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!
Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies
These chewy oatmeal cookies are the perfect holiday cookie – no one would even guess that they are filled with fiber and boast more protein than the average cookie! Using rolled oats, Greek yogurt, dark chocolate and ground cinnamon, these cookies offer wholesome goodness that taste good, too!
Ingredients (yields ~ 20 cookies)
1 1/2 C rolled oats
1 C whole wheat flour
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
1/4 tsp salt
1 1/2 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp allspice
1 tsp vanilla extract
1/4 C dark brown sugar
1/4 C honey
1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, scrambled
2 Tbsp plain 0% Greek yogurt
1/4 C dark chocolate chips (try to look for at least 72% cocoa)
2 Tbsp 1% (low fat) milk
2 Tbsp water
Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
- Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (oats, flour, baking powder, spices, brown sugar).
- Combine wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl (honey, eggs, yogurt, milk, water).
- Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients in the larger mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.
- Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray (you will need two baking sheets).
- Scoop batter into balls approximately 1 inch in diameter, roll each ball in your hands and place on baking sheet. Press down on each ball to form a cookie shape (batter is slightly liquid-y, so the cookies may naturally take this shape)
- Bake in the oven at 325 degrees Fahrenheit for 12-15 minutes, until cookies are browned and a toothpick comes out clean when poked through the center of the cookie. Enjoy!
*store in an airtight container to preserve freshness
*these cookies are extra amazing when warmed slightly in the microwave – just don’t overdo it!
The Goods: What’s Inside?
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving
Calories 136 calories, Total Fat 7 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 2 g, Sodium 69 mg, Calcium 37 mg
Watermelon and Feta Salad with Balsamic Drizzle
Summer isn’t over yet – and thank goodness! This simple summer salad is too good to pass up! This low-calorie salad is a perfect dish to serve while entertaining as a sweet, refreshing appetizer that won’t fill your guests up too much before the entrees. Watermelon contains hydrating water for hot summer days and spinach offers up folate, vitamin K, vitamin C and iron. And the best part? This salad takes less than 5 minutes to prepare!
Ingredients (serves 2):
2 C watermelon, cubed
1 oz (about 1/4 C) reduced-fat, crumbled feta cheese
2 C spinach, raw
2 Tbsp balsamic vinegar
*Entertaining? Just keep doubling the recipe until you have enough – this recipe is super simple to make for 1 person – or 20!
1. Divide spinach evenly into two bowls (or small plates).
2. Top each plate with 1 C watermelon and 1/8 C crumbled feta cheese. Drizzle 1 Tbsp balsamic vinegar over each plate. Enjoy!
The Goods: What’s Inside?
Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:
Calories 96 calories, Total Fat 2 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 4 mg, Carbohydrates 16 g, Fiber 2 g, Protein 5 g, Sodium 225 mg, Calcium 86 mg