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

Cauliflower “Fried Rice”

Cauliflower Fried Rice

This “fried rice” takes care of that comfort-food craving, without all of the calories. This veggie-filled dish is topped with eggs and chicken – lean protein sources that are sure to fill you up – and comes in at about 300 calories per serving!

cauliflower fired rice

Ingredients (serves 4):

1 1/2 lbs. cauliflower “rice” (you can buy this at many grocery stores, or you can simply cut a large head of cauliflower into small pieces)

1 lb. chicken breast cutlets

1 medium sweet onion (or you can use scallions), chopped

1 yellow squash, chopped

1 zucchini, chopped

2 large cloves garlic, minced

3/4 C carrots, sliced

1/2 C frozen peas, thawed

1 1/2 Tbsp olive oil

1 tsp rice vinegar

3 Tbsp teriyaki sauce ( I like Trader Joe’s Soyaki) – just watch out for sodium and sugar!

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

Dash ground black pepper

1/2 tsp onion powder

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1 large egg plus 1 large egg white, scrambled (raw)

chicken stir fryDirections:

  1. Cut chicken into small pieces. Spray large saucepan or wok with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Add 2 tsp olive oil and warm over medium heat. Add chicken and 1 1/2 Tbsp teriyaki sauce and cook until cooked through (about 10-15 minutes), stirring occasionally. Remove chicken from pan and set aside.
  2. Steam carrots (you can use a steamer or place in microwave safe bowl, add a splash of water, cover and cook on “high” for about 2 minutes, until softened and bright.
  3. Add 1 tsp olive oil to pan and warm over medium heat. Add onions, zucchini, yellow squash and spices (ground black pepper, onion powder, garlic powder) and cook until softened, about 10-12 minutes. Add minced garlic, peas, carrots and another 2 teaspoons teriyaki sauce. Cook another 5-7 minutes, remove from pan and add to dish with chicken.
  4. Add remaining olive oil and remaining  teriyaki sauce to pan and warm over medium-high heat. Add cauliflower “rice”and sauté for approximately 5 minutes. Add scrambled eggs and stir until cooked through. Add chicken and veggies, stir until well combined and remove from heat. Serve and enjoy!

veggies stir fry

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 300 calories, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 2 g, Cholesterol 112 mg, Carbohydrates 23 g, Fiber 7 g, Protein 35 g, Sodium 431 mg, Calcium 96 mg

 

Cream-Free Creamy Coleslaw!

Creamy Coleslaw

coleslaw

This coleslaw will have you thinking you’re digging into a mayo-filled bowl of slaw, but I swapped Greek yogurt for the traditional sour cream and mayo to give this bowl of veggies some creamy flavor, without all of the calories. A slaw with some protein and calcium for less than 50 calories per serving? Now you can have your slaw and eat it, too!

Ingredients (yields about ten 1/2-cup servings):

5 C shredded broccoli, carrots, cabbage or any other veggie you love! (I like the Trader Joe’s brand “Shredded Broccoli Slaw” package, which comes with 5 C shredded broccoli stalk and carrots – easy!)

1/4 C roasted sunflower seeds, unsalted

1 C 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

1/3 C red wine vinegar

1/4 tsp salt

1 Tbsp ground black pepper

1 Tbsp onion powder

2 tsp garlic powder

Now just mix with veggies!

Now just mix with veggies!

Directions:

  1. Empty shredded veggies into large mixing bowl. Add sunflower seeds.
  2. In a separate (smaller) bowl, whisk together Greek yogurt, vinegar, salt, pepper, onion powder, garlic powder until well combined. The dressing will have a creamy consistency.
  3. Pour the dressing over the slaw and use tongs to mix all ingredients together so that the slaw is coated with the dressing.
  4. Cover bowl or transfer into an airtight container and chill in the fridge for at least 1-2 hours, or until slaw is slightly wilted. Serve chilled and enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving = about 1/2 cup)

Calories 49 calories, Total Fat 2 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 5 g, Fiber 1 g, Protein 4 g, Sodium 84 mg, Calcium 46 mg

I served my coleslaw with a homemade turkey burger!

I served my coleslaw with a homemade turkey burger!

Chewy Oatmeal Chocolate Chip Cookies

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!

cookies

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

batterDirections:

  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees Fahrenheit.
  2. Combine dry ingredients in a large mixing bowl (oats, flour, baking powder, spices, brown sugar).
  3. Combine wet ingredients in a separate medium bowl (honey, eggs, yogurt, milk, water).
  4. Combine wet ingredients with dry ingredients in the larger mixing bowl. Fold in chocolate chips.
  5. Spray baking sheet with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray (you will need two baking sheets).
  6. 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)
  7. 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!

cookie sheet

 

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

A Delicious Dip!

Creamy Cucumber Dill Yogurt Dip

This Tzatziki-style dip is simple to make and offers healthy protein along with a ton of flavor! With 7 grams of protein and less than 50 calories per serving, this dip is the perfect addition to any holiday party – without that heavy holiday food feeling!

yogurt dip

Ingredients (serves 6):

1 1/2 C 0% fat, plain Greek yogurt

3/4 C fresh cucumber, diced (make sure to dice into very tiny pieces)

1 1/2 Tbsp dried dill weed

1 Tbsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

dash salt

Directions:

  1. Combine all ingredients in a mixing bowl and serve chilled. How easy is that?!

*Serve with veggies, crackers, pita or use as a topper for grilled chicken, fish, meat or anything!

Note: This dip is best when served immediately, as the cucumbers can make the dip watery if left to sit for too long. If you are making this dip ahead of time, allow the cucumbers to drain on a paper towel in the fridge for a few hours so that they don’t hold as much water. This dip is still great as leftovers, but if entertaining it is best to make just prior to serving.

cucumber

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving is about 1/4 C dip)

Calories 43 calories, Total Fat 0 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Protein 7 g, Carbohydrates 5 g, Fiber 0 g, Sodium 50 mg, Calcium 85 mg 

Protein-Packed Pumpkin Pie

Pumpkin Pie Made With Whole Wheat Crust

Pumpkin pie is essentially the mascot of the month of November – and this recipe will leave all thankful at your Thanksgiving day table! Loaded with beta carotene (which our bodies can convert to vitamin A), protein and fiber, this hearty dessert actually offers up a slice of nutrition! And for about 200 calories per slice, your belly can be thankful, too!

pie

Ingredients (serves 10):

Crust:

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

3/4 C whole wheat flour

1/2 C all purpose flour

1/4 tsp salt

1/4 C canola oil

2 Tbsp 1% milk

3 Tbsp cold water

Pie Filling:

15 oz canned pumpkin puree (about 2 C)

1 large egg

3 large egg whites

1 C dark brown sugar, unpacked

1 Tbsp all purpose flour

1/4 tsp ground ginger

1/8 tsp ground cloves

1 1/4 tsp ground cinnamon

1 tsp ground allspice

1/2 tsp salt

3/4 C 0% plain Greek yogurt

1/4 C 1% milk

1 tsp pure vanilla extract

1 tsp honey

Whole wheat crust!

Whole wheat crust!

Directions:

1. Combine all ingredients to make the crust in a large mixing bowl (whole wheat flour, all purpose flour, salt, canola oil, 1% milk and cold water). Mix ingredients together with a spoon to gather, then use your hands to knead the dough so that all ingredients are well combined.

2. Spray a 9″ diameter pie pan with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Transfer dough ball to center of pie pan and use your hands to spread the dough evenly, bringing the dough up over the sides and edges of the pan. Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit.

3. In a small bowl, whisk together egg and egg whites. In a large bowl, whisk together pumpkin, brown sugar and eggs from smaller bowl. Make sure to smooth any clumps of brown sugar. Add flour, spices, Greek yogurt, milk, honey and vanilla extract to pumpkin mixture and whisk together until well combined.

4. Set aside the batter to thicken. In the meantime, bake the pie crust in the oven for about 5-7 minutes, until slightly browned. Remove from oven.

5. Fill the pie crust with the pie filling so that the pan is about 3/4 full. There may be extra filling depending on the depth of your pan (you can repurpose this for other treats or mini pies if you’d like!) and bake in the oven at 350 degrees Fahrenheit for 1 hour, or until slightly browned. You can check for doneness using a toothpick (make sure that the toothpick comes out clean when dipped into the center of the pie).

6. Chill pie in the fridge until cold and set – about 4 hours minimum. It may help to store it covered with aluminum foil or parchment paper to prevent the pie from absorbing odors from the fridge. After you serve the pie, store in the fridge, covered for up to 3-5 days, or freeze in an airtight container or bag. Enjoy!

Yum!

Yum!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving (1 serving is one slice that is 1/10th of the pie)

Calories 208 calories, Total Fat 6 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 19 mg, Carbohydrates 32 g, Fiber 3 g, Protein 6 g, Sodium 217 mg, Calcium 66 mg

Sautéed Scallops

Sautéed Scallops

This dish is packed with lean protein and skimps on a heavy sauce that is traditionally served with scallops. Instead, olive oil, spices and a small amount of butter (or in this case, Smart Balance made with olive oil) create a light coating and add a ton of flavor. I served my scallops over my whole wheat orzo salad (and made enough for leftovers)!

IMG_4526

Ingredients  (serves 2):

12 oz scallops, raw

1 Tbsp olive oil

1/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

dash  salt

1/8 tsp cayenne pepper

1/2 tsp butter (I prefer Smart Balance made with olive oil)

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

All seasoned and ready to cook!

All seasoned and ready to cook!

Directions:

  1. Place the scallops in a medium sized bowl. Add olive oil and spices and mix all ingredients together with a spoon until well combined.
  2. Spray a medium sized pan with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray and warm over medium heat. Add scallops and cook until browned, turning occassionally (about 10 minutes total cooking time, although this may vary).
  3. Add butter and stir scallops. Cook scallops for another 2-3 minutes, until cooked through. Enjoy!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 216 calories, Total Fat 9 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 56 mg, Carbohydrates 4 g, Fiber 0 g, Protein 29 g, Sodium 279 mg, Calcium 41 mg

seared scallops over my whole wheat orzo salad!

seared scallops over my whole wheat orzo salad!