A New Tea Day and T-Day

As I wrote last March, I’m a tea freak (see Tea Time) and from that, learned many of you are, too. Thanks to Lori and Kimberly, I have both SensibiliTeas and Teavana in my Favorites file and will try both companies this winter as soon as I’m off my holiday high from Celestial Seasonings Sugar Cookie Sleigh Ride and Candy Cane Lane.

While I normally wouldn’t buy more tea until the SCSR and CCL were gone, Joy Bauer mentioned on her Facebook page that her office had received a sample of Double Dark Chocolate Mate tea from The Republic of Tea. Chocolate tea? I had to check that out.

My order arrived yesterday and I made a pot this morning with which to experiment. Here’s my review:

By itself: Eh…it’s OK. Smells divine, though.

With stevia: Very good. The sweetener brought out the chocolate flavor.

With ½ cup plain soy milk and stevia: Very good, however I suspect it would be even better with vanilla soy.

With 2 T fat-free half-and-half and stevia: A little better than plain, but a little on the funky tasting side.

I’ll have another cup tomorrow with just stevia and see if it grows on me. Chocolate tea is different; not at all like my usual teas. Plus this one has caffeine – not much, but some. I didn’t feel any effect, though.

The Republic of Tea catalog lists 17 “Be Well Red Teas.” I know many tea companies blend teas for specific ailments or to enhance wellbeing, but I’ve never tried them. Have you? Do they work? I’m particularly curious about the blends that promise a “sensual nudge” (their words, not mine), a healthy heart, more energy, better skin and a good nights sleep. Let me know your experiences.

I roasted a pumpkin the other day just to test its consistency. I was also curious what it tasted like and discovered it’s MUCH better than canned. More alive, less bland. Mix it with a little butter and maple syrup…heaven.

I’ve also clipped several roasted pumpkin recipes and thought I’d use roasted pumpkin in place of canned in soup recipes. I also want to make our T-day pumpkin pies just as my grandmother Katinka would have made them 100 years ago. Actually, I don’t make the pie. My daughter Carlene does. That’s her domain. However, she’s baking with au naturale pumpkin because I’m the one paying for the ingredients. I told her she can blame me if her pies turn out like crap. That’s only fair.

I’m pretty sure Katinka didn’t pick up a can of pumpkin at the grocery store or buy a pre-made crust in a tube. She cooked the pumpkins herself , and probably grew them, too. I had the good fortune to learn from her and my mother how to make a pie crust, so hopefully I can pass that on to my daughter. We tried an unusual recipe last year that turned out very well, but for the life of me I can’t find now. So much for being organized. Guess I’ll rely on the old Betty Crocker cookbook this year.

Pies are as far as I’ve gotten in my Thanksgiving preparation – although I do have a free-range turkey on order that I can pick up on Monday. $2.49 a pound was too good a price to pass up. While I don’t eat turkey anymore, when I did I was always disappointed in the sodium-laden Butterballs and other store-bought frozen turkeys. I’d love to cook a wild turkey for the crew. I’d even eat a bit of that.

I’m sure our menu will include the usual: sweet potatoes, party potatoes, stuffing, orange cranberry sauce, crescent rolls, and black olives. Oh, and green bean casserole. Why, I’m not sure since no one really eats it. It’s a carb-laden feast, yes, but if I broke with tradition, my family would disown me. It’s once a year. I love to cook for them. So there you go.

As for me, I’ll probably eat some sweet potatoes and cranberries. Maybe a sliver of pie. I know if I eat the stuffing I’ll feel like crap because my body’s not used to it, so I’ll avoid that. My joy truly is making the meal. I also cherish our “table time” before the meal. Everyone goes around and talks and/or prays about what they’re thankful for. And they all know they can’t just say, “Thank you for everyone” and pass it to the next person. Nope. They know to come prepared. Carlene even warned her new boyfriend who will be joining us. No one escapes the spotlight, she told him. If you can’t handle it, you don’t belong in our family. //word

This food attitude is a complete reversal from last year. I’m not approaching the holiday with the same angst I wrote about in 2008 (see Because I Said So). Another year of maintenance, another year of learning, I guess. Life’s too short for me to be pissed that I can’t eat potatoes in mass quantities! LOL

I hope your holiday plans are free from the stress of wondering what you “should” and “shouldn’t” eat. Remember your reasons for wanting to lose or maintain your weight and let those be your guide. Be good to yourself and have a sliver of pie if you want. Don’t let it derail you and send your head into a major self-persecuting meltdown. You’re worth WAY more than that.

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