No Stress Holiday Eating Strategies

Happy Thanksgiving to all my American F&F readers!¬†To everyone else, happy Thursday. ūüėČ

For those of us participating in holiday festivities today, I want to share some thoughts that have been going through my head about holiday eating. Here are some questions that various people have asked me over the past week or so:

You probably don’t ever¬†have to worry about overeating¬†on Thanksgiving, right?¬†

Are you going to wake up at 4am and go on some crazy twenty mile run? 

How are you going to eat healthy for Thanksgiving dinner this year? 

In the moment, I can never think of anything smart to say. I just laugh awkwardly and brush it off. However, after spending some time really thinking about how I wish I responded to these questions, here’s what¬†my answers would be:

I guess I wouldn’t use the word worry anymore, but that hasn’t always been the case for me. I’ve actually spent many years obsessing over holiday consumption to the point of anxiety. I’m glad I’ve found ways that work for me to eat mindfully¬†so that stressing about food no longer overshadows the¬†real¬†purpose of the day.¬†

Well, no. I can barely get myself to run more than three miles on other days of the year, so there’s a zero percent chance running twenty miles on Thanksgiving morning will ever happen. And I am certainly not about to wake up at 4am on¬†Thanksgiving when I wake up at 5:15am on most weekday mornings to get to the gym. What I will probably do is sleep in a bit to catch up on sleep, lounge around with my husband, and then get a quick sweat sesh in with a form of exercise that brings me joy. I’ll sweat not because I want to earn my meal later, but because movement fills me with a sense of gratitude for my body and what it can do.¬†

Pretty much the same as I do every other day of the year: not perfectly,¬†but I’ll eat what I want in moderation. I won’t deprive myself of anything if I want it, but I’ll recognize that store bought pies and sugary cocktails are¬†available to me on any other day of the year. No matter what I choose to indulge in, I’ll do so without guilt or shaming, and I’ll be smart enough to know that one day is not going to derail me since I choose a healthy lifestyle every other day of the year.¬†

I feel like each of these answers could lead into multiple separate blog posts in and of themselves, but for today I just want to expand on them a little and share some of my basic no stress holiday eating strategies with you. I’m not talking about ways to¬†count calories or avoid going up for seconds. Eff that.¬†Most of these strategies honestly just involve taking a step back to remind myself of the mindful eating methods I’ve worked hard to develop over the years.¬†And really though, they are mindset reminders¬†I live by all the time, not just on Thanksgiving.

No Stress Holiday Eating Strategies

–I do like to bring a¬†healthy¬†dish or two with me to other people’s houses on holidays because I enjoy creating clean eating versions of holiday favorites that family members sometimes can’t even believe actually taste good.¬†For example, I truly enjoyed¬†making¬†grain free stuffing¬†for Friendsgiving a couple of weeks ago because¬†it was something different,¬†not because other items were off limits to me. By no means was I¬†restricting myself from enjoying Tim’s stuffing full of sausage and bread and butter.¬†I’m just obsessed with sweet potatoes, and I knew it would be a delicious veggie focused dish to share with my friends.

–I try and think about the first bite rule, which is something that I learned from subscribing to Neghar Fonooni. If something no longer tastes as amazing as the first bite or sip does as I continue to eat it, then I stop. This is a habit that I’m still very much working on and practicing, and it does NOT come easily to me.

–I abandon a scarcity mindset and remind myself¬†that today is not the last day I’ll be able to enjoy the food in front of me. I pile my plate with protein, veggies, and my absolute favorite Thanksgiving favorites first, and I simply don’t take the items that I don’t care about, could get at any time, or don’t¬†really want.

–On the flip side, I abandon a balls to the walls attitude¬†and remind myself that just because it’s a holiday doesn’t mean I’m obligated to¬†stuff myself to the brim. Moderation is just as much about being honest with yourself in this direction as it is about non deprivation.

–Instead, I find a nice middle ground, and I keep it real. For example, Tim’s aunt makes the best cookies in the world. They are so good that before I even met her, I had heard about Kathy cookies. They are not lightened up in any way, shape, or form. You better believe I’m going to eat one. Probably more than one. But¬†the store bought pastries?¬†Meh. I’ll be skipping those. Wine? Keep refilling my glass please.¬†I just choose my indulgences.

–If I eat more than I anticipate or plan to, I acknowledge it with grace, unbutton my pants, and then I let it go. I don’t dwell on it¬†for days, I don’t beat myself up about it, and I CERTAINLY don’t go into detox mode for the next seven days. No self judgment, because where’s the fun in that? I remind myself that Thanksgiving is just one day. One. And since I generally make healthy lifestyle choices the other 364 days of the year, I know that this one day is not going to make or break my overall diet or physique.

–And finally, I do get in a solid sweat sesh, if it serves my body to move and exercise that day. I don’t force it. If my body needs rest, I’ll rest. But since exercise brings me so much joy and makes me feel good most of the time, you’ll most likely find¬†a sweaty and smiling pic on Instagram of me after my holiday morning workout.

These are all habits that have taken me years to cultivate. I hope that by sharing them today, some of you can realize that “people like me” really¬†aren’t all that¬†different from anyone else. And with constant practice and self reflection, you can get to a place¬†where you don’t have to stress about food, especially around the holidays.

So today, my friends, I encourage you to choose one of the strategies I shared that resonated the most with you, and give it a try. But for goodness sake, don’t dwell¬†or beat yourself up about anything. Appreciate¬†your¬†grandmother’s cooking¬†and laugh with your siblings and cousins. Have fun, get sweaty,¬†enjoy¬†your food, and spend time with your loved ones.

Oh yeah, and give thanks for all of the wonderful things you have in your life.

Kathy cookies, I’m coming for you.


Friendsgiving: Why I Love This Tradition, Hosting, and Our 2015 Menu

I think Friendsgiving is just the best. It’s something that my college friends¬†and I started a couple of years ago, and it’s quickly become one of my favorite holiday traditions. For those of you who are unfamiliar with the concept of Friendsgiving, it’s basically the same exact thing as Thanksgiving, except you get together with friends instead of family.

Friendsgiving 2015

Here are some reasons I love Friendsgiving so much:

–You don’t have to figure out how to split the day with your significant other so you can squeeze in time with both families.

–You get to feast before the actual feast. Bring it on.

Friendsgiving 2015: Bridget and Trina

–You don’t have to deal with potential family tensions. Remember that Thanksgiving and other major holidays can be very stress inducing and anxiety filled¬†for some. Friendsgiving can fill that void.

–Friends are the family we choose. Aww.

Friendsgiving 2015

Friendsgiving 2015

–Wine. Lots of wine.

Me with Wine

This year, Tim and I hosted Friendsgiving for the first time. We were excited to have everyone over¬†our apartment, especially since we’ve¬†barely hosted anything since moving to this place in May (a little something called our wedding took over our lives this summer). We were also especially excited to use all our new shower and wedding gifts!¬†We may not have enough matching chairs for everyone at the dining room table, but we had enough plates and flatware and even champagne flutes.

Friendsgiving Dinner Table

Friendsgiving 2015: Table

Tim and I planned the Friendsgiving menu ahead of time so we could avoid any last minute stressing the week of. We first choice the items we would make together, and then we asked our friends to contribute to the areas we thought we could use help with. Everyone filled in the blanks, and I think our menu turned out to be pretty stellar!

Here’s the rundown¬†of our menu for you guys:



Everyone brought their own preferred beverages, but we had beer and wine on hand. I also put together a fun fall sangria because I wanted to put our new drink dispenser and stand to good use. If you need a sangria recipe, try this one: 1 bottle of chardonnay, 2.5 cups fresh apple cider, 1/2 cup brandy, 3 apples (sliced), 3 pears (sliced), 1/2 cup seltzer to top right before serving, and cinnamon sticks for extra flavor and/or garnish. So yum. I doubled it for Friendsgiving, and it made a ton!

Fall Sangria


Tim and I made these apple brie appetizer bites. So flipping easy and delicious. Probably making them again for Thursday! You should too.

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

Ashley and Chris brought shrimp cocktail and put together a cheese board, there was a delicious spinach and artichoke dip with dipping bread, and Slesh made her infamous homemade pretzel bites!

Appetizers at Friendsgiving 2015


Tim and I bought an organic turkey from Whole Foods. I can’t take any credit for anything that happened with this turkey after it came home from the store, because this was all Tim and these tips from the Food Network. I do know that he put the slices of one lemon, the slices of one orange, large chunks of one yellow onion cut up, a bunch of rosemary, and 4-5 sprigs of thyme in the cavity of the turkey. He also melted 4 tbsp of butter to rub on the outside skin of the bird, and then applied a dry rub made out of dried basil, thyme, garlic powder, salt, and pepper. Once this was prepped, he placed the turkey on a roasting pan, covered with tin foil, and placed in the oven for 25 minute at 500 degrees before reducing the heat to 350 degrees and cooking for 15 minutes per pound. In the last 20 minutes, he took the tin foil off the turkey. When the turkey was done cooking, he took it out of the oven, put the tin foil back on, and he let it rest for 45 minutes to an hour before slicing and serving.

Thanksgiving Turkey from Whole Foods

For the gravy, Tim used the drippings from the turkey, garbanzo bean flour, chicken stock, and salt and pepper!

Thanksgiving Turkey

Trina made her traditional Armenian rolls and also brought a fall harvest themed salad. When it comes to the bread at Thanksgiving, typically I’ll skip out on eating one because there are so many more food choices that are more exciting to me than a store bought dinner roll. However, a homemade family recipe? Bring it on.

Trina with Traditional Armenian Rolls

Friendsgiving 2015: Salad

Tim and I both wanted to make a stuffing, so I made the grain free sweet potato and apple stuffing that I posted last week, and Tim made his version with all the bread and all the meat. They were both delicious, and yes, we ate both.

Grain Free Sweet Potato and Apple Stuffing

Thanksgiving Stuffing

I also made my homemade cranberry sauce, a repeat appearance from last year.

Homemade Cranberry Sauce

Slesh and Will were in charge of roasted vegetables and mashed potatoes. Both were awesome!

Roasted Vegetables for Friendsgiving 2015

Friendsgiving 2015 Mashed Potatoes


Bridget and Dave were in charge of bringing most of the desserts! She brought a small cake to celebrate Ashley and Chris, a box of the infamous Congdon’s donuts from the best bakery near her family’s house in Maine, and she also brought two pies.

Friendsgiving 2015 Dessert

I really wanted to make my lightened up apple crisp since I hadn’t made it yet this season, so I made that to add to the dessert options. This is a clean version of the more traditional way to make apple crisp, and every time I’ve served it people can’t tell the different. There’s no flour, no butter, and no refined sugar. Unless you are allergic to nuts, you really can’t go wrong with this one!

Lightened Up Apple Crisp

Lightened Up Apple Crisp

Finally, I also made these grain free pumpkin bars.¬†I’ve only made them 25 times this season. They’re that good.

Grain Free Pumpkin Bars

And that’s that! Another Friendsgiving in the books.

Readers, let’s chat! Do you have a Friendsgiving tradition? What is an unusual menu item that makes it onto your table for either Friendsgiving or Thanksgiving?

I’m off to hot yoga before working from home today! Safe travels to anyone who still has to hit the road to get home for the holiday. I’ll be checking in tomorrow with one last Thanksgiving themed post for this year. Catch you then!

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

Last month, my friend Liz threw a party where the theme was to bring something you can eat off a toothpick.¬†I brought toothpicks stacked with¬†apples¬†and brie cheese drizzled with sweet honey and sprinkled with cinnamon. These popular appetizers made an appearance again last weekend at Friendsgiving, and I’m here to share them with you guys today!

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

Serves a crowd


  • 5 apples
  • 1 triangular block of brie cheese
  • 2 tbsp raw honey
  • Salt
  • Cinnamon
  • Mini skewers or toothpicks


  1. Preheat the oven to 350 degrees F.
  2. Core the apples, then cut them into cube sized pieces.
  3. Cut the brie in half lengthwise, then cut into squares. Try to get the square to be a similar size to the apple cubes.
  4. On your skewer or toothpick, put the brie on rind side up, then the apple.
  5. Arrange the toothpicks with the apples and brie on an oven safe dish, then drizzle with honey and sprinkle with a little cinnamon and salt.
  6. Bake for five minutes in the oven, just enough so that the brie begins to get gooey. Don’t overcook, or they will be too melted.
  7. Enjoy!

Apple Brie Appetizer Bites

I promise you can’t go wrong with these sweet and savory appetizer combination. The sweet apples, cinnamon, and honey balance out nicely with the cheese and salt.¬†Baking these in the oven for five minutes is long enough for the cheese to melt the perfect amount while allowing the apples to still maintain a little crispiness.


These bites require minimal ingredients and barely take any time at all to prepare. They are so easy and the perfect appetizer (or dessert or everyday snack) for the holidays. Let me know if you end up making these for Thanksgiving this week!

Readers, let’s chat! Do you prefer sweet or savory? What’s your favorite sweet and savory food combination? Are you making any appetizers for Thanksgiving this week?¬†

Have a great Monday, you guys!