Thanks For Giving Me These Holiday Tips!

Thankful for Health

Thanksgiving is my favorite holiday – being surrounded by family, friends and food and acknowledging the many things for which we are thankful. While it’s okay to indulge (it is a holiday, after all), it’s important to be thankful for our health, our ability to reach this season, and treat our bodies well so that they can continue to care for us. This year, I have a lot to be thankful for! I’m thankful for my fiancé, who keeps me strong, challenges me and loves me unconditionally. I’m also thankful for the fact that I’ll be gaining an additional family in a few short months, and thankful for my own family who has always supported me, through college and grad school, my initial endeavors as a dietitian, and always playing the role of guinea pig when I want to try out a new recipe! I’m thankful for my new home in Florida, all of my new friends, my old friends who continue to stay close regardless of being miles apart, and the ability to do what I love everyday.

I’m also thankful for my attitude toward food, as I’m aware that it does not come easy to many people, and it didn’t always come easy to me, either. Food should be enjoyed, not villainized, and celebrated for all that it can do for us, and we should aim to choose foods that will provide nutrition, as well as joy. In the midst of casseroles, cookies and pies, it can be difficult to navigate the Thanksgiving table with health in mind. Below are some tips so that you can eat your turkey (and pie), and enjoy it too!

  • Start your day with some physical activity. Most of us consume more calories on Thanksgiving than on an average day, so burning some extra calories will help to offset the caloric intake to come. Also, exercise can allow you to burn some additional calories following your workout, although this amount is often small.
  • Focus on veggies. That may seem difficult on Turkey Day, but there are so many seasonal veggies to choose from right now and they’ll help you to fill up with fiber, water and give you a good dose of vitamins and minerals! Some in-season veggies to consider making the star of the show include Brussels sprouts, kale, winter squash, cauliflower and cabbage. My favorite Brussels sprouts recipe is just as tasty as it is pretty!
  • Turkey is a relatively lean protein, especially if you choose the breast meat (white meat). If you’re a turkey lover, feel free to enjoy the festive protein, keeping in mind that one 3 oz serving of poultry is approximately the size of a deck of cards.
  • Stay hydrated. Drinking a glass of water and choosing foods that contain large amounts of water (like fruits and vegetables) can help you to feel more full, which means you may indulge less and keep portions reasonable. Also, if you’re drinking alcohol, make sure to alternate each drink with water and skip any high-sugar mixers.
  • Choose whole grains over refined grains for side dishes. Try a recipe that features farro or quinoa (okay, so quinoa is technically a seed, but it’s consistency and properties are similar to a whole grain) for increased protein and fiber! Farro is my favorite, with a hearty, chewy texture that stands up to sauces and is also great on it’s own with some oil and veggies.
  • Consider serving a veggie-based soup before the meal, such as my pureed roasted cauliflower soup. This seasonal soup tastes creamy and hearty, but it’s relatively low in calories and will fill you up so you don’t overdo it during the main event.
  • Go for an evening stroll with some guests after dinner, which can help to stabilize blood sugar levels and add to your overall step count that day.
  • Don’t be fooled by desserts with a health halo – an avocado brownie is still a brownie, although it is likely to be a better alternative since it will have increased monounsaturated fatty acids, vitamins, minerals and fiber. Even if you offer some “healthified” dessert options, keep portions in check. Interested in sampling a few desserts because there are so many great options? Take small portions of a few and choose your favorite to possibly indulge in a larger piece. My favorite fall dessert? Pumpkin pie! Enjoy my favorite recipe here. More into chocolate? My chocolate goji bark is always a crowd pleaser!

thanksgiving

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Chocolate For Breakfast? Yes, Please!

Oatmeal with Berries, Chocolate and Almonds

Sick of plain oatmeal? Try this breakfast with staying power – the almonds and berries add filling fiber, with almonds also pumping up the protein content of this instant breakfast! Unsweetened cocoa powder adds flavanoids, but all you’ll notice is how good this breakfast tastes! This recipe uses water to cook instant oatmeal, but feel free to use milk as a great way to increase your calcium intake!

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Ingredients (serves 1):

1 packet instant oatmeal (unflavored) *tip: look for a brand that does not contain many ingredients other than oats – I like Trader Joe’s Oats and Flax Instant Oatmeal

2/3 C water (varies depending on how thick you like your oatmeal)

4 medium strawberries

1.5 Tbsp unsweetened cocoa powder (look for pure cocoa as the only ingredient)

.5 oz slivered almonds (approximately 1/8 C)

rawcocoaDirections:

1. Pour oatmeal packet contents into microwave-safe bowl and add water. Cook in microwave according to package instructions (usually directions require cooking on High for 2-3 minutes).

2. While oatmeal is cooking, wash and dry strawberries. Cut into halves or quarters. Set aside.

3. Remove oatmeal from microwave and stir. Add strawberries, cocoa powder and slivered almonds. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?strawberry

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 220 calories, Fat 10 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrate 30 g, Fiber 8 g, Sugar 3 g, Protein 9 g, Sodium 85 mg, Calcium 147 mg

*note: replacing water with nonfat milk will increase calcium and protein content

**strawberry photo courtesy of: http://www.dvo.com/newsletter/monthly/2007/september/images/strawberry.jpg 

***cocoa photo courtesy of: http://www.rawguru.com/store/images/P/raw-cacao-powder-e-big.jpg 

Have Your Candy – And Eat It, Too!

 Trick or Treat – Give Me Something GOOD to Eat!

Halloween is around the corner – and that can mean a LOT of extra fat and sugar. Whether you have candy around because of trick-or-treaters, friends, children, or your own feeling that October merits candy, don’t sweat it! My advice? Enjoy the holiday and all of its goodies in moderation! Here are some healthy tips to help you enjoy your holiday – guilt-free!

*photograph courtesy of: http://newamericanacuisine.com/

1. Remember the Fundamentals of Good Nutrition: Balance, Variety and Moderation

You CAN enjoy candy as part of a balanced diet. That is, fuel your body with foods that actually offer, well, fuel! Then enjoy some candy, in moderation, knowing that you have fueled your body right and can afford to enjoy a craving every once in awhile! Deprivation will only make your feel like you “deserve” a treat and, truth is, if you practice good nutrition, there is often a little wiggle room to enjoy “empty calories” every once in awhile, if you wish!

2. Why Not Have Some Nutrition With That Candy?

*Photograph courtesy of: http://www.bourbonblog.com

To get into the spirit of fall and Halloween, you can enjoy healthier candy options! My favorites are candy apples or caramel apples. Granted, there are definitely healthier ways to eat apples. But, if you’re craving some candy, it can’t hurt to sneak in some nutrition with all of that sugar! A fun activity is making your own at home, using easy store-bought mixes that create sweet apple-y goodness in no time. For some extra nutrition (along with some extra calories), use caramel or candy as glue for chopped peanuts, dark chocolate pieces or any other topping you’d like! These toppings, specifically, offer some extra nutritional value to the candy, but remember, this is YOUR treat so top it with whatever you’d like! Other ways to get some sweet nutrition out of candy? Dark chocolate dipped fruit! My favorites are strawberries and bananas.

3. Some Sweet News for Chocolate Lovers

Dark chocolate has a ton of nutritional benefits! Don’t overdo it- remember the principle of moderation. However, if chocolate is your thing, don’t sweat it! Look for dark chocolate that is at least 70% cocoa, since this is the minimum amount that will offer nutritional benefits, such as antioxidants. Also, some studies have suggested that dark chocolate aids in a favorable HDL:LDL cholesterol ratio. In other words, those who enjoy dark chocolate over other types of chocolate (milk, white) tend to have more of the “good” cholesterol (HDL) and less of the “bad” stuff (LDL). Once again, this is not proven, but it has been reflected in some studies. That being said –  enjoy in moderation!

*Photograph courtesy of http://www.alzcareblog.com