Thansgiving Foodie Friday: The Meal

countdown to thanksgiving

It’s human nature for each generation to want something a little different from what their parents had, and Thanksgiving dinner is no exception. Those of us who are somewhat new to hosting the big meal may struggle with finding balance between traditional dishes and fresh, new recipes. My first time to host Thanksgiving, I think every dish I made was something new. Some were great, others were not so good. The way to decide what which traditions to honor is to think about who your guests are. If you are hosting your own parents, be sure to give a nod to your grandma-whether you make her recipe for dressing or rolls, this will make your parents feel included instead of pushed aside. If you are hosting your in-laws, ask someone else to bring a traditional dish from their family recipe book.

Here is a peek at my 2014 Thanksgiving Menu:

HGTV_WebMenuChevron

Stay tuned. For the next four weeks, I will be sharing recipes and tips for cooking the Turkey Day Feast!

 

Countdown to Thanksgiving: Prepping the House for Guests

countdown to thanksgiving

I am hosting Thanksgiving this year in my home. I don’t have a very large home, so I know I am going to have to be super-organized (which I am not) and extremely tidy (which I am not.) One way to make a small space go from cozy to cramped is to add in a bunch of personal clutter. My house does tend to become cluttered, as most homes do, but mine is especially bad because of my kids. I have a 4-year old and a 5 month old. (Have you noticed that the amount of stuff kids need is inversely proportional to their age?)

I have decided that the best way for me to get my house prepped and ready to receive my guests on Thanksgiving is with a weekly schedule. I don’t like feeling overwhelmed, and I’m sure that you don’t either. I am planning to do a few tasks per week for the next 4 weeks so that I will be ready on Turkey Day. My schedule will have some cleaning jobs as well as other things that need to be addressed so that the holiday goes smoothly.

Week One (this week):

  1. I am going to run through my living room and throw away any trash, old magazines, old mail, etc. and I am going to remove any trinkets I no longer enjoy or that are the wrong season. I may give these away or just store them for when they are in season again.
  2. I will be making a list of any toiletry type items I am running low on. For me, this is toilet paper and hand soap. You may be having overnight guests, so you may need to stock up on shampoo/conditioner, soap, shower gel and lotion for your guest bathroom. Guests may prefer to bring their own, but it is always a welcoming touch to make sure the bathroom and shower are stocked with those necessities.

Week Two:

  1. I am going to go through my plastic food storage containers to see that they all have matching lids. If you’re hosting a big meal, it is always good to make sure you have functional containers for leftovers. You may want to freeze your leftovers, or send them home with guests. Either way, good containers are key.
  2. If you’re having overnight guests, de-clutter and straighten the room they will be staying in. Make sure that the flat surfaces of furniture are cleared of unnecessary stuff so that guests will have a place to put their own stuff. An extra, nice touch would be to set up a guest tray on the dresser top. You could include little bottles of soap, shampoo or lotion with towels and snacks. Sometimes people get the munchies at night and they may not want to bother their host. I saw this idea on Pinterest and I loved it!

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Week Three:

  1. Put fresh linens on the guest bed. If you live in a colder climate, some cozy flannel sheets would be perfect. In Oklahoma, it probably won’t get cold enough for flannel sheets until closer to Christmas. Make sure the bed is made properly and that the carpet is vacuumed.

Week Four:

  1. Dust in all rooms. Vacuum, sweep and mop everywhere.
  2. Thoroughly clean bathrooms-especially guest bathroom.
  3. Get caught up on laundry-especially towels.

Week Five (Thanksgiving Week):

  1. Keep things picked up and try to not undo all the good I have done so far.
  2. Shop for groceries.
  3. Put out some simple decorations.

That’s it. That’s my schedule to get my house ready for Thanksgiving, plus some extra ideas for those of you who are hosting overnight guests. Check back with me Friday for my Thanksgiving Dinner Menu!

Make Healthy Choices While Dining Out

Hotel restaurant table

Many fitness gurus will tell you that eating out is a diet killer. Just don’t do it. I say, if you want to have a social life at all, eating out cannot always be avoided. There will be times that eating out is an opportunity and other times it will be a necessity. While eating at home is the best way to control your intake of calories, fat, and sugar, there are always healthier options at restaurants. Here are my 5 tips:

1) Order water to drink. Not only are soft drinks loaded with empty calories/sugar, the markup on these drinks is absolutely ridiculous! Do your waistline and your pocketbook a favor. Just have water.

2) Choose grilled or charbroiled meats. Avoid anything that says “crispy” or “fried.” If you see something you really want, but it comes with fried chicken/crispy chicken, ask if you can get it with grilled chicken instead. Chances are, they’ll do it for you. If not, choose something else.

3) Look for healthy side options. Many times the menu has side dishes listed with the entree (ex. fried catfish filet with french fries and cole slaw) Ask to substitute a healthier option, like steamed vegetables or a side salad.

4) Ask for sauces and dressings to be served on the side. This gives you control over how much to use. It’s okay to indulge a little, but sauces and dressings are typically calorie laden and full of sugar. When you dip your salad in dressing or dip your meat in a sauce, you will most likely eat quite a bit less of the sauce/dressing that you would have if it came already drizzled over your plate.

5) Skip the appetizer. Skip the cocktails. Skip dessert. Nuff said.

You don’t have to decline invitations to go out to dinner just because you are trying to eat healthier. There are ways to keep doing good for yourself and enjoy the company of your friends and family in a restaurant. Our culture revolves around food too much to just say “I’m not eating out.” Follow these tips and you’ll be able to enjoy a restaurant meal and stay in your skinny jeans.

**Bonus tip: If there seems to be absolutely no entree that suits your healthy standard, order a broth-based soup.