Thanksgiving Feast

It’s the beginning of Thanksgiving week and here in Baltimore, the leaves are changing. It's a time to reflect and 'nest!’ Who doesn't love just laying around after a big meal, covered in blanket topped with a few cats as the quiet chatter of friends and family can be heard from the kitchen as you drift off into a sugar coma? But wait! I can't live like that anymore! I can't eat my dad's homemade chocolate chess pie by the slice after slice. I have to create new traditions now that I'm living a healthier life.

It’s the beginning of Thanksgiving week and here in Baltimore, the leaves are changing. It's a time to reflect and 'nest!’ Who doesn't love just laying around after a big meal, covered in blanket topped with a few cats as the quiet chatter of friends and family can be heard from the kitchen as you drift off into a sugar coma? But wait! I can't live like that anymore! I can't eat my dad's homemade chocolate chess pie by the slice after slice. I have to create new traditions now that I'm living a healthier life.

My healthy Thanksgiving tradition was born a few years ago after my 27-year-old housemate Jen died from a massive brain aneurysm. It was tragic and unexpected and happened just a few weeks before Thanksgiving. I just couldn't imagine what her parents would be doing for Thanksgiving; their first holiday without their daughter. I reached out to them and we all agreed to have a meal here at my house – a place Jen loved to be would become a place for all of us to heal.


Jen's parents’ diet was primarily vegetarian but included fish. I wanted to create something that I could put on a platter and have it be the centerpiece of the table like a turkey, but what would it be? I decided on a giant whole salmon! Perfect! How to season it? Lemon and dill? It was a good standby, but not very sexy. Garlic and fake butter? Yeah? But no... Ah ha! Why not do a Mexican rub and stuff it with beautifully colored peppers! Much more festive!

My new Thanksgiving tradition was born.

I opened up the butterflied salmon and sprinkled smoked, dried chili powder, sea salt and some lime juice. I chopped up tri-colored and poblano peppers, as well as thin slices of tomatoes and purple onion. I also chopped lots garlic. I stuffed the salmon with everything I had prepared and closed the fish up before wrapping the entire thing in tin foil and baking it for about an hour at 350° F. After the dish had finished baking, I transferred to a platter and garnished it with cilantro and veggies. It was absolutely beautiful and delicious!

Here are the sides that I made to go along with the salmon:

  • Fresh Mango Salsa Click here to find the recipe in my early blog for fish tacos
  • Mesculin Greens Salad with Diced Apples, Walnuts and Homemade Dressing – to make the dressing use equal parts honey and balsamic vinegar with some garlic, and honey mustard mixed in.
  • Roasted Sweet Potatoes (Not like my dad used to make – these are super healthy!) – to make just keep skins on, slice into discs, brush with olive oil and add a dash of sea salt before roasting on a cookie sheet at 350°F for about 25 minutes or until tender.
  • Tricolored Bean Salad Take a few cans of black beans, pink beans and even garbanzo beans. Combine in a bowl with frozen fire-roasted corn, diced up jalapeño, sea salt, lime juice, a touch of vinegar, cilantro, diced tomatoes and tomatoes. This is even better if prepared the night before to let the flavors mingle. You can even add some cumin or smoky chili powder.

For dessert I took my favorite non-fat Greek-style yogurt, added in some stevia to sweeten, a touch of vanilla extract and tossed some fresh blueberries and blackberries on top for dessert. I also got some 72% dark chocolate and placed it pre-chopped on a plate to pass around. No one missed the pie!

What are your new Thanksgiving traditions going to be this year? Email me at bonniem@bonniematthews.com and let me know!

What's Really Causing Your Obesity: Nature or Nurture?

It's more complex than too many calories and not enough physical activity.

The American Medical Association officially recognized obesity as a disease in 2013. But in the past 13 years, there's not been much of a shift in the understanding of what causes obesity — not in the general public, in people who contend with the condition or in the practice of medicine. Most people still think of obesity as a character flaw caused by too many calories and not enough physical activity. But it's much more complex than that.

A study analyzing National Health and Nutrition Examination Survey (NHANES) data found that even though US adults' BMI increased between 1988 and 2006, the amount of calories adults consumed and the energy they expended were unchanged. It also appears that the quality of calories consumed (low versus high glycemic index) is as important a consideration as the total quantity. And genetics only explains about 2.7% variation in people's weight, according to a study in Nature. That all adds up to this: The two most common explanations for obesity — calories in, calories out and family history — cannot, by themselves, explain the current epidemic.

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