Celebration: Changing Our Thinking


In today’s culture, every kind of celebration is associated with food. Some very American examples:

  • birthdays = cake and ice cream
  • Halloween = candy or candied apples!
  • anniversaries = going out to dinner and indulging
  • the Super Bowl = hot dogs, nachos, chips and beer
  • Thanksgiving = turkey with all the trimmings (can you say stuffing?) and pumpkin pie
  • a job promotion = donuts for everyone in the office
  • Christmas = cookies, cakes, peppermints
  • a sales goal achieved = let’s order a pizza!
  • Johnny got a good grade on a test = invite your friends over for burgers on the grill

One of my goals as a health and nutrition coach is to help people change the way they think about food. In the above examples, that can be done a couple of ways:

  1. change the celebratory food into healthier options that taste delicious and decadent, or
  2. change the way we celebrate by replacing the food with some kind of fun and memorable activity

Now, I’m the first to admit that birthday cake (with real buttercream frosting) is an absolute essential for my very own birthday. And every year since graduating from nutrition school and becoming truly committed to a new approach to eating, this has been a struggle. I’m eating less sugar these days. I gave up gluten some time ago. I want to eat only healthy fats, like coconut oil, olive oil, avocados, and, ahem! real butter! That’s right, butter is not evil.

Butter from organically-raised, grassfed cows actually has health benefits. I know that goes against everything you have been taught about saturated fat. But the truth is that the whole saturated fat myth has been hotly debated and now scientifically proven to be wrong. (Check out The Great Cholesterol Myth by Stephen Sinatra, M.D. and Jonny Bowden, PhD. for details.) So here’s the good stuff on butter: It is a rich source of Vitamin A, and also contains Vitamins E, K and D. Perhaps the most important substance in good butter is something called CLA (conjugated linolenic acid), a particularly healthy fat that has ‘demonstrated anticancer properties, and may help weight loss.’ It even contains lauric acid, a substance found in breast milk (and coconut oil). that strengthens the immune system. Butter has been used for centuries in traditional cultures.

Ghee is clarified butter, so the milk solids have been removed. Ghee has been used traditionally in systems of medicine such as Ayurveda as a healing and health-giving food for thousands of years. According to Dr. Bowden, ghee is believed to strengthen our ojas, or vital life force and is considered an important ‘regenerative tonic’ for the body.

So my birthday celebration now includes cake – gluten free, made with almond flour, and real buttercream frosting.

One client was terrified that I would tell him never to have another burger. He couldn’t imagine a football game – or just about any celebration that involved his buddies – without cooking burgers on the grill. So we ‘upgraded’ his burgers. He now makes them from grassfed beef and forms the patties with fresh blueberries added. That’s right, Blueberry Burgers! The berries add potent antioxidants and a delicious juiciness to the boring burgers he was accustomed to. He loves them, and he doesn’t feel at all deprived.

Challenge yourself to make some upgrades to some of your favorite celebratory foods, and you may surprise yourself with how much better you feel – both physically and mentally – as you beam with pride! Tell us your favorite new way to prepare an old favorite!

Check out the recipe for Cauliflower Crust Pizza – a fascinating new way to have that fun food…

Pizza with Cauliflower Crust

Paula_Antonini-Cauliflower_PizzaMakes one crust for 10-12” pizza – amazing!

Ingredients for crust:

1 small-medium head of cauliflower
1 t. Italian herb blend
1/3 C. shredded Parmesan cheese
1 egg, lightly beaten
1 T. almond meal or pulverized oats
pinch of salt
Baking sheet lined with parchment paper which has been lightly oiled. (I used olive oil)
Oven at 400F.


  1. Cut cauliflower into chunks and in food processor chop into tiny bits or ‘cauliflower rice). (I have only a mini processor so did this in 4 steps.)
  2. Lightly cook the cauliflower. You can put it in a glass baking dish and microwave for 3 minutes, covered, or put in saucepan, add 3-4 tablespoons water, and steam/simmer for 3-4 minutes.
  3. Regardless of cooking method used, then place cauliflower rice on a lightweight kitchen towel and allow it to cool a bit. Then wrap up the towel and wring it out to remove as much water as possible.
  4. Dump cauliflower in bowl, and add remaining ingredients. Mix it with a fork, then use a spatula to mash it together well.
  5. Dump mixture onto parchment paper and press it out into a crust. Pat it down well so it is tightly formed together.
  6. Put into the oven and bake for about 20 minutes or until golden with brownish edges.
  7. Remove from oven and add whatever toppings you like and place back in the oven for about 7-8 minutes or until cheese is golden and bubbly.

Note: Toppings won’t actually cook much so if you prefer them more cooked, you can sauté them in advance. I brushed a bit of olive oil on the baked crust, then added a small amount of tomato-basil sauce. Then added thinly sliced raw red onion and fresh tomato plus some mozzarella. When it came out of the oven I added fresh arugula before serving. Delicious!

Image Credits: Macaroons – Louise Docker. Pizza – Paula Antonini

About Our Health Space Contributor

Paula AntoniniAs a Holistic Health Coach, Paula Antonini specializes in helping business and professional women step off the diet roller coaster, get their energy back and take charge of their health through 1:1 coaching and small group programs.

To learn more and sign up for her newsletter, go to simplynutrition.org. For a Complimentary Consultation contact Paula at paula.antonini@gmail.com.

Her eCookbook, Simply Nutritious, Simply Delicious is now available on the website to support you on your journey toward feeling terrific!

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