HOBBIES ARE GOOD FOR YOUR HEALTH

Do you have a hobby? Hobbies can give meaning and purpose to your life in retirement. As Robert Putnam points out in his book, Bowling Alone, it’s easy to discount the importance of hobbies and social engagements. Putnam details the widespread decline in civic engagement, from PTA memberships to neighborhood potlucks and bowling leagues. Over a couple of generations, Americans have misplaced the concept of free time.

SPECIAL PLANS FOR YOUR SPECIAL PEOPLE

Lily is a beautiful, active and full of personality toddler who happens to have Down syndrome. Lily’s parents and I have been friends for years and I have the continuing pleasure of watching Lily and her siblings grow up. While Lily is becoming a physical therapy rock star and hitting all her milestones in a timely fashion, her parents have started planning for the future.

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WHY WE ENJOY OUR HOBBIES

The Merriam-Webster dictionary defines a hobby as “a pursuit outside one’s regular occupation, engaged in especially for relaxation.” Hobbies include anything from playing a musical instrument to gardening, bird watching or sewing. A hobby is a way of focusing on something you enjoy just for the sake of that enjoyment. It may also be a way to clear your mental palette. You could be stressed out by a situation at work or the challenges of raising children and need an escape.

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cup unsweetened vanilla almond milk and 2 tablespoons vanilla extract in a small saucepan over medium heat for 5 minutes. Set aside to steep while potatoes bake. Combine mashed potatoes, milk, 2 tablespoons coconut oil, 3/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/2 teaspoon nutmeg, 3/4 teaspoon salt and 1/4 teaspoon white pepper. Transfer to casserole and smooth flat. Mix 1⅓ cup old fashioned oats, 1 cup roughly chopped untoasted pecans, 1/2 cup almond crumbs, 1/4 teaspoon cinnamon, 1/4 teaspoon salt, 5 tablespoons melted coconut oil and 1 tablespoon maple syrup. Stir until moist and evenly mixed. Sprinkle over potatoes and bake until topping is toasted and fragrant and warmed through, about 20 minutes.


Maple Roasted Pumpkin with Chili and Feta

Use 2 pounds of pumpkin or other root vegetables such as butternut squash, red or golden beets or parsnips. You can also use another cheese. Remove, rinse and reserve seeds from the vegetables. Peel and dice them into 1-inch cubes. Cut 2 red onions into 12 wedges. Place vegetable(s), onion, seeds, and 1/4 cup roughly chopped walnuts on a large baking tray. Drizzle with 3 tablespoons olive oil and 3 tablespoons maple syrup and toss to coat. Sprinkle with 1 or more tablespoons of dried red chili flakes and salt and pepper to taste. Roast in a preheated oven at 400 degrees for 25 minutes or until the pumpkin is browned and cooked through, turning as needed. Garnish with 1/4 cup feta, goat, bleu or gorgonzola cheese crumbles, finely diced parsley and finely diced fresh red chili.


Quinoa Stuffed Squash

Preheat oven to 400. Wash six mini winter squashes, cut tops to form lids and scoop out and save seeds. Rub inside and out with olive or coconut oil and season with sea salt. Bake with lids on for 40-45 minutes, until fork soft. Rinse the seeds, pat them dry, toss with olive or coconut oil, thyme, oregano, sea salt and pepper and roast 20-25 minutes until slightly brown and crispy. Roast 2/3 cup chopped walnuts 10 minutes. Prepare the quinoa: In a medium pan heat 2 tablespoons oil. Add a chopped onion and two chopped celery stalks and sauté about five minutes. Add two chopped garlic cloves, five thyme sprigs and 1/2 teaspoon oregano and sauté another 5 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Stir this mixture into quinoa with walnuts and fresh chopped parsley. Stuff each squash and bake 10 minutes. Top with pomegranate seeds, fresh parsley, thyme and roasted seeds.


Balsamic Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Trim and halve 2 pounds of Brussels sprouts. Preheat oven to 375 and toss sprouts in 2 tablespoons olive oil, 1/4 cup balsamic vinegar and salt and pepper to taste. Roast, stirring as needed, 15- 20 minutes until tender and lightly browned.  

NEW TWISTS ON HOLIDAY DINNER CLASSICS

tahini, 1 clove garlic, 2 tablespoons lemon juice, 1-2 tablespoons curry powder, 1 teaspoon salt and two or more tablespoons olive oil. Serve this savory dip with fresh vegetables.


Roasted Pumpkin Apple Soup

A pound of pumpkin, a Granny Smith apple and an onion are transformed into a brilliant bisque loaded with delicious depth from garlic, cayenne and pomegranate seeds. Quarter, core and deseed the produce. Roast the pumpkin and onion, drizzled with olive oil and salt, at 400 degrees for 20 minutes. Add 2 garlic cloves and the apple while flipping the pumpkin and onions. Roast another 20 minutes or until the pumpkin flesh is soft. Place all in a blender with a 1/4 teaspoon cayenne and 1¼ cup vegetable stock. Blend on high for 2 minutes until smooth. If it’s too thick, add more stock. Serve chilled, at room temperature or warm. Garnish with pomegranate and pumpkin seeds, fresh parsley and freshly ground black pepper.


SIDES

Vanilla Bean Sweet Potato Casserole with Crunchy Pecan Oat Crumbs   

Bake 1¼ pounds sweet potatoes until fork tender, about an hour. Gently simmer 1

Nothing’s finer than good food shared with good people. Whether the feasts are closely coordinated or shared potluck style, each and every holiday dish is prepared to be a standout crowd pleaser. But some dishes culminate in a caloric overload laden with decadent ingredients. It’s simple to recraft recipes to be delicious and nutritious without going overboard on fats and sweeteners.


A typical holiday feast features a turkey stuffed with a bread-based dressing, mashed potatoes with gravy, cranberries sweetened with citrus juice, liquors and additional sugars and sweet potato casserole laden with butter and brown sugar and topped with marshmallows. Substitute these healthier modifications:



Here are some more recipes:


STARTERS

Pumpkin Curry Hummus

Blend a can of chickpeas (drained and rinsed), 3 tablespoons

ANGELA S. HOOVER

Angela S. Hoover is a Staff Writer for Living Well 60+ Magazine

more articles by Angela S. Hoover