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Thanksgiving

5 Ways to Teach Kids About Thanksgiving

The first Thanksgiving as we know it was celebrated in 1621 in Plymouth, Massachusetts. It was a celebration that was born from the pilgrims desire to give prayers of thanksgiving to God for giving them a good harvest.  Thanksgiving was tied to religious celebrations for hundreds of years, but today there are many secular celebrations as well.  Many times, Thanksgiving is over shadowed by Halloween and Christmas because it’s not as flashy or filled with gifts and treats.  Here are some ways to teach your kids to be thankful and to enjoy Thanksgiving.

  1. Create a thankful jar.  For this, you will need a jar of some sort.  This is a great time to recycle a jar that you have recently emptied.  Wash and dry the jar thoroughly and remove any labels that might be on it.  Cut a strip of printer paper that is the right size to wrap around the jar.  Encourage the kids to decorate the strip with a Thanksgiving theme, making sure to write “Thank you” or “Thanks” some place on the strip with crayons or markers.  When the kids are finished, glue the strip of paper around the jar. If you like you can tie a pretty ribbon around the mouth of the jar.  Have the kids cut up slips of paper that can be used for everyone to write what they are thankful for during the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  During dinner everyone should pass around the jar and take a slip of paper out and read it.
  2. Read a book.  There are many books in the library or at the bookstore that explain the story of the first Thanksgiving.  Pick out a book that is age appropriate for the children you are reading to so that they can better understand the story.  Use the story to teach the kids how you feel about Thanksgiving and why you think it’s important.
  3. Perform a puppet play.  Gather together several lunch sacks, construction paper, glue, crayons and other things to create puppets.  If you’d like, you can also print out characters from clip art, cut them out, and glue them to a craft stick instead.  Even a sock puppet will work for this project.  Make puppets that represent the pilgrims, the Native Americans and maybe even a turkey or two.  As the kids are working on making the puppets you can talk about what the pilgrims wore versus what the Native Americans wore.  Keep in mind that historically it is believed that the Native Americans were dressed very simply and would not be wearing a big war headdress.  Once the characters of the puppet play have been created you can talk about the first Thanksgiving and then act it out with the puppets.
  4. Play a game.  Create your own Thanksgiving trivia game.  Go online and find a bunch of facts about Thanksgiving and put them on cards.  Each question should be on its own card. The person who gets the question right can keep the card, that way you can see who wins the most cards at the end.  The beauty of this game is that you can gear the questions to the age of the players.  You may need to have true and false questions or multiple choice questions for little ones.  This game can even be played at the table during Thanksgiving.  You can reserve a special set of adult questions to be added to the game.  You might want to print out the adult questions on a different color paper or using a different color of ink so that you will know which questions are meant for adults.  The game can be fun and challenging, and it will also teach your children a lot about Thanksgiving.
  5. Cook an authentic dish.  There are some misconceptions about what kind of food was served at the first Thanksgiving dinner.  Research with your child what foods would have been there and then prepare some of those dishes on the days leading up to Thanksgiving.  A few suggestions would be: succotash, corn soup, squash, beans, maple sugar candy and berries (even cranberries).  While you are cooking you can talk about how you think the pilgrims and Native Americans would have cooked their food since they didn’t have electricity.  You never know, you might find some new family favorites.

Spend some time with the kids talking about Thanksgiving and why it’s important to you and your family.  Many people find that adopting an attitude of thankfulness all year long helps them enjoy life more.  Give it a try and see what you think.

12 Last Minute Turkey Prep Tips

If you are like me and are preparing the Thanksgiving bird this year, you may be on the hunt for Thanksgiving Turkey cooking tips! I found some and curated the best from around the web including from Food Network, IB Business, Martha Stewart and Fine Cooking and I’m sharing them here with you! Good luck!

When calculating your roasting time, plan on about 15 minutes per pound.

1. By now you should have completely thawed  your bird, but if you were last minute and didn’t you can cook a frozen turkey by following the tips at Epicurious here.

2. A turkey will cook more evenly if it is not densely stuffed. Consider adding flavor by loosely filling the cavity with aromatic vegetables — carrots, celery, onion or garlic work nicely — or by carefully tucking fresh herbs underneath the breast skin. For the stuffing lovers, cook the dressing in a casserole dish on the side.

3. Before roasting, coat the outside of the turkey with vegetable or olive oil, season with salt and pepper and tightly cover the breast with aluminum foil to prevent over-browning (it will be removed in step 7).

4. If stuffing the turkey, do so just before roasting to prevent unwanted bacterial growth. Because the stuffing will expand as it bakes, fill the turkey’s cavity loosely; this also allows the stuffing to cook more evenly and keeps it from becoming too dense. A 12- to 15-pound turkey needs about 10 cups of stuffing; a 15- to 20-pound bird can hold up to 12 cups.

5. To keep it moist, pour about a half cup of water into the bottom of the roasting pan and place the turkey breast side up into the pan.

6. Once your oven pre-heats to 350 degrees Fahrenheit (the minimum temperature is 325 degrees Fahrenheit), you can put it into the oven. Halfway through cooking, take your turkey out of the oven and cover the most exposed areas, such as the legs, in tin foil to keep them from drying out.

7.  Once you get the turkey in the oven, resist the temptation to open the oven door and admire your handiwork. When the oven temperature fluctuates, you’re only increasing the likelihood of a dry bird.

8. If the bird is browning quickly but not near its target doneness temperature of 170°F, tent it loosely with foil and continue roasting. If the drippings seem to be getting too dark, add a couple tablespoons of water to keep them from burning.

9. About 45 minutes before you think the turkey is done, remove the foil from the breast to allow it to brown.

10. Remove the turkey from the oven and use an instant-read thermometer to determine temperature; it should read 165 degrees F at the thigh when it’s done. If you stuff your turkey, check the internal temperature of the stuffing as well; it should be at least 165 degrees.

11. Tent the bird with foil and let rest for about 25 minutes before carving. If you need more time to make gravy, heat up side dishes, etc., you can let the turkey set for up to an hour without losing too much heat.

12. The intense heat of the oven forces the juices into the center of the bird, so after roasting, let the turkey rest for roughly 20 minutes. The juices will redistribute, and you’ll get moister slices.

Remember to carve your turkey with a very sharp or electric knife and ENJOY!

10 Ways Your Child Can Help With Thanksgiving Set Up This Year

Thanksgiving is all about family and spending time together.

Generations often share the kitchen while creating some of the best tasting dishes.  Bring the kids into the kitchen this year and help them learn about some of your family’s traditional Thanksgiving recipes.  From toddlers to teens, there’s something everyone can do to help out.

  1. Lay out the bread to dry. Many stuffing recipes require stale bread.  Have your child set the bread out on the counter. Once it’s stale, allow him to break up the bread and dump in premeasured spices.
  2. Wash the vegetables for the crudité platter.  Serve a platter of crudité with some dip for guests to snack on.  Kids can wash the veggies and drain some pickles and olives before putting them onto a platter.
  3. Peel the potatoes. Around ages 8 to 10, most kids can use a potato peeler with supervision.  Teach her how to use the peeler than observe her in action before leaving her to the task.
  4. Add the marshmallows to the top of the sweet potatoes. Kids may enjoy the simple task of adding marshmallows to the top of the sweet potatoes, while sneaking a few as a snack, of course.  When kids help prepare a dish they feel connected to it and may be more likely to try it.
  5. Make some whipped honey butter. Allow a stick of butter to sit out until it reaches room temperature.  Have her add the butter, along with some honey, to a mixing bowl.  A couple of tablespoons worth are enough.  Add a few spoonfuls of powdered sugar and turn on the mixer.  Once blended, scoop the finished product into a pretty bowl and it’s ready to serve.
  6. Toss the salad. There are several ways kids can help create the dinner salad.  Let him tear the lettuce into bite-sized pieces, rinse it off and toss it into the salad spinner. Once he spins the lettuce dry he can add in the rest of the ingredients, including the dressing. Have him toss the salad and set it on the table.
  7. Set the table. Depending on their age kids can set the entire table Thanksgiving table independently or set out items as you direct. Draw a table setting on a piece of paper. Your child can use the paper as a place setting guide.
  8. Plan the meal. Letting young ones help plan the menu for the big day will not only allow them to feel part of the celebration, but it may get them to try more types of food. Ask your children what vegetables they’d like to see on the menu and work together to find something appropriate to include.
  9. Snap green beans. Green bean casserole is a traditional dish served at many Thanksgiving feasts. Have the kids snap the ends of the beans that you’ll use in the casserole. Parents and kids can race to see who can finish snapping the ends off of their pile of beans that fastest.
  10. Mashing potatoes. Another traditional dish at the Thanksgiving table is mashed potatoes.  After the potatoes are boiled, kids can use a hand masher to help mash the potatoes up.

Consider what meal preparation tasks are age-appropriate for each child in your family. Assign each child at least one responsibility. The more involved kids feel, the more excited they’ll be about sharing Thanksgiving dinner together.

#GivingTuesday: How Your Kids Can Participate

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As Cyber Monday sunsets and people are wrapping up or enjoying their Black Friday deals or the great things they got from local merchants on Small Business Saturday, non profits nationwide now prepare for Giving Tuesday.

The global event is in its fifth year and is celebrated each year the Tuesday after Thanksgiving. It is the brainchild of 92nd Street Y, a cultural center in New York City and the United Nations Foundation.

Giving Tuesday is intended to be the launch pad for the charitable giving season. While the time period around the holidays is often about celebrating Christmas, Ramadan, Hanukkah, Kwanzaa and other holidays that involve gettting gifts, it is also a season for sharing and giving.

Thus the name #GivingTuesday is  appropriate and is observed each year by giving to nonprofits, charities and other organizations that are raising funds, including schools, churches and other charitable groups.

Beyond just collecting monetary donations, a lot of local orgs organize food and coat drives and many individuals celebrate it by committing random acts of kindness such as paying for the drink of the person behind them in the coffee line at work.

In 2015, 700,000 people from 71 countries came together to donate $116.7 USD million in cash. An additional $1.08 million USD was spent on gifts.

Children can give by  volunteering at their local shelter or food bank or doing something nice for elderly neighbors like mowing their lawn, shoveling snow from their driveway or helping them with groceries.

At home, younger kids can acknowledge the day by helping out with a chore like folding laundry, helping to cook dinner, or even reading to a younger sibling.

To help spread the message, snap a photo of your kids doing something good and use the hashtag #GivingTuesday to spread awareness and encourage others to get into the spirit as well!

Parents can use the day to donate to their area school, youth camp or other organization that works with families.

photo: Screengrab YouTube

What the Stars Did on Thanksgiving (IG Roundup)

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As with our usual tradition of stalking our fave celebs and past blog features, we took a look around the gram and chronicled what we saw our Bellyitch Bumpwatch alums and family doing….’cause we’re just nosy like that.

Come on, admit it! You like seeing what the stars do on their spare and down time too, right!?! So…here is a tiny round up. We may update it a bit later.

Gisele had a great spread so good the kids couldn’t resist!

Thank you God ❤️?❤️ Obrigada Deus #happythanksgiving

A photo posted by Gisele Bündchen (@gisele) on



Ciara was expressing her gratitude for her son Future Zahir and new husband Russell Wilson

Grateful For My 2 Angels and Our Growing Family ❤️ #HappyThanksgiving

A photo posted by Ciara (@ciara) on



Hillary Scott was wishing us all a Happy Turkey Day!

Happy sleepy, lazy, THANKFUL Turkey Day! ??

A photo posted by Hillary Scott (@hillaryscottla) on

Tamera Mowry-Housley bragged on her husband Adam Housley’s greens cooking skills

Yaaas! My man cooks greens ? ?And yes! They are bomb! #HousleyThanksgiving

A photo posted by tameramowrytwo (@tameramowrytwo) on



Ashlee Simpson Ross’ husband Evan Ross does too!

Happy Thanksgiving ? thankful for my man making yummy collard greens!

A photo posted by Ashlee Simpson Ross (@ashleesimpsonross) on

Christina Milian was serving up food to the homeless and less fortunate!



Reese Witherspoon looked like the perfect Homemaker!

Fire up the ovens, y’all! It’s turkey time!!! ??? Who else is cooking RIGHT now?! ❤️ @DraperJames #HappyThanksgiving

A photo posted by Reese Witherspoon (@reesewitherspoon) on



Tia Mowry had an awesome table setting!

Happy Thanksgiving ??

A photo posted by tiamowry (@tiamowry) on



Ali Landry’s daughter was cooking up a storm too!

My little helper! She is on soufflé duty? #mealprep #thanksgiving

A photo posted by Ali landry (@alilandry) on



Roselyn Sanchez and her beautiful family enjoyed time together

So Funny, Reflecting on My Immigrant Thanksgiving Experience

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A friend of mine just posted a photo of a perfectly can-shaped portion of cranberry sauce and reminded me of my immigrant Thanksgiving experience growing up in America as an expat.

Because I was born in another country and immigrated to the United States with my family at the tender age of 4, the concept of an annual feast with family one time of year to give thanks for blessings and all we have was completely foreign.

Fortunately, we were always invited to the home of one of my parent’s friends or distant fellow immigrant relatives that live in our city and therefore our job was usually to bring a dish or drink and arrive. That was the ritual until our family grew to a hefty size of 6 after my two younger sisters and younger brother were born.

All of a sudden, the invitations trickled down and eventually came to a complete halt. Who wanted to add 6 additional servings and place settings to accommodate such a massive brood? So…the Jallohs we were on their own to figure this American tradition out for ourselves.

Well, they don’t have Turkeys in our native Sierra Leone, West Africa and my mom was not sure how long such a ginormous bird needed to cook. There was no Internet back then to look it up and my mom would just peel off the plastic wrapper that the turkey came packaged in and would ball up the simple instructions with cooking time printed on it too.

Instead, every Thanksgiving on our own, she’d rise around 5 am and stick the Turkey in the oven to cook…for the entire day. slow blink She was not interested in eating uncooked meat so to be safe, we were forced to eat the driest turkey in all of Washington, DC I’m certain. Like, every year.

It’s not until I got older and upon coming back home from college one year, did I find a recipe online to follow. The cooking instructions only required our bird to stay in the oven for a few hours given its weight and not until that year, sometime in the 1990s did anyone in my family feast upon a juicy turkey. Before then, we all assumed that’s just how all turkeys tasted; like a piece of seasoned rubber. ha!

Sides were usually what we saw folks eating on TV shows and when it came to cranberry sauce, it was Ocean Spray’s jellied sauce in a can. It was an obligatory accessory and we honestly thought you had to have it on the table even though a lot of us were suspicious about eating something so sweet with a savory meal.

We don’t mix sugar with dinner at all back home. Heck, there is no such a thing as desserts. When you’re done eating, that’s it.  You get up from the table and go about your business. There’s no coffee, after dinner cocktails and apple pie. Aaaah America and it’s excess. Supersize me, for sure.

But each year, somebody would open the can, plop it on a plate and set in on the banquet table to be passed up by dinner guests and eventually placed in a Tupperwear bowl where it would live for a bout a week or two before finding its final resting place in the sink garbage disposal.

Over time, some of us began to appreciate the tartness and would add a forkful or two to the second or third plate– never the first. But for the most part, it usually met an untimely demise. Such a waste of good processed jelly.

As I got older,  I would eventually learn about how real, non canned and jellied, cranberry sauce was supposed to look and taste. I even saw a recipe once!

But… upon peeping all the steps to make it and the idea of soaking the berries overnight, I realized that was just too many steps for this woman. They don’t call me “Queen of Fast Cook” for nothing. And by “they”, I mean my mother-in-law and husband.

I’m still not sure I like the moniker cause its a bit of a shady diss but I’m growing to accept the title.

cranberry

Anyooo…so over time, exchanging Thanksgiving family meal stories casually with friends who also grew up in immigrant families, I began to appreciate the fact that eating a traditional all-American Thanksgiving meal was  a common thing. We immigrants just fell in line. Call it, assimilation lite maybe. Ha!

This truth manifested itself this week even! A friend and mom at my daughter’s school said her husband’s foreign mom also made “traditional” American items for Thanksgiving. She said her mom-in-law didn’t even bother make their cultural dishes from their native country.

Her attitude was like ours, “this is an American thing and this is what they eat, so this is what we’ll eat.” How funny is that?

And coming back full circle, seeing a friend’s plate of cranberry sauce as her Facebook profile triggered all sorts of memories. Another friend replied back to my declaration that the canned cranberry sauce is an immigrant favorite by sharing it’s an American favorite too!

Who knew!?! Hilarious! It’s never too late to learn something new about Thanksgiving.

This year, I’m thankful for having a very wide, varied and diverse group of circles of friends from different stages and experiences of my life who can constantly enrich my life with new perspectives on life, cultural traditions, points of views on all different things in our big wide world.

I’m wishing everyone a safe and happy Thanksgiving.

 

5 Ways to Save 1000 Calories This Thanksgiving

Bellyitch Rewind

happy thanksgiving

Granted Thanksgiving is a time to really tear down on some really good food, but the Holiday is the start of a series of Holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter) of non-stop eating that have the average person packing on pounds that they don’t shed later.

A typical Thanksgiving dinner plate can be 2,900 or more. People think it’s the turkey that makes them so sleepy and tired after Thanksgiving meal, but in reality, it is all the carbohydrates that are part of the average Thanksgiving meal: cornbread, stuffing, rice, macaroni pie, rolls, casseroles, pasta, etc.

There are simple ways to save some of those calories. Here are five tips:

Say no to the gravy.

Put only two portions of carbs on your plate instead of three.

Fill up with veggies, salads, cabbage, green beans. Have those items take up most of your plate.

Drink a full glass of water before you eat to trick your body into getting fuller faster.

If there is a salad served, eat that first before eating the hot foods. This move will also help trick your body into getting fuller faster on less high calorie, high carbs foods.

The most important of which is portion control. If you must sample all the goodies, opt for one tablespoon of each verses a full portion size.

Good luck and Bon Appetite!

Thanksgiving Dinner Quiz: Homemade or Store Bought?

For Thanksgiving, everyone who brings a dish to dinner swears it’s homemade whether it really is or not.

Sometimes, you can tell by tasting and sometimes just by looking.

Take this test. Which one is homemade and which is store bought or processed?

 1.Macaroni and Cheese: Which is homemade? Top or bottom?

2. Mashed Potatoes: Which is homemade? Left or Right?

 3. Candied Yams: Which is homemade? Top or bottom?

 4. Stuffing: Which is homemade? Top or Bottom?

Answer:

  1. Bottom

2.Right

3.Top

  1. Bottom



Thanksgiving arts and craft project for the kids

Want festive, homemade Thanksgiving decorations? Need an activity to keep the kids occupied? Pine cone turkeys are the solution to both of these problems. Thanksgiving pine cone turkeys are cute and simple enough that even young children will be able to make them with minimal supervision.  If you’re looking for an activity that will keep the little ones busy while you are preparing Thanksgiving dinner in the kitchen, this one is definitely worth trying.

Gather supplies– A day or two before Thanksgiving, gather up all of the necessary supplies and tools and put them in a box. That way they’ll be ready to set out for the kids to work with when the time comes. You’ll need:

    Various sizes of pine cones

    Feathers

    Brown pipe cleaners

    Glue

    Googly eyes

    Orange felt

    Safety scissors

    Paper (optional)

Create the tail- The children can create a colorful turkey tail for their pinecone by using different colored feathers.  If they want, they can dip the quill end of the feathers into some glue before poking them into the wide end of the pine cone.  The glue is optional because the feathers should stay in place if pushed all the way into the pine cone layers.  Continue to fill in the tail with feathers to make it as full as desired.

Make the head- Take the brown pipe cleaner and bend one end over to create a hook, then pinch the hook closed so that it’s shaped like a head.  Set the pipe cleaner aside.  Cut a very small triangle out of the orange felt for a beak. For young children, you may wish to do this step ahead of time. Glue the googly eyes and beak onto the shaped brown pipe cleaner and allow it to dry for a few minutes.

Attaching the head– Once the head is dry wrap the opposite end of the pipe cleaner around the pine cone until the head and neck are sticking up from the front. If the pipe cleaner is too long, cut it with the scissors or break it off by bending it back and forth at the same spot.

Adding feet– If you’d like to add feet to your turkey, you can freehand cut some feet and legs from the orange felt. Glue the legs to the underside of the pine cone with the feet sticking out in front.

Place card holders– Have the kids make enough turkeys so that each place setting has one.  Using cardstock, construction paper or any other paper you have on hand, write the names of everyone that will be attending your Thanksgiving dinner.  Lean the place cards against each turkey or stick it between the middle layers of the pine cone.  Now you have seasonal place card holders that can be used from year to year.  Or you can send the turkey pine cones home with the kids as a little party favor.

Tips:

  • You can use store bought pine cones for this craft or bake gathered pine cones in the oven at 250 degrees F for 10 to 15 minutes to make sure there are no bugs in the pine cones.  Do this in advance so the pine cones have plenty of time to cool.
  • If you don’t have any pipe cleaners you can glue the felt beak and googly eyes directly to the front of the pine cone.
  • If you can’t find feathers or don’t want to use them then you can use feather shaped construction paper in various fall colors.  Depending on how much space is between the layers on the pine cone you may or may not need to glue in the paper feathers.

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Thanksgiving: 5 Tips to save you thousands of calories

Granted Thanksgiving is a time to really tear down on some really good food, but the Holiday is the start of a series of Holidays (Christmas, Valentine’s Day, Easter) of non-stop eating that have the average person packing on pounds that they don’t shed later. 
A typical Thanksgiving dinner plate can be 2,900 or more.  People think it’s the turkey that makes them so sleepy and tired after Thanksgiving meal, but in reality, it is all the carbohydrates that are part of the average Thanksgiving meal: cornbread, stuffing, rice, macaroni pie, rolls, casseroles, pasta, etc.
There are simple ways to save some of those calories. Here are five tips:
1. Say no to the gravy. 
2.  Put only two portions of carbs on your plate instead of three.
3. Fill up with veggies, salads, cabbage, green beans. Have those items take up most of your plate. 
4. Drink a full glass of water before you eat to trick your body into getting fuller faster.
5. If there is a salad served, eat that first before eating the hot foods. This move will also help trick your body into getting fuller faster on less high calorie, high carbs foods.
The most important of which is portion control. If you must sample all the goodies, opt for one tablespoon of each verses a full portion size. 
Good luck and Bon Appetite!

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