The holidays are just around the corner and so is the potential for extra holiday pounds. You can still eat your favorite holiday foods but with fewer calories and little or no “bad stuff”.
The typical modern Thanksgiving dinner contains about 2,000-3,000 calories, but it’s not the turkey that’s adding up these numbers. Instead, it comes from butter, cream, and sugar – ingredients that are usually included in every side dish these days.
But, let’s look at the traditional Thanksgiving dinner. Each item is actually healthy in its natural state. According to Smithsonian Magazine, there was turkey, corn, venison and perhaps turnips, carrots, onions, garlic, pumpkins, chestnuts and walnuts. The colonists did not have butter and wheat flour to make mashed potatoes or pie crusts, so theirs was a healthy celebration
If we kept our menus the same for the last 392 years, then we could leave the table feeling good and energized not tired and bloated.
So, let me ask you this?
What are your favorite Thanksgiving side dishes? I’m going to guess that your answer includes stuffing, mashed potatoes, biscuits, gravy, cranberry sauce and potato salad.
What if I said you could still enjoy your holiday favorites in a modified, healthy way? Are you on board? Then keep reading…
Instead of mashed potatoes –have creamy white bean and vegetable mash or creamed cauliflower. You get more protein from the legumes and less fat from the nonexistent butter and cream. (See recipe below)
Instead of biscuits –try whole grain skillet cornbread. (See recipe below). You get fiber from the whole grains instead of nothing from white flour.
Instead of bread filled stuffing – add whole grains and fruits such as fig, apple and sage.
Instead of sugary cranberry sauce – skip the sugar and add more fruit.
Instead of the old stand bys – try side dishes such as sautéed brussels sprouts, oven roasted beets and other root vegetables, and honey glazed carrots with garlic.
Go ahead and try something new this holiday season. You might just be pleasantly surprised at how good things taste in their natural state and how good you feel leaving the dinner table.
Broiled citrus and Cranberry Tart (serves 4)
- 1 tangerine, 1 ruby grapefruit, and 1 naval orange – all peeled, pitted, and segmented
- ½ cup cranberries
- 1 TBSP raw sugar
Heat broiler. Divide fruit among 4 shallow ovenproof ramekins. Sprinkle with sugar. Transfer ramekins to a baking sheet. Broil, rotating once until golden brown 4-6 minutes.
Per serving: 86cal; 0gfat; 0mg chol; 21g carbs; 2mg sodium; 1g protein; 3g fiber.
Creamy White Bean and Vegetable Mash (serves 6)
- 2 TBSP extra virgin olive oil, plus more for drizzling
- 1 onion, chopped
- 1 stalk celery, thinly sliced
- 1 carrot, peeled and thinly sliced
- 2 lb. Yukon gold* potatoes, cut into 1-inch chunks
- 2 cups cooked white beans, drained (1 16-oz can)
- Coarse salt and freshly ground black pepper
Heat oil in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook onion, celery and carrot until translucent, 6-8 minutes. Add potatoes and white beans and cover with water by 2 inches. Season with salt. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat and simmer until potatoes are tender, about 8 minutes. Drain, reserving about 1 cup of cooking water. Mash vegetables, adding reserved water to adjust consistency. Season with salt and pepper and drizzle with olive oil before serving.
Per serving: 206 cal; 5g fat (1g sat fat); 0mg chol; 41g carbs; 316mg sodium; 9g protein; 8g fiber
The more yellow the potato, the better because they are naturally creamy and sweet (you can keep the skins on, as they are thin, add sweetness and contain more Vitamin A and potassium).
Mashed Garlic Cauliflower (serves 6)
- 1 medium head cauliflower, trimmed and cut into small florets (about 6 to 7 cups)
- 1 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
- 3 cloves garlic, roasted and mashed
- Sea salt and ground black pepper, to taste
Bring a large pot of salted water to a boil. Add cauliflower and cook until very tender, about 10 minutes. Reserve 1/4 cup of the cooking liquid and then drain well and transfer cauliflower to a food processor. Add roasted garlic, olive oil and reserved water, 1 tablespoon at a time, and puree until smooth. (Or, mash cauliflower with a potato masher). Season with salt and pepper and serve.
Per Serving:110 calories (80 from fat), 9g total fat, 1g saturated fat, 0mg cholesterol, 330mg sodium, 8g carbohydrate (3g dietary fiber, 3g sugar), 3g protein
Debbie Slutzky is a Certified Health Coach and owner of Nutrition and Health Counseling. For more holiday recipes or for more information on how to eat healthy and still enjoy your food, please contact her at Debbie@NutritionAndHealthCounseling.com or 630.470.7634. www.NutritionAndHealthCounseling.com.