with a mashed potato crust. They are really tasty, and I love the built-in portion control.  

Mini Turkey Pot Pies with a Mashed Potato Crust

  • Leftover turkey, cut into small pieces
  • Mushrooms, sliced
  • Peas (frozen and thawed peas work very well)
  • A little half and half (or stock to make it lower calorie)
  • Leftover mashed potatoes (it’s also really tasty with smashed sweet potatoes)
  • Salt and pepper, to taste
What To Do
  1. Preheat oven to 375 degrees.
  2. Sauté mushrooms in a little oil for a few minutes.
  3. Add frozen peas and turkey meat.
  4. Add a few tablespoons half and half (or stock).
  5. Season mixture with a little salt and pepper
  6. Fill small ramekins 3/4 with the turkey/mushroom/pea mixture.
  7. Top with mashed potatoes.
  8. Bake in a 375 degree oven for about 20 minutes, until the potatoes have a nice golden color. 
Questions: Do you like turkey? As I said, it’s not my favorite. What’s your favorite part of the Thanksgiving meal? I started making smashed sweet potatoes a few years ago, and they are now my favorite part of the meal, but I try to fill up on salad and green veggies. How do you plan to stay active this Thanksgiving holiday? I’ll start Thursday with a 1.5-hour barre class, and we are going to go on a 4-mile family hike in the afternoon. We have also planned long walks and/or hikes on Friday, Saturday, and Sunday.

Be well,

Sunday, November 16, 2014

Joyful, Mindful, & Relaxing Holidays

Every year, the holidays prove to be busy. Parties, get-togethers, shopping for gifts, shorter days, cooking for a crowd - the list is endless. It’s important to choose wisely when deciding which events to attend. But still, there is usually too much to do, and it’s easy to let the busyness get to you.

I have said this before, but one of the most important strategies in long-term weight maintenance is, in my opinion, to learn how to deal with stress and to counteract it. Stress will always be part of our lives, but there are different ways to deal with it. And in the process, life will be a lot more enjoyable.

Here are some of the strategies I use to stay mindful and (mostly) relaxed during a busy time of the year:
  • Get up 10 - 15 minutes earlier each day to start your day less rushed. This can make a huge difference. Whenever I start my day not rushed, I feel more relaxed all day long. 
  • Start each day with journaling - just 10 - 15 minutes makes a huge difference. I started doing this while doing my first Conscious Cleanse and the habit has stayed with me. 
  • Do some yoga or other exercises for 10 - 15 minutes. Yes, by now I'm getting up 30 to 45 minutes earlier, but it makes such a difference in how my day goes. It’s absolutely worth it! And I do compensate for getting up earlier by going to bed earlier! 
  • Take a bath - I love Epson Salt baths to relieve sore muscles and help with detox symptoms. 
  • Use a fragrant body scrub - I recently found Trader Joe’s Lavender body scrub - it makes me feel like I’m at the spa and leaves my hands, feet, elbows and the rest of my body smooth and soft. Plus, the subtle fragrance stays with you throughout the day. 
  • Light a candle. I love the atmosphere candle light creates and an aromatherapy candle adds a wonderful smell to your home. 
I was recently asked to review Old Factory Candles for the blog, and I have been enjoying the little candles a lot. They are hand poured and come in assorted packages of three. I chose “fall harvest,” which comes with pumpkin spice, cranberry, and autumn leaves, and I love the scents. Even though the candles are small, they burn for 20 hours. To be honest, when the candles first arrived, I was surprised by how small they are. But they make my house smell amazing and burn evenly and for a long time, so I think they are worth the price, and I would buy them, or give them as a gift. Next time, I will probably go with some of the aromatherapy scents that promote relaxation.
Old Factory Candles
Finally, to make this time of year more enjoyable and stress free, it’s important to eat well. Since we are lucky to live in a climate that allows for year-round Farmers’ Markets, we continue to get seasonal fruits and vegetables at the Farmers’ Market. It’s a fun way for all of us to connect with healthy food and get some exercise in the process. 
 Farmers Market 03

Farmers Market 01

Farmers Market 05

Farmers Market 04
Here is what we got today:
Farmers Market 02
  • lemons - for warm lemon water in the morning
  • fresh ginger - for ginger tea 
  • green, red, and yellow bell peppers - I’ll roast them with onions and two potatoes
  • leeks - I made soup with two of the potatoes
  • potatoes - two went into the leek soup and two will be roasted 
  • persimmons - Andy likes the longer, Hachiya persimmons - you have to let them get very soft; I don’t like their texture. I enjoy the Fuyu persimmons, which you can eat like an apple. 
  • onions - one went into the leek soup, and I’ll roast some with the bell peppers
  • lettuce - there is nothing better than a nice, fresh salad for lunch
  • radishes - I sliced them thinly and marinated them in the salad dressing (olive oil, balsamic vinegar, salt, pepper, and a bit of mustard) for a bit before adding the lettuce
On Saturday, I also spent a little time in the kitchen to cook some food for the week. Here is what I made: 
  • grass-fed ground beef, sautéed with onions, carrots, and mushrooms 
  • roasted asparagus
  • roasted Brussels sprouts
Healthy eating is so much easier when there is always something healthy ready to grab.
Question: How do you de-stress your life during the holidays? Have you found that dealing with stress is essential in long-term weight maintenance? What strategies do you use to reduce stress? 

Be well,

[Disclaimer: I received the Old Factory Candles for free to review for the blog. As always, all opinions are my own.]