Here it comes! Holiday shopping and decorating. Food. Planning family get-togethers. Food. Remembering the historical meaning of holidays. Food! All of a sudden food is everywhere, which can cause anxiety about our waistlines. Because of juggling family schedules, some years I've attended three Thanksgiving meals and two Christmas feasts! Not to mention the office parties and holiday luncheons with friends. There's also the pressure to sample: you can’t refuse your mother-in-law’s special once-a-year stuffing and pecan pie but you also can’t forget that two days ago you munched plate after plate of canapés at the office party. Try these strategies to help survive holiday noshing:
Be mindful. The easiest way to put on weight is to abandon all self-control. Everything that enters your mouth counts! By all means, enjoy the peppermint brownies your coworker has baked but take one square back to your desk and savor each bite slowly. If there are several treats laying out, cut off a small piece of what looks best for a mini-tasting. If you're at a sit-down meal, create a full plate taking a little of each dish (so the cook feels appreciated) and chew slowly (relishing each bite and lavishing the chef with compliments for good measure) while chatting away with other guests; this leaves less time for plate refills.
Eat healthfully otherwise. Expect many calorie-laden eating opportunities, so fill up on healthful foods the rest of the time: high-fiber whole grains, fruits and vegetables, and fish and lean meats. Limit sweets and high calorie snacks, banking those calories for the special treats offered at holiday events.
Exercise. Holidays can be stressful but try to stick to your exercise routine. Exercise can help alleviate stress and keep your metabolism in top shape so you don’t feel as sluggish after eating those extra calories.
Forgive. Do the best you can, but if you gain a few pounds don’t become discouraged and eat everything in sight. That will only harm your body. If you overeat, balance that by refueling your body with the healthful foods mentioned above and continue to exercise. In no time you will feel great again!
On another note, here are some food safety reminders from the National Registry of Food Safety Professionals if you’re cooking up a big bird this year.
Thawing Time in the Refrigerator
Size of Turkey/Number of Days
4 to 12 pounds: 1 to 3 days
12 to 16 pounds: 3 to 4 days
16 to 20 pounds: 4 to 5 days
20 to 24 pounds: 5 to 6 days
Note: You can refrigerate a thawed turkey for 1-2 days.
Thawing Time in Cold Water
Size of Turkey/Hours to Defrost
4 to 12 pounds: 2 to 6 hours
12 to 16 pounds: 6 to 8 hours
16 to 20 pounds: 8 to 10 hours
20 to 24 pounds: 10 to 12 hours
Note: It is recommended to change the water every 30 minutes.
Use a meat thermometer to check the internal temperature of the turkey. A whole turkey is safe cooked to a minimum of 165°F. Check the temperature in the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast. The stuffing should also reach 165°F, whether cooked inside the bird or in a separate dish.
Bacteria can be swimming in the gravy. Remember to bring the gravy to a boil when first preparing it and again when reheating the sauce to enjoy the leftovers.