It seems like just last week I was telling my husband that the nice weather was just beginning and we still had all spring and summer to enjoy it! Where the heck did the time go? How did it get to be Halloween already? There are some people who love this time of year but I cannot count myself among them. I HATE being cold! You will never hear me complain that it is too hot in the summer. Once I get a chill I am miserable! I am already off on a tangent to this week’s topic: holiday temptation!
This week’s blog marks almost 6 months of writing. I hope I have been encouraging and that you have started or continued on a healthy lifestyle. To me Halloween is the start of the holiday season. I remember when I was young and my sister and I would go trick or treating. We lived on a street where the houses were (and are) far apart. To go to 20 houses required a lot of walking! Oh how we loved the treats! So we trudged around in our costumes and collected our bounty. We didn’t think about all the exercise we were getting because we were getting rewarded! The times have changed! Now parents that live in areas like I grew up in drive their kids to more populated areas or they go to malls or churches to collect their sweets. All told, $6.9 billion will be spent for Halloween (on candy and costumes) in the US. How much of that candy will find it’s way into adults? Now is the time to really start a mindful practice for eating.
It certainly sounds easy: just pay attention to what you are eating! The reality is not so easy. Our relationship with food is very complicated. We have to eat to survive and food will provide sustenance, comfort, joy and well being. Trying to tell someone what or how they should be eating is the quickest way to make an enemy, especially if your advice is unsolicited. I hope if you are reading this you are looking for some pointers on how to eat healthier. The best tip I can give you is be very aware of what you are putting into your body. If you are munching on something as you read this, stop! When we train our brains to expect food while we are watching TV, using the computer, reading or any other activity we will associate that act with eating. This is the time of year when food is super plentiful. Whether it is Halloween candy, Thanksgiving feasts or Christmas treats, we are surrounded. Start practicing this simple exercise: before you eat look at the food and really notice what and how much you are about to eat. That is being mindful because now you have focused your attention on the food. You can follow up by asking yourself if you are eating because you are bored or hungry. Are you choosing wisely or without thinking? There are many tips available to help yourself cut back such as drinking a glass of water, distract yourself with an activity, imagine yourself in a bathing suit, etc., instead of munching. The bottom line is what you eat will have a direct affect on your health. Remember the saying a moment on the lips, a lifetime on the hips? Temptation is all around and training yourself to resist and eat reasonably now will help you feel better when the season is over!
By the way, we avoid Halloween candy comas by not buying any candy! We turn off the lights and go out to dinner! In the past I bought candy I don’t like. Reese’s Peanut Cups and Snicker are too hard to resist so I would stock up on Milky Ways. I will share more of my strategies as we get through this holiday season together!
Fall is the time for hearty meals! Nothing beats risotto for feeling you are indulging on something decadent. The rice becomes creamy and filling by just adding broth. Then you can load it up with just about any vegetable to make it a meal. The big drawback is how time consuming it can be. I came across this recipe for baking risotto in this month’s Food Network magazine and tried it out. Totally delish! It calls for broccoli but I had zucchini so I roasted that instead. I served it with a tossed salad. The recipe says it makes four servings but we got 6 (dinner and two days of lunches).
4 cups low-sodium broth (vegetable or chicken)
1 bunch broccoli, cut into small florets
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons unsalted butter
1/2 small onion, finely chopped
1 3/4 cups arborio rice
1/4 cup dry white wine (I used dry sherry. Dry vermouth would also work or just add water)
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper
1 cup grated sharp cheddar cheese (about 4 ounces)
Position racks in the upper and lower thirds of the oven and preheat to 425 degrees F. Bring the broth to a low simmer in a saucepan. Toss the broccoli with the olive oil on a rimmed baking sheet.
Melt 2 tablespoons butter in a large Dutch oven or ovenproof pot over medium-high heat. Add the onion and cook, stirring occasionally, until slightly softened, about 2 minutes. Add the rice and stir to coat. Pour in the wine and cook until evaporated, about 1 minute. Add the hot broth, 3/4 teaspoon salt, and pepper to taste; bring to a boil. Cover and set on the bottom oven rack. Place the broccoli on the upper rack. Bake, stirring the rice and broccoli once halfway through cooking, until most of the liquid has been absorbed in the rice and the broccoli is tender, 20 to 25 minutes.
Remove the rice and broccoli from the oven. Add 3/4 cup hot water, the remaining 1 tablespoon butter and the cheese to the rice and stir until creamy (add a little more hot water to loosen, if necessary). Stir in the broccoli.