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!



It’s Soup Season!

Mushroom Barley Soup

This soup is a winter favorite of mine! The barley adds a hearty taste and texture to the warming vegetable soup, plus it’s packed with nutrients like fiber from the barley and vegetables, beta-carotene (which our body converts to vitamin A) from the carrots and B-complex vitamins from mushrooms. I usually make a large pot of this soup early in the week and eat a bowl every day with lunch or dinner (or sometimes both)! Perfectly portable for work and perfectly nutritious, this homemade soup is a must-try for cold winter days!


Ingredients (serves 10):

8 C low sodium vegetable broth

8 C water

1 C barley, uncooked

5 C mushrooms, sliced

1 sweet onion, small, chopped

3 garlic cloves, chopped finely

1 C carrots, chopped

1/2 C celery, chopped

1 Tbsp butter or margarine

3/4 tsp salt

3/4 tsp ground black pepper

1/4 tsp garlic powder

1/4 tsp onion powder


1. Melt butter in a large pot. Add onions and mushrooms and sauté until slightly browned and softened, stirring occasionally (approximately 10 minutes).

2. Add carrots and celery. Add liquid (water and vegetable broth). Add spices. Bring to a boil and cook for approximately 15 minutes, until vegetables are softened.

3.Add barley and boil for another 10 minutes. Cover and reduce to a simmer for about 1 hour, stirring occasionally. Serve and enjoy!

*I love to make this soup for the entire week. If you still have leftovers at the end of the week, just store in single or double serving, airtight containers in the freezer!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Calories 91 calories, Total Fat 1 g, Saturated Fat 0 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Carbohydrates 18 g, Fiber 4 g, Protein 3 g, Sodium 312 mg, Calcium 32 mg

May require serious stove clean-up, but so worth it! My pot wasn't large enough and some boiled and learn!

May require serious stove clean-up, but so worth it! My pot wasn’t large enough and some boiled over…live and learn!

Winter Veggie Soup with Turkey Meatballs

Winter Veggie Soup with Turkey Meatballs

This soup is great as a meal on its own, or as a hearty snack or side, and is packed with winter vegetables, like kale, parsnips, turnips and carrots. This winter veggie soup offers tons of antioxidants, like beta carotene (which is converted in our bodies to form vitamin A) and vitamin C, along with nutrients like folate, potassium and vitamin K. Also, this soup contains fiber and lean protein, which is perfect for filling you up, without filling you out! In fact, this hearty soup contains less than 250 calories per serving! I like to make a large pot of this soup on Sunday and enjoy the leftovers for lunch or dinner during the work week, when things are more hectic.



Ingredients (serves 6):

3/4 small onion, chopped

1/2 C mushrooms, chopped

2 C baby kale, raw

1 1/2 C carrots, sliced (pieces should be about 1/4″ thick)

2 medium parsnips (about 6″ long), sliced

1 medium turnip (about 4″ in diameter), chopped

2 small yukon gold potatoes (about 2″ in diameter), chopped

16 oz lean ground turkey breast

5 C low-sodium vegetable broth

6 C water

1 Tbsp butter or Smart Balance

1 large egg

1/4 C whole wheat breadcrumbs

1 Tbsp olive or canola oil

1 small bunch dill, rinsed

1.5 tsp salt

1/8 tsp ground black pepper, plus a dash

1/2 tsp garlic powder

1/2 tsp onion powder

Nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray

Ready to bake the turkey meatballs in the oven!

Ready to bake the turkey meatballs in the oven!


1. Preheat oven to 360 degrees Fahrenheit. Spray two 9″ x 13″casserole dishes with nonstick vegetable oil cooking spray. Set aside.

2. Empty ground turkey breast into large mixing mixing bowl. Crack egg in separate, small bowl, scramble and add to large mixing bowl. Add breadcrumbs, garlic powder and onion powder to mixture and combine. Form small meatballs (about 1/2″ in diameter) and place in casserole dishes (4 rows x 6 columns). There should be about 48 small meatballs in total. Bake in oven 15-20 minutes.

3. Melt butter in large pot over medium heat. Add onion and cook for about 4-5 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add mushrooms and oil and cook another 3-4 minutes, stirring occasionally. Add kale, dash of salt and ground black pepper and sauté until soft and slightly wilted, about 4-5 minutes.

4. Add carrots, parsnips, turnips and potatoes to large pot. Cover with vegetable broth and water. Add turkey meatballs, remaining salt salt and a 1/8 tsp ground black pepper. Add dill (remaining on stem). Cover and bring to a boil. Let boil about 45 minutes (covered), until vegetables are soft. Reduce heat to a simmer and cook another 30 minutes. Enjoy!

Sautéed kale, onions and mushrooms. Now just add the rest, bring to a boil and simmer!

Sautéed kale, onions and mushrooms. Now just add the rest, bring to a boil and simmer!

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving

Calories 232 calories, Total Fat 4 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 78 mg, Carbohydrates 26 g, Fiber 5 g, Protein 23 g, Sodium 787 mg, Calcium 78 mg