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How to get through Thanksgiving without feeling like a stuffed turkey

As Canadian Thanksgiving approaches I thought I would share some tips on how to survive a Thanksgiving feast without feeling comatose and having to pay for it the next day (or week). Thanksgiving is a tradition with a wonderful intention, yet the ritual of stuffing a turkey and then stuffing ourselves might feel outdated for those of us trying to evolve the way we eat. 

I just returned from a two week vacation with my family and I found so much truth in the quote: 

 

Going home to be with family can often bring up a lot of "stuff". Especially with yogis on an evolutionary path, it can be challenging to be with others who are stuck in old patterns and lack the healthier habits we're working on strengthening.  

However, as yogis we try to look for the good in everyone and have the recognition that everything we encounter is the "guru in drag" and every situation is an opportunity for our own growth and learning. So this Thanksgiving, approach your family with the desire to see the positive and learn from the wisdom of our elders. And maybe try to convince them to eat a bit earlier – preferably before 4: ) 

Tips to get through Thanksgiving without feeling like a stuffed turkey: 

  • Start your day with a thermos of hot water with lemon.
  • See how long you can enjoyably last just on hot water and lemon. Let your deeper hunger awaken. 
  • When you feel true hunger, make a quart of green smoothie in a blender, a green juice, or stewed apples. Then, return to hot water with lemon. 
  • Take advantage of the extra time on your day off and go on a family bike ride, hike in nature or enjoy an extended yoga practice. Declutter your house. 
  • When the feast is ready, pause. Be grateful for the bounty. Take it in with all of your 5 senses.  

Drink in the aromas. 

Listen to each other. Feel the presence of being surrounded by those you love. 

Take in the vibrant colors and textures  

Taste. Savor. Delight. Appreciate the love and the effort. 

  • Eat with gratitude for our abundance and celebrate the connection. Enjoy the nourishment.
  • Relax. 
  • Then walk. 
  • Then go back to hot water and lemon and try not to eat again until the next day.  

Below are a few "healthier" Thanksgiving-worthy recipes. Enjoy! 

Pumpkin Pear Soup  

 This is the perfect fall soup - silky, velvety, delish! Serves 6-8  

Ingredients: 3 tbs butter or coconut oil, 1 onion diced, 3 garlic cloves minced, 2 pears, peeled, cored and halved, 4 cups roasted pumpkin 4 cups chicken or vegetable broth 1/2 tsp cinnamon  

Directions: To Roast Pumpkin And Pears: Preheat oven to 375. Cut the pumpkin into thick slices, removing seeds and stringy loose flesh inside. Reserve seeds for roasting. Cut the pears in half, peel and core. Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil and place the pumpkin and pears on top. Bake until both the pears and pumpkin are fork tender and beginning to brown, about 25 minutes for the pears and 45 minutes for the pumpkin. Allow to cool and scoop out the pumpkin flesh keeping 4 cups for the soup and reserving rest for another use. Chop the pears coarsely. In a heavy soup pot heat the butter and add the onions. Cook over medium low heat until the onions are translucent and beginning to brown. Add the garlic and cook an additional couple of minutes. Add the pumpkin and pears and about 4 cups of broth. Season with salt, pepper and cinnamon and cook over low heat for about 30 minutes. Blend, then taste and adjust seasonings as needed, and adding additional broth if soup is too thick. Garnish with toasted pumpkin seeds or plain yogurtOptional Toasted Pumpkin Seeds: Scoop out the seeds from the stringy flesh and place in a sieve over running water. Rub the seeds gently to remove any clinging flesh. Pat dry. Toss the seeds with 2 tablespoons of olive oil, salt and pepper and place on a foil lined baking sheet. Roast in a preheated 375 degree F. oven for 7 to 10 minutes or until the seeds are lightly browned and crispy. Cool.

 

White Bean and Turnip Puree (healthier alternative to mashed potatoes) 

(from Gwyneth Paltrow's It's All Good Cookbook) serves 2-4

Ingredients 
1/2 head garlic, unpeeled, top 1/2 inch cut off and discarded 
2 tbsp ghee, melted 
1/2 small yellow onion, diced 
1 small turnip, peeled and quartered 
1 14oz can cannellini beans, rinsed and drained 
1/4 cup vegetable stock, chicken stock or water 
sea salt, to taste 
black pepper, to taste 
 

Directions 
Preheat the oven to 400F. Tear off a piece of foil and place the head of the garlic in the center. Drizzle the top with a spoonful of ghee, wrap the whole thing up, and roast it for 1 hour, or until the cloves are very soft and a bit caramelized. Set aside until cool. Meanwhile, heat 1 tablespoon of ghee in a saucepan over medium heat. Add the diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and a bit browned. Meanwhile, steam the turnip until it's completely cooked through, about 10 minutes. Once onions are browned, add the beans to the pot along with the stock or water, a large pinch of salt, and a drizzle of ghee. Add the steamed turnip to the pot. Gently squeeze the garlic cloves from their pockets and add them to the pot. Stir everything together and let it bubble for 2 to 3 minutes. Using a handheld blender, puree the mixture until it's completely smooth. You can use a food processor or blender if you don't have a handheld one. Season with sea salt and pepper before serving

Give thanks.