Intuitive Eating and Structure: Can They Co-Exist?

By Katie, 5:55 am

“I can’t practice intuitive eating because I need more structure than that.”

How many times have I heard that? Heck, how many times have I said that?

For those of us who have spent years following some sort of diet plan – counting calories or points or macronutrients or whatever – the idea of letting go of all the rules and just listening to our bodies sounds a little loosey-goosey, no? We’re the type of people who make lists and plans and outlines; we abide by schedules and time-tables and deadlines. We feel most comfortable when things are predictable and routine.

Or is that just me? ;-)

 (Source)

So I understand firsthand the “structure argument” against intuitive eating. I have heard that voice in my head shout, “You can’t do this! You can’t be trusted!”

I have heard that voice in my head coax, “It’s ok. That whole trusting-your-body thing might work for other people, but you thrive on structure. You need structure. That’s just how you are.”

I have heard that voice threaten, “Fine, go ahead and listen to your body. But when all you eat is chocolate chip cookies and rocky road ice cream, don’t say I didn’t warn you!”

But here’s the thing: as I look back on my experiences with intuitive eating, I have to say, it doesn’t really seem like it is the complete antithesis of structure. It doesn’t seem like because I listen to my body, my eating habits are completely and totally erratic.

I think that intuitive eating and structure can co-exist…it’s just a different kind of structure.

You see, when I would actively try to lose weight by planning out my food intake and strictly adhering to the “rules,” I was following a structure created externally. I was listening to diet magazines, weight loss forums, and even my own head, which was filled with the messages of society.

The structure of intuitive eating is different in a very important way: it’s internal. It comes from my body instead of a book. As Evelyn Tribole said when I heard her speak, intuitive eating is about being your own expert.

So yes, I think my body has a natural structure. I generally get hungry at the same times every day, and usually crave the same kinds of foods that make my body feel its best. But the difference is that that groove is my groove, nobody else’s. It’s like when you stop using an alarm clock, and eventually your body adjusts to your lifestyle and you start waking up at the same time every day. Your body has found its natural rhythm.

And the best part of this intuitive eating “structure” is that it’s incredibly flexible. I honestly used to freak out on holidays or other occasions where following a meal plan was virtually impossible. But my body’s “meal plan,” if you will, can deal with any curve ball I throw at it. I don’t have to waste my time figuring out how to “make up for” a little holiday indulgence, because my body’s natural structure already has that covered for me.

It can be scary as heck to let go of external eating structures – believe me, I know. But I have found that when you really stick with it – when you really honor your body throughout this process – the result is not a totally arbitrary, completely unpredictable appetite. There’s still a certain degree of structure, it just has a very different nature. It’s a structure that comes from within.

What do you think? Can intuitive eating and structure co-exist in this way? Do you think your body has a natural structure that you can tap into?

10 Life Lessons I’ve Learned From My Cats

By Katie, 5:31 am

It’s no secret that I like am obsessed with my cats. I spoil them with treats and toys. I talk to them in a special kitty-voice. I give them endearing nicknames, and make up silly songs about them. Yes, I am that person. :lol:

But my relationship with my cats is more than just fun and games. Indeed, I’ve learned some pretty important life lessons from them! ;-)

5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Domino

If you want something, ask for it.

If Domino wants some attention, she doesn’t drop clues and hope I take the hint. She jumps right into my lap, finds my hand, and literally pushes her head into it over and over again. Which makes it pretty darn clear that she’s in the mood for some petting. It’s a good reminder that if we want something – support, encouragement, or a day off from laundry duty – it’s easier to get it if we ask.

There’s no need to rush through a meal.

Domino is the slowest eater ever. No matter how hungry she is, she still takes tiny little bites and savors each one. I like to think of her as my role model for mindful eating…but don’t worry, I won’t start lapping up my water anytime soon. ;-)

Curiosity doesn’t always kill the cat.

What’s in that lamp, Domino???

As we get older, it’s easy to lose touch with that healthy sense of curiosity we had as children. Watching Domino – both when she was a kitten and today – helps me to reconnect with that eagerness to learn and understand.

Take time to appreciate your solitude.

Domino is not the most social of cats. While she feels comfortable with Dave and me, she prefers to hang out under the bed when we have company over. A good reminder that there’s nothing wrong with turning down a party invitation in favor of a little “me-time.”

It’s polite to wait your turn.

It isn’t “Ladies First” in our household! Even though there are two food dishes, Domino still always waits politely for her younger brother Hamilton to finish his breakfast before she takes her turn. I’m not the most patient person in the world, so I could definitely stand to follow her example a little more!

Here’s Domino before her little brother came along.

5 Life Lessons I’ve Learned from Hamilton

When you’re happy, express it.

You would not believe how loudly and forcefully this cat purrs. It’s like he’s shouting “I LOVE THIS!” over and over again when you pet him. And it works: his obvious enthusiasm only makes me want to pet him more. A good reminder that when we’re filled with joy, there’s no reason to contain it!

Don’t stress yourself.

Domino can be a bit skittish and on edge, but it takes a lot to shake Hamilton. I very much envy his go-with-the-flow, nothing-can-faze-me attitude. He trusts that no matter what the situation – his owners went away for the weekend, there’s a dog barking outside, whatever – it’s all going to be just fine.

Don’t be ashamed of your body.

You’ve got it, flaunt it! ;-)

Never stop playing.

Hamilton is currently two-and-a-half years old, which I think is something like 26 in human years. But he is living proof that we don’t have to stop playing just because we get older. He’s always up for a good game of fetch (yes, my cat plays fetch) or an intense round of chase-the-string. I think he’ll be playful until the day he dies, and I hope the same can be said for me.

It’s the little things.

A toy mouse. A belly rub. A crunchy tuna-flavored treat. Hamilton has taught me a lot about fully appreciating life’s little joys.

One of those joys being my wonderful pets!

What life lessons have you learned from your furry friends, past or present?

Intuitive Eating Giveaway Winner!

By Katie, 7:03 pm

Thanks to everyone for entering my Intuitive Eating Giveaway!

The winner of the giveaway is Taryn, who left a very touching comment about her struggles with binge eating disorder. Taryn, please send your full name and mailing address to katie@healthforthewholeself.com , and I’ll get your book out to you right away! And I’ll also include my 2011 calendar.

I still have a few more calendars available for $16, including shipping. Be sure to pick yours up here.

Thanks, everyone! :-)

Simple Spiced Cranberry Sauce

By Katie, 5:34 am

One more day to enter the Intuitive Eating Giveaway!

I know, I know, this post would have been a whole lot more helpful before Thanksgiving! :oops:

I fully intended to share this recipe before the big feast, but what can I say? Life had other plans for me. :|

But I decided it’s better late than never. Besides, cranberry sauce is so versatile, it would be a shame to confine it to holiday meals.

I mean, it can be so many things – a side dish, a sauce (obviously), or even a condiment.

I made this homemade version for the first time last winter, and Dave was immediately hooked. He’s been begging for it since the summer! So a few weeks ago I made a batch, and first served it with pork, as shown here. I prefer it over turkey cutlets, but the grocery store was out; pork made a fine substitute.

This recipe makes 2 cups, which is a good amount for a crowd but a lot for two people! But going back to what I said about its versatility, I really had no trouble finding ways to use it. It jazzed up my lunch-time turkey-on-wheat for three days in a row, and also made an appearance in this incredible creation.

That, dear readers, would be a grilled cheddar sandwich with cranberry sauce and spinach. What a flavor profile! I never would have thought to try this combination, but my mom ordered something similar at a deli one time and loved it. I couldn’t wait to make my own version with this homemade sauce!

Simple Spiced Cranberry Sauce
Adapted from Cara’s Cravings
Makes 2 cups

Ingredients
1 bag (12 oz. or 3 cups) fresh cranberries
1/2 – 3/4 cup sugar (depending on how sweet you like it)
1 tsp corn starch
1/2 cup water
cinnamon, nutmeg, and ginger, to taste

1. Stir together the sugar, cornstarch, and water in a medium sauce pan until sugar is dissolved.

2. Add the cranberries and bring to a boil, stirring constantly.

3. Add a dash of each of the seasonings, and give it a taste to see if you want more of any or all of them. I find I keep adding more and more!

4. Reduce heat and simmer for 10 minutes, until the berries are softened and their skins have mostly popped.

5. Chill for a few hours before serving.

How was your Thanksgiving? Did you eat cranberry sauce?

What’s the best thing you ate?

A Thanksgiving Prayer

By Katie, 5:45 am

Keep those Intuitive Eating Giveaway entries coming!

In honor of the Thanksgiving holiday tomorrow, I want to share with you this personal prayer I wrote. I’ve been saying some version of this prayer all month; I really feel that it’s a message God is trying to get through my head.

Whether you’re celebrating Thanksgiving tomorrow or not (I recognize that many of my readers are outside of the U.S.!), I invite you to join me in this prayer.

A Thanksgiving Prayer

Dear God,

Today I stop to be still for a few moments longer than usual.

I stop to say thank you for all of my blessings, which are so great and plentiful that I probably couldn’t even name them all if I tried.

But today I feel strongly that saying thank you isn’t the end of my journey, that giving words to my gratitude is not the full extent of its expression.

Because you, God, didn’t bless me so abundantly just because you like me, or because I did anything to deserve it. You blessed me so that I can do something with those blessings. So that I can share them with others. So that I can give them away.

With great blessing comes great responsibility.

I am so fortunate to have food on my table, a warm bed to sleep in, and relative financial security. I am so thankful to be surrounded by support, encouragement, and – most importantly – love. But I do both myself and the world a disservice when I hoard those things for myself.

Dear God, I want to learn to say thank you not just through my words, but also through my actions. I want to learn to express my gratitude for my blessings by deliberately sharing them with others. I want to see firsthand your promise that when we give it all away, it only multiplies.

Help me, Lord, to internalize this message: Gratitude is just as much a verb as it is a noun. It is just as much an action I want to take as it is a state of mind I want to have.

Thank you for blessing me, and for challenging me through those blessings.

Amen.

 (Source)

It’s About Paying Attention: An Intuitive Eating Giveaway!

By Katie, 5:43 am

On Sunday I had the pleasure of seeing Evelyn Tribole, co-author of the groundbreaking book Intuitive Eating, speak about her approach to healthy eating.

While the principles of intuitive eating are not new to me – as evidenced by my frequent discussion of them on this blog – I did learn a lot from Tribole’s presentation about some new and exciting research in this area. Hearing her speak was a great reminder for me about why I strive to eat intuitively in the first place.

She made a lot of interesting points that I’ll be exploring in future blog posts, but today I want to share with you an example she gave that, to me, gets to the heart of what intuitive eating is all about.

And this example concerns the telephone.

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Have you ever been talking to someone on the phone, and even though the person is giving the correct verbal cues – an “uh-huh” here and an “oh, yes” there – you can just tell that they’re simultaneously checking their email, or going over their to-do list, or browsing Facebook? While they are adequately participating in the conversation, they’re just not fully there, and the experience is then compromised for both parties.

(Or perhaps, like me, you’ve been the one guilty of checking Facebook…sorry, Mom!)

Evelyn Tribole pointed out that when we follow any kind of diet or strict meal plan, our experience of eating is very much like that telephone conversation. We may be physically present – we may be getting by ok – but we’re not totally there. The focus on calories or weight becomes like email-checking or Facebook-browsing; it’s a distraction from the full experience.

Eating intuitively, then, is the opposite of that kind of grand-scale multitasking.

Intuitive eating is about paying attention.

It’s about paying attention to our food and the experience of eating. It’s about eating mindfully instead of digging in while watching television or reading a book.

And it’s about paying attention to our bodies and ourselves – our hunger and fullness cues, our bodies’ signals that we need more or less of something, and our physical and mental alerts telling us to slow down and explore an emotion a little more.

Intuitive eating is like having a telephone conversation with ourselves without the distractions of email or Facebook…or calories or fat grams. It’s about saying I’m fully here.

Haven’t read the book yet? Wish you owned a copy of it? Here’s your chance!

The Giveaway

After Tribole’s talk, I eagerly lined up to say hello and have her sign my copy of Intuitive Eating. And I purchased a second copy to have signed for one of you!

Healthy wishes!

For kicks, I’ll also throw in my “Live Life to the Fullest” 2011 Calendar (which can also be purchased here…it makes an inspiring, unique holiday gift!).

Two ways to enter:

1. Leave a comment on this post. It can be anything you want! Something as simple as, “I’d really like to win this giveaway!” works just fine.

2. Share this giveaway in some way – link to it on your own blog, share it on Facebook, mention it on Twitter using @KatieHWS, or  e-mail it to a friend. Just be sure to leave a second comment telling me how you shared it.

You have until 5:00 p.m. on Sunday, November 28 to enter. I’ll choose a winner at random and announce the name on Sunday evening.  Good luck!

Lessons in Being Supportive: An Interview with My Husband

By Katie, 5:16 am

If you want to tell someone (your partner, your friend, your mom, etc.) about your struggles with food/weight, but you’re scared of what they might think, then this post is for you.

If you have people supporting you, but sometimes they struggle to do so effectively, then this post is for you.

If your loved one is struggling but you’re unsure of how to be supportive, then this post is for you.

I’m very blessed to have married an extremely supportive man.

But, as you will see, it’s been a learning process. When I first opened up to Dave about my food/weight struggles, it was like I was speaking a different language. He wasn’t familiar with the topic, and he had no idea how best to help me.

We’ve progressed a great deal. But instead of me telling you his thoughts, I’m passing the keyboard to him for the day. Without further ado…

Lessons in Being Supportive: An Interview with My Husband

What do you think is the toughest thing about trying to help someone struggling with eating issues?

There are so many moments where I really feel like I have no idea how to be helpful, and that feels awful. As a typical guy, I often struggle to recognize and express emotions. I think this makes it harder to help someone who is in a crisis-type moment and is experiencing strong emotions, which often overshadow any kind of reasoning that their brain or my words might try to offer.

Because I don’t have the same exact personality as the one I’m trying to help (of course…when is that ever the case?), and because I don’t struggle with eating issues myself, I sometimes have a difficult time knowing what sort of words or actions will benefit them the most. I have to remember that the help they want or need might be different than what my first instinct pushes me to offer. Trying to immediately “fix” someone’s problems, even if it’s gently-offered advice, isn’t always very helpful. Many times, the best help is to listen and commiserate.

What advice would you give to someone who is thinking of approaching a loved one to ask for help/support?

Remember that this family member or friend loves you! Don’t feel ashamed or like you’re a burden to them. If this loved one has any idea that you’re struggling, they’re probably longing to help you but just may not know how!

If you know of something they could be doing to help you, tell them clearly. If they are doing something that is a stumbling block for you, or something that is enabling your actions in bad moments, tell them clearly.

Lastly, remember that while these people love you, they are also human and won’t always offer you perfect support, even when you tell them what that is. Forgive them when they fail, and thank them when they are offering you good support. This is a great encouragement and reinforces their support for you!

What advice would you give to someone whose loved one is struggling with eating/body image issues?

Tell them that you love them and want to help as best you can. Tell them you want to be their partner in their fight. Ask them what you can do, what is helpful, and what’s not! Don’t be afraid that you’ll offer wrong advice or have a bad reaction – you certainly will at some point, but you’ll be forgiven. Doing nothing would be worse.

I know it’s hard for people who are trying to give support because their help can sometimes be interpreted as criticism. Do you have any thoughts on how to show support without coming off as critical?

Try to walk through the types of situations where your support could somehow come off as criticism. Together, the two of you can think of ways for you to say things that are less likely to be interpreted as criticism. (Note: this probably shouldn’t be discussed in a moment of stress or anxiety, but rather when both of you are feeling strong.)

If you can, set some sort of ground rules ahead of time. Establish “permission” for you to say things at certain moments that you both agree might be helpful, even if there’s a chance it sounds critical in the moment, out of context. Maybe come up with a code word to include or some other way of making clear that you are trying to help in a thoughtful way, and that you’re not just talking off the cuff or purposefully being critical.

Before I opened up to you about my food/weight struggles, you were completely unfamiliar with the topic. What advice would you give to someone who wants to be supportive but is completely clueless about these kinds of issues?

Read Health for the Whole Self! Just kidding, although not really. If you’re already talking with this person about how you can help, they most likely have some sort of introductory reading they can share with you. Be open to learning about eating and body image issues and their many facets – don’t lump everyone with an eating issue into the same stereotype.

If they’re open to talking about it, listen to their thought processes when they are having healthy thoughts and when they’re having unhealthy thoughts so that you can start to understand how they struggle and perhaps recognize triggers and difficult situations.

If you feel in over your head, admit that you are pretty clueless about how to help and ask what you can do. Just about everything I have learned about helping Katie has come from Katie, in a variety of ways – everything from her telling me about specific thoughts and experiences to her sharing concepts and reading with me.

What have you learned from your (unexpected!) role as my supporter through these difficult issues?

I have of course learned many things about eating issues, not the least of which is the huge prevalence of disordered eating. While learning about my wife’s struggles, I think I’ve also started becoming more observant of emotions in general and have tried to be able to see experiences through the lens of someone else’s emotions.

I’ve become more aware of how the many little things we each do or say can be so harmful or helpful to someone struggling with eating issues. I think we all recognize this is true in other areas, but for some reason we often lack sensitivity when it comes to eating or body image issues. I’ve learned, and am still learning, to step out of my comfort zone when it comes to helping Katie.

_______________________________________________________________________________

Thanks for sharing your thoughts, Dave! I love you!

Do you have someone supportive in your life? In what ways has that person helped you?

Six Random Questions

By Katie, 5:15 am

Have you gotten your 2011 calendar yet?

The lovely Abri from Absolutely Ridiculous tagged me last week in one of those “get to know you” games, and I felt like this weekend was just begging for a totally random yet totally fun post like this one. :-)

Here are my answers to her questions.

1. What’s your favorite thing about winter and why?

SCARVES! I love, love, love wearing scarves. They’re such a practical fashion accessory!

Also, homemade cookies. Every year my mom makes the peanut butter ones with a Hershey’s kiss in the middle, also known as Cookies from Heaven. :-)

2. Where would your dream vacation be?

I actually dedicated an entire post to all of the places I want to visit, but if I had to pick just one, it would probably be Ireland. For the scenery. And the accents. And the Shepherd’s Pie. NOT for the Guinness – YUCK!

3. If you had to eat one type of food (Mexican, Italian, Chinese) for 6 months what would it be?

What??? For all three meals??? But variety is the spice of life! 8-O

If my life depended on it, I’d probably pick Mexican. Guacamole lights up my life. ;-)

4. What is something you would happily do again?

Have a wedding day cake fight with Dave. The dry cleaner charged us an extra $50 to clean my dress because of the stuck-on pieces of icing…best $50 I’ve ever spent. ;-)

5. Why did you start blogging?

I was no stranger to the writing process, but most of the time my thoughts and ideas just went into a blank Word document, never to be opened again. Blogging was so attractive because it transformed my writing from a solitary activity to a communal experience. I was attracted to the immediacy of expressing my thoughts and, two seconds later, hitting “Publish.” I was drawn to the interaction – the instant dialogue – that is unique to blogging. I was desperate to reach beyond my laptop and connect, and this is still what I love most about writing Health for the Whole Self.

I also felt like the environment was ripe for a “healthy living blog” that went beyond oatmeal and marathon-training. The message of whole-self health – physical, mental, emotional, and spiritual – appeared to be missing from the conversation, even though people seemed to want to talk about it. Fortunately, I think this is changing; it seems to me like many more people are beginning to embrace a comprehensive definition of health.

Finally, I was sick of the way food and weight struggles were being portrayed in our society. I felt like disordered eating was either completely normalized – that’s just the way woman are – or completely ignored, creating an environment of embarrassment and shame. I decided to challenge that atmosphere of shame by exposing myself, by taking my private story and making it public. Turns out, a whole lot of people have very similar stories and struggles, and together we’re discovering an alternative vision for what our lives can be. Together we’re figuring out what living life to the fullest really looks like.

6. What can turn your bad day into a good day?

Depends on the day. Some days it’s shaking my booty, some days it’s taking a nap. Some days it’s connecting with friends, some days it’s embracing a little solitude. Some days it’s a good laugh, some days it’s a good cry.

I guess it’s really about being where I am…wherever that may be.

Oh, and the sight of these fur balls, of course. ;-)

How would you answer one (or more!) of these six questions?

Lessons from a Working Woman

By Katie, 5:43 am

How time does fly and how things do change! Since I started writing Health for the Whole Self, I’ve gone from being a full-time graduate student penny-pincher to a full-time 9-to-5 money machine penny-pincher. :lol:

Actually, I’m excited to share that I had my 6-month review at work this week, during which I was told that I’ll be getting a small raise! It was, of course, very welcome news, in part because of the money but mostly because it affirms that my work is appreciated.

 (Source)

Just look at these happy people, hard at work on their charts!

In honor of this good news, I thought it would be appropriate to examine some of the lessons I’ve learned during these past six months in the professional world.

7 Lessons I’ve Learned from My 9-5 Life

1. Plant the seeds.

From the outside, it can look like my job just sort of rolled into my lap: there just happened to be an opening at an organization that I just happened to visit during an internship that I just happened to get at the end of my graduate school stint.

But I honestly believe those opportunities didn’t just happen accidentally. Rather, I was planting the seeds from the very beginning, even though I didn’t know what might sprout. I treated every situation as an opportunity that could lead to positive things down the road, and some of them did.

2. I plan…and God laughs.

Like I mentioned above, I had no idea which – if any – of my planted seeds would sprout. But of course I had some hopes! Well, not surprisingly, those hopes didn’t pan out exactly as I might have liked, but what did pan out turned out to be better than what I even imagined! Just another lesson in letting go and letting life develop as it will.

3. There are many, many people in need…

…but also many, many people dedicating their lives to responding to that need. I work for a grant-making Foundation, and we fund a wide variety of nonprofit organizations in the Baltimore area. My job allows me to connect with compassionate people finding innovative solutions to the community’s toughest problems, and their commitment inspires me every day.

4. As my life changes, so does my body…and that’s ok.

In May I was running a half-marathon, and my body reflected that. Then I started working full-time, while continuing to write this blog, and the intense training schedule no longer fit into my lifestyle. The body I inhabit today reflects this new lifestyle I’m leading; I’m juggling more responsibilities, my schedule is less flexible than ever before, and a scaled-back exercise routine is both necessary and welcome.  And that’s ok. (Thanks, Megan!)

My body is still healthy and I’m still taking care of myself, but what that actually looks like has changed a bit. To me this is totally natural and logical: my life changed and my body did too. It makes more sense to embrace it than to fight against it.

5. Mistakes can be handled gracefully.

Everyone makes mistakes in all facets of life, and the working world is no exception. I’ve certainly made my share in these past six months. But I’ve learned that they are not the end of the world, or at least they don’t have to be. I’ve learned to embrace my errors by taking responsibility, apologizing (but only once, otherwise it gets annoying!), and immediately taking the necessary steps to remedy the situation.

6. A good boss truly cares about his/her employees.

I have been truly blessed; my boss is an incredibly kind man, and my more immediate supervisor is an extremely friendly, helpful woman. These two people – in addition to my other wonderful co-workers – have demonstrated to me what being in charge is really about. They guide me. They support me. They challenge me. And they obviously want the best for me. It makes all the difference, and should I ever be in a position of supervising others, I hope to follow their example.

7. Don’t be afraid to ask questions.

That immediate supervisor I just mentioned? The first month I was in her office all the time, constantly asking questions or requesting clarification. Even six months in I still find myself coming across problems or dilemmas I can’t solve myself. But instead of being afraid to ask questions – instead of worrying I’m going to come off as annoying or incompetent – I am straightforward about my stumbling blocks. That approach has proved less stressful and more fruitful than any other.  

What’s your full-time gig? (pssst: stay-at-home-mom definitely counts!) What life lesson has it taught you?

AND

I’m curious: any thoughts you’d like to add on Lesson #4?

Thanksgiving Prep: Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

By Katie, 5:40 am

I’m excited to eat many things this Thanksgiving – turkey, stuffing, pumpkin pie. But I just might be most excited about this dish.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans

I love sweet potatoes, always have. So when my mom called me up and said she’d volunteered me to be in charge of sweet potatoes this Thanksgiving, I was quite pleased. But of course I wanted to practice my dish before the big day. And of course I reached out on Twitter for suggestions.

I got a variety of answers to that question, but I decided to go with this roasted sweet potato dish because A) we’re already having mashed white potatoes, and B) several members of my family specifically requested no marshmallows in the sweet potato dish. Fine by me.

So the test run began. First I peeled and cubed 3 pounds’ worth of sweet potatoes.

What? You mean you don’t have a fish-shaped cutting board? ;-)

Then I tossed said sweet potatoes in a delicious mixture of brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, cinnamon, ginger, and a bit of salt.

Poured them in a baking dish and scattered some dried cranberries on top. A few chunks of butter too.

That dish went into the oven for about a half hour. While it was cooking away, I made the pecan topping by combining flour, brown sugar, and some more cinnamon and ginger. Plus more butter. Yes, this is a decadent dish. Yes, it tastes wonderful.

I think my chunks of butter were too big, because I wasn’t having much success “cutting them into” the rest of the ingredients. So I gave up and used my hands. Worked much better.

Hello, pecans!

Then I pulled my sweet potatoes out of the oven, poured on the topping, and popped them back in. Yep, we’re talking two rounds of cooking. Totally worth it.

When I pulled them back out, the sweet potatoes were soft and caramelized, and the topping had browned nicely.

You can’t really see the sweet potatoes, but they’re under there!

YUM! A perfect Thanksgiving side dish!

I was a little unsure about the cranberries because I’d never had that combination before. Turns out, it’s delicious.

All-in-all, a successful Thanksgiving test run! I fully plan to serve this sweet potato dish on Thanksgiving Day, unless one of my blog-reading family members has a genuine objection. Speak now or forever hold your peace! :lol:

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Cranberries and Pecans
from McCormick
Makes a heaping 9 x 13 pan

Ingredients
3 lbs sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into 1-inch cubes
3/4 cup packed brown sugar, divided
2 tbsp freshly-squeezed orange juice
2 tsp pure vanilla
1.5 tsp cinnamon, divided
1.5 tsp ground ginger, divided
1/2 tsp salt
6 tbsp butter, cut up, divded
1 cup dried cranberries
1/2 cup flour
1 cup chopped pecans

1. Preheat oven to 400º. Mix 1/4 cup of the brown sugar, orange juice, vanilla, 1/2 tsp cinnamon, 1/2 tsp ginger, and salt in a large bowl.

2. Add the cut-up sweet potatoes, toss well.

3. Spoon mixture into a 9×13 baking dish, and scatter the cranberries evenly on top. Also scatter 2 tbsp of the cut-up butter. Cover with foil and bake for 30 minutes.

4. While the sweet potatoes are cooking, mix flour, 1/2 cup brown sugar, 1 tsp cinnamon, and 1 tsp ginger in a medium bowl. Using a fork or your hands, cut in/crumble in 4 tbsp of cut-up butter until large crumbs form. Add the pecans and mix well. Remove the sweet potatoes from the oven, stir gently, and sprinkle with the pecan topping.

5. Bake uncovered for another 20 minutes, until sweet potatoes are soft and the topping is lightly browned.

Do you ever “practice” making a dish that you’re taking to an event or social gathering? Obviously I do!

AND

Are you cooking or baking anything for Thanksgiving this year?

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