Do you want to ensure your holiday eating won’t blow all the hard work you’ve done this year? Thanksgiving is the first big holiday of the season that’s centered around food, and it can set the tone for how you eat for the weeks that follow. Consider these healthy holiday suggestions, featuring key nutrients for women, that will leave you feeling amazing and satisfied instead of tired and stuffed.
MAKE A QUINOA AND BROWN RICE DISH INSTEAD OF STUFFING
I made a spontaneous, crockpot rice-and-bean dish for Thanksgiving several years ago, and I wish I would have written the recipe down because it was so good! Try the herbed wild rice and quinoa stuffing recipe from kitchentreaty.com.
REPLACE GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE WITH AN AVOCADO-AND-WALNUT SALAD
Walnuts and avocados contain omega-3’s, which help reduce inflammation and heart disease while promoting radiant skin and hair. They also provide “good fat,” as opposed to the saturated fat you’ll typically find in casseroles. The pomegranate avocado salad with candied walnuts from halfbakedharvest.com will look so festive on your Thanksgiving table.
CHOOSE WHITE MEAT TURKEY OR SEAFOOD FOR THE MAIN COURSE
As long as it isn’t fried, these choices have less fat while still containing important nutrients like iron. Have a coastal-themed Thanksgiving dinner and try salmon or tuna for those omega-3’s.
CHOOSE PLANT-BASED FATS AND OILS
Look for butter with canola oil or olive oil, and choose liquid oils over solid butter when possible to increase omega-3’s and decrease saturated fat, which can clog arteries.
LOAD UP ON FRUITS AND VEGETABLES
Produce provides fiber to help you feel more full with less food. Fiber also is key for reducing cholesterol and heart disease, a big women’s health concern. Aim to make half of your menu and half of your plate fruits and vegetables to fill up on healthy foods that won’t weigh you down. Choose deeply colored greens and vibrant red, yellow and orange hues to provide nutrients like folic acid, which is particularly important for women of childbearing age.
AVOID PACKAGED FOODS
As much as possible, cook and bake your own dishes and desserts to avoid harmful trans fat. It’s a sneaky ingredient that’s common in packaged foods, but less likely to show up in your homemade recipes.
MAKE SMART SUBSTITUTIONS
Plain, nonfat Greek yogurt is a great replacement for sour cream, reducing fat and increasing protein. Plus, it will help you meet your calcium goal, which is ultra-important for women. The dish I always make for Thanksgiving is the cheesy Brussels sprouts gratin recipe from whiteonricecouple.com. I use olive oil mayonnaise and substitute half of it for plain, nonfat Greek yogurt. The result is equally delicious and heart healthy!
However you celebrate Thanksgiving, focus on the foods that will do your body good, instead of what you should avoid, for an all-around positive and memorable holiday.
Alyssa Ashmore of Passionate Portions Nutrition & Wellness is a registered dietitian, nutritionist, author, speaker and nutrition therapist. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org, or visit www.alyssaashmore.com