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How to Live Gorgeously at Thanksgiving

I am blessed to live in the Northeast, where fall is one of the most festive and magical times of the year. Colors burst from the leaves of the trees, local farms offer hayrides and pumpkin picking, and houses are decorated with scarecrows, corn, and enormous spider webs. Makes you fill like a kid all over again!

Lately I’ve had the baking bug and have been making breads with a base of coconut and almond flour, pureed pumpkin, and lots of nutmeg and cinnamon. Heavenly with a hot bevvie in the morn! I’ve also taken on carving my own pumpkins and roasting the seeds from within. 350 degrees for 20 minutes and sprinkled with sea salt will make for some excellent snacking this week while thinking about Thanksgiving!

I usually host about 25 people for Thanksgiving, and I love to let loose that day. I make a pitcher of cosmos and keep the bar stocked, and I make everything from scratch: roasted turkey with herbs and spices, cornbread stuffing, green beans and Brussels sprouts, cranberry muffins, apple cake, and meringue chocolate chip cookies. This year, though, my family has made the conscious effort to go gluten-free in an effort to manage my son’s food allergies. And so we shall adapt accordingly. In the meantime, let’s talk about some other great ways to enjoy your holiday while keeping everyone healthy and sated.

Cook With Coconut Oil. Coconut oil is the new gorgeous girl in our house. Coconut oil stands up perfectly well to high heat temperatures, and has a light, sweet taste. The lauric acid present in the coconut supports immune function, helps the body burn fat, and is readily digested. Don’t be shy about adding it to baked goods, using it to cook vegetables, eggs, and meats, or to your protein shake.

Bake With Coconut or Chickpea Flour. Coconut and chickpea flours are both high in fiber and add an excellent texture to your foods. I love to bake with coconut flour, but I’ve also used them when making crab cakes, pancakes, and in a pinch as breading. Chickpea flour can be used as an egg replacer in recipes and will also bump up the protein content of your recipes. My mum baked me a gluten-free birthday cake over the summer with pureed chickpeas in place of flour. It was uber-rich and chocolatey and absolutely delicious. The funny part was that she wanted me to guess what the “secret ingredient” was after I took a bite. “What is this, The Help?!?” I asked her. Our sides were splitting we were laughing so hard! My father witnessed the whole thing and none of us could keep a straight face after that.

Treat Yourself to a Pastured Turkey. Your turkey is only as healthy as the diet it was fed when it was alive. Pastured animals graze outdoors on grass, which means they contain omega-3 fatty acids and are leaner creatures than their caged-up counterparts. They are free of all antibiotics and hormones, and do not eat any corn or soy, so their meat contains the proper ratio of omega3:omega 6 fats. My favorite part about eating roasted turkey is the crispy skin on the outside. The skin is a bit sweet because it contains the amino acid glycine, which is a natural detoxifier. Turkey is so easy to make that there’s no need to be intimidated by it. Rub the bird from the inside out with a generous amount of olive oil, and liberally cover the bird with dried sage, onion and garlic powder, and salt and pepper. Roast the turkey at 425 degrees for the first 15 minutes, and then turn the heat down to 400 degrees for the duration of the cooking time. You should cover the bird after an hour so the skin doesn’t turn black, and baste it every 30 minutes. A good rule of thumb to calculate your cooking time is 15 minutes per pound, and you should portion your turkey at one pound per person to account for the weight of the bones.

Get Your Workout In Before The Feast. Even though I host Thanksgiving, I always make sure I head outdoors in the morning for a vigorous walk or some uphill sprints before everyone comes over. It’s a great stress-buster and gives me enough endurance for a very long day on my feet. Plus, it keeps me on track with my eating so I don’t go completely overboard. I like my workouts quick and dirty; 30 minutes is enough to get the job done right. If you want to be home to keep an eye on the bird, you can perform these at home, too:

Repeat the circuit below 5 times total to complete a 10-minute circuit.

30 seconds Squat Jumps

30 seconds Switch Jumps

30 seconds Squat Thrusts

30 seconds REST

If you have another 10 minutes, alternate 1 minute of jumping rope with 1 minute of rest until time is up. And then, if you have another 10 minutes, repeat the first exercise circuit. You will be dying by the end, I promise—and mighty sore afterwards, too!

One Last Word Before The Bird. Stress management is one of the most important things you can do for yourself this holiday season. Give yourself what I like to call mandatory permission to take time for yourself and quiet your mind. Putting other people’s needs before your own all the time will take its toll on you in the long run. So take yoga or meditate two to three times per week. Say no to parties you truly don’t want to go to. Spend time with friends who make you laugh and don’t care if your house is clean or your roots are showing. Keep a gratitude journal and write down three things before you go to bed that made your day great. And get enough sleep to give you the energy to power through. Make the holidays healthful and sane this year; that’s the absolute best gift you can give yourself.

Happy Thanksgiving, and Stay Gorgeous!
Esther

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