Thanksgiving Recipe Roundup 2014

Autumn Awesomeness Salad

This salad was my lunch before the traditional dinner.


250 g kabocha squash cubes (toss with 1 tsp olive oil and bake for 15-20 mins at 400 degrees)
few handfuls of kale, torn into bite-sized pieces
1/4 English cucumber, sliced
1/8 red onion, sliced
1/2 red and/or yellow pepper, sliced
4 oz cooked chicken breast, chopped
1.5 – 2 tablespoons apple-miso dressing (stir together 1 tablespoon miso paste, 1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar, 2 tsp honey or 1 packet calorie-free sweetener) – I make batches of this and store in the refrigerator to use as needed
single serving package roasted seaweed sheets (optional)

1. Preheat oven and put the kabocha cubes on a baking sheet. I squirt them with some oil from my Misto and toss around with a spatula to coat. Put them in the oven to bake while you make rest of the salad.
2. Tear up the kale and put it in a large mixing bowl. Add the cucumber, onion, peppers, chicken (and any other veggies you want).
3. Add the dressing and stir it all up. When your squash is done, pile it on top of the salad and crumble the seaweed on top. Dig in.


Our dinner menu was as follows:


  • Turkey and gravy
  • Peas
  • Mashed potatoes
  • Roasted Brussels sprouts medley – similar to the roasted veggies with olive oil and garlic from the 2013 roundup.
  • Roasted Root Vegetables
  • Pear & Walnut Stuffed Squash
  • Apple pie
  • Pumpkin Pie with Pecan Topping

I won’t post recipes for the first 4, just the last 4. Since we opted for plain peas (and the microwave took care of that), I put the oven at 400 degrees and cooked both types of roasted veggies and the stuffed squash all at once. I put the stuff squash in first since they need an hour, and then 15 minutes later I put in the root veggies and Brussels sprouts so they all were done at the same time.

Roasted Root Vegetables


3 parnsips
3 beets
2 sweet potatoes
2 turnips
1 onion
1 tablespoon olive oil
salt, pepper, paprika

1. Preheat oven to 400.

2. Cut all the vegetables into wedges or sticks about as thick around as your thumb. Toss with olive oil and spread on two baking sheets. Sprinkle with salt, pepper, and paprika.

3. Bake 40-50 minutes or until tender.

Serves 6-8

Pear and Walnut Stuffed Squash

4 small winter squash (kabocha, kuri, delicata, acorn)
3 pears, cored and chopped
1/4 cup chopped walnuts
Saigon cinnamon
pinch salt
4 tsp butter

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Cut squash in half and scoop out seeds. Discard seeds.

2. In a large mixing bowl, stir together the chopped pears, walnuts, a good shake of cinnamon, and pinch of salt. Divide evenly among the squash halves. Top each squash half with 1/2 tsp of butter, and wrap in foil.

3. Place foil-wrapped squash in a baking dish and bake 60 minutes.

Serves 8

Pumpkin Pie With Pecan Topping


195 grams gluten free all purpose flour blend
1/2 tsp xanthan gum
2 tsp sugar
1 tsp salt
105 g coconut oil
3/4 cup sugar (150 g)
2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp salt
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground nutmeg
1/4 tsp ground cloves
1 (15-ounce) can pumpkin puree
2 large eggs
1 + 1/4 cups vanilla almond milk
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/2 cup pecans
1/2 cup brown sugar
2 tablespoon butter
small pinch of salt

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Mix crust ingredients in a bowl and press into the bottom and sides of a pie plate or springform pan.

2. Combine filling ingredients in a blender pitcher and process until smooth (or whisk together in a bowl.) Pour into crust and bake for 15 minutes.

3. While pie is baking, mix topping ingredients in a bowl. Remove pie from oven and sprinkle with pecan topping, then return pie to oven for 25-35 more minutes or until a knife inserted 2 inches from the edge comes out clean. It’s okay if the center is still a little jiggly, it will firm up as it cools.

Serves 8

 Apple Pie


(Inspired by this recipe with some tweaks to add spices and reduce oven temp. I also used a bit of the gluten free crust from the pumpkin pie to make a mini gluten free apple pie).
Pie crust for a double crust 9-inch pie (I used the refrigerated kind)
1/4 cup butter
1/4 cup coconut oil (because I ran out of butter, you can use 1/2 cup butter and skip the coconut oil if you like. I think butter tastes better)
3 tablespoons flour (or all purpose gluten free blend)
1/4 cup water
1/2 cup white sugar
1/2 cup brown sugar
1 tsp saigon cinnamon
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/8 tsp ground nutmeg
7 apples (I used gala), peeled, cored and sliced (about 12 slices per apple)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F (220 degrees C). Melt the butter and coconut oil in a saucepan. Stir in flour to form a paste. Add water, white sugar, brown sugar, cinnamon, vanilla and nutmeg, and bring to a full boil. Reduce temperature and let simmer over lowest heat.

2. Place the bottom crust in your pan.

3. In a large mixing bowl, toss the sliced apples with 2/3 of the sugar-butter mixture and stir to coat. Pour apples into the bottom crust, mounded slightly. Cover with a lattice work crust. Gently pour the remaining sugar and butter liquid over the crust. Pour slowly so that it does not run off.

3. Put the pie on a larger baking sheet to catch drips, and bake 50-60 minutes in the preheated oven, or until apples are soft and crust is golden.

Serves 8

Will you be making any of these this year? Let me know by leaving a comment! Please share this post if you think any of your friends would enjoy it.
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I’m curious, is it true that we can only absorb 20-30 grams of protein at a time, and rest is wasted?


You will “absorb” 95% of the animal protein and about 80% of plant protein you ingest, no matter HOW much it is. Absorbing just means digesting and assimilating it, getting it out of your intestines and into your cells. That part is very clear, most people eat far more than 30 grams of protein at a time, and you don’t just excrete it in the feces. It gets absorbed.

“Needed”, “optimal” “used”and “wasted” are open to interpretation

What happens after dietary protein in absorbed is where the debate comes in about interpreting what is “needed”, “used” or “optimal”. Is protein that is oxidized for energy “wasted”? That’s as much an opinion question as whether it is less wasteful to eat the rest of your food when you’re full already versus throw it away.

If we’re talking enough to prevent deficiency and negative health outcomes like immune system suppression, edema, and other problems that come from protein deficiency: the number needed is quite low, 0.8 g/kg is appropriate for most people. (0.36 grams per pound). If we’re talking needed, you only “need” that much.

Above this lower limit, adding protein helps with increasing muscle gain, but it’s not the amount of total protein alone, the context of total calories has to be considered. Protein alone does stop providing muscle building benefit above a certain limit (which is much lower than most people think, the old bodybuilder mindset of a gram per pound bodyweight is rather high). At some point, the calorie is more anabolic than more protein, so for skinny guys who want to add some bulk to their frames but can’t seem to, I often have to tell them to stop force feeding more protein (which is blunting their appetite) and get more carbohydrates, which is an easier route to ingesting more calories.

It’s not a set # of grams, because the total calories have to be considered. 30 grams of protein in a 300 calorie meal is not going to have the same metabolic fate as 30 grams of protein in a 700 calorie meal. Likewise, someone in a calorie deficit will use their protein differently than someone in calorie balance.

If you are on a low total calorie diet (losing weight), not all the protein consumed is available for muscle building because some of it gets oxidized to meet fuel needs. If carbohydrates are in short supply, some amino acids will also be used to generate new glucose, and will also be taken out of the pool available for muscle building.

The benefits of protein go beyond building muscle

A higher protein intake has other benefits besides being used to muscle anabolism: which is my big beef with articles that say “your benefits max out at XXX grams, any more doesn’t add more muscle so don’t waste your time eating it.” I want to say “Yes, I know that, but above the level at which protein intake contributes directly to muscle building, it starts to do other things. Good things.”

Protein increases satiety via the CCK pathway (linear even above 30 g, it keeps increasing satisfaction to go from 40-50 grams and above – but at some point is too many calories, right? That’s why we dont’ eat 100 g of protein per meal.) Protein blunts appetite via elevated amino acids in the bloodstream, also linear, and this effect may even increase ABOVE the threshold for muscle utilization (essentially having EXTRA protein and nitrogen compounds in the blood seems to be part of the appetite suppressing effect).

Protein also moderates the glycemic response to carbohydrates, decreases muscle breakdown rate, increases (slightly) the thermic effect of food), and displaces sugars, refined carbohydrates and processed foods which have verifiable negative health impacts. All of these benefits do not top out at 30 grams of protein per meal.

I’m not saying eat protein endlessly

The reason I recommend keeping an eye on protein portions so they don’t get excessive is only CALORIES.

How much protein should you aim for then? For someone who’s interested in maximizing not only the muscle building effect but also the appetite-reducing effect (isn’t that most of us here?), the answer is “as much as you can get in while taking in enough fat and carbohydrates without going over your calorie needs”.

Here’s my no-calorie-counting recommendation, and the reason behind it

Fat needs to be about 30% of total calorie intake to hit the sweet spot of getting us to the next meal and maintaining metabolic flexibility without making our diet too calorically dense. It can wander up to 35 or maybe 40% in a very low carb scenario, but above 40% bad things tend to happen (energy intake climbs, cardiovascular disease risk may increase) and the body comp results aren’t as good or as lasting. Carbohydrates need to be also a minimum of 30-40% of total calories to support athletic activity and quality training, immune system support and adequate food volume (and uh…life quality for many of us). If someone is an endurance athlete, they need a substantial amount more carbohydrate but can get by on less fat, so it still leaves about 30-40% of total calories from protein.

Research shows exactly that: 30% of calories from protein is where benefits seem to really hinge for weight loss and leanness. Since most adults will lose weight on about 1600-1800 cals a day, 30-40 grams a meal (at 3 or 4 meals a day) puts you right there, or close enough.

So no, I don’t want you to count calories. But try to get a palm of protein at each meal, about ~30 grams, and resume enjoying your life.

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This recipe was inspired by the Greek dish moussaka, but saves a ton of labor and time. Moussaka typically involves a bunch of steps like parboiling potatoes, and frying or roasting eggplant, then layering it all into a dish and baking, then topping with a creamy or cheesy sauce… this one is much simpler, and much kinder to the waistline.  If you like eggplant and beef, you’ll like this.DSC_0002

The potato topping brings this casserole firmly into comfort-food territory but it’s a very thin potato layer, just enough to cover; the dish is far from being carb heavy. I’ve made it with red skin potatoes and with sweet potatoes and enjoyed both immensely. I’m sure mashed butternut or kabocha squash or cauliflower would work too, so feel free to puree 10 ounces or 300 g of your mashable vegetable of choice and slather it on!

1 pound extra lean ground beef (or ground lamb)
1/2 large sweet onion, chopped
2 cloves garlic, chopped
2.5 oz tomato paste (1/2 a 5-ounce can)
2 cups diced tomatoes, drained
1 teaspoon dried oregano
1 teaspoon dried basil
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper
1 eggplant, chopped fine
10 ounces potatoes or sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into chunks
1/2 tablespoon butter
1/4 cup almond milk or milk
(salt and pepper to taste)

1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F.  Brown beef in a 10-inch or larger cast iron or other ovenproof skillet. Drain fat.

2. Add onion, garlic, tomato paste, diced tomatoes, oregano, basil, cinnamon, salt and pepper to skillet. Stir to combine. Turn off heat.

3. Add the cubed eggplant (if it doesn’t all fit, add as much as you can fit into the skillet and still stir it) and stir to combine. Place the skillet in the oven and set a timer for 15 minutes.

4. Bring a small pot of water to a boil and boil potatoes until soft, about 10 minutes. Drain and mash with butter, almond milk and salt/pepper to taste. When timer goes off, spread mashed potatoes thinly on top of eggplant/beef skillet and return to the oven for another 15 minutes.

5. When done baking, place it under the broiler for a minute or two to get lovely golden spots on the potato topping.

Serves 3-4
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If you’ve ever tried to make homemade bagels, you know it’s a bit of a process. To get the right chewy texture, most recipes call for boiling and then baking the dough, in addition to the whole mixing, kneading, proofing thing. It takes several hours and while the upside is you get a dozen yummy fresh bagels, the downside is you now have a dozen yummy fresh bagels which won’t be nearly as good on the second day. They are only truly awesome the first day. This recipe has become my to-go when I want a nice chewy homemade bread, and if you top it with poppy and sesame seeds, onion flakes, garlic flakes and coarse salt, it’s an excellent Everything Bagel cousin.  If you like you can even put a hole in the middle.


Just 5 Ingredients (and one is water!)

1/2 cup whole wheat flour
1/2 teaspoon baking powder
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup water for the dough, plus 1 tablespoon water for the pan
1 teaspoon of oil
(toppings: poppy seeds, sesame seeds, dehydrated onion and or garlic flakes, coarse salt



1. Combine the flour, baking powder, and salt in a mixing bowl, and stir in 1/3 cup water to form dough.

2. Take an UNHEATED 9 or 10 inch skillet (the heavier the better) and spread the oil around the bottom. Spread the dough into a circle on top of the oil. I find oiled fingertips or an oiled silicone spatula work well for spreading the dough out, it’s going to be pretty sticky, and it won’t reach the edges. You can make it thin or thick, it won’t matter.

3. If you want to use toppings, sprinkle them on top of the dough.

4. Sprinkle 1 tablespoon of water around the edges of the dough (not on top of it), between the dough and the side of the pan. Then cover the pan with a lid (it has to steam) and put the pan on the stove.

5. Turn on the burner to between medium and high (6 out of 10) and let it cook for 10 minutes. Then, remove the lid, flip the bread over, and turn the heat down to low (3 out of 10). Cook it for 5 minutes on the other side without the lid and it’s done!

What to do with your awesome flatbreads:

  • Transfer to a cutting board and cut into wedges for dipping in hummus, white bean dip, baba ghanoush, or soup.
  • Make them fat and slice into homemade sandwich thins to build sandwiches on.
  • Spread with cream cheese, of course! (and smoked wild salmon if I’m coming over)
  • Try adding herbs, cheese, olives, or cinnamon and raisins to the dough. (just not all together)

How to Make Them Gluten Free

Do everything exactly the same, except use Bobs Red Mill Gluten Free all purpose flour and add 1/2 teaspoon of xanthan gum to the dough. *Be sure that your toppings are gluten free if you have Celiac disease, many herbs & spices are cross contaminated in processing.*

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Why Do We DO That? (Eating because we ate)

“Georgie, I’d be curious to hear your take on why people turn to the behavior of giving up or splurging after one small slip. I understand all the reasons it makes no sense… but I don’t understand all the reasons that so many of us act this way anyhow!”

Eating because I ate. It’s funny isn’t it? While the exact mix of reasons is fairly individual, there are some common themes I witness in my clients. It’s cognitively painful to act out of line with our values. (Cognitive dissonance; we don’t like it). So if we have eaten one thing that we feel bad about, telling ourselves that we “don’t care about our weight today” makes us feel less-bad about it. Telling ourselves we “can’t stop”, “fell into the cookies” or other phrases that imply powerlessness also make us feel somehow less responsible and ease the sting of self-blame. If we weren’t or aren’t in control, we feel less blameworthy and less responsible to change. The continuation of undesired behavior – aka slashing the other three tires after getting a flat – likewise has a few subtle benefits:


1. If we give up on trying to make good decisions, we are off the hook for the rest of the decisions we make. It’s kind of abdicating responsibility.

2. We often tell ourselves we’ll “never do this again” so of course we want to get it all in now if the cookies are going to be off limits. They just got much more valuable by being forbidden.

3. This is a tricky one to verbalize, but there’s a kind of temptation at times to make our situations WORSE. Like a benevolent knight will come in, see how badly we are floundering, and help us! It can feel like if someone only knew what happened to me, they would help. Like an imaginary audience. And sometimes, we need to hit rock bottom ourselves for various reasons. For example, to ask for help.  Or, because we’ve learned an all out meltdown can help us bounce back, pick ourselves up, organize a spreadsheet of macros, and be hardcore dieters tomorrow.

So my tips hinge on accepting your own power and responsibility, and losing the blame. If you don’t hate on or judge yourself yourself for eating something in the first place (it’s just tasty food, not a moral crime) and refuse to diet the next day, the cycle has no way of taking place. And, it does also mean gently seeing and accepting that you are the one in control. You hold the key to solving all your own problems, so it’s okay if the knight never shows up, you can help yourself better than anyone else can. And just like you could fall in love with the white knight…. that’s where the come though for yourself –> thank yourself –> like yourself –> love yourself thing gets going.

Lastly, I want to reiterate that it is NOT “irresponsible people” who slip into this – it’s actually people who hold up SO much responsibility in their conscious lives (often perfectionists) whose brain without their permission wants to be let off the hook. We can crumble under our own expectations of doing it all, being it all, and eating perfectly. People who fall into this trap are not fools, and not lazy. They are often the most hardworking, nicest, want to do everything right all the time individuals. Which also makes it an even more upsetting experience.

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