Healthy Bites for a Healthy Life
By: Kristen Boucher, RN
I’m a big fan of Thanksgiving. Not only do I enjoy a beautiful feast surrounded by the ones I love, but it’s also a time to be truly thankful for what we have in our lives, particularly our health, something we all take for granted now and then, present company included (guilty as charged!).
The downside? It’s a gorge-fest with a very liberal green light to go hog wild pay dearly for it in bloating, indigestion, guilt, and coma-like qualities shortly thereafter. Am I right?
If it’s one mantra that this girl subscribes to, it’s balance, which involves the occasional indulgence such as the one that occurs on the 4th Thursday in November. However, it’s also a good idea (and empowering) to set some limits so you can be firing on all cylinders when the time comes to beat down the doors of your local Target in the wee hours the next morning (if that’s your thing).
One way I like to inject some health into my Thanksgiving feast (whether I’m the host or the guest), is to maximize calories and nutrition in all the right places, starting with the menu. Here are a few of my favorite real food appetizers, side dishes, and dessert recipes that will leave you and your guests feeling satisfied with a little less guilt.
Maple Sweet Potato Hummus with Whole Grain Pita Chips – This has fall appetizer written all over it, and it’s to die for.
Sweet Onion Dip – Step away from the boxed onion dip, laced with all kinds of partially-hydrogenated oils and artificial flavors, and make this tastier (and healthier) alternative served with veggies, to keep appetites at bay before the turkey comes out of the oven.
Cranberry Apple Chutney – Ditch the canned stuff and get your daily dose of antioxidants with this delicious chutney.
Creamy Dreamy Spiced Scalloped Potatoes – Make no mistake, this side is rich, but that’s what makes it so delicious. You eat less and feel more satisfied.
Fig and Sweet Potato Rice – This gluten-free side won’t leave you feeling bloated like the Good Year Blimp.
Maple Carrot, Sweet Potato, and Pumpkin Mashies – Not only is this side incredibly delicious, it’s super healthy and has B-vitamins galore, which can stave off those holiday blues, increase energy, reduce the risk of heart disease, and help to improve metabolism.
Pumpkin Mac ‘N Cheese – Mac ‘N Cheese for Thanksgiving, you say? You bet, especially if you’ve got kiddos sitting at your table. This is a big hit with my 3 year old and it’s made with whole wheat pasta (fiber + protein = more satiety).
Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Cider Bread – Made with seasonal apple cider, this bread is a nice addition to your dessert table or as a light breakfast served the morning of the big feast.
Pumpkin Cranberry Pecan Cider Bread Pumpkin Oatmeal Bars – These gluten-free snack bars serve triple duty as a snack, dessert, or even a breakfast side and are totally toddler-friendly.
Whole Grain Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkin pie can actually be HEALTHY. Yes. It. Can.
But wait, there’s more! One of the best things about Thanksgiving is the leftovers, right? Here are a few of my favorite ways to avoid yet another turkey sandwich:
Apple Cranberry Turkey Salad Sandwich Wrap – This mayo-free turkey salad takes the boring turkey sandwich to a whole new level.
Pulled Turkey Chipotle Chili – This is an entirely new spin on the classic winter comfort meal, using pulled turkey. Delish!
Turkey Pot Pie with Whole Grain Crust – The original recipe calls for chicken, but you can improvise with this delicious comfort meal.
Turkey (Whole Wheat) Noodle Soup – What good are Thanksgiving leftovers without soup? Exactly. This soup has received rave reviews from soup fans of all ages.
What are your favorite Thanksgiving feast traditions? Have you tried modifying them to be a bit healthier? I’d love to hear! Please leave a comment below.