As I stated in my last post, the average Thanksgiving Day dinner intake, according to The Calorie Control Council, is around 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat. And that doesn’t include our drinks, appetizers or leftovers, or our sampling of food. That’s SO much food! (If you missed my crazy Thanksgiving food video, watch it HERE) While Thanksgiving only comes once a year, and I believe whole heartedly in enjoying everything in moderation, I thought I’d use this week’s post to provide some healthier alternatives to the typical fare served at this American feast. Whether you pick just a few to give your holiday meal a healthier and lighter edge or use these to give your everyday meals a healthier kick is completely up to you. It’s always nice to know some simple tricks to change up your meals to get less fat and more nutrition.
Turkey is a staple of many Thanksgiving dinners, and it’s a healthy choice! 4 oz of turkey has 120 calories, a whooping 24 grams of protein and is very low in fat. It’s high in vitamins B3, B6, B12, magnesium and potassium. If you are a fan of dark cuts of turkey, or the skin of the turkey you will eating a bit more fat.
Use turkey leftovers in salads, soups, curries, and sandwiches for healthy meals in the days following the holiday for extra protein packed meals.
Potatoes are my absolute favorite holiday food, and I’m pretty famous for mine! Potatoes are loaded with nutrients like fiber, vitamins C and B, potassium, magnesium, niacin, and folate when eaten with the skin. Peeling potatoes reduces the nutritional value. Potatoes are also rich in antioxidants, and colored potatoes (red or purple) offer even more nutritional value.
I don’t cut any corners with my mashed potatoes on holidays because we eat them so rarely. If you’d like to cut down on the amount of fat in your mashed potatoes, try using less butter, and either skim milk or chicken broth instead of full fat milk or cream. If you’d like to get that extra punch of nutrition, consider mashing your potatoes with the skins still on them. And be sure to go easy on adding gravy!
Sweet potatoes Are known to be superfoods! However, adding all the sugar, butter, and marshmallows can turn this holiday dish into a dessert food rather quickly. Sweet potatoes provide 400% of daily vitamin A, and provide high amounts of B, C and D. This antioxidant food boosts brain, heart, and even reproductive health, and can help control blood sugar levels. If you want to make delicious sweet potatoes without all the sugar and unhealthy fats, consider replacing the butter with coconut oil, and using unsweetened applesauce instead of sugar. Walnuts or almonds can be used in place of pecans for a healthier nut choice.
Squash is super healthy, with butternut being the best. This low-calorie superfood is packed with vitamins A, C, E, B1, B3, B6, and tons of minerals like magnesium, calcium, potassium, and folate. Great for bone health, eye health, immune function, and tissue repair. Try adding some squash to your plate this holiday season for a colorful and healthy change.
Greens make a super healthy addition to any meal. Kale, collards, spinach, cabbage, beet greens, watercress, turnip greens are all fantastic choices. Greens are super super low in calories, high in vitamin A, C, K, calcium, fiber, magnesium, calcium, and iron.
Cranberries are low in calories, and a superfood with vitamin C, E, K1, and many minerals. They are 90% water when served fresh, but when canned add another 24 grams of sugar to your meal. To make cranberry sauce without the added sugar, try using stevia and orange juice to sweeten your berries.
Grain bread with olive oil dip and seasonings I love bread and staying away from the rolls is a huge feat for me at most holiday meals. To add a little health to your holiday breadbasket, consider using a chewy whole grain bread with a side of olive oil for dipping. Add seasonings to your oil and heat briefly to get the infused flavors in each bite. The whole grains will up your vitamin B, and olive oil is one of the most nutritious fats, as well as having anti-inflammatory and anti-bacterial properties.
Brussel sprouts are low in calories and high in anti-inflammatory properties. They also offer vitamin k for bone and blood health and contain healthy fatty acids which boost brain health.
Green peas contain almost every vitamin and mineral! They are high in fiber and antioxidants and help regulate blood sugar as well as aid in digestive health and immune function. Be sure to get these green jewels on your plate this holiday!
Sauerkraut was a huge family favorite when I was growing up in Maryland. This food made from fermented cabbage is a probiotic that aids in digestion and improves gut health. For the healthiest version of this tangy dish, avoid canned versions as they are super high in sodium.
Pomegranates are considered one of the most nutritious fruits on earth – and they are sweet and delicious. Pomegranates are high in fiber, offer protein, and are packed with vitamin C, vitamin K, folate and potassium. They have anti-inflammatory, antibacterial, and antifungal properties. The juice may cut your risk of heart disease.
Pomegranates also help lower blood pressure, can ease arthritis pain, and are great for brain function. They can also help with workout/athletic performance and fatigue.
Nuts although high in fat, 1oz of most nuts contains 170 calories, 5 grams protein, 3 grams of fiber, vitamin E, and magnesium. Nuts are an antioxidant powerhouse can reduce free radicals that cause cell damage and can help lower bad cholesterol and reduce inflammation. When choosing nuts, keep in mind that a serving is only 1 ounce, and for most nuts that is less than a palmful.
Cocoa for a hot holiday drink consider a cup of real cocoa! The properties in cocoa aid in maintaining blood sugar, can reduce bad cholesterol, support brain and heart health, and can even aid with depression. Look for cocoa made with dark chocolate with 70%cocoa solids and little added sugars. To give your cocoa a holiday flair, consider adding some peppermint.
Peppermint Mint adds holiday flavor to many of our treats, and it’s super soothing to our stomachs! Mints, like peppermint, can help relive headaches, can boost energy and concentration, and have even been known to relieve symptoms of allergies. Mint provides antioxidant, antiviral, and anti-inflammatory properties.
Pumpkin is a super popular holiday flavor that seems to show up EVERYWHERE and in EVERYTHING! When choosing pumpkin for your recipes, be sure to purchase plain pumpkin, and not pumpkin pie filling. Pumpkin is super filling and low in calories while high in vitamins A, C, B2, and E. Pumpkin also offers minerals like potassium, manganese, iron, and copper. It’s great for vision, lungs, heart, skin, and can help lower blood pressure.
I’ve added an amazing Pumpkin Cake recipe (below) for you to try and enjoy this holiday season! Only 5 healthy ingredients and super easy! Enjoy!
I hope that you got some great nutritional info, as well as tips to get you in a healthy state of mind for the holiday season. For more great tips on surviving the holidays and staying in great health, download my free Holiday Guide! And, if you find yourself nervous about how you will approach and navigate your health during this holiday season or are looking forward to making awesome changes in the wonderful new year of 2022, I SO encourage you to get in touch with me and invest in your health and well-being NOW. As a coach, I can motivate you, keep you goal oriented, develop strategies to get through tough situations, help with managing stress, controlling sugar cravings, balancing hormones, finding the right exercise and eating plan, and guide you as you invest in the most important asset you have-YOUR HEALTH. Let me, help you, be the BEST you, and live your BEST life! I look forward to hearing from you! Contact me!
Easy, Tasty, Healthy Pumpkin Cake
Prep: 10 mins
Cook: 50 mi
¾ cup (150g) coconut sugar
1 cup (230g) pumpkin puree
2 tsp. cinnamon
1 cup (125g) self-rising flour
Preheat the oven to 375°F (190°C).
In a large bowl, combine the eggs and sugar.
Beat with a hand mixer for 5 minutes until the mixture is fluffy and has tripled in volume.
Add the pumpkin puree and cinnamon and beat until everything is well-combined.
Sift the flour into the egg mixture and very gently fold, making sure that you do not deflate the eggs.
Grease an 8-inch (20cm) diameter cake pan and pour the batter into it.
Bake for about 50 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cake comes out clean.
Remove the cake from the oven, let it cool, then slice and serve. Store this cake in an airtight container.