Some of you may remember our interview with Santa last year.
We didn't want to bother Santa this year, knowing how busy he is. So, you can imagine our surprise when he called and asked when we were going to come up for lunch and a quick chat!
Of course, we dropped everything, packed our bags and headed north! When we arrived, a couple of the elves, Aspen and Noelle, picked us up for an exhilarating ride to Santa's workshop. They were bursting with excitement over a big surprise they couldn't wait to show us. Despite our best efforts, they wouldn't even give us any hints!
We arrived at the breathtaking magical workshop and they led us through several different rooms. The place was festive and buzzing - the elves were so friendly, waving and smiling as they passed by. After what must have been 1/4 mile of walking in amazement, they told us to close our eyes. They led us around a corner and said, "Open your eyes!" What an incredible shock to see their cafeteria had been transformed into the Eat REAL Cantine!
We were amazed, humbled and excited, all at the same time!
Remember that farmers' market we started last year? It was so successful we all decided we wanted to use the produce everyone was growing and harvesting and make it the focus of our employee cafeteria. Since they are all using Eat REAL America's recipes as inspiration to transform the produce into delicious and nutritious meals, we decided to name it the Eat REAL Cantine. Everyone is loving it!
About that time, Santa emerged from a logistics planning meeting and asked, "Well, what do you think?"
Santa, we are honored, and we are so excited to see all the amazing REAL food they are serving up in here.
HO, HO, HO! It doesn't just look amazing - it tastes even better! Today, the specials are Shishito Peppers that Chef Paul blistered in the skillet and sprinkled with just a touch of salt, and Chef Travis made a mouth-watering Fruit Crisp - he even drizzled some Maple Butter on it. Please thank Bev for hooking us up with that goodness! We also have launched a contest where the elves volunteer as guest chefs to recreate meals from their favorite restaurants. Last week, one of the elves made a Cincinnati Chili after a trip to Ohio to pick up some hard-to-find parts for one of our toys. I had the "five way" with chili, spaghetti squash noodles, beans, onions and cheese - it was absolutely fantastic!
Come on, let's grab some food and sit down and chat for a few minutes.
You look so good Santa! I would venture to say you look even more vibrant than when we saw you last year.
Both Mrs. Claus and I feel great. Believe it or not, we even started doing some hiking this year. If you would have said we would be hiking 5-10 miles a week at our age, I would have said you were crazy - we love it!
Since you brought it up, are you willing to share exactly how old you are?
Of course, I don't mind! According to emailsanta.com, I am 1,752 years old. Quite honestly, these days I don't feel a day over 40! So, I guess you could say I am a 40-year-old living in the body of a 1,752-year-old!
Dr. Crinkle keeps saying, "whatever you are doing, just keep doing it!" Earlier this year, we watched Zonya's video about foods that help lower cholesterol and we have been eating a lot more beans, fish and apples! I don't know if that has anything to do with it, but our cholesterol numbers have gotten even better this year. Just last night we had the Cuban Black Bean Soup for dinner! I have to be honest...I used to think soup wasn't a meal. Now, I crave them -- they fill me up and I love all the different flavors and textures!
Would you believe Mrs. Claus had to make me some new clothes this year? My others were just too big. Right now, she is hard at work making more thermal layers because my weather expert elf says it is going to be FRIGID for our trip this year. She said she is also going to make us all a big batch of the Turmeric Latte to help keep us warm and cozy!
You want to hear something funny? No one calls me "Big Fella" anymore - that really makes me smile!
How are the preparations coming? Are there a lot of kids on the nice list this year?
I am thrilled - the ratio of nice to naughty is at an all-time high! We are even thinking about changing our routing this year. There are just so many toys and gifts, we can't get them all in one load. But no worries! We have a plan to make a couple stops back at the North Pole to reload and get everything delivered before the kids wake up.
We really wanted a new sleigh this year...have you tried to buy a new sleigh lately? The used ones are way too expensive, and the new ones take over 12 months for delivery. I have a team working on a new sleigh for next year - it's going to be spectacular, with all the latest technology and lightweight materials - the reindeer can't wait!
We are all getting super excited for the trip. It is a huge responsibility that we don't take lightly. It's not just to deliver gifts and toys, but to help everyone wake up on Christmas morning bursting with anticipation and happiness, and to feel the unconditional love of Santa and celebrate the birth of Jesus!
What are some of the most popular gift requests this year?
For the kids, there are lots of requests for anything related to dinosaurs, monster trucks, Disney princesses and so many technology-related toys and devices. We have had so many kids say they don't want any toys or gifts...all they want is for a family member or friend to get better. It is such a blessing to see children's caring and generous hearts, and we will do our best to deliver the gift of hope to children all around the world.
For the adults, concert tickets are showing up on a lot of lists this year. Carrie Underwood, Elton John, Billy Joel, The Eagles, Thomas Rhett - people want to get out and enjoy live music again. Do you think people realize how music affects their food choices? Oh, and can you keep a secret? I am surprising Mrs. Claus with Garth Brooks concert tickets for Christmas this year!
And I can tell the towns and cities where you are doing cooking demos. I'm getting all kinds of requests for Ninjas and mini-Ninjas and immersion blenders and Dutch ovens. And aged balsamic vinegar. They say they want it for the dressing on that Pear & Butternut Squash Salad.
Oh, Santa, how funny! We have had so much fun in our cooking demos and classes this year - we have met so many inspiring people! They are trying so many new things and discovering foods they didn't think they liked! They even have family members requesting meals like the Fire Roasted Sloppy Joes instead of their typical chicken nuggets!
You know, the elves have been doing their own cooking classes this year - they call it Eat REAL North Pole. They keep talking about how much their cravings have changed. They said the thought of getting 10 servings of fruits and vegetables each day was crazy - and impossible. Now, they say it is just second nature. It's so fun to hear their stories and see their results. Many of them have lost weight and Dr. Crinkle is amazed at how their blood work has improved. Many of them are off their medications and say this is the best they have felt in years.
Santa you have no idea how much this means to us!
When we started Eat REAL America, we wanted to share our experience and story, hoping we could inspire others to achieve the same types of results. In 2023, Eat REAL America will turn 10 years old and we are blessed to hear story after story about how REAL food has transformed people's lives. So, now more than ever, we want to share others' stories, including their journeys, their challenges and their results. Maybe we could get some of the elves to share their stories?!
HO! HO! HO! Congratulations on your 10-year birthday! I have seen the joy that so many Eat REAL America members have experienced. Sharing these stories is a great way to help people learn from one another. You would be proud that Mrs. Claus and I are making the Sausage, Potato & Kale Soup for dinner tonight - it is one of our favorites and, let's be honest, it is way better than the Olive Garden version!
Thank you so much for all you do for kids and adults all over the world! Safe travels!
Merry Christmas to the entire Eat REAL America community!