The big turkey day is upon us in a few weeks and many cooks are already planning their menus for Thanksgiving. Across the country, people will eat dinner with family and friends in homes and restaurants. Many of my clients feel it is difficult to focus on health and wellness at this time of the year. For Thanksgiving gatherings, I tell my clients it is “just one day” of dining. If you exercise control over the aftermath of the meal, then it should be viewed as a meal enjoyed with those that matter in your life, a time to be thankful, and a time to reflect. Controlling the “aftermath” means that you get rid of the leftovers that may sabotage your healthy eating plans or plan appropriately to avoid having leftovers in the first place! With that stated, I think we can also think about the traditional Thanksgiving meal as having the potential to be a meal that can even offer health benefits to your diet. Here is a sampling of traditional Thanksgiving foods and the potential impact on your health:
Pumpkin. Pumpkin is loaded with beta-carotene which is the plant derived form of vitamin A. Consider offering your guests a slimmed down crustless pumpkin pie option in addition to traditional desserts.
Sweet potatoes. This is another beta-carotene superstar. Keep the calories in tow by limiting the brown sugar, butter, and marshmallows used in traditional recipes.
Mashed potatoes. Potatoes are loaded with potassium! Slim down your recipe by limiting the butter used in your recipe. Consider using skim milk, low sodium chicken broth, or fat-free sour cream in your recipe to slash the fat and calories.
Cranberries. This traditional side dish is loaded with cancer fighting plant chemicals, vitamin C, and fiber. No need to limit its use to cranberry bread and sauce-consider using it in a fruit compote instead.
Turkey. Turkey is full of lean protein. Watch your serving sizes and the gravy added to your plate, and consider this a healthy meat option for your Thanksgiving gathering. Roast your turkey without the stuffing inside, baking it in a separate casserole dish. This keeps your stuffing lower in calories as well.
Watch your servings sizes for all your foods and leftovers, and enjoy the day and the health benefits of traditional Turkey day fare. Top your meal with a nice family walk, and you will be slim and ready for the next round of holidays in December!
Do you have any healthy Thanksgiving recipes to share?