Can I get through the holidays without higher blood sugars and without gaining weight?

It’s the holidays! And getting into the holiday spirit requires eating, doesn’t eat?


As a child, we always celebrated the year-end holidays at my grandparents, who we affectionately called Nan and Hank. It was always an exciting time. Upon arrival, we were greeted with smiles, warm embraces and sweet kisses. My grandmother had stashes of candy in nearly every room of her house, so we kids began the treasure hunt to find all the candy dishes. Our parents visited with the other adults while cracking and eating nuts. They may have had a bowl full of candy too… (I don’t remember them eating candy, except for my dad, who, I think, was just as excited as the kids were, to search and sample each candy dish) but for the most part, the adults had no idea how much candy we ate! So, after our fill of candy, if our taste buds still craved more sweetness, … well, the freezer was stuffed full of all sorts of delicacies. You know them, that cool, sweet, smooth, creamy, delicacy that slides down so easily and feels so good while we indulge… I especially liked the ice cream sandwiches, or Bon-Bon’s! But there were healthier choices too, like weight watcher fudge bars! Cookies were in the cookie jar and well, let’s not forget the apple, pumpkin and pecan pies, brownies, and other baked goods!

Soon, it would be time for dinner. The tables were beautifully arranged, laden with so much food that we could have fed the entire neighborhood. And in fact, we would eat leftovers for nearly an entire week! We had turkey and dressing with cranberry sauce, mashed potatoes with gravy, lima beans, green bean casserole, corn pudding, sweet potato casserole, and stewed tomatoes. The mixed fruit gelatin salad was one of my favorites. It had strawberries and pineapple mixed in the gelatin and was topped with cool whip. There was always a large tray of colorful raw veggies and dip, rolls and bread with spread, and pecan nuts (sometimes candied), and other dishes I never touched like sauerkraut and stewed tomatoes. But to someone, these were quite delectable! Of course with the meal, drinks of various sorts were served, I usually had juice or a virgin strawberry daiquiri, yummy! Then as soon as you were stuffed to the gills, the pumpkin, apple and pecan pie were served. I always had warm pumpkin pie a’ la mode that melts and fills in all the possible cracks that could possibly remain in the stomach. It all tasted so good going down! Then all the adults would barely be able to get up and wobble over to the living room, sit down and complain about having eaten enough to feed a horse, or how they didn’t need to eat for a week, or how they blew their diet; while us kids would parade around and would have all the adults judge who’s belly was the fullest as we arched back to make it protrude the most! Then we were off to play, leaving the adults to their misery…


Does this sound familiar? And we are sure our scale is broken, for how can it possibly be right reading 10 pounds heavier? Or we need a new glucose monitor because our sugars are just reading so abnormally high, something must be wrong!

A picture is worth a thousand words! And Dr. Howard Shapiro, in his book Picture Perfect Weight-Loss helps us have a clear view of our choices as the season approaches.

He presents a typical modest Thanksgiving dinner:

  • A cocktail with peanuts.
  • A couple of pastry hors d’oeuvres.
  • A tiny bit of cheese and pate to start.

For the dinner:

  • A few slices of turkey with trimmings along with
  • A glass of wine and of course
  • A wedge of pie

Now would you agree that is a much better meal than what I had for our family tradition for Thanksgiving? Dr. Shapiro’s Dinner looks quite tasty and the portions are small but filling.


Do you think you would eat this amount for thanksgiving?

Now let’s consider the calories in Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Dinner:

  • 3 drinks = 530 calories
  • ½ cup mixed nuts = 440 calories
  • 3 oz pastry = 380 calories
  • 2 oz pate = 240 calories
  • 5 crackers = 80 calories
  • 6 oz turkey, light and dark meat with skin = 360 calories
  • 4 Tbsp. gravy = 120 calories
  • 1 cup stuffing = 400 calories
  • 2 small candied yams = 200 calories
  • ½ cup buttered green beans = 60 calories
  • Pecan pie wedge = 680 calories

When we add all that up it come to a whopping 3710 calories! And if that is 3710 calories, we don’t even want to imagine what my childhood Thanksgiving dinner was calorie-wise.

Are you still satisfied with Dr. Shapiro’s first Thanksgiving meal?

Would you like to see something better? Something better than 3710 calories? Can we do better and still be happy and merry? Can we shave off thousands of calories and still have a meal as tasty and filling as this one? Let’s find out!


Fortunately, Dr. Shapiro gives us another picture:

  • 2 cups low-calorie punch – 40 calories
  • 5 cherry tomatoes – 10 calories
  • 2 cups assorted vegetables – 30-50 calories
  • 3 Tbsp. onion/chive dip (low-fat) – 30 calories
  • 7 grilled shiitake mushrooms – 30 calories
  • 2 Tbsp. soy dipping sauce – 10 calories
  • 6-oz. baked yam – 150 calories
  • 1 cup green beans with herbs – 40 calories
  • ¾ cup ginger-fruit whole-grain stuffing (low-fat) – 80 calories
  • 2½ scallops – 80 calories
  • 4-oz. white-meat turkey or vegetarian substitute – 200 calories
  • 2 Tbsp. cranberry relish – 20 calories
  • 3 fl. oz. wine – 60 calories
  • 1 cup pumpkin custard – 150 calories

Now Dr. Shapiro’s Thanksgiving Meal 2 is still a very pleasing and beautiful Thanksgiving meal, and Meal 2 shaves off 2,790 calories from Meal 1, for a total of 930 calories remaining for Meal 2.

Now, that still is a lot of calories for one meal. So if you want to shave off more calories you can choose to eat your calories instead of drinking them.

  • You can drink water (which is the best liquid for your body, anyway!), add a squeeze of lemon or lime if you’d like.
  • Omit the scallops, reduce the turkey to 3 ounces, and eat only a half of the yam (3-oz),
  • reduce the stuffing and custard to ½ cup each.

Now you have shaved off an additional 320 calories and the total calories for the meal would be 610 calories.

Now that is something better, something more workable to keep blood sugar levels fairly constant, with a balanced carbohydrate to fat/protein/vegetable (non-carbohydrate) (6 carb choices and 6 non-carb choices, or 90 grams carbohydrates and 20 grams of fiber). You may also need to adjust more for your calorie needs at other meals in the day.

Your idea of appropriate selection of dishes might be different from mine or Dr. Shapiro’s, and that is okay as long as you get the concepts of how to enjoy the holiday without gaining weight and keep your blood sugar levels normal. Eating your lower calorie foods such as your vegetables first will help fill you up and you will have less room for the higher calorie foods.

Eating just at meal times and avoiding grazing will help blood sugar regulation and weight management.

One of the best things you can do after you eat is to go for a stroll; or what we call a digestive walk at Abundant Health Wellness Center. This will aid in digestion and help keep blood sugar levels under control.


Give your Stomach A Gift for the Holidays! Avoid overeating and go for a digestive walk after meals!

Sign up to receive a weekly recipe to help you get through the holiday season with great blood sugar levels and without gaining weight and still eating all the foods you love!

If you would like to talk specifics about your holiday meals, call to schedule an appointment. Together, we can include the foods you want to enjoy while still accomplishing your health goals.


Recipe – Kimberly’s Texas Caviar

Kimberly’s Texas Caviar


Kimberly was in my office talking about menu planning. And I started to share with her that I had just made a delicious recipe with black-eyed peas. Before I could begin with the ingredients, she told me, “I can tell you the best way to eat black-eyed peas”. She preceded to tell me nearly the exact recipe I had just made! It was an amazing moment, as if she had been the fly on the wall in my kitchen. I told her that was nearly exactly what I had made and it was indeed very delicious. She said it is called Texas Caviar. I shared this experience with my Start A New YOU! Class and they all wanted the recipe. Here it is! To remember the moment I have named it, Kimberly’s Texas Caviar!

Kimberly’s Texas Caviar

24 ounces cooked black-eyes peas, with enough liquid to moisten
1 red bell pepper, diced
½ cup green onions, sliced or ¼ cup sweet onion, diced
6 (~ ½ cup) artichoke hearts, diced
½ cup ripe green olives, pitted, sliced
½ cup diced celery,
1 Tablespoon parsley flakes
1 Tablespoon fresh lemon juice
Mix all ingredients together and chill until ready to serve.

Here’s Why It’s GOOD For You:


Artichokes stimulate liver cells to increase bile production and help reduce cholesterol blood levels as well as limit the build-up of cholesterol on vessel walls. Artichokes are a decongestant for the liver, aiding in the detoxifying function of the liver. Artichokes also have anti-inflammatory properties. For anyone suffering from gout, artichokes can help reduce uric acid in the body. Uric acid is a byproduct of protein metabolism that must be excreted by the kidneys. Artichokes improve the kidney’s elimination of uric acid in the urine.

Black-eyed Peas

Black-eyed Peas are a member of the legume family. Legumes include beans, peas, and lentils. Legumes are very beneficial for lowering cholesterol. Those who eat about 4 ounces of legumes a day for three weeks lowered their cholesterol and triglyceride levels by 10%. Beans, beans a wonderful food… so eat your beans at every meal!

Other Ingredients:

Onions, celery, and parsley are a blood purify foods. Bell peppers and lemon juice are very high in vitamin C, helping to reduce oxidation and cholesterol build-up. Olives have consistently been shown to help lower LDL cholesterol and improve HDL levels.

Nutritional Facts compiled from Encyclopedia of Foods and their Healing Power, by George d Pamplona-Roger, MD. Editorial Safeliz, S.L., Madrid Spain. 2006.


Recipe – Stewed Lima Beans

Beans, Beans, the Musical Fruit…


 I am sure you have heard the little rhyme:

    Beans, beans, the musical fruit

    The more you eat, the more you toot…

    The more you toot, the better you feel…

    So eat your beans at every meal!

    (Author Unknown)

Legumes (beans, peas, and Lentils) are one of the best vegetable sources of iron, protein, and fiber, and are a great food to include if you are desirous of losing weight, lower blood pressure, or reducing your cholesterol level. Many people with diabetes have found legumes help to better control blood sugar levels.


If you are not used to eating legumes, the extra high fiber content can cause a bit more gas (flatulence) than you may be used to. This is because the legume skin contains indigestible carbohydrates. This indigestible carbohydrate actually creates natural probiotics and is very beneficial to our gut.

Here are some tips for reducing the gas effects:

Soaking: The most effective way to reduce the gas effect of beans is to pour boiling water over them and let them soak for 8-12 hours, changing the water 1-2 times during the soaking time.
Start slow: Allowing your body to become accustomed to increased indigestible fiber will help reduce the gas. Gradually increase the frequency and amount over 1-3 months.

Beano: Some people has found relieve from excessive gas from pharmaceutical preparations such as Beano. Take at the beginning of a meal with beans. These pharmaceutical preparations contain an enzyme that breaks down the bean skins before they arrive in the large intestine and are metabolized by gas-producing bacteria.(1)
Some legumes are better tolerated than others. Lentils, fresh or frozen peas, fresh or frozen lima, tend to be among those that are less gaseous and also do not need any soaking time. It might be beneficial to begin increasing your legume intake with these.


Pamplona-Roger, G.D., Encyclopedia of Foods and Their Healing Power. Editorial Safeliz, S.L., 2006.

Here is a delicious lima bean recipe to get you started!


Stewed Lima Beans

Yields 2 servings

  • 1 cup frozen baby lima beans
  • ¾ cup water
  • 1/8 teaspoon salt or to taste
  • 2 teaspoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1/3 cup onion, minced

Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium-high heat to bring to a boil. Reduce heat, cover, and simmer for 20-25 minutes or until lima beans are tender. Sauce should be creamy. Serve!

Variations: substitute fresh onion with 1-2 teaspoons onion powder. Try adding a couple tablespoons pimentos or red pepper for a festive holiday dish!

Quick tip: Lima beans, like any other bean, are a great food to prepare ahead. They can be frozen or canned. All ingredients can be placed in a slower cooker in the morning, on low to medium setting and come home from work and supper is ready!

Serving Suggestion: Serve with whole grain cornbread, greens, and fresh sliced tomatoes.


Recipe – Herb and Chive Ranch Dip

Herb and Chive Ranch Dip


Yields: 1 ¾ cups or 14 2-Tbsp. Servings

1 package extra firm Mori-nu tofu
1 Tablespoon grapeseed oil or extra virgin olive oil
1 Tablespoon lemon Juice
½ teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon onion powder
¼ teaspoon garlic powder
½ teaspoon dried, crushed parsley or basil

Try adding 1 teaspoon honey or agave syrup (optional)

¼ cup green onion or chives, chopped fine (optional)

Combine all ingredients except chives in a high-powered blender or food processor until creamy smooth. Pour into dish. Stir in green onions or chives. Cover and chill for 2 hours. Serve. Keeps in refrigerator 7-10 days.


Recipe – Stuffed Turkey Slices

Stuffed Vege-Turkey Slices

Yields: 12 servings


  • 2½ cups broth
  • 1 cup chopped celery
  • 1 large onion
  • 1 Tablespoon nutritional yeast flakes
  • ½ teaspoon basil
  • ½ teaspoon garlic powder
  • 1 teaspoon sage
  • ½ Tablespoon dried parsley
  • 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil

Combine above ingredients in a large saucepan and bring to a boil. Remove from heat. Add 1 package Whole Grain Pepperidge Farm Stuffing Mix and mix well. Set aside.


Saute 1 cup minced onion in 2 Tablespoons extra virgin olive oil or water in a large skillet.

In A blender combine remaining ingredients:

  • 3 cups water
  • 1/3 cup whole wheat pastry flour or white whole wheat
  • 3 Tablespoons nutritional yeast flakes
  • 1½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon Bakon Hickory Smoke Style Seasoning
  • ¼ teaspoon garlic powder
  • Add sauted onions to blender mixture and blend until smooth.

Pour gravy mixture back into large skillet and heat over medium heat, stirring constantly, until it reaches desired thickness.


16 turkey slices (thick enough so that they will not fall apart when folded) (I use Worthington Turkey slices, a vegetarian option)

Place a large spoonful on each slice of turkey. Fold it like a taco and place in casserole dish, very close to each other to keep them in a taco shape. Spoon extra stuffing on top of the stuffed turkey slices. Top with gravy. Cover with parchment paper and then foil and bake in a 350F oven for 30-40 minutes.

Hint: If preparing this ahead of time, do not add the gravy until ready to bake.


Recipe – The Best Pumpkin Pie!

The Best Pumpkin Pie!


From: Taste of Health by Barbara Kerr.

  • 1 ¼ cup quick oats (blended into flour in your blender)
  • 1 cup whole wheat pastry flour
  • ¾ teaspoon salt
  • ¼ cup grapeseed oil
  • ½ cup water

In a medium bowl place oats, flour and salt. With your hands, rub in oil.

Pour water into bowl.

Mix well. Will look too wet at first, but this is the perfect amount of water.

Knead lightly on counter with hands, not adding any flour.

Wipe counter with a damp cloth, and stick a piece of plastic wrap about 15 inches long to your countertop.

Sprinkle about 1 teaspoon of whole wheat pastry flour on plastic wrap.

Divide dough in half (recipe make two crusts). Flatten into circle, cover with another piece of plastic wrap and roll out with your rolling pin until about ¾ inch bigger in diameter than your pie plate.

Remove top piece of plastic wrap and center the crust on the pie plate.

Remove remaining piece of plastic wrap.

Prick crust with fork on bottom and edges. Trim off any excess dough and fill crust with your favorite filling, or bake at 350F for 12-15 minutes.


The Best Pumpkin Pie Filling:

From: Taste of Health by Barbara Kerr.

  • 1¼ cup per maple syrup or maple flavored agave
  • ½ teaspoon salt
  • 1 teaspoon cinnamon
  • 2 teaspoons pure vanilla extract
  • 2½ cups (1 2/3 boxes) mashed silken, extra-firm Lite Mori-Nu tofu (drain off any water)
  • 1 15-oz can solid-pack pumpkin
  • 1 Whole Grain Pie Crust

In a blender, combine maple syrup, vanilla, salt and cinnamon till smooth. Then blend in tofu, 1 cup at a time, until smooth. Pour mixture into a mixing bowl and, using beater, blend in pumpkin. Pour pumpkin mixture into one unbaked 9-inch crust. Lightly sprinkle top of pie with cinnamon and bake at 350F for 1 hour and 10 minutes.

Refrigerate before serving. Allows flavors to blend and pie tastes much richer.

Cut into 16 slices.