I’ve chatted about this in a previous post, but how many of us enter into contracts with ourselves- mini resolutions, goals, intentions- and actually come out on the other side with a success? Sometimes they’re just too big, or unspecific, unrealistic. Sometimes we never really had it in us to give them a go in the first place, we weren’t ready. How many of us succeed and how do we personally quantify a win? With holiday season a week away it goes without saying that a sudden spike in holiday cheer may be accompanied by a corresponding surge in caloric intake (cue beloved pumpkin pie). This season I challenge us to step away from restriction and food rules and instead live in the moment- embrace the communal aspect of each meal, the love, the intention, live consciously, respect ourselves and our bodies, and eat what makes us thrive and feel nourished. It is too easy to get overwhelmed, to overeat, and to wake up the next morning with panic or regret. This season let’s celebrate each victory- each moment spent with family, each tradition reawakened, each warming, cozy, familiar smell- and live freely. With holiday season a week away, here are a few helpful words to live by.
There are no rules // rather than arming yourself with a hard set of dos and don’ts, you will have more success, with your diet, mood, energy, if you switch your focus to enjoying the holiday and embracing the spirit of the season.
Live in the moment // with so much emphasis placed on the holiday meal, this season I challenge you to take the focus off the food and instead channel that energy towards family, tradition, community, and reflection. It is too easy to get caught up in counting calories, anxiety, and restrictive thoughts-instead of making the meal the spotlight, turn that light inward and towards the people at your table to truly enjoy their company and the tradition of the evening. In the days leading up to and following ‘the big meal’, incorporate lighter, less calorie dense meals into your diet so that indulgence doesn’t have as lasting an impact- remember, each moment is a new moment, each day is a new day.
Moderation, moderation // skip the store-bought cookies and the cheese-plate and instead save room for homemade meals or treats that hold special memories. The key is to leave feeling satisfied and like you were able to partake in the festivities in a meaningful and healthful way. If you attempt to deprive yourself, willpower will eventually snap and you’ll end up overeating. On a similar note, filling a plate with a little bit of everything on the table can easily spiral into more food than you bargained for. Instead, snack on something light before ‘the big meal’, like a small green salad or fresh pear, to satiate cravings before you really start digging in.
Never stop moving // regardless of if you’re fierce enough to brave the cold for an outdoor jog, land a yoga class, or transform your living room into an at-home aerobics studio, staying physically active is a must. A recent study found adults, on average, gained more than one pound of body weight during the winter holidays and that that weight stuck throughout the following year (yikes!). The good news- people who reported the most physical activity throughout the holiday season showed the least weight gain, or managed to maintain or lose weight. Weight aside, we could all use the extra endorphins!
Inspired by the communal table, seasonal eating, and a constant drive towards all things cozy, today I’m so excited to share The Great Pumpkin Stew, a sweet, creamy, and hearty stew- perfect for battling this bitter cold. Comforting without the comfort food calories (and residual waistline woes), this vegetable stew is made with a pumpkin and tomato infused broth, fiber and protein rich sweet potatoes and white beans, savory mushrooms, and nourishing kale . Although this recipe requires quite a bit of chopping, it comes together in one simple pot, simmering to perfection while you bop about doing what you do and makes enough leftovers to last the course of the week. I serve The Great Pumpkin Stew over ½ cup brown basmati rice or with a crusty knob of baguette, topped with fresh basil.
The Great Pumpkin Stew [makes 6 servings]
2 tablespoon olive oil
1 pound white mushrooms, wiped clean and thinly sliced
1 large yellow onion, diced
2 large cloves garlic, minced
1 red bell pepper, deseeded and diced
2 medium sweet potatoes (about 2 pounds), peeled and rustically cubed
3 cups low sodium vegetable broth
1 can (15 ounces) diced tomatoes
1 can (15 ounces) pure pumpkin puree
3 dried bay leaves
1 spring fresh sage
1 can (15 ounces) cannellini beans, thoroughly rinsed and drained
2 cup kale, tough stems removed, roughly chopped
salt & pepper to taste
In a large Dutch oven or heavy pot, heat olive oil over medium-high heat until just shimmering. Add mushrooms and sauté, stirring frequently, until they are soft and well browned (about 5 minutes). Add onion, garlic, and red pepper and continue to sauté until onion is soft (about 4 minutes).
Add sweet potato, vegetable broth, tomato, pumpkin puree, bay leaves and fresh safe and bring stew to a boil. Reduce heat to low, cover pot, and simmer for 1-hour, or until sweet potato is easily mashed. Remove from heat, discard bay leaves and sage, then stir in white beans and kale until kale is just wilted.
Nutritional Information [per serving = 2 cups]
350 Calories, 64g Carbohydrates, 5.7g Fat, 13.1g Protein, 14.6g Fiber, 24.5g Sugar