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When thinking about American Thanksgiving, what comes to mind for you? A big juicy turkey on a table, beautifully set for your family dinner? The joy of celebrating with friends and family? Your gratitude for someone, or something special to you? It may be all of these things! For me, Thanksgiving is a very special day. Preparing and cooking food is part of the fun, and I usually have a large group of friends and family to celebrate with.
For most of us, Thanksgiving is a day of deep emotional connection with friends and family, but also with memories of past traditions, and loved ones. Likely your family, like mine, brings out that old family recipe — perhaps from your grandmother or great grandmother — that is made for Thanksgiving, year after year. Thanksgiving wouldn’t be thanksgiving without that special recipe!
Diet-wise, this is an all bets are off day for most people. I will be eating my grandma’s recipe of green beans with butter and cream of mushroom soup topped with fried crunchy onion. Something I would normally never consider eating! Then there are the special bread rolls and cream corn, the delicious pumpkin pie. That said, I will have small servings, knowing my tummy will not be happy the next day.
These traditions are important because bringing the past into the present, we are more conscious of what we love about our lives. This is a good reason for the occasional splurge. However, this thanksgiving — as well as taking small serves of that food your tummy is no longer used to — I encourage you to look more deeply at the experience of gratitude.
Gratitude is so much more than saying, “Thank you.” Often we are so busy and preoccupied, the words “Thank you,” are nothing more than a superficial expression of appreciation. There is little or no feeling associated with the words. Gratitude is different. It is experiencing, feeling, the meaning behind those words.
Let me clarify, with an example. Imagine that you were in a very hot desert, and had had nothing to drink for two days. How you craved water! Suddenly, someone appeared with fresh cold water for you. Can you imagine the gratitude you would feel and the depth of emotion beneath your, “Thank you”? This person has likely saved your life, and you will never forget them.
Your, “Thank you,” on that occasion would be very different to that on a regular day, when given a bottle of water. You may give a passing “Thanks,” and go about your business, perhaps taking a few sips of water but not thinking more of it.
During my Integrative Medicine Fellowship, we learned the value of being truly grateful for our food, and for where that food came from. Now, really, how often do you give a heartfelt thanks for your food? Being “Miss Foody” I loved this exercise!
Think about the food you have eaten today, or food you will be eating. Think about where it came from. Who planted the seeds? Who grew it, watered it, cared for it, watched it grow? Who harvested it, transported it to the store or market where you purchased it? So many people have been involved in getting this food to you!
We are often so busy we overlook the significance of feeling gratitude for the good that comes our way. Often we are so preoccupied with what “should” be that our focus is on lack, rather than on the beauty, the good that is around us. The good in the little things as well as the big things — a stranger’s smile, a child’s laughter, a delicious piece of fruit or a pumpkin pie!
I experience gratitude as being open to recognize and receive the gifts that life brings.
It is something that flows naturally within us, and from us, when we are present to receive the good that life brings. And, of course, feelings of gratitude and thanksgiving, simply feel good.
Pam McDonald FNP
Pam’s APO E Mashed Potatoes
10 medium, waxy, red new potatoes
1 cup - 1 ½ cups of organic soy milk (depending on desired thickness when mashed)
1/3 cup of APO E gene organic olive oil
¼ - ½ cup of organic vegetable or chicken broth
1 small red pepper, thinly sliced
salt for the boiling water
salt and pepper for the mashing of the potatoes
- Peel the potatoes, and cut them into medium size pieces.
- Boil the potatoes in a pan of salted boiling water for 15-20 minutes, or until the potatoes are nice and soft. Don’t over-cook them, they should not be falling apart.
- Drain the potatoes well, and return to the pot for mashing.
- Add olive oil, soymilk, a ¼ cup of broth, salt and pepper to the potatoes and mash well.
- Garnish – spread a little more of the warm broth on top of the potatoes and add some slices of thin red pepper.
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The APO E Gene Online Program uses your personal genotype to guide your diet and lifestyle choices.