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Inspiration for Action
The Newsletter / Edition 020
From Sylvain Labs, this is Progress Report.
To those of you in the US, Thanksgiving this year is likely to not be the celebration that we're used to: eating in smaller groups with just our immediate households. But with that in mind, our Thanksgiving spreads and experiences could use a bit of progress themselves. Which foods and traditions need a spark of inspiration? And what’s one thing folks could cook or do right now to make their Thanksgiving special despite the challenges? Our team was eager to tackle this challenge in this special edition newsletter, where we could show our thanks to you for joining us this year and for making Progress Report part of your life.

Happy Thanksgiving!

In today’s newsletter…
  1. The best-kept secret to better pie crusts from Jess Vander
  2. Prioritizing the superior side-dish of the holiday from Xahra Gilbert
  3. Running on feast mode from Kennedy Whittington-Cooper
  4. Embracing a very different Thanksgiving from Chris Konya
And this week, our illustrations also from Jess Vander (drawn with thumbs on Paper)
From the Field

01 / You Just Have to Chill

From Jess Vander
Crust terrifies me. Even as a baker, it’s the source of my (everyone’s?) insecurity making pies. But Petra Paradez of Petee’s pies just released her first cookbook, “Pie for Everyone" and totally changed the game for me. While most know they’re supposed to use cold butter, she recommends putting your flour in the freezer to get your dough flakey and perfect every time. And it works.
Why It Matters
Butter or shortening? Water or vodka? Food-processed or by-hand? The ceaseless, Sisyphean crust debates distract from a secret in plain sight: nothing else matters so long as you keep your dough cold. To those who bow out and rely on friends Marie Calendar, Mrs. Smith, Mr. Dough Boy, or Trader Joe—no judgment, I understand completely. But to the rest of us thrust into the perils of homemade pie-duty this week, if you didn’t know, now you know.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Chill everything: butter, bowl, but especially flour.
A Power-Ranking of Thanksgiving Pies (and Corresponding Takes)
  1. Pumpkin - Homemade whipped cream is key. Also, canned pumpkin > fresh (is this even a hot take?)
  2. Apple - Don’t sleep on baking with Newtown aka Albemarle Pippins—the ultimate pie apple, if you can find ‘em.
  3. Pecan - The Costco-sized 2lb bag is more than you need for your pie. Perhaps resist.
Honorable Mention
  • Turkey Pot - Underutilized leftovers strategy: swap turkey for your traditional chicken pot pie recipe of choice.

02 / Nobody Likes Turkey Anyway

From Xahra Gilbert
Spending hours roasting a 20 lb turkey for a household full of family and friends is so 2019. Gathering around the table while the head of the household ceremoniously carves into the bird is the quintessential image that comes into mind when we think “Thanksgiving,” but if you really think about it, you’ll realize that your favorite part is everything that happens after dinner.
Why It Matters
Post dinner events are not unlike the side dishes during the meal—undervalued, and better than the main. As a life-long vegetarian, I often ask people to describe the flavor of their carnivorous dishes to me. When it comes to turkey, most often the answer is something like “it’s actually not that good” or “it doesn’t taste like much”. (However, those day-after sandwiches are usually a 10/10.)

The pageantry of the dining table can be a lot of work. But after dinner, the work is done, there’s no more awkward conversation, and it’s time to get comfortable. Those are the real moments to cherish. So rather than lamenting the main things you may miss this year in a socially distanced Thanksgiving, take the time to appreciate the sides.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Recognize that the most beloved traditions can also be the simplest.
Your Game Plan
Bundle up, make a couple of Thanksgiving sandwiches, bring one to a loved one and eat on their porch. Or throw on your soft pants and stuff yourself in the privacy of your own home in front of the TV while you Facetime family: it’s what you’ve been training for all year.

03 / Feast Mode

From Kennedy Whittington-Cooper
Thanksgiving is the frenemy of fitness. However, it doesn’t have to always be that way. As a certified personal trainer, the stat that the average American ingests 4,500 calories on this day of feast, does not repel me from the holiday spirit. In fact, it fuels me to reimagine the way that society can repurpose this day of caloric overload as inspiration for a great workout!
Why It Matters
My clients often ask me about “Cheat” days…. “Are they a real thing,” and “Should I take Cheat days?” Although different personal trainers have their own perspective on this concept, I am definitely from the Cheat day school of thought: in part, because of my background in Nutrition Science. The idea of a Cheat day is to indulge in irregular eating from your normal diet, typically by incorporating an abnormally high carb, caloric, sugar or fatty intake—which doesn't necessarily have to be in excess, but to indulge with no strings attached. But research shows throwing in a Cheat day every once in a while can reset the hormones responsible for your metabolism (e.g. insulin and leptin) by tricking your body into burning through fat stores. So go ahead, enjoy your Turkey Day to the fullest—just remember to balance nutrition with fitness to stay on top of your health during these times where taking care of yourself is crucial.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Use Thanksgiving as a Cheat day, but find at least one way to get active either before or after the big feast.
Your Workout Options
  • Zoom Workout Class: There are plenty of Zoom and live workout sessions that are a safe and convenient way to get your sweat on from the comfort of your own home. Here are some fun options:
  • Turkey Torcher Tag-team: Link up with a family member or friend to hold each other accountable by doing a quick bodyweight workout that can be done in an open outdoor space for 10-20 minutes.
  • Post-Thanksgiving Cooldown: After a large Thanksgiving meal, your first inclination is probably to lay down and take a nap—but instead if you take a 10 minute walk after the meal, it will allow your food to properly digest as a low-intensity form of cardio.

04 / Turn Off the Zoom

From Chris Konya
The holidays (especially a post-election holiday) always come with some level of stress and pressure. This year the pressure’s off—no big extravaganzas. While it’s a different Thanksgiving than we’re used to, there’s something beautiful to embrace in being with only a small tight group. It’s just the closest to you this year—quite literally. So let’s enjoy that. My thoughts for Thanksgiving this year? Enjoy the ones you’re with. Don’t make it about those you’re not.
Why It Matters
To boil it down, Thanksgiving is about giving thanks for what you have. Don’t mire it in what you’re missing.
One Thing You Can Do Right Now
Find your 2020 Thanksgiving silver linings.
Here are a few ideas for how...
  • Commit to no Zoom calls at the table. Opt for a dinner together with those you’re with rather than feeling the distance with those you’re not. There’s lots to be grateful for right where you are.
  • Enjoy the prep and planning for Thanksgiving with your extended family before and after the holiday. Just because you’re not with them the day of, doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy the anticipation and wind down together.
  • Tailor your traditions for those you’re with. Turkey is a big dry bird. Why not try a festive feature dish that your table loves? I’ll be making pheasant this year. Smaller and more delicious. Crossing my fingers the kids don’t feed it all to the dog.
  • Thank you notes. I don’t need to say much about the lost art of letter writing. How about giving thanks by writing thank you notes to those you love? You may be surprised what comes out. And who knows, it may be a note that lives through generations of your family.

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