Thanksgiving dinner is packed with important nutrients. Foods such as squash, sweet potatoes, cranberries, corn and pumpkin are high in fiber, vitamins, phyto-chemicals and antioxidants. Turkey provides a good source of protein, iron and zinc. Even that bowl of white mashed potatoes provides a starch that contains fiber, potassium, and several other vitamins and minerals.
So what’s the bad news? Well, we typically take our Thanksgiving foods and add extra fat and sugar, making a meal that is much harder on our waistline. Here are a few suggestions to make your Thanksgiving a little healthier without compromising taste.
- Turkey: The skin provides a lot of fat and flavor by itself, without added oil or butter. A herb seasoning can be rubbed under the skin for added flavor. In a food processor, combine 12 cloves of garlic, 3 stems fresh thyme and 2 stems fresh rosemary (leaves only, discard stems), 1/3 cup hazelnuts or peeled chestnuts.
- Stuffing: Consider using whole wheat bread. Some healthy additives that give tons of flavor are chopped walnuts, raisins, sage, thyme, or sautéed vegetables such as onions, celery, green peppers and mushrooms.
- Sweet Potatoes: So naturally sweet and delicious without that added high sugar marshmallow topping. They can be cut small, coated with vegetable oil, cinnamon and nutmeg, and roasted at 400 F until crispy. Want to mash them or add more sweetness? Try a dash of orange juice or honey.
- Cranberry sauce: Make your own from fresh cranberries. From one bag of fresh cranberries, add 1/3 cup pineapple juice, 1/4 cup plain applesauce, 1/4 cup water, 2 tbsp orange juice, 1 tsp orange zest, 1/4 tsp each cinnamon and cloves. Boil until thick.
- White potatoes: Here is my favorite dressing for potato salad, which can be mashed into potatoes as well. Combine 2 tbsp olive oil, 1 cup chopped red onion, 1 cup white wine vinegar, 1 cup water, 4 tsp mustard, 4 tsp sugar, 1 tbsp salt, and 2 tsp black pepper in a skillet. Bring to a boil, then simmer until reduced by a third. Add 1/2 cup chopped dill and pour over potatoes.
- Dessert: Well, indulging is ok on the holidays as long as we don’t pig out; however, choices such as pumpkin or pecan pie are nice. Pumpkin pie is high in beta-carotene and pecans are an excellent source of Copper, Vitamin E and Manganese. Enjoy!