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A Healthy Blog Snack Holiday: Mashed Potato Adventures and My 5 Healthy Holiday Rules

Posted Nov 30 2009 12:00am

Mashed Potato Adventures

Corinne, Tessa, and I headed to Williams-Sonoma this Sunday for a free cooking class on Thanksgiving Techniques. I have been super excited to learn the ins and outs of cooking a fabulous Thanksgiving meal – as this is my first year hosting Thanksgiving dinner – and I couldn’t wait to dive into this class!

The Stories

The teacher was the sweetest little woman, who started off by reminiscing about her Thanksgiving meals-past, and telling us some really funny anecdotes: for instance, she actually took Julia Childs out for dinner once! She called ahead to the restaurant and said, “I’m bringing Julia Childs in for dinner this week, so please be sure to have a table ready for us.” Well when she got there with Julia, the host stared at her incredulously and squawked, “oh my goodness, she really is here for dinner! I thought it was a joke!” Can you imagine?! How absolutely mortifying! She also got it out of Julia that her favorite junk food to snack on was Goldfish Crackers!!

The Options

I loved all of the great stories, but I also loved the demonstration. The focus of the class was on mashed potatoes, an obvious Thanksgiving staple. Personally, I think mashed potatoes are the best part of the Thanksgiving feast, but there are soooooo many ways to make them – how’s a foodie to decide?! Red-skin potatoes, Idaho potatoes, Yukon Gold potatoes, or you could even try a mashed cauliflower-potato mix as a low-calorie alternative. Check out this article to help you choose the best potato for you, based on your preferences.  I whipped up a test batch of red-skin mashed potatoes yesterday (I love the skins in them!), but I think I’m going to try the traditional Idaho mashed potatoes for my Thanksgiving spread.

The “How-To”

Whichever potato variety you decide on, you start off by chopping your potatoes into small cubes, tossing them into a pan, and boiling them on the stove in enough water to cover them. I learned that you shouldn’t fret too much over how long you boil the potatoes for, because you can’t really over-boil them – great tip! After the potatoes were boiled, I was able to see Williams-Sonoma’s potato ricer in action for mashing the potatoes, and boy was it cool!  Does anyone use one of these religiously? Apparently you can use it for anything from veggies to pasta.  Check out the video below:

After the potatoes were “riced,” our teacher threw in some butter, cream, and a package of Williams-Sonoma’s bacon and chives mix, and voila! Delicious mashed potatoes – and so easy! We were able to try out the resulting potatoes along with Williams-Sonoma’s cranberry relish – delicious!

Regardless of your favorite dish, I think we all have a tendency to over-indulge during our Thanksgiving feasts, but there are ways to keep yourself in check. Here are five things I plan on doing this Thanksgiving to make it a healthier holiday:

My 5 Healthy Holiday Rules

  • Get Moving
    • Pop that main course in the oven, grab your dog and your mom, and take a walk around the block a few times. With all of the stress and the food, it’s a great way to unwind and feel better about the indulging you’ll be doing later that day. Too cold outside to walk? How about some friendly family competition then? Get out your Guitar Hero or your Wii and let the battle begin! There are a ton of video games out there today that require a great deal of movement, and they are a fun way to bond with your family during the holiday season.
  • Use a Smaller Plate
    • Research shows that bigger plates = bigger portions = more food eaten. Try starting off with a smaller plate, so you’ll eat less on your first time around. You will also be less likely to get up and get seconds because it’s just too much darn work.
  • Listen to Your Belly
    • It takes 20 minutes for your belly to signal to your brain that it’s full, so wait for the message to come through! Wait 20 minutes from the time you begin eating, until the end of your first portion to decide if you are actually still hungry, or if your brain just hasn’t gotten the memo yet.
  • Hydrate
    • Not only will water help to curb your appetite (it takes up space in your stomach, leaving less room for food), but it’s also going to help you with that day-after bloating. There is a lot of salt ingested during holiday meals, which can cause water retention and bloating. Keeping yourself hydrated will help keep your system flushed and control some of that water retention. Try keeping a bottle or glass of water on you throughout the day, so you have some water to sip on at all times.
  • Holiday” Does Not Equal “Don’t-Eat-All-Day
    • Don’t pull a, “I’m saving all my calories for later,” stunt, because we all know it will just end badly – typically, it results in a, “I ate triple what I normally would have eaten today because I was famished!” type incident.  Treat the holiday just like any other day, and any other meal. Eat a good breakfast if you’re serving a late-afternoon meal, and if the main meal is in the evening, get a good lunch in as well. This will help you to avoid bingeing because you’re starving.

I can’t wait to put my rules into action and I really can’t wait to whip up my first Thanksgiving dinner – especially the mashed potatoes!

What’s your favorite Thanksgiving side-dish?

Do you have any holiday health rules that you swear by?

Happy Holiday Snacking!


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