Thanksgiving Survival Tips, plus GF Cranberry Orange Pecan “Stuffing”

Thanksgiving has always been my favorite holiday. Christmas comes close, but neither is about the food or the presents. Both mean family and friends to me. Growing up I was blessed to have both sets of grandparents living within a 2 hour radius of my family. So that meant I got to spend time with both. I didn’t know any better or that others didn’t have the same thing, but I loved it. Of course the food was good, but spending time with loved ones is what it’s about. Now as Brett and I are in TX, we are far away from family, but we are thankful to have good friends 20 minutes away who invited us to spend Thanksgiving with them. And in an awesome fashion, two sets of our new neighbors just asked if we had plans. They knew our family was far away and didn’t want us spending the day alone (if we didn’t want to). I am grateful for them and their kindness. I could spend this entire blog talking about how grateful I am for my family, my parents especially, our friends, careers, etc. But then I wouldn’t give you the tips I want to share. So let me end with, I am grateful to live in a country who allows me, a female entrepreneur to start her own business, I am grateful to Brett and my family that believe in me, I am grateful for friends for posting comments on FB when I fear no one will and I am grateful for everyone who has signed up for the Fueled and Focused meal plans and who is willing to give me a shot. Thank you!

 Thanksgiving Nutrition Survival Tips:

  1. Have a hearty breakfast-this will start your day off right and you won’t be starving when dinner comes
  2. Drink plenty of water-keeping hydrated and feeling full from the water will help you from being tempted to overeat
  3. Bring a dish or side dish you know you’ll want to eat-that way, you’ll know there is something you feel comfortable eating
  4. Watch the appetizers- appetizers are generally calorie bombs. And they are so small they are easy to grab and eat without thinking about it. Bring a veggie tray that way you can load up on veggies.
  5. Use smaller plates- Using a smaller plate means less food can go on it
  6. Portion out small amounts-Start with just a little of everything you’d like to try. Don’t heap food on and then realize 10min later  you’re stuffed to the brim.
  7. Practice mindful eating-Really think about how hungry you are, if you’re feeling full and whether you really want seconds or thirds
  8. Listen to your body cues and stop eating when you are 80% full-Our body takes some time to catch up when we’ve had enough. Slow down and listen to when you’re starting to get full.
  9. Turkey Trot or family walk/hike after-Going to a Turkey Trot before you eat, and then going for a family walk/hike after you’re done is a great way to help with the additional calories you might consume.
  10. Don’t feel guilty- lastly, the most important tip. If you over eat, or if you have foods you don’t normally consume, erase the guilt. Guilt is not something I want you to allow yourself to feel. Help yourself my acknowledging it’s a special occasion and no matter what, your self worth is not dictated by the food you consume.

Special Holiday Recipe: Gluten Free Cranberry Orange Pecan Stuffing (serves 6 as a side dish)

*the term stuffing is only loosely used here. The is not a traditional stuffing, but a yummy side dish that those that are Celiac or gluten intolerant can enjoy instead of traditional stuffing.*


  • 2.25 cups prepared quinoa: this is 3/4 cup dry quinoa
  • 1 tbsp olive oil
  • 2 cloves garlic chopped
  • 1/2 cup red onion chopped
  • 3/4 cup celery chopped-about 2 stalks
  • 1 cup mushrooms chopped
  • 1 cup raw cranberries halved
  • 4 seedless mandarin oranges peeled and divided-two whole and two sliced into chunks
  • 1/2 tsp poultry seasoning-I used salt free
  • 1 tbsp French vinaigrette-I used Brianna’s Homestyle-French vinaigrette is an oil, vinegar and mustard based dressing
  • 1 tbsp maple syrup
  • 1/4 cup pecans chopped
  • salt and pepper to taste


*Prepare quinoa ahead of time-I believe this recipe could also be prepared cooking the quinoa after you saute the garlic, onion and celery (with broth), however due to quinoa sometimes needing to be drained, this is a surefire way to have the dish be successful.


  • 1. Slice two oranges in half and squeeze juice into a small bowl. Discard the flesh or consume :).
  • 2. Add the poultry seasoning, vinaigrette and maple syrup. Stir to combine.
  • 3. Set aside.

Quinoa Stuffing:

  • 1. Heat a large saute pan or a stock pot over medium high heat. Add 1 tbsp olive oil.
  • 2. Add the garlic and onion and saute, 3 minutes.
  • 3. Add in the celery and cook an additional 3-4 minutes or until starting to soften.
  • 4. Add the mushrooms and cook 1 minute.
  • 5. Stir in cooked quinoa, mixing well.
  • 6. Stir in cranberries.
  • 7. Add the dressing and mix well. Cook for 5 minutes until mixture is heated through and cranberries are starting to soften. The dressing should also be mixed in and no liquid left at the bottom of the pan.
  • 8. Remove the quinoa from the heat. Stir in the two sliced oranges and the pecans.
  • 9. Sprinkle with salt and pepper if desired.
  • 10. Serve as a side dish
Nutritional Data:
187 Calories (kcals)
27 Carbohydrate (g)
4 Protein (g)
7 Fat (g)
4 Fiber (g)
180 Sodium (mg)
*Plus 100% RDI for vitamin A

Cranberry Orange Pecan Stuffing