Posts tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

November 27, 2013

Holistic Holiday Nourishment

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‘Tis the season to pick up an inspiring, captivating book about 100 successful, goal-oriented women who overcome hurtful, heartbreaking and, in my case, life-threatening obstacles to achieve their personal and professional goals. Aspiring toward a position of influence is the driving force behind most young ladies who compete in pageants. In chapter 45 of the new book, Real Talk, Real Women, I discuss the ups and downs of competition and how entering a stressful environment with a foundation of self-esteem and confidence is imperative. Without first defining who you are and what you stand for, competition can consume you like a hungry lion, without mercy.

ImageLearning how to properly nourish my body propelled me into a healthier level of, well… life, quicker than I could say, “super foods!” I’ve never looked back.  Now, although I’m still fine-tuning my internal domestic goddess status, I enjoy creating healthy alternatives to some recipes. With a little creativity, I think I’ve created a good mix of healthy and favorite holiday fare for my family. Here are two dishes I’ll be making this Thanksgiving, and I’d like to share them with you. Tweet me @LaceyWPruett and let me know how yours turn out. It’ll be like we’re celebrating Thanksgiving together, from a far.

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Roasted Cauliflower with Fresh Herbs and Parmesan 

Ingredients

            12 cups cauliflower florets (about 2 heads)

            1 1/2 tablespoons olive oil

            1 tablespoon chopped fresh parsley

            2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme

            2 teaspoons chopped fresh tarragon

            3 garlic cloves, minced

            1/4 cup (1 ounce) grated fresh Parmesan cheese

            2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice

            1/2 teaspoon salt

            1/4 teaspoon pepper

Preparation

Preheat oven to 450°.

Place cauliflower in a large roasting pan or jelly-roll pan. Drizzle with oil; toss well to coat. Bake at 450° for 20 minutes or until tender and browned, stirring every 5 minutes. Sprinkle with parsley, thyme, tarragon, and garlic. Bake 5 minutes. Combine cauliflower mixture, cheese, and remaining ingredients in a large bowl; toss well to combine.

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Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Apples

Ingredients

            1/2 cup diced apple

            8 ounces Brussels sprouts, trimmed and quartered

            2 tablespoons apple cider

            2 teaspoons olive oil

            1 teaspoon minced fresh thyme

            1/4 teaspoon salt

            1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

Preparation

1. Preheat oven to 375°.

2. Combine apple and Brussels sprouts in an 11 x 7–inch baking dish. Add apple cider, olive oil, minced fresh thyme, salt, and freshly ground black pepper; toss well. Bake at 375° for 25 minutes or until sprouts are tender.

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On stage during swimsuit competition at the 2012 Mrs. United States Pageant in Las Vegas, NV.

It wasn’t until I ran for Mrs. Texas United States title that I felt I was a healthy pageant competitor. I guess it worked to, because I won the title on my first try, and went on to place 4th runner up at the Mrs. United States pageant. Learning to nourish my body, mind, and spirit is probably my greatest educational experience to date, as without it, I may not be alive. This was the motivation behind obtaining my certification as a holistic wellness coach. I want to continue helping other young women understand the importance of looking inward to achieve overall beauty and success. It was also my main motivation behind leaving my 12-year corporate career to pursue a full-time career as a spokesperson for health and wellness. Now, I joyfully remind people that: “Nothing tastes as good as being healthy feels.” It’s not that food is the enemy, but in a world consumed by emotional eating and corrupt body image, it’s a kind reminder that no food item can fill an emotional void or need. Being mindful of this fact is one of the healthiest ways to celebrate the holiday season.

For more about my story and perspective on the healthy side of competition, check out the book at http://www.realtalkrealwomen.net/lacey-pruett/ and order your own copy this December on Amazon.com. Pre-sale opportunities and digital copies are available now at the link above.  Happy healthy holidays! Lacey

November 25, 2013

Show Your “Creature Love”

Meet Clove, my new "adoption"!

Here’s Clove, my “adopted” turkey–isn’t he handsome?

Do you feel called to do more this Thanksgiving than go meatless? I’m right there with you. Here’s where Thanksgiving becomes bittersweet for me—a special meal with loved ones is a precious idea, but the sacrifice demanded of our creatures is too much for me to bear. So, what’s a tender-hearted vegetarian to do to help our animal friends this time of year? Why, adopt a turkey, of course!

Farm Sanctuary

You guys, I am THRILLED to sponsor a turkey this year through the advocacy group Farm Sanctuary. For almost 30 years now, Farm Sanctuary’s efforts to rescue and shelter abused and neglected farm animals, improve the terrible conditions for animals on factory farms, provide community outreach, encourage awareness, educate institutions, and influence compassionate legislation have helped ease (but not erase) the suffering of these animals. Their mission completely resonated with me: To protect farm animals from cruelty, inspire change in the way society views and treats farm animals, and promote compassionate vegan living.

Now, I am not vegan (yet), but I am a passionate vegetarian and lover of all animals, so you can imagine my delight at finding that I could “adopt” a turkey already living at one of the three sanctuaries. For $30, I now have a dapper new turkey friend named Clove (that’s him above), and my donation goes to rescue animals and care for Clove and all of the other creatures at his home. And if I’m ever in Northern California, I can go visit Clove and his friends at the sanctuary, though I would physically pass out with joy if I ever had the chance to do this!

Want to Help?

If you feel called to spread the love of the season to our winged and furry friends, there are so many ways you can help. All it takes is a few keystrokes on Google and away you go.  But if you need a quick, fun, and heartachingly sweet option, do what I did and check out the Adopt-a-Turkey program through Farm Sanctuary. You can sponsor a single turkey, two turkeys, or a whole flock (7 turkeys)! Need a sweet gift idea? Delight your friends and family with a sponsorship of one of this year’s special group of turkeys, and Farm Sanctuary will send each of your recipients a picture and certificate of their special bird and his or her story.

And the love doesn’t stop there. Even after the holiday season has passed, Farm Sanctuary and many other advocacy groups have programs to educate people on compassionate living, eating, and advocacy for all animals. My sweet friend and fellow animal lover Lacey and I have often commiserated about how we can do more for the animals that share our planet, and frankly, the odds of affecting a huge change are very disheartening. But we must do what we can, when we can, however much we can. I’ll leave you with one of my favorite poems, which is a guiding light in my occasional despair and an inspiration in all my other days.

Be blessed and much love, Brooke

If I can stop 2

November 25, 2013

Surviving Thanksgiving (as a Healthy Vegetarian)

thankful for vegetarians

Happy Monday, Friends! Brooke here. Thanksgiving is just around the corner . . . so close I can taste it (but not the turkey, of course!). A day devoted to gratitude, love, and sharing a delicious meal is a beautiful one, appealing to our better natures and reminding us to give thanks for our blessings. Plus, every now and then, a much better cook than you ends up doing most the cooking for everyone—jackpot!!

You may wonder how vegetarians manage to find a square meal during such a meat-centric holiday as Thanksgiving. Never fear! We veggies are a creative and resourceful lot, accustomed to finding our own way around buffet tables and family gatherings. When one chooses to take a road less traveled, one must rely on oneself for rations and supplies. As many vegetarians or vegans already know, you cannot expect your family and friends, no matter how loving, to cater to you alone when Thanksgiving dinner is served.  So help them out, ok?

Be a Gracious Guest

  • Ask your host or hostess what you can bring to dinner. Simply asking what you can do to help may relieve an enormous amount of pressure for your dinner planner. There’s a very good chance she’s been concerned about your meatless meal. And if you make your offer even before she asks you about your dietary preferences, you may become her favorite dinner guest ever!
  • Bring a healthy, veggie-friendly dish of your own. I would suggest doing this, even if your host tells you to just bring yourself and your appetite. This is a win-win for everyone involved: 1) you will actually have something clean to eat if you discover everything at the table is spiked with chicken stock or other “natural flavors” (more common than you think); 2) your impeccable manners will be noted and appreciated—you may even get an invite back next year; and 3) you can prove to any naysayers (usually these are family members) that your clean, compassionate food is much more delicious than the wallpaper paste that they all suspect it tastes like. Go ahead—wow ‘em!
  • Eat a snack beforehand. If the big meal is hours away and your stomach’s already growling, be sure to eat a little snack to tide you over. You don’t want your healthy eating to be destroyed when your plunging blood sugar drives you to fall crazily upon the sweet potato casserole! A nice green juice or smoothie plus some nuts or trail mix are excellent options—the veggies and fruit lift your energy while the protein and healthy fat in the nuts help fill you up and slow down that appetite. Another idea is Greek yogurt mixed with fresh berries and nuts or a protein shake with almond milk and a piece of fruit, such as a banana, grapes, or apple. This plan also works for weddings and other functions, where the promise of food is vaguely (cruelly) dangled sometime after the main event.
  • Be smart when you fill your plate. Mindful portion control (and healthy snacking ahead of time) is the key to avoiding the dreaded holiday food binge. Help yourself generously to green salad (and less generously to the dressing), steamed or sautéed vegetables, greens (if not cooked in meat stock), and the relish dish. Ah, what memories . . . the relish dish and I have become indifferent friends over the years. “Oh, look—something I can eat. Raw broccoli and carrots again . . . yippee.” You need more fuel than just green veggies, so have a moderate helping of quinoa or couscous if they’re around (maybe they will be, since you brought them!), rice, mashed potatoes, sweet potatoes, or stuffing if it’s meat- and meat stock-free (that’s a big if, usually). As for dessert, go ahead and enjoy a slice of your favorite pie. It’s Thanksgiving after all, people. Live a little! If you’ve been eating clean in your everyday life, you can handle a little holiday fun. Just keep your helpings in control, enjoy, and don’t feel guilty. The Stepmill will be waiting for you when you get back home.
  • Grin and bear it. If all else fails and you arrive at dinner without a meat-free or healthy fallback, do the best you can and do it with a BIG smile. Be kind and gracious if anyone voices concerns on your behalf—you don’t want to ruin dinner, do you? “Are you kidding? These green beans are amazing! And this cornbread is delish!” See? It’s easy.

May you always run out of time before you finish counting your blessings,

Brooke

November 24, 2012

Savor the Moment

Hi there! I hope you all had a great Thanksgiving. My holiday was joyful, slightly stressful, kind of relaxing, mildly active, and over too quickly. This description seems to fit a lot of my days lately, and I’m not sure I like it! I try my best each day to enjoy every moment, to savor tastes and experiences, to remember the details of things, the feel of loved ones’ hands and hugs, and my soul’s ebb and flow as these gathered pieces are documented inside my memory. I never know when I’m going to need these pieces again, but I continue to gather them and store them within reach. I’m a noticer of things and a writer. Often these identities are interchangeable. However, you don’t have to be a “writer” to be a noticer. You just have to pay attention.

Life moves so quickly, and as a productive member of society, you are expected to accomplish a ton of things—make a living, feed your family, pay your bills, maintain your relationships as well as your Facebook status, get enough exercise and adequate sleep, and—oh, nurture your inner life. Sometimes I get so busy with the grind of daily life that I look back at the week and I can’t even remember what happened! The very worst part is that I’ll be trying to survive day by day, thinking that I need to check in with my friends and see how so-and-so is doing, and suddenly there’s NEWS. A close friend is suddenly pregnant . . . or getting a divorce . . . or has just lost a parent . . . or is finally getting married. And I didn’t even notice. I feel like I’ve missed an important piece of their life, and I have! I try to avoid this terrible fix by slowing down and paying attention, checking in with my peeps and scanning their horizons for situations that I should be attentive to. This always involves stepping away from my life and breathing in air less manic than my own. One of my very favorite ways to gain some perspective is to crack open my well-loved copy of Sarah Ban Breathnach’s Simple Abundance: A Daybook of Comfort and Joy.

I discovered this book when I was in college, and I fell immediately in love with the whole thing. First of all, it’s a pink book, for goodness sake—who wouldn’t love that? But the inside really got me. It’s organized into daily entries, each beginning with a quotation. And if you haven’t noticed yet, I love quotations. The book celebrates the sublime magic found in everyday life by encouraging the reader to notice even the smallest moments in her surroundings. It introduced me to the concept of a gratitude journal and invited me to write down five things I was grateful for each day. It gave me small doses of its message to savor the world and inspired my creativity. It’s no coincidence that this time in my life was happy, full of possibilities, with a gleam around the edges. I realized that by my noticing small wonders, time seemed to slow down and my friendships glowed.

So, when you find yourself getting super busy and start to wonder where the time has gone, be aware that you may be missing some monumental moments in your or your friends’ lives. If this bothers you, I hope you will stop and breathe deeply. Gaze around you and drink in the view. Be thankful for your blessings and the fact that you have this day to do just that.

XO, Brooke

November 20, 2012

Giving thanks!

My daughter came home from school on Friday with a turkey place mat and some things she was thankful for on each of the feathers of the turkey. They read a story in class about the Pilgrims and Native Americans and the Thanksgiving feast. But…I got to thinking….do most kids really know what it means to be “thankful”? Do they get that they should be thankful for the blessings everyday, not just one day of the year? Do they understand that Thanksgiving goes beyond just a week off from school and eating a ton of food? If you were to ask your kids a simple question of,”what do you want to give thanks for?”…could they answer that with a little more meaning then their Xbox and Ipod?

 

In a world where so much is handed to our children, its hard for them to really grasp the meaning of being thankful for all they have. If you were to ask my 11 year old daughter, she would tell you she is so unlucky because I won’t allow her to have a cell phone yet. “But all the other kids have one mommy. This is so unfair.” In my personal opinion, she does not need, nor will she get a phone until she goes to middle school, and even then it will be for contacting me purposes only. My child is sweet and loving, don’t get me wrong…but I think its become a hard concept for the children of today to realize that there are people out there less fortunate then them and that we should really give thanks for all that we have in our life, not be sad for things we are missing.

 

Sit down with your children this Thanksgiving season and really have a conversation. Talk about all the wonderful things in your family life that they should be thankful for. Take the opportunity to really express gratitude for one another and the love and warmth your family possesses. Then, moving into the holiday season, choose something charitable that you can do together as a family. Go volunteer in a food kitchen, get an angel off a tree, buy the extra grocery bag at the grocery store that feeds a family, do a charitable fun run together,  go to a clothing drive, toy drive, etc. Take the time to teach your children the meaning of giving…its a lesson that will last them a lifetime and will trickle forward through further generations.