It’s officially Thanksgiving week, and I’m PUMPED! I thought I’d be dreading this week, but I’m actually excited to cook for the family. My grandpa is in town, the groceries have been purchased, and I have a finalized menu for the big day. The only thing that’s left is actually cooking everything. Minor detail. :o)
I spent a good chunk of my weekend planning meals, grocery shopping, and testing out recipes. Some were great; others were definitely not. This is the beauty of planning things in advance: with a little forethought, you can give yourself time to try new recipes and tweak (or nix) as needed. Out of everything that I’ve learned this year, teaching myself how to plan ahead has been the most valuable asset, and it’s definitely proving to make this week a lot less stressful. The choices are already made and there isn’t any question around what we’re eating, when things need to be cooked, or who will bring what. In my regular (non-holiday) routine, the same benefits apply — plan meals in advance, remove questionable choices and impulse eating from the equation entirely, and you’re actively setting yourself up for success. “Fail to plan; plan to fail” is one of my favorite sayings because it is so, so true.
Since I only have two days with my “normal” routine this week, I felt that it was crucial for me to write things out as I would any “normal” week. I’m determined to not make this a week-long “cheat meal” and don’t want to set myself back just because of a holiday. I’ve worked way too hard to do that to myself. This week is a reason to get together with family/friends and think about what you’re thankful for. It shouldn’t be an excuse to gorge yourself on unhealthy foods at multiple meals. That being said, here’s my meal plan for the week!
Things get a little out-of-the-norm starting on Tuesday night. We’ll be having a pot luck “Friendsgiving” at one of my good friend’s houses. I’m still going to be smart about what I eat, and I know that I’ll have similar (if not identical) food options on Thursday anyway — no reason to have it all two times in the same week, so I’ll probably stick to the turkey and green beans. I’ll be traveling to my brother’s house (2 hours away) on Wednesday to start prepping food for Thursday. I’m working out in the morning and bringing my snacks/lunch on my mini road trip so that I don’t fall off track, and I’ll be back home to make myself dinner. The main point: I’m not sabotaging myself or making any excuses for falling off track this week, and that is DEFINITELY something to be thankful for.
My additional motivation for not screwing myself over this week is the amount that I indulged this weekend. Ryan and I had our date night/cheat meal on Saturday evening. It was heavenly. One of my friends is managing a new restaurant downtown, and we’ve been promising him that we’d come try it out for a few weeks, so we finally made our way there. We split a bottle of wine (waiting for us at our table when we got there — gold star #1), a few different plates including oysters, Brussels sprouts, and flatbread pizza (we had a serious assortment — gold star #2), plus TWO types of dessert that my friend ordered for us without our asking (gold star #3). Tapas for cheat meals might be my new favorite thing. I’m terrible at making decisions and tend to have a lot of random cravings, so having small portions of whatever sounded good from oysters to churros all at the same restaurant was AMAZING. What was less than amazing was the blood sugar spike and corresponding crash that followed the food. My body really isn’t used to all of that sugar. I can’t believe I used to eat like that on a regular basis.
Pumpkin Pie Protein Cupcakes
Knowing how crappy the sugar overload made me feel this weekend inspired me to make a yummy Thanksgiving dessert that used all-natural sweeteners instead of the refined stuff. I came up with the following treat, and I’m so happy with how they turned out!
These protein-packed cupcakes are gluten-free, right around 100 calories per cupcake including the whipped topping, and they’re sweetened with granulated Stevia and all-natural honey. They taste just like pumpkin pie and are very fluffy, so they won’t weigh you down or make you feel gross. Plus, they’re SIMPLE to make. Perfect to satisfy the sweet craving after a big holiday meal! Seriously, you guys — make these this week and don’t tell your family that they’re healthy. Nobody will notice.
I made 8 with my batch, so I’ve tripled the ingredients to make 2 dozen. This can EASILY be cut in half (or 1/3) to make a smaller amount.
Nutritional Overview (per cupcake)
Serves: 24 cupcakes
Cook time: 30 minutes (5 minutes active +20-25 baking)
– 2 c pumpkin puree (NOT pumpkin pie filling)
– 3 tbsp coconut oil (melted)
– 9 tbsp natural honey
– 3 tsp vanilla
– 3/4 c unsweetened apple sauce
– 3/4 c unsweetened vanilla almond milk
– 3/4 c egg whites
– 1 1/2 c granulated Stevia
– 9 small scoops (or 540g) vanilla protein powder
– 3/4 c coconut flour
– 2 tbsp cinnamon
– 3 tsp baking powder
– 3 tsp baking soda
– 3/4 tsp pink Himilayan salt (or sea salt)
– 3 tsp pumpkin pie spice
– 3/4 tsp allspice
– 3/4 tsp ground cloves
– 1 1/2 tsp nutmeg
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees
- Line two muffin tins with muffin liners and spray each liner with a little cooking spray (As you can see in the picture, I find that baking with protein powder + less oil/butter makes cupcakes and muffins really stick to their liners. You can just spray the tin directly if you don’t want to use paper liners, but if you DO use them, make sure they’re coated!)
- Mix all wet ingredients in a bowl
- Mix dry ingredients in a separate large bowl
- Combine wet ingredients into dry ingredients and whisk until mixture is smooth
- Drop ~1/4 cup of batter into each liner
- Bake for 20-22 minutes (or do a test with a toothpick to see if it comes out clean)
- Let cupcakes cool. (They will deflate upon cooling and may seem a little sunken in, but the whipped topping will cover that up!)
- Top with a little whipped cream/cool whip (~1 tbsp per cupcake) and add either a dash of cinnamon, half of a cinnamon stick, or a halved pecan on top to make it look festive. Or don’t. Just eat it and enjoy.
Note: If you don’t like your vanilla protein powder, these probably won’t turn out as well as mine did. I used BioTrust Vanilla, and the cupcakes were the perfect amount of sweet. Just make sure that your protein doesn’t taste gross by itself; if it does, you’ll probably end up throwing the entire batch out.