Keeping On Track Through The Holidays

IMG_1843I knew it was coming…I just didn’t know exactly when.  The Christmas cookie-making has began in our home.  Christmas is definitely here, and the preparations have been going on for days now: from decorating the house to shopping for presents, and now, to making Christmas cookies.  I came home only to find a bowl of ginger snap cookie dough on the counter staring me in the face.  The dough begged me to take a spoonful, and I did.  Yep, I did and it was worth it.  My entire family has been busy measuring, sifting, and mixing the delightful batches of different family cookie recipes.   

Several years ago, I taught my wife the easier process of making all her cookie dough ahead of time.  It is much easier to make them all at once, since most cookies have basically the same major ingredients and they are already out.  You then want to scoop the refrigerated dough out with any preferred size scoop (cookie size), lay them out on a sheet tray and freeze them over night.  Once they are frozen, put them in a zip lock bag and store them in the freezer.  Cookie dough freezes very well.  This process becomes very handy because you then can bake the cookies as you need them versus all at once and you can make them ahead of time.  Say one day you want to cook an assorted batch of cookies for your neighbors and want to do it a couple of weeks prior to Christmas to avoid a time crunch.  Then, just prior to Christmas, cook your final batch of cookies to ensure each batch is fresh as it can be.  Again, the process is:

  1. Make all your cookie dough at once. 
  2. Put the dough in the refrigerator so it firms up (3-4 hours).
  3. Starting with the first made refrigerated dough, scoop out each portion of dough using a pastry scoop (the size of cookie you want).  Place them on a sheet tray in a single layer tight in rows (they can touch each other). Freeze them overnight
  4. Put the frozen dough balls in a plastic zip lock bag and store them in the freezer until ready to use.
  5. When ready to bake, place the frozen dough balls spaced on a sheet tray and let stand for 20-30 minutes in order for them to thaw.  Some cookie dough you can cook even when frozen.  
  6. Bake cookies as directed. 
  7. Just like Grandma always did, put a slice of bread in with the cookies and it will keep them fresher.  It does work.  

However, this process doesn’t help me avoid the temptation to eat all these sweets that I “used” to adore.  With three kids, we are also all about traditions, and what is Christmas without Christmas cookies?  There is something special about having the entire family in the kitchen baking cookies and laughing and just having a great time.  Even my boys get excited for the occasion each year.  

So, I need a game plan going into Christmas and all the holiday parties that have already begun.  My wife uses the approach of allowing herself one cookie per day, which seems doable and reasonable.  So, I think I will go with that plan, one cookie/sweet per day.  My ultimate goal is to maintain my weight and not go backwards with my efforts this holiday season.  This has been a struggle in the past.

At the same time, there are other pressures that compound my temptations.  Past holidays I would certainly indulge in eggnog with some great aged bourbon and fresh grated nutmeg over ice.  My brother-in-law introduced me to the eggnog over ice years ago and it’s fabulous.  I know it doesn’t sound great, but try it!  It is a holiday treat that I only have once a year.  But I think I’m going to do without it this year.  Yes, it is good, but I can almost feel the cream solidifying in my veins after drinking it.  I certainly don’t want to go outside in the bitter temperatures knowing it would speed up that process.  Yes, I’m only kidding when I say that, but you get my point. I don’t think the eggnog is worth it for me this year.  Maybe I will indulge with it next year after I reach my goal weight.  

Okay, I’m on my way with a plan.  Oh…one more thing, Alcohol!  Normally, any other year, I would certainly have a few drinks, whether that is an excellent wood barrel aged bourbon or a great bottle of wine.  The problem is though, the event will get the best of me and I will have one more drinks than I really need.  I’m able to limit myself where I certainly don’t get drunk; that’s never an issue.  The issue is I usually don’t make the wisest decisions with that extra glass of wine.  When reaching for that cookie, after having that extra drink, I say to myself, “Oh screw it… it’s Christmas (six cookies later…).” That may be the same for you too, maybe.

Our Christmas celebration with family is a marathon event that covers several days of great food, laughter, gifts, drinks and more laughs.  It’s very easy to get lost in the day and put my limit of consumption of food/sweets and drinks on hold through that time, but that was the old me.  I need to stick with my plan where I will still have a fabulous time, but not indulge in the sweets I don’t need.  Especially since I know I won’t feel my best thereafter. 

As a summary, my plan is to have one cookie/sweet per day.   Then, I will limit my glasses of wine through the days of Christmas celebrations.  I will also have a few sweets on our Christmas celebration just to reward myself for all my work through the year.   It is re-shifting how I live!  By doing so, I know I will FEEL GREAT!  I can do it! 

Wish me luck…I’ll let you know how I do.  What is your plan?  Do you have a plan?

Read more about how I re-shifted my choices away from being a hostage to sugar in my earlier post, 5 More Pounds…Gone! 

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About Chef Darren

I am simply a guy who loves the journey food takes us. I just happen to do it for a living. I write about my experiences with food as it surrounds all of us daily.

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