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How to thrive during the holiday season
and hit the ground running in the new year
The holiday season brings us welcome cheer, particularly when it gets dark at 5pm. But plant-based feasts tend to be especially heavy on the starchy and sugary carbs. i.e., your main is rice or pasta, your side is potatoes or mac n cheese and your dessert is pie! Eating these refined-carb-heavy meals can lead to us feeling bloated and sluggish, with our sugar crashes and rising guilt giving way to extreme New Year's Resolutions. Been there, done that. :)
So here are some tips to enjoy the season and still hit the ground running in the new year.
Greens first - Start every meal with a green salad dressed with olive oil and vinegar to blunt your blood sugar spike. If you're going out, it's OK to pre-game at home!
Prioritize protein - Try to get at least 20g protein at every meal. If the meal doesn't include it, add a side of Greek yogurt, cottage cheese, tofu or edamame
Focus on the sides - Whether or not turkey is the center of your table, you can have a plant-forward Thanksgiving by jazzing up the sides and here I mean not just potatoes! See my Brussels Sprouts Chaat recipe for inspiration. Or look up practically any Ottolenghi recipe.
Move - Take a walk with your loved ones after a heavy meal. New research shows that even 2 minutes of walking after a meal can improve blood sugar levels. Overachievers, try doing 20 squats or push-ups!
De-stress - Remember it's OK to relax, celebrate and even indulge a few times during the holiday season without guilt. Spending time with loved ones over food and cheer can reduce stress hormones (cortisol), which can also bring down your blood sugar. The key is to make this the 20%, not the 80%.
I was sick last week, having picked up a bug from my daughter, and didn’t get to send out this newsletter. So I’ve added a couple of ideas for Thanksgiving sides below:
P.S: Heads up to those with little ones - the RSV is particularly aggressive this season, spiking high fevers and low oxygen levels. Luckily we didn’t have to go to the hospital and she is almost back to normal but it was a tough few days.
Cauliflower Mash (click here to view video on Instagram)
A great low carb alternative to mashed potatoes.
1 ½ lb/680g cauliflower or cauliflower rice
2 oz./56g butter
1 ½ tsp. cracked black pepper, plus more to taste
½ tsp. salt, plus more to taste
1 cup/112g grated parmesan
Bring a pot of salted water to a boil and cook cauliflower until tender, 6–8 minutes, then drain. Heat butter in a small saucepan over medium heat. When butter melts, add garlic, salt, and pepper and cook for 1 minute until fragrant. Combine cauliflower, butter-garlic mixture, and parmesan in a food processor and puree until smooth. Taste and add more salt and pepper as needed.
Simple Salad with Tadka Dressing
A tadka dressing elevates this simple salad to extraordinary and is hands down the easiest dish for your Thanksgiving table! This is one that my parents often make at home - the dressing is crunchy black mustard seeds bloomed in avocado oil with a hint of hing + sea salt and lemon juice. Use any veggies of your choice: the version below has shredded carrots, finely diced cucumbers, bell peppers (capsicum), tomatoes and cilantro (coriander).
I had a few weeks of downtime between wrapping up my cookbook pre-order and its launch in January, so I put together a mini digital course: Low Carb Essentials for Vegetarians. It consists of ~40 slides, a bunch of bonus resources and will take ~30 minutes to complete (about as long as an episode of Emily in Paris :))
Why did I create it? Because I’ve started to field a lot of questions from my readers, and sometimes on social media. For example, what I eat in a day, how I think about getting enough protein, do I always eat cauliflower rice? :)
And I started to realize that there is really no resource out there that helps vegetarians eat moderately low carb in a sustainable way. My cookbook has recipes - darn good ones if I may say so myself! - and fills a void for those who seek inspiration. But it was not intended to be a textbook and does not pretend to be one.
This course is intended to be a companion or pre-cursor to my cookbook and helps you incorporate a whole foods approach into your life, so that it doesn’t feel like a punishing diet. The focus is on adding protein (how much and where to get it), healthy fat (what’s actually healthy and where to get it), fiber and carbs from whole foods, rather than removing anything - this approach is far easier to sustain and has helped me lead a normal social life while still eating healthy.
I also discuss adding elements like moderate intermittent fasting to turbo-charge your results, and introduce you to some helpful lifestyle hacks. Basically this is everything I wish I knew 3 years ago before I started this way of eating! I believe you will be hard pressed to find all of this information in one place, distilled into a crisp package like this one.
Bonus resources: nutritional cheat-sheets that will look great on your fridge, 3 simple but powerful and endlessly extensible recipes and some reading material for extra-credit!
This course is for you if you’re not sure where to start with eating low carb, or if you’ve previously tried some version and found it unsustainable. It could also be for you if you don’t really have the headspace to start a new diet, but just want some helpful ideas that present a low-barrier to action. The presale price of $12.99 has been extended in the spirit of Thanksgiving sales until Nov 28, so go give it a try. Also, I will undoubtedly enrich the materials over the next year as I get feedback and you will have continued access at this price point!
No newsletter next week. See you guys on the other side and have a wonderful week/end with family and friends!