So much of religious life is centered on gathering with family and friends and feasting for the holidays. And while it is a beautiful thing to join in celebration of the chag, the feasting can become quite overindulgent. How can it not, with yom tov after Shabbos after yom tov after Shabbos? There is hardly enough time to come up for air! Time to get back on track before the cold winter months threaten to banish us to our sweats on the couch and all our willpower is gone till spring.
Portion control. On a normal day, one would not ordinarily consume a four-course meal at lunchtime. Getting our stomachs used to eating reasonable portions might be a little adjustment at first, but portion control is key when dieting. Be conscious of your portions, plating the exact amount you should be eating and not dipping in for seconds. Soon enough your body will get used to eating smaller amounts.
Flavor over fat. On yom tov we tend to eat foods that are richer and more decadent, to honor the chag and make the meals special. Many of these foods are calorie-laden and heavy. It might be difficult to transition from these foods straight to a lighter, blander menu, so instead choose foods packed with flavor over fat. Foods prepared with a lot of spices, sharp vinegars, and citruses will leave you satisfied without overdoing it.
Find out what’s fresh. Your meals are only as good as your ingredients. To optimize on flavor, do your research and find out what produce is in season and what meats and fish are freshest. Fruits like apples, pears, and figs and vegetables like Brussels sprouts, butternut squash, parsnips, and kale are all great in the fall. Ask your butcher what’s freshest and what he recommends.
Stay away from low-fat/low-calorie. Many people on the diet scene heading to the market might gravitate to the convenience of packaged goods marked “low-fat” and “low-calorie,” assuming these are safe go-to’s. This is not always the case, since consumers assume that these options free you of thoughtful and responsible consumption. Thinking these foods are cutting the calories for you may leave you forgetting to be wary of portion control and sugar and salt content.
Go easy on the sugar and carbs. After all the challah and desserts eaten at these feasts, steering clear of sugar and carbs and can be the best way to cut calories fast. Focusing on meals with leans proteins, fresh produce, and small amounts of whole-grain carbs will get you back on track in no time. v
Agave-Glazed Turkey Breast
5–6 lb. turkey breast with skin and bones (ask your butcher if you can’t find it)
fine sea salt and freshly ground black pepper
1 medium onion, sliced
1½ cups water, divided
3 Tbsp. agave nectar
⅓ cup plus 2–3 Tbsp. sherry vinegar, divided
1 cup dry white wine
3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
⅓ cup flour
Pat turkey dry and rub all over with salt and pepper. Heat oven to 425°F. Place turkey on a rack in a roasting pan and roast for 30 minutes. Reduce temperature to 400°. Add onion slices to bottom of roasting pan along with 1 cup water and roast until meat thermometer registers 160°, about 30–40 minutes.
While turkey is roasting, stir agave and vinegar in small saucepan and bring to a boil, stirring, until thick and reduced to about 3 tablespoons. Glaze turkey breast and roast another 5 minutes. Remove turkey breast to a plate and let stand 15 minutes.
Remove rack from pan and place on stovetop (if you don’t have a stove-safe roasting pan, pour juices with all brown bits into a medium sauté pan). Deglaze pan by adding wine and bring to a boil. Stir and scrape up brown bits. Boil 1 minute. Add stock and bring to a boil, then reduce to a simmer. In small bowl, place flour and add half the water slowly while whisking, then add 1 tablespoon sherry vinegar. Add flour mixture to pan of stock and whisk while bringing to a boil to create a gravy. Reduce heat and simmer for 3 minutes. Season with salt and pepper. Slice glazed turkey and serve with gravy.
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