Monday, November 15, 2010

Thanksgiving Kids' Craft

We all know the old stand-by that mommies around the country treasure--the hand print turkey!  I have expanded on that idea so Mom can have both the precious little hand print AND the sweet little foot print and finger prints to go with it!

You will need:
Construction paper of a light fall color (yellow/gold or light green works great!)
Smock to keep your little one *fairly* clean

Put smocks on all participating children.  To make the turkey, slather your little turkey's hand with a good "turkey" color (brown or red both look fantastic).  Help your child press his/her hand on the left side of the construction paper without too much smudging.  Head to the bathroom right away to wash off the paint before you wind up with a wall mural.  Next, it's time to make a cornucopia!  Without too much tickling (resist the urge!) slather a good cornucopia color (brown, red, orange) on the bottom of your little tickle-bug's foot.  Help your child press the right side of the construction paper to his/her foot (sideways) to transfer the foot print.  Carry the child in to wash off the foot right away to avoid perma-footprints on your floor.  Next, let your child dip one fingertip in a good fruit color (orange, red, green, yellow, etc) and press the finger print onto the construction paper just outside of the cornucopia where the toes side (opening of cornucopia) is.  Make a few finger print fruits of different colors.  Wash up again!  Put the construction paper up to dry.  When dry, your child can draw an eye, a beak, and feet on the turkey hand print and sign his/her name along with the year at the bottom.  Display the masterpiece for Thanksgiving and then put away with the baby book or in another safe place as a keepsake that will be "oooh"ed and "ahhhh"ed over for years to come.

Monday, November 8, 2010

Healthier Thanksgiving Recipes!

I LOVE Thanksgiving!  The food, the memories, the sitting and eating with family until we're as stuffed as the turkey was!  However, with being a Prediabetic and trying to lose weight, I can't indulge the way I have in the past, so I've been looking for good, healthy versions of my favorite Thanksgiving foods.  Here are three of the yummy made-over recipes I've found.  All recipes are taken from  Happy Cooking!

Green Bean Casserole


  • 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
  • 1 medium sweet onion (half diced, half thinly sliced), divided
  • 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
  • 1 tablespoon onion powder
  • 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
  • 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
  • 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
  • 1 cup low-fat milk
  • 3 tablespoons dry sherry, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 1 pound frozen French-cut green beans, (about 4 cups)
  • 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
  • 3 tablespoons buttermilk powder, (see Ingredient Note)
  • 1 teaspoon paprika
  • 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.
  2. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Add milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream and buttermilk powder. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
  3. Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup flour, paprika, garlic powder and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion; toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes. Spread the onion topping over the casserole.
  4. Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.

Tips & Notes

  • Ingredient notes:
  • Don't use the high-sodium “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets. Instead, purchase dry sherry sold with other fortified wines.
  • Look for buttermilk powder, such as Saco Buttermilk Blend, in the baking section or with the powdered milk in most supermarkets.


Per serving: 212 calories; 10 g fat (2 g sat, 5 g mono); 10 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 533 mg sodium; 259 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Calcium (16% daily value).
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1/2 starch, 1 vegetable, 2 fat

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes


  • 2 1/2 pounds sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1 1/2-inch pieces (about 8 cups)
  • 1/3 cup pure maple syrup
  • 2 tablespoons butter, melted
  • 1 tablespoon lemon juice
  • 1/2 teaspoon salt
  • Freshly ground pepper, to taste


  1. Preheat oven to 400°F.
  2. Arrange sweet potatoes in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat.
  3. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, 45 to 50 minutes more.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Cover and refrigerate for up to 1 day. Just before serving, reheat at 350°F until hot, about 15 minutes.


Per serving: 96 calories; 2 g fat (1 g sat, 0 g mono); 5 mg cholesterol; 19 g carbohydrates; 1 g protein; 2 g fiber; 118 mg sodium; 189 mg potassium.

Nutrition Bonus: Vitamin A (230% daily value), Vitamin C (15% dv)
1 1/2 Carbohydrate Serving
Exchanges: 1 1/2 starch, 1/2 fat

And, of course, the TURKEY!
Herb-Roasted Turkey


  • 1 10-12-pound turkey
  • 1/4 cup fresh herbs, plus 20 whole sprigs, such as thyme, rosemary, sage, oregano and/or marjoram, divided
  • 2 tablespoons canola oil
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
  • Aromatics, onion, apple, lemon and/or orange, cut into 2-inch pieces
  • 3 cups water, plus more as needed


  1. Position a rack in the lower third of the oven; preheat to 475°F.
  2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve for making gravy. Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry with paper towels. Mix minced herbs, oil, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herb mixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place aromatics and 10 of the herb sprigs in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water and the remaining 10 herb sprigs to the pan.
  3. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove the turkey from the oven. If using a remote digital thermometer, insert it into the deepest part of the thigh, close to the joint. Cover the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to conform to the breast. Reduce oven temperature to 350° and continue roasting for 11/4 to 13/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan and add 1 cup water. The turkey is done when the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone) registers 165°F.
  4. Transfer the turkey to a serving platter and cover with foil. Let the turkey rest for 20 minutes. Remove string and carve.

Tips & Notes

  • Make Ahead Tip: Equipment: Large roasting pan, roasting rack, kitchen string, thermometer


Per serving (without skin): 155 calories; 5 g fat (1 g sat, 2 g mono); 63 mg cholesterol; 0 g added sugars; 25 g protein; 0 g fiber; 175 mg sodium; 258 mg potassium.

Exchanges: 3 1/2 lean meat

Friday, November 5, 2010

Perception is Reality

While I was in college, I had a professor whose mantra was "perception is reality."  Nearly all of the lessons he taught us came back to this simple truth.  I had a recent run-in with this idea in my own reality that I thought I should share in case someone else has the same problem I had. 

Over the past year, I have dealt with many hardships.  My husband has lost his job 4 (yes, FOUR) times in the past 12 months, and now is working for only $9 per hour to support our family of 5, so finances have been front and center in my mind for a year now.  In addition to that, I was cited in October for driving without proof of insurance, and was sentenced to a $900 fine, 40 days in jail, and a suspended driver's license.  My only break was that the judge suspended $500 of the fine and the jail time upon my meeting all the conditions of my 1-year probation.  This left me feeling helpless and picked on since my only crime was in being too poor to pay the car insurance bill.  Add to this unresolved issues from a year ago where my mother-in-law came to my home, accused my husband of unspeakable (and untrue) atrocities, and then proceeded to attack me about it online, going so far as to threaten us with having the police take away our children (for which I consulted a lawyer, who said she didn't have a leg to stand on), and you can imagine the negative feelings that were building up inside of me.

Yesterday I hit a low point.  I was in the shower, thinking about Thanksgiving, and all of the negativity finally boiled over.  I found myself in tears, unable to function, believing all of those voices that I've heard from others over the past year who have told me that I'm a no-good, lazy, indecent, stupid, heathen criminal who is going to Hell, who is unworthy of time or help, and who basically doesn't deserve the air that I breathe.  I perceived all of these to be correct.  How could they not be?  They had been spoken by bishops, by family, and by the criminal justice system.

I put out an unusual status message (for me) on Facebook relating my perception, and the response was overwhelming in the other direction.  I was reminded that I am a strong, loved, supported individual with a good education and a loving family, and that while I've been going through some hard times, they do not reflect on who I am and have no bearing on my reality.  I was counseled to look deep within myself, to where my own reality resides, and when I did so, I found that inner strength that they were assuring me was there.

Deep within myself, I am a warrior--a defender of family and self who has thick armor and a just heart.  I am supremely compassionate and will nearly always put others before myself.  I am a wise sage, both by learned knowledge from my educational background and by acquired knowledge from my (not always pleasant) life experiences.  I love deeply, serve selflessly, and defend what I know to be right and true.  This is my reality.

It was an eye-opener to see just how perception can cloud reality and how the two can be so entirely different.  I am so grateful to have family and friends who can see beyond the fog and remind me that my inner vision is so perfectly clear that the reality can overcome the perception.