This month we’re pleased to have Lisa Chernick join us in the Diet Blog as our Featured Guest Blogger. Lisa is the Executive Food Editor at Weight Watchers, where part of her job is sharing nutritious and exciting dinner ideas in her series “What’s for Dinner?” Tune in to the Diet Blog every Tuesday in November to hear Lisa’s advice for living a healthy lifestyle.
Thanksgiving is a big deal in my family. Like some people’s Oscars or Super Bowl, it means months of anticipation and a big day when we all go nuts. For most of my life, my aunt’s kitchen has been our family’s holiday nerve center. But once my kids reached full-price-airplane-seat-age, schlepping them and my husband from NYC to Buffalo became very expensive. So it’s been a few years, and during those years I’ve hosted Thanksgiving twice. I did nearly all of the cooking myself, both times and I was shocked by all the work involved. Much more than I ever suspected. In fact, after my first time cooking, I phoned my aunt and gushed with 30 years worth of overdue, under-expressed gratitude for her efforts. The lessons of Thanksgiving planning, cooking and serving may have been lost on me in my formative years, but I have learned on the job. And now I’d like nothing more than to share some of the best things I’ve figured out.
1. Plan WAY ahead. And make lots of lists. At WeightWatchers.com, we’ve put together some of the best lists and tools around. They’re packed with great, hands-on help from experts like Thanksgiving guru Rick Rodgers. Since I tend to nibble when I’m stressed, staying cool and having a rock-solid game plan is huge. Without it I could easily eat a meal’s worth of food before sitting down to dinner.
2. Cook way ahead. Lock in your menu early, and look for things you can make ahead and refrigerate or freeze (cranberry relish or chocolate cake, anyone?. This will free up brain space and actual space on Thanksgiving Day.
3. Borrow, Rent, Buy. If you’re having a lot of different dishes that realistically can’t all warm in the oven and on the stovetop simultaneously, consider borrowing, renting or buying warming trays and/or chafing dishes.
4. Pre-Party. Invite a good friend to hang out with you the night before Thanksgiving. No matter how much work may lie ahead, it’s a great way to lighten the mood, and remind yourself why you’re doing all this. The real goal, of course, is to set the table and lay out every serving vessel and utensil that you will need the next day. Don’t forget dessert and coffee accouterments.
5. Don’t Over Do It. On the big day enjoy everything and try to eat mindfully. Consider what one of my colleague’s does (who is also a Weight Watchers leader): she fills her plate with a little of everything she wants, but she sticks to a one-plate rule – after one plateful, whatever it may include, she’s done.
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November 11th, 2008