December 11th ~ Don’t put that in your mouth!

On the eleventh day of December my true love gave to me,

a plump, delicious Christmas Turkey.

 Often, in years past, we have been blessed by wonderful friends and community members. One example is the turkey we were given the other day. As I plan the meal that will surround that bird, it reminds me of the spirit of the season. It is impossible not to enjoy the season in good health, good spirits, and good fun when there are so many bounties and blessings around me. Take time every day to count your blessings.

With that being said, I was off to my first Christmas party of the season last night, and, of course, I was confronted with a lot of calorie-laden, but super yummy, food choices. A few tips I have picked up about holiday eating and weight maintenance.

1. Don’t freak out and don’t deny yourself. Denial can lead to gorging and then guilt. And even worse- purging. No, not me, but you never know who is in the bathroom forcing up that crab dip, so just as a precaution- go easy on yourself.

2. If you’re worried that your willpower is no match for rich, heavy foods that are high in carbs, crave-proof your appetite through breakfast. Did you know that a solid breakfast of 3 scrambled eggs and 1 & a half slices of toast, will actually help you take in 400 fewer calories during the rest if the day? And you’re not even trying yet to abstain. Wow, that was easy.

3. Drink while you eat. Water is the best stomach-filling refreshment. And most people don’t get nearly enough water in an average day (you should be drinking 1/2 your body weight in ounces of water a day. That’s a lot, I know, but for optimum health and weight control, the results are phenomenal.)

4. Have a glass of wine. You may not be a drinker, but if you like the occasional drink, you might be surprised to know that downing a glass of white wine before a meal can lower your appetite for carbs. Don’t overdo it, though. More than one will only be converted to fat. An alternative to chugging a glass of wine is to sip one glass while eating slowly.

5. Allow yourself to taste. You’re setting yourself up to fail if you don’t allow some indulgences. When going through that luscious buffet, go ahead and put a few treats on your plate. A few mini crab cakes and a piece of fudge aren’t going to sabotage your efforts. Just remember to fill up the rest of your plate from that veggie platter.

Now that that’s out of the way, it’s time to get to the part of the post that you can sink your teeth into- for real 🙂 Awhile back I did a post with my recipe for Giardiniera. Well, it’s been over 5 weeks now and all that pickled goodness should be about ready. What better way than to crack open a homemade jar of the best giardiniera you’ll ever taste? Why, putting it on an Italian Beef sandwich of course! Now, since I am in the South without a chance of running out and getting a fantastic Chicago-style Italian Beef sandwich, I have to make my own. Here’s the recipe:

Italian Beef 

In a crockpot put the following:

1 5-lb. rump roast, or other choice cut

1 medium onion, cut into large chunks

2 cups beef stock, or broth

1 T. oregano

1t. thyme

1t. marjoram

2 bay leaves

2 T. Worcestershire sauce

3 to 6 garlic cloves, crushed

1 T. basil

1 T. salt, or to taste

Cut the meat into sections so that every bit of it is submerged in the broth and seasonings. Allow to slow cook overnight, or for at least 8 hours, until the meat falls apart. Shred gently using 2 forks. Drain the veggies and seasonings from the broth and combine meat and broth again. Discard veggies.

Split an Italian roll and place desired amount of Italian Beef on one side. Top with slice of provolone cheese (or under the meat if you prefer) and lightly toast, open-faced in the oven for a few minutes. Add yummy giardiniera and enjoy!

*Italian Beef is notoriously a wet sandwich. How much of the juice you choose to pour back over the sandwich is up to you. I prefer mine dry, but there are places in Chicago known to dip the entire sandwich in the au jus before serving. If you like soggy bread then that might be the way to go, or at least somewhere in between. You can also dip the sandwich like a French Dip, but it’s a bit messier and the au jus isn’t the same.

Enjoy your holiday parties and all the yummy foods that go along with it. It’s only a short time of year when we allow ourselves these small indulgences. Don’t sweat the small stuff and remember the real reason for the season.

“Always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.”

~ Ephesians 5:20  NIV


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