Salmon filets kick off the holidays.

It’s the time of year where holiday parties, potlucks and pickies have most of us stuffing our collective pie-holes at every turn, threatening all but the Dieter Extraordinaire. But there is hope. This simple salmon dinner last night was my attempt to set the tone around here for the onslaught of temptations in the holiday season ahead.

It was an exciting meal for me because my husband took charge. And he never does that. He was the one who caught these Kokanee Salmon on a rare and memorable fishing trip, and to eat something so fresh was a rare treat for us. That’s olive oil and basil sprinkled on top. These filets were very thin for broiling, so he turned on the oven light to watch and then poked and prodded every minute or so until the three-minute ding. He then carefully pried them off their skins on to our plates with a small spatula. It was a scene I wish I had captured for posterity.

This array might look rather puny in some eyes, but I did add a veggie and a big fat slice of pumpkin pie. We try our best to live by the “less is more” rule so “punier” eating is just right. Less food generally means better health… which only works until chips and dip are involved. Then stand aside, my friend.

The Word “Holiday” Synonymous With Cooking

Thanksgiving. Crafting an entire holiday around food is downright frightening to me. Oh, the groans. Oh, the moans. I’ve heard whining about everything, from navigating supermarket mania to “I threw up all night.” We’re all just a little bit crazy, don’t you think?

This year we rebelled by getting take-out from the deli. I couldn’t help laughing at the lineup of little boxes on the counter filled with turkey, stuffing, green beans, and pumpkin pie. I have to admit that as I opened each box, the memory of the scrumptious bird and trimmings that my mom was so expert at preparing came flooding back. Sorry, mom. But I did light candles for the occasion, which she would have approved of. Here’s the best part: kitchen mess consisted of two plates, two glasses, two forks, and three boxes. The pumpkin pie lived on for three more days.

I gave up the required holiday baking years ago when I finally confessed to myself, and others, that I just hated it. Doing it out of duty was wearing thin because the stress of all that I was “suppose” to be doing was making my face all scrinchy.

With British heritage I do carry on my mom’s holiday tradition by making lemon curd tarts every year, to eat and to gift. Other than that I try to steer clear of food displays, which are nearly impossible to pass up. I have good intentions but all it takes is “Would you like a piece of fudge?” to cave. Potluck are the real killers. Everyone makes their favorites and they all look divine. My eyes grow bigger than my stomach as I pass down the line of beautiful presentations.

SECRET: Make the transition to better eating by starting small. Eliminate just one thing from evening meals at first. Subtracting the bread or rolls or biscuits is a good start because those involve butter, too. Once you get used to that, think about the next thing to change, like the portions of rice, potatoes, pasta and dessert. Gradual transitions are easier.