People often worry about how a lifestyle change—even one that is positive and healthful in every way—will affect things in their life that they already like. A tough one is holidays.
Some people will choose to ditch their typical habits for an entire holiday because they don’t know how to institute healthy holiday habits, or they’re afraid that their family will not enjoy themselves. Others will stick to their regular habits, but do so quietly because they don’t want to be confronted. And then there are some who unapologetically stick to their guns and live as they please no matter what anyone else says or does. You have to do what’s best for you and your family, but usually there is a way to compromise or add in some festivities so that everyone is happy and healthy in the end. Holidays are supposed to be fun and celebratory, after all!
Of course, my greatest hope is that our society as a whole will learn with time that many of our notions and traditions are terribly outdated and bad for our health. I hope that you have a supportive family and loving support structure that will embrace your choices even on holidays when the typical tradition is to binge on animal-based, fatty, and sugary foods that leave us all in food coma for days afterward.
With Thanksgiving approaching, I wanted to give some of my best holiday tips so that you can feel exuberant about the holiday and celebrate what Thanksgiving means to you while still doing what feels good for your body!
Here are 5 tips for a happy and healthy Thanksgiving! (As featured on huffingtonpost.com)
Have fun planning a menu. Don’t limit yourself by thinking only of traditional foods. If you’re cooking for a larger group and they’re expecting their holiday favorites, there are ways you can emulate those foods with a healthier recipe, like mashed cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes. But if your guests aren’t so hard to please, go outside the box! There are tons of amazing seasonal recipes you can make to celebrate harvest time without loading them full of meat and dairy.
Invite people who share your values. This might be easier said than done. Some people have difficult families that won’t try a plant-based dish no matter how good it looks. Just do your best to deal with the situation as you please, but consider having your own holiday party if the others aren’t going to be very celebratory for you. It can be a fun way to recharge with people who actually share your values and will appreciate every second you put into planning and cooking for them.
Start a new tradition. I love this! Traditions can be anything, whether it’s frisbee in the park, watching a certain movie, or silly things like hiding a statue that everyone has to try and find. Have fun with it. If you’re not sure what to do, look up traditions of other cultures and use it as a teaching lesson for your kids. You can also do things like making crafts or mementos. At Thanksgiving you can make a Christmas ornament, or other fun things like that!
Spend time with your loved ones creating memories. What may just be a silly song or movie time or a walk through a pumpkin patch today could end up being one of our most cherished memories. Remember that the holidays aren’t just about food. It’s about spending time with your loved ones, celebrating the reason you can come together, and being thankful for what your blessings.
Relax! It’s not uncommon for us to spend so much time trying to make an enjoyable experience for our children and loved ones that we end up exhausted at the end of the day or weekend. Make sure that you have time to relax. Whether you enlist help making food or spend some time prepping for you meal in the days before, do what you need to do to keep from getting burned out.
Keep in mind that your holiday can still incorporate your healthy habits. There’s no reason why post-Thanksgiving fun can’t be a walk around the block or an hour at the park. You can even pick up a football and play together! Feel good about your choices and enjoy your time off.
Here’s my favorite holiday recipe for cauliflower mash to get you inspired for your plant-based Thanksgiving!
- 1 lb. bag frozen or fresh cauliflower
- 1/4 cup fat-free soy milk
- 1 clove garlic, chopped
- 1/2 tsp Italian seasoning
- 1 tsp poultry seasoning
- 1 tsp nutritional yeast
- 1 Tbsp fresh parsley
- 2 Tbsp corn starch
- 2 Tbsp water to mix with corn starch
- 2 tsp flour or corn starch
In a pot, steam cauliflower for 10-12 minutes or until very soft. Drain well using a colander. In a sauce pan, combine soy milk, garlic, 1/4 cup water and seasonings over medium heat. When it begins to boil, slowly mix the cornstarch/water mixture into the sauce, stirring constantly until thickened.
When cauliflower is cool enough, squeeze as much water out as possible. Place the cauliflower in the processor or or high-powered blender and blend for about a minute. Add sauce and fresh parsley to cauliflower and process until creamy and smooth. If it’s too thick, you may adjust the consistency by adding a little bit of soy milk. Makes 4 servings.
Enjoy your plant-based Thanksgiving!