The holiday season is considered a double-edged sword. On the one hand, it is filled with family, friends, and the season of giving. On the other, it is filled with stress, concerns about diet, and added expenses. Oftentimes, what is supposed to be the best time of the year turns out to be a time of dread. This year, try seeing the holidays through the eyes of a child. We know the parties, gifts, and traveling are coming, so why not welcome the excitement and cut ourselves some slack? All we need to do is prepare for these stressors so that we can allow ourselves to enjoy them.
Realistically, the average American gains 1-2 pounds between November and January. This is not to say that the scale won’t jump up 4 or 5 pounds after a holiday meal, but 98% of that is going to be due to post-meal water weight. Don’t put yourself through it. We guarantee that the more guilt you carry, the more weight you will put on. The morning after a big holiday meal, don’t step on the scale. Remember the enjoyable time you had with friends and family the night before and use that energy to go out for a run!
This holiday season, in anticipation of the parties and shopping, make a plan. Set a fitness goal to take 3 fitness classes a week or set a fiscal goal to make a shopping list before going out to buy gifts. By setting parameters beforehand, we can enjoy the things that lie outside the margins AND enjoy the accomplishment of achieving our goals. You can start by baking this Italian cake, which is a classic tradition for the holiday season. Enjoy this with your family and friends on Thanksgiving!
Torta di Serretto
- – 225g/8oz butter, cubed, plus extra for greasing
- – 250g/9oz honey, plus 1-2 tbsp. to glaze
- – 100g/3½oz light brown sugar
- – 3 large free-range eggs
- – 300g/10½oz Tipo 00 flour
- – 2 tsp. baking powder
- – 1 tsp. fennel seeds
- – 6 tbsp. chopped, cooked chestnuts (freshly roasted, tinned or vacuum-packed)
- – 4 tbsp. pine nuts
- – 1 tsp. flaky sea salt
- – thick cream, to serve (optional)
- – Preheat the oven to 160C/325F/Gas 3. Butter and line a 20cm/8in or 23cm/9in springform cake tin.
- – Put the cubed butter in a saucepan with the honey and sugar and melt them together slowly, stirring occasionally. Once dissolved, bring the mixture to a boil and simmer for one minute, turning the heat down as necessary to ensure the pan doesn’t boil over. Set aside to cool for 20 minutes.
- – Beat the eggs together in a jug, then stir them into the cooled honey mixture. Sift the flour and baking powder into a large mixing bowl and make a well in the center.
- – Pour the honey mixture into the flour and stir, gradually incorporating the flour. As soon as it is well combined, stir in the fennel seeds and four tablespoons of the chopped chestnuts.
- – Pour the cake batter into the prepared tin. Combine the remaining chestnuts with the pine nuts and flaky sea salt in a small bowl and sprinkle them over the top of the cake.
- – Bake for 45-60 minutes, or until the cake has risen and a skewer inserted into the center comes out clean.
- – Leave the cake to cool in the tin for five minutes, then turn it out onto a wire rack.
- – Warm two tablespoons of honey in a small pan until runny, then brush it generously over the top of the cake. You can serve the cake warm with cream as a dessert, or leave it to cool completely, wrap in foil and store in an airtight tin, where it should keep for four days.
Jane McIntyre is the office manager at CORE Center of Real Energy Fitness and Pilates Mind/Body Studios in Providence. She earned her B.A. from Oberlin College, where she was a four-year varsity swimmer. Jane enjoys reading, indoor cycling, and Cleveland.
Maryellen Fowler is a fitness instructor at CORE Center of Real Energy in Providence. She has been a fitness professional since 1987 and is nationally certified in personal training, yoga, and fitness instruction.