Tis the Season

By now I hope you’ve purged your fridge of the last of the Thanksgiving leftovers.   We have one last bit of stuffing left that will be pitched sometime today.  I’m getting tired of moving it out-of-the-way to find the eggs.  We didn’t have too many leftovers as we sent home bags and bags of food with our guests. This is the Filipino way.  I grew up thinking that it was some kind of sin to send guests away empty-handed.  Thusly, we make enough for 30 guests when we are expecting 15 lest we embarrass ourselves with no doggie bags to send home.  We also had a shared leftover dinner Friday night with good friends.  I was so glad to have all the leftovers gone.  How many ways can you have turkey and the trimmings anyway?  It’s a bit like Taco Bell convincing you that you are having 20 different choices on a menu.  Doesn’t everyone know that they make each of these 20 things with the same 5 ingredients on the line?

With one holiday dinner quite literally under our belts, the season of excess begins.  I can feel it in the air. Here come all the opportunities to partake in holiday open houses, cookie exchanges, dinner parties, cocktail hours, Christmas treats in the break room, egg nog (drink of the gods), baking just because, and a partridge in a pear tree.  I’m just kidding about the partridge. I’ve never even seen one in real life, but you get the idea.  It goes on and on and on.  How do we keep this kind of merriment from going on and on and on our hips, thighs, bellies and cheeks? We are not all going to have to fill out a Santa Claus suit, so let’s not eat like we’re trying to do that.  Let’s have a plan.

  • Eat a healthy snack before you go somewhere and surround yourself with unhealthy choices.  You’ll have less room and you will be able to be reasonable with your choices.
  • Drink a glass of water between other beverages. Again, you’ll have less room and at the very least it will slow your pace.
  • Gals, bring a clutch bag/purse to parties.  Hold it in your hand.  This leaves only one hand to hold a drink or grab a snack.  You can’t do both unless you tuck the bag under your arm.  Resist the urge to tuck. This will slow your roll. Guys, you can try this too, but I suggest you call it a man bag or something.
  • Bring a delicious, healthy option to ensure that there is something you can have that’s not on the naughty list.
  • Step away from the table.   In the past, if you needed to find me at a party, I would be strategically parked within arm’s reach of the party spread.  Now people have to look a bit harder to find me. I’d rather be contributing to the conversation rather than nodding while stuffing my face. So, get a small plate of what you want and then head for the other side of the room. Don’t worry, your friends will find you.
  • Eat what you LOVE!!! If you really want a cream puff, go ahead and eat one or two.  Do not waste your calories on a pickle surrounded by cream cheese wrapped in ham unless this is on your “gotta have it or I’ll die” list.  Enjoy and don’t fret.
  • Eat mindfully.  Don’t just eat an appetizer because it’s there.  Are you hungry? Are you stuffed? Are you bored? Think, think, think and think some more.
  • Don’t skip your workouts. If you skip one, don’t skip them all.  Remember, this is not an all or nothing proposition here.  This is your life, so do what you can, when you can.

Here is one recipe I’ve tried already and in moderation, it’s a delicious, healthy option with good fats from the nuts and Smart Balance.  They are very filling and the kick from the cayenne is good for you too.

I tweaked a food network recipe and it was a big hit!

Spicy and Sweet Nuts


  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 4 cups unsalted mixed nuts, such as walnuts, pecans, and almonds
  • 4 tablespoons Smart Balance
  • 6 tablespoons brown sugar
  • 1 teaspoon salt
  • Mix spices and reserve.


Heat the nuts on a dry cookie sheet in a  350 degree oven for about 10 minutes.  Remove from the oven and turn the temperature down to 250 degrees.  In a big pan, melt the Smart balance and spices and sugar for about 1 minute on medium/low heat with 1 tablespoon water. Add the nuts to the pan and stir to coat them very well for about 3 minutes.

Remove the nuts from the heat and transfer to a cookie sheet lined with aluminum foil, separating them with a fork.  Return the pan to the 250 degree oven for about 10 minutes.   Let them cool when finished and store them in an airtight container.  I doubled this batch. If you don’t want it too spicy, reduce the cayenne pepper to ½ teaspoon.  My kids loved it spicy so that’s how I’ll always make it.

Enjoy this holiday season.  I’m off to drag the Christmas tree out of the basement, untangle lights and stash away presents. Eek! I just received our first Christmas card so now I’ve got to go and get that project started too. I wish you all a Happy Holiday season!

Until next time….Live Well! – Toni Kuhel


2 thoughts on “Tis the Season

  1. The nuts were absolutely awesome. Sweet to the tongue, and then a party in the back of your throat – just enough heat to make you want some more, and have a frothy beverage with it. So yummy.

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