My heart goes out to persons who suffer from overeating. My daughter Janice has a dear friend whose weight trends noticeably upward. In other words every time I see her she is heavier. Even those of us who weigh in normal ranges, it’s a challenge to keep off holiday pounds. Don’t we want to celebrate the season and still fit into our jeans come January? One psychologist, Kirstin Aschbracher, PhD, University of CA San Francisco says, “Stay calm.” It’s normal to feel overwhelmed during holidays, but minimizing anxiety helps your waistline. Stress hormones like cortisol boost desire for sugary fatty food. Pare down “to do” lists in order to ease holiday pressures. Choose a few meaningful seasonal activities. I’m cooking Thanksgiving dinner. In early December, I’m hosting a Christmas brunch at our house. Of course I’m cooking Christmas dinner. That’s enough festive meals. Our normal dinners don’t include bread and desserts.
Brian Wansink, PhD, advises us to trick ourselves. People eat 9% of their Thanksgiving calories before they dig into the main meal. They fill up on chips, dip, and nuts. Skip the starters. Then, during dinner, use the rule of two. Dish up two of your favourite foods. Maybe it’s sweet potatoes and green bean casserole. The rest of the spread is less enticing.
Caroline Cederquist, MD, suggests pumping up protein. Avoid snacking on refined carbs such as crackers and pretzels. These foods actually stimulate our appetites.
In my work-in-progress which takes place at Lake Arrowhead in the fall, my heroine Amy Kintyre makes Butternut Squash Soup. Writing this scene gets me in the mood to make it! “Amy” is average height, five-feet-four, and is lithe and leggy at 120 pounds. Readers of my books tell me my heroines inspire them to eat healthy and exercise. She’s a hiker who wants to get her sportswear design label off the ground.
Amy Kintyre’s Butternut Squash Soup
- 4 pounds whole butternut squash (about 2 medium), halved lengthwise and seeds removed
- Butter spray for flavor
- 1 medium Granny Smith apple (about 8 ounces)
- 1/2 medium yellow onion
- 8 fresh sage leaves
- 2 1/2 cups low-sodium vegetable or chicken broth
- 2 1/2 cups water
- 1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt, plus more as needed
- 1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper, plus more as needed
- 1/3 cup fat free cream
- 1/2 cup toasted pumpkin seeds, for garnish (optional)
- Heat the oven to 425°F and arrange a rack in the middle.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil. Place the squash pieces cut-side up on the baking sheet. Melt 1 tablespoon of the butter and brush all of it over the tops and insides of the squash halves (alternatively, you can rub it on evenly with your fingers). Season generously with salt and pepper. Roast until knife tender, about 50 minutes to 1 hour.
- Meanwhile, peel, core, and cut the apple into medium dice. Cut the onion into medium dice. Melt the remaining tablespoon of butter in a large saucepan or Dutch oven over medium heat. Add the apple, onion, and sage, season with salt and pepper, and cook, stirring occasionally, until softened, about 7 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and set aside.
- When the squash is ready, set the baking sheet on a wire rack until the squash is cool enough to handle. Using a large spoon, scoop the flesh into the saucepan with the sautéed apples and onions; discard the skins.
- Add the broth, water, and measured salt and pepper, stir to combine, and bring to a boil over medium-high heat. Reduce the heat to medium low and simmer, stirring occasionally and breaking up any large pieces of squash, until the flavors meld, about 15 minutes. Remove the pan from the heat and stir in the cream.
- Using a blender, purée the soup in batches until smooth, removing the small cap (the pour lid) from the blender lid and covering the space with a kitchen towel (this allows steam to escape and prevents the blender lid from popping off). Alternatively, use an immersion blender. Taste and season with salt and pepper as needed. Serve garnished with the pumpkin seeds.
Just about any comfort food can be made healthier. The cooler weather encourages me to make my oven baked pot roast with vegetables. This recipe is my grandmother’s. My grandparents farmed near Sioux Falls, South Dakota. I love remembering their lovely farmhouse with the huge front porch.
Ingredients: 3-4 lb boneless chuck roast, salt & pepper, vegetable oil, thinly sliced onion wedges, crushed garlic to taste, 2 bay leaves, 1 can low cal cream of mushroom soup, 1/4 cup red wine, 2 T. Worchester shire sauce, 1 T. beef bouillon granules, 3/4 cup water.
Directions: Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Rub salt and pepper into the roast. Heat oil and brown the roast, searing on all sides. Place in a roaster pan and add onions, garlic, and bay leaf. Combine mushroom soup, wine, Worchester sauce and beef bouillon in a bowl. Add water and pour over roast. Cover pan with foil and bake for 3 to 3 1/2 hours or until tender.
Make vegetables separately– potatoes, celery, green beans, carrots, peas, turnips.
Serve with salad and crusty bread.
We all love clean sand at the beach. On Sunday I joined other Kappa Alpha Theta alums to tidy up Huntington Beach. The most common trash items we found were cigarette butts and water bottle caps. Here we are, about to go to lunch at Ruby’s at the end of the pier. I am on the left.
Friends, when figuring out how many calories to consume daily in order to lose a couple pounds a week, multiply your present weight by 7. If you now weigh 127, 127 times 7 is 889. Here is a basic plan for every meal: a fruit or vegetable, a grain, a protein source, a source of unsaturated fat. Also allow yourself a piece of fruit as an afternoon snack. Drink lots of water.
A breakfast example: oatmeal, blueberries, yogurt with coffee or tea.
A lunch example: soup made from broth, some leftover meat, and vegetables.
Dinner is whatever you’re making with reasonable portions. Count calories, exercise every day.
I call this my Farmhouse Diet because everything is made from scratch, not from a box, except for the can of broth.
Walk your way to more confidence! Feel great about how you look simply by going for a walk several times a week! That’s the finding of a new Gallup poll, which determined that people who were regularly active had a more positive self-image– regardless of their weight or appearance. The reason? Physical activity triggers your body to release endorphins, brain chemicals that make you feel confident and content.
I was a lucky participating author at the Woodbridge Book Fair. The WVA advertised this awesome event in the OC Register, The Irvine World News, and the Reflections newsletter. With flyers and banners posted around the community, it was no surprise the turnout was huge. Before the crowd arrived, daughter Janice snapped a photo after husband Gerry and daughter Marla (in the foreground) helping me set up my space.
Today I will sign my 2014 release, A BRAND NEW ADDRESS, from my futuristic new adult suspense INTERVENUS
Series at the Woodbridge Community Center, 31 Creek, Irvine, California from 4 to 7:30 pm. In a half hour I will go there to set up my table. My husband Gerry will come by tonight and snap a photo. The New Adult romance genre is fun to write. It’s about coming-of-age awkwardness, first time everything, charm, and tenderness.
Fight tension and tiredness—with chrysanthemums! Don’t you love these vibrant fall flowers? Do mums remind me of homecoming football games? In addition to their perky qualities, they’re brimming with healing nutrients which are revered as a health tonic is tea. The flowers’ antioxidants also contain calming calcium, blood-pressure-lowering potassium, tension-taming magnesium, and energizing B vitamins. Brew a pot of delicately sweet floral-scented chrysanthemum tea or make your own by adding a few young florets. Just make sure your flowers have not been treated with pesticides. Below is a photo of daughter Marla’s puppy, Duchess in chrysanthemums. I’m also adding photos of our front yard—hard to see the chrysanthemums which are behind the birch tree on the far left.
Some of you who have visited here know that my thirty-seven-year-old son, Johnny, slipped off a cliff while hiking down to a creek. When Johnny broke his ankle, it was twisted backwards. On his other leg, his patella (knee cap) was dislodged. Now a month later, with both legs in casts, he’s as resourceful as anyone could be. Lately, whenever bringing meals down to the “Dana Point people”, I’ve noticed how, Roxanne, my third grade granddaughter has matured. She loves her dad so much and stays close in case he needs anything. Like him, she tells a lot of cute stories and kids around. Yesterday she said, “Grandma, you can sit here if you want,” and pointed to the commode. Funny, sweet, Roxy! She was born just before Halloween. Her birthday party has a Halloween theme.