My father’s side of the family is Danish. I loved growing up with grandparents who taught us the holiday traditions from Denmark. The Danish celebrate Christmas on Christmas Eve so every year on the 24th we would put on our Christmas dresses, pile in the car and head over to Far-Mor (grandma) and Fa-Fa’s (grandpa) house. One year on Christmas Eve, we were all sitting in the living room at Far-Mor and Fa-Fa’s house visiting and opening presents. My brother asked “does anyone else smell burning?” Suddenly my father was high-jumping over the living room couch and diving toward the fully engulfed kitchen table. There was a lot of shouting, flour throwing, and water soaking until the kitchen table was extinguished. That was a holiday meal we would never forget!
Thanksgiving, Christmas, and Easter are some of my favourite holidays. Of course spending time celebrating with family is the main source of my love for the holidays, but all of the delicious meals are a close second. We all know that there is something about “breaking bread” together that is warm and comforting. My family is big on traditions. My Mother and Grandmothers would always make the same amazing treats for the holidays. My paternal grandmother made delicious danish cookies and rice pudding, my maternal grandmother makes the most amazing dessert triffle and my mother makes the BEST gravy and yorkshire pudding! I look forward to these meals all year and there is now something nostaligic and comforting about these foods to me. The problem with these meals in the past has been my lack of self control. We’ve all been there- sitting at a holiday table full of delicious food and eating WELL beyond the point of being full! Then, for the rest of the day you are saddled with that heavy, “unbutton your pants”, “it’s hard to swallow” feeling. Isn’t it also funny how leftover triffle or rice pudding is a completely acceptable choice for breakfast the morning after a holiday? I am approaching this thanksgiving in a way that I never have before! This past week I have been testing “cleaned up” versions of some Thanksgiving favourites! This year I am going to have a healthy, guilt free thanksgiving meal! If you are unsure of “going all the way” with “cleaning up” your favourite holiday recipes, why not try to swap out at least 1 or 2?
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I’ve had a few requests for the apple butter and date butter recipe I use. I use either one of these as a substitute for sugar in almost every recipe. It tastes great in cookies, pies, breads, etc. If you put the time in at the start, you can easily make enough to last you through many batches of baked goods! Once you start making these, you’ll realize they are easier than they seem!
* This one is my favourite! It has a very subtle taste, but is super sweet! It’s also (in my opinion) the easier of the two recipes to make. The cheapest place I have found to buy dates is Bulk Barn. I make a few jars of these and keep them in my fridge for week (actually, who am I kidding?! They don’t last weeks!) 🙂
3 Cups pitted dates
1 lemon- just juice
1/2 Tsp nutmeg
2 Cups water
Put dates and water in a saucepan and bring to a boil. Lower the heat to medium heat and cook for about 20 mins, stirring occasionally. Add in spices and lemon juice and stir. Take off of the stovetop when the dates are visibly softened. Let it cool slightly and then pour mixture into a blender or food processor. Mix on high until it is a smooth pasty consistency. Put into containers and store in the fridge or use in a recipe right away!
I like this one in oatmeal cookies as well as apple crumble. Although it is simple, it is a little time consuming. It is worth it if you make a big batch as it will last you for months!
5lbs Apples sliced but not peeled (it is actually healthier with the peel on it)
Juice from 1 lemon
1 Tsp cinnamon
1/2 Tsp all spice
Place sliced apples in a slow cooker on high for 4 hours. Stir occasionally with spoon. After 4 hours let it cool slightly and scoop into blender. Mix in blender on high speed. Unless you have a Vitamix blender, you may need to do a few small batches. Once apples are blended, pour the mixture back into the slow cooker for another 1.5 hrs. Add in Lemon juice and spices. This will thincken the apples slightly. Once it is cool you can place in containers and store in your fridge or freezer. Keep in mind that the mixture will also thicken a bit more once it is completely cool.
* As you can imagine, this will have your house smelling amazing!
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The first year that my husband and I were married we decided to take a trip to New York City at Christmastime. I was really excited about this trip! We booked our plane tickets and booked a hotel in New Jersey that ran a shuttle into the city each day so that we could save big money on hotel costs. We had a late flight that landed at the airport in New York around midnight. Once we had landed and retrieved our luggage, we realized that we had overlooked planning a very important detail. We did not plan how we would get from the airport in the city to our hotel in New Jersey. At first we weren’t very concerned, after all, we were in New York City; how hard could it be to catch a cab? We took a shuttle from the airport into the city and started to try to hail a cab. It seemed as if everyone else in the city had that exact same thought, and hailing a cab was becoming much harder than we had anticipated. We started walking from street to street in the freezing winter snow, pulling our luggage. By this point it was 1am and we were exhausted, frustrated and freezing (not a great combination). My poor husband spent the next hour trying to convince a cab driver to take us to our hotel, but none of the drivers wanted to leave the city and make the trek to New Jersey. Finally, around 2am we decided to just get a hotel room in the city for the night and check into our hotel in New Jersey in the morning. Have you ever been to New York City at Christmastime?! It is crazy busy! We walked from hotel to hotel trying to find a hotel with vacancies. I was starting to feel like Mary in Bethlehem there was just no room at the Inn. “I don’t think I can do this anymore” I squeaked out to my husband. It was now 3am-my feet were frozen and wet, I couldn’t feel my toes, I was exhausted. “Let’s just try one more” my husband replied. I half consciously stumbled up the hotel stairs, into the revolving door, and into the hotel lobby. My husband asked once again, if they had any available rooms. The receptionist clicked away on her key board and then replied “yes, we have a room available…” “Did she just say YES?!!” I could suddenly hear Handel’s Messiah Christmas chorus playing in my head. “Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah! Hallelujah!” My husband then asked the cost of the room. “It’ll be $450.00” she confidently replied. My husband and I looked at each other. I didn’t say a word. My husband gulped slowly, “We’ll take it”. We stayed the night in that hotel and then caught the bus to New Jersey the next morning. Because of our lack of planning, we blew through most of our spending money on that hotel room that first night! 🙁
At the start of every new year in highschool each student received an agenda. On the cover of the agenda it always read “Those who fail to plan, plan to fail“. Making an efficient plan and sticking to it can really be life changing!! I’ve learned (often times the hard way) these past few months that sticking to an organized plan is crucial to my success.
Life is so busy right? I have people ask me all the time “How are you doing this? Aren’t you too busy?” and truthfully there isn’t really a simple answer. Over the past few months, little by little, I have implemented many different plans and strategies to promote healthy lifestyle changes in my family. As I mentioned in my previous blog http://cleanlifehappywife.wordpress.com/2013/09/04/fat-so-on-the-loose/, I’ve tried to make a new “plan” one small step at a time. One of the really practical plans I’ve been doing lately is taking 20-30 mins one day each week washing and chopping fruit and veggies and putting them into containers in the fridge. I will also spend an hour or so once every few weeks and bake healthy muffins and cookies and other “snackie” type foods and then put them in the freezer.
Don’t you find the times you have a “weak moment” are the times when you are tired or in a rush and there is no plan? What do we do in those moments? We just grab the quickest (often unhealthy) thing we can find and eat it! Or, we can’t ever seem to squeeze in a workout because we do not plan to block that time off and instead fill it with other things. It can “feel” like we don’t have time to workout, but really, we just have not planned a time to workout.
I encourage you this week to actually take a minute, sit down, and write out a simple plan that you can begin to follow. Whether it’s a time to workout or a meal plan of healthy meals for the week, try to incorporate one new planned healthy change you can focus on this week!
8 Weeks ago two friends of mine convinced me to join an “8 week challenge” at a gym here in St.Catharines. You can read more about it in my previous blog “Dodging Fly Balls and Other Ridiculous Excuses”.
The ladies participating in the “8 week challenge” started with a weigh in and measuring. At the end of the 8 weeks all of the particpants would weigh in and measure again and the team with the most inches and pounds lost would be the winning team. At the beginning I wasn’t really focussed on “winning”. I was totally engrossed with my fear and anxiety about exercising this intensely. I wasn’t confident I could make it through one class- forget trying to win the challenge! After all, I was the most unco-ordinated, clumsy, out of shape, inexperienced exerciser!
To my complete surprise the trainers at the gym, Keith and Cody were AMAZING!!! Have you ever worked out and feel like you are spinning your wheels and making little to no progress? We are all so busy these days, so when we carve out time to workout- we need it to be worthwhile! This gym is AMAZING and I can tell you from my personal experience; their workout classes REALLY work!
8 weeks later my partner Becky and I WON the challenge!!!
Between the two of us we lost 50lbs and 30 inches in just 8 weeks!!!!
*I have a SPECIAL DEAL for my blogs readers!!! The owner of U can B fit gym has made a special offer to the first 12 people who sign up and mention my blog. He is offering 20% off monthly membership fee and will give you free registration ($65 value). If you are looking for a program that actually works, you’ll want to jump on this deal! 🙂 Feel free to message me for more details!!
I hope that you find success with whatever workout regime you work into your schedule!!
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