We hope you had a wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving is quite possibly my favorite holiday. Family, friends, food. What more could one ask for? I love Thanksgiving because it really is about the people around you. There are no gifts or fireworks, just being grateful for loved ones gathered around you (and ones you wish were around). And the wonderful food we’ve been blessed to enjoy!
No matter the holiday, eating healthy this time of year can be a challenge. With so many cookies, pies, and high calorie ingredients like heavy cream and butter. AND not very many vegetables, just the thought of eating holiday dinners seem to pack on the pounds. Now, we don’t have to—and shouldn’t—expect holiday dinners to be the healthiest of meals, but there are certainly ways we can make them healthier.
Health-ify your holiday dinner!
Scoop the sides sparingly – mashed potatoes, corn, rolls, sweet potato casserole. Starches and more starches. These alone are not a problem, but all of them together—and in heaping portions—can lead to a very calorically-dense meal. Try choosing just your favorites and pass on the rest. Or take smaller portions of these sides. Better yet, opt for the veggie-based casseroles like green bean casserole over ones lacking veggies.
Drink up that water. Alcohol and other sweetened beverages can add calories without making you feel full. Dehydration can also cause you to eat more. This is not because your brain is confusing hunger and fullness. But because your body is looking for fluid from somewhere and it can get some from food. Drinking water can help avoid this issue, and fills up your stomach so you feel full faster.
Fill up on veggies first
Fill up your plate with vegetables before getting your turkey or ham and other dishes. Vegetables inherently have fewer calories and more fiber—filling you faster and giving you lots of quality nutrients! Try our Roasted Carrots or Moroccan Fall Salad for a delicious vegetable-based side dish!
Out with the old!
Canned cranberry sauce and marshmallow-covered sweet potato casserole are common holiday recipes, and have a price to pay. Switch things up! Go for roasted sweet potatoes with pecans and pomegranate seeds. You can even make your own cranberry sauce! It’s not difficult and often has A LOT less sugar than the canned stuff.
Change up your flavors
Although butter and cream certainly add flavor, there are many other ways to add deliciousness without the extra calories. Use herbs and spices! Season your ham or turkey with thyme and rosemary, add cinnamon and nutmeg to your sweet potatoes, and use fresh chives and roasted garlic in your mashed potatoes. Using herbs and spices can really add depth of flavor to your dishes that you couldn’t get with any old butter.
Reduce those calories
Making apple pie? Opt for just one crust instead of two. Maybe forgo the pecan pie? It really is a calorie disaster… Make cauliflower mashed potatoes! Add 1/2 to 1 head of cauliflower for a lighter version of your favorite mashed potatoes, without any flavor loss!
Focus on quantity
Don’t be too hard on yourself. Don’t stress about eating “perfectly” during the holidays. Enjoy the food while keeping in mind how much you’re eating. Nothing needs to be off limits. Practice mindfulness and pay attention to how your body feels. Focus on smaller portions instead what is “off limits”. Choose your favorites. Eat slowly. Enjoy every bite!
And a few more tips…
- Choose low-sodium broth
- Use 100% whole wheat bread in your stuffing
- Add veggies! Fill your stuffing with carrots, celery, onions, garlic and leeks!
- Opt for white meat instead of dark meat to reduce the calories and saturated fat
- Focus on family, friends and good conversation. Know when to step away from the food.
- Get some activity in. Not to try to burn off calories, but to stay moving on days when most people don’t.
If you’re looking for a healthy side dish that doesn’t compromise flavor, check out our roasted vegetables and farro salad with parsley pesto!Print
Hearty and yummy! This roasted vegetable and farro salad is a great side dish or even makes a delicious vegetarian main dish!
- 1 cup farro
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- 4 carrots, cut into 2-3 inch pieces
- 1/2 head cauliflower, cut into florets
- 1/2 large red pepper, sliced
- 1 fennel, bulb and stalk sliced, save the fronds for the pesto
- 1/2 red onion, thinly sliced
- 2 cloves garlic, keep whole
- 1 12-ounce jar artichokes
- 1 15-ounce can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
- 1/4 cup capers
- Salt and pepper to taste
- 1 cup parsley, wash and pat dry
- 1/2 cup fennel fronds
- 3 cloves garlic
- 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
- 1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
- 1/4 cup olive oil
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine farro and water in a medium pot over medium heat. Bring farro to a boil and let simmer about 60 minutes, or until tender.
- Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
- Spread carrots, cauliflower, red pepper, fennel, red onion and garlic in a single layer on a large baking sheet (you may need to use two baking sheets). Drizzle with 1/4 cup olive oil, salt and pepper. Roast 45-60 minutes, or until vegetables are tender. During last 10-15 minutes of baking time, add chickpeas and artichokes. After roasting, remove the garlic and mince.
- While the vegetables roast, prepare parsley pesto. In a food processor or blender, combine parsley, fennel fronds, garlic, red wine vinegar and red pepper flakes. Pulse until combined, and slowly add olive oil while the food processor is running until fully combined. Add salt and pepper to taste.
- In a large bowl or serving dish, combine farro, roasted vegetables/chickpeas, capers and parsley pesto.
Serving suggestion: This is great as a vegetarian/vegan main dish or as a side dish. It would be great with roasted chicken or fish!
What are your go-to ways to make your holidays healthier? Comment below – we’d love to hear your thoughts!