Thanksgiving Menu 2010: Grateful for the bounty

Thanksgiving 2010 Menu

Nana's Whole Wheat Crescent Rolls
Nama's Armenian Pilaf
Mary's Free-Range Herb Roasted Turkey
Pomegranate-Pear Cranberry Sauce
Nana's Blueberry Pie
Vanilla Ice Cream

Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays because it's a chance to celebrate two things I love: family and food. At the Gilmore Home, preparing the Thanksgiving feast is just as much fun as eating it because we all get together to prep and cook together. This year our table will be filled with our family, my parents, Ericlee's parents, my brother and sister-in-law and niece, a cousin and her baby and any of my hubby's students who are brave enough to join the party.

Our healthy journey over the last several years has meant seeking out and creating new healthy versions of Thankgiving faves. We've tackled our menu little by little, one dish at a time. Last year we ditched the traditional sweet potatoes with marshmallow sugar overload and added a Sweet Potatoes dish with Pomegranate & Mint. This year I'm serving up a new spin on sweet potatoes that I learned from my friend Sam Jessup at our church's "Taste of Friendship" event a few weeks ago. His Southwestern Roasted Sweet Potato Salad has a memorable Chipotle pepper kick. It's also a great addition because it can be made a few days ahead and still maintains that pop of flavor and healthy ingredients.

The biggest change or step we took this year was ordering a turkey through Whole Foods. Ericlee did a little research and found out that these cage-free birds are from a local Sanger family. Mary's Free Range Turkeys eat a vegetarian diet. They never have antibiotics or hormones. No preservatives are added to them. The little brochure explains, "Mary's Free Range Turkeys are raised the old fashioned way: with plenty of space. In the sunny San Joaquin Valley of California, the turkeys are humanely raised by allowing them to roam in a stress-free environment. With cleaner living quarters, a healthier and happier turkey is grown resulting in a wonderful taste." Sounded impressive to us. The cost was only $1.99/pound - We thought it would be much more.

Maybe you're like me and you're already skipping ahead to all the creative ideas you can employ with turkey after Thanksgiving. Here are some of my fave Thankgiving Leftovers options. This year I'm going to try out Turkey Mole - a recipe from my chef friend Willie Bezemer. I can hardly wait for the meal after Thanksgiving!

Leave us a comment. What's new or traditional on your menu this year? How are you using local ingredients to celebrate?


Budget Bites: Haitian Squash & Sauce Beans with Rice

This week's "budget bites" feature comes compliments of our Haitian friend, Peter Constantin. Peter is staying with us for a week and he wanted to cook us some Haitian regulars. The Haitians live on rice and beans and prepare it many different ways, depending on what's available. Rice and beans are amazing together because they are a "complete protein," which means they contain all 20 amino acids that are bodies need. 

Another of our favorite side dishes is this squash dish using chayote. Squash is is full of beta carotene (great antioxidant) and Vitamin C. Those are two germ-fighters we want in our diet, especially during cold season. 

Both of these dishes are packed with nutrients and inexpensive to eat. We like to eat Haitian food and remember to pray for our friends in Haiti. Find more Haitian recipes here.

Pwatann Militon (Squash cut in sauce)

2 chayote, peeled
6 cups of water (approximate)
2 garlic cloves
1 green onion stalk
2 sprigs of fresh thyme
1 tablespoon tomato paste
1. Boil water.
2. Meanwhile, peel to chayote and cut into match sticks.
3. Add chayote to water. Boil until tender. Strain leaving about 1 cup of water/liquid.
4. Smash green onions and garlic in mortar & pestel (or blender). Add to chayote mix.
5. Add thyme and tomato paste.
6. Simmer approximately 5 minutes in sauce.

Haitian Sauce Beans with Rice


2 cups pinto beans
4 cups water
4 whole cloves
2 stalks fresh thyme
3 stalks fresh parsley
1/4 green pepper

1. Boil 2 cups beans in 4 cups water.
2. Add 4 cloves and 2 teaspoons salt to boiling water for flavor.
3. Boil until tender (you can press together with your fingers). 
4. Set aside to cool.
5. Take 1/2 beans from the water and add to a blender. Blend until smooth.
6. Add back to the beans in water.
7. Quarter green pepper and add one quarter piece to sauce. Add thyme and parsley.
8. Boil an additional 10 minutes until sauce thickens slightly.

1 tablespoon olive oil
1 stalk green onion
5 cups water
2 1/2 cups jasmine rice
2 teaspoons salt

1. Add olive oil to large pan. Break onion in half and saute in oil until fragrant.
2. Add 5 cups of water to pan. Bring to boil.
3. Meanwhile, rinse rice in a strainer under water. Add rice to boiling water.
4. Add salt.
5. Allow to boil until most of the water has evaporated. Then cover and lower temperature to simmer for approximately 20 minutes rice is fluffy.


Functional Fitness: Local moms' group tries new workout

On Thursday night, my hubby and I got another chance to share our passion for fitness and wellness with a group of local mamas. Our church hosts a MOPS (Mothers of Preschoolers) group twice a month and they invited us to speak and lead a workout for the 50-some moms who attend. We had the chance to speak at a different MOPS group last year and it was a lot of fun so we jumped on the opportunity.

As I shared with the moms on Thursday, my goal is always to be an encouragement to other women on the journey. It's so easy to get caught up in the world of comparing our bodies. Sometimes we set the bar so high that all we can ever achieve is failure. I know for myself that I need baby steps on this road to overall health and wellness. I also know that I want to honor God with my body. He created me; I want to embrace that. A good workout (even a short one) is a great stress relief for me. A workout helps me feel better about myself, and ensures I will be strong for the future for my kids and grandkids.

As a mom who has been through two pregnancies and births, I have experienced lots of changes in sizes and the shape of my body. During my first pregnancy, I gained more than 40 pounds and I had a rude awakening after the birth and those pounds didn't just melt away. I had the desire to exercise and get back in shape but my body had two months of recovery after a difficult birthing process so I couldn't exactly jump out there and start running or going to kickboxing classes again. I would stand in front of my closet and cry, knowing my pre-pregancy clothes were not going to fit for a long time - if ever. I went through a kind of depression that a lot of first-time mothers experience in that post partem period.

When my second daughter Giada was born almost 21 months ago, I knew I wanted to be a little more intentional about many things. I knew I wanted to eat healthier, drink more water and get more exercise during the pregnancy. After I had Giada, I begged my personal trainer hubby to help me come up with some workouts I could do at home in a short amount of time. Now with two kids (and providing childcare for two more) I knew I had to forego long cardio workouts. That's how we came up with the idea of the "Go, Mama Workout." At the time, my husband was really getting into CrossFit and the theory behind doing workouts that work on both strength and cardio at the same time. Ericlee used his knowledge of CrossFit and functional movements and wrote up a workout plan for me. I've been doing these workouts for almost two years now.

The basic idea is to make my workout "functional." In other words, I don't waste time trying to do exercises that aren't going to really benefit me as a mom. Why in the world would I sit on a machine at the gym and do a butterfly with my arms when that is something I will never do in real life. I'd rather do a squat, which is something I do every day when I pick up a baby. I want to learn how to do that properly and be strong so I don't injure myself.

On Thursday, Ericlee led the group of mamas in a basic 10-minute workout using some of the concepts of CrossFit. The great part of this workout is that no expensive equipment or gym membership is required. It's something you can do right at home. We had a lot of fun laughing together and spurring each other on to finish.

We did:
-5 pushups
-5 situps
-5 squats

We had to do it for 10 minutes straight without stopping but you could go at your own pace, depending on your level. Ericlee also offered some modifications for doing these basic movements. For example, pushups could be done against the wall, on your knees or traditional-style. Also, several pregnant mamas opted to do "dips" on a chair instead of pushups to avoid bumping their bellies on the floor.

Ten minutes doesn't sound to bad, eh? Try it. If you talk to any of my mama friends who worked it Thursday night you will hear testimony after testimony that this is a very intense workout. And that's my favorite part - it's short and intense. The reality is: I'm a busy mama. I don't have time for the 60-90 minute classes I used to take at the gym. (That doesn't include all the time it takes to pack up the kids and get them over there to the childcare and the money you pay each month.)

Wondering where to begin? Here are some tips Ericlee wrote up to keep in mind. You can create your own workouts or use some of ours for free. You might also want to read my initial blog on the Go, Mama Workout and check out the first workouts. If you like to take classes, Ericlee also coaches at Fresno's Speed Sports Performance/CrossFit Combat Fitness gym on Shaw and Cedar. (His Boot Camp class at 5:30 a.m. on Mondays costs $3 and you don't need a gym membership to participate.)

“Go Mama” Workout Tips:

• Keep the workout short and speedy so it combines cardio and strength training.

• Constantly change it up because your body adapts to a stimulus.

• Focus on the gymnastic exercises (body weight) first and then move to weight lifting exercises.

• All exercises can be done anywhere – you do not need expensive equipment.

• Plan to do the workout two days a week to start and work up to five days a week.

• Repetitions and rounds should always be different.

• Compete against yourself for motivation. (How long does it take or how many rounds can you finish?)

• Consider putting 2-3 gymnastics together and that could be your workout or add one from each of the following categories.

• Remember it is about intensity and duration. If you want it easier, then lower intensity and duration. If not, then raise it.

Mix and match the following exercises: You can pick two, three, or even four exercises.  You can pick all exercises from one category or one from each category (gymnastics, weights, cardio).  You can pick 3-5 rounds or how many rounds in 10-20 minutes.  Be creative everyday.




-Air squats




Weight lifting:

-Shoulder press

-Chest press

-Bicep Curl

-Tricep Extension


-Medicine ball


-Jumping Jacks


-Box jumps

-Jump Rope




For Example:
1.     How many rounds in 10 minutes
                        (G) Pushups x 5
                        (G) Situps x 10
                        (G) Squats x 15
                        (C) Jumping Jacks x 20
2.     Time 5 rounds
                        (G) Air Squats x 30
                        (W)Shoulder Press x 10
                        (C) Jump Rope x 50
3.     Time 3 rounds
                        (C) Burpees x 10           
                        (G) Dips x 20
                        (G) Situps x 30

Any questions? Leave a comment. We'd love to share more. If you're in Fresno, we might just start a "Go, Mama Workout" meet-up if there's enough interest. Kids would be welcome!
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