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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Turkey Trot

me at mile 4!

This Thursday, my sister and I ran a turkey trot prior to celebrating Thanksgiving with our family. Not only was it great to run 5 miles before a day of eating, but it also made me realize that I have so much to be thankful for! While I was running, I was able to reflect on the blessings in my life, such as family, friends, and my opportunity to pursue the career of my dreams. Also, I was thankful for my body and my health – each step made me grateful that I was able to run and I was so proud that my legs carried me through another race.

This turkey trot was a local race that was organized by volunteers in my community. It was pretty cheap to register and the race included not just a wonderful morning outside, but also a t-shirt and a gift bag with virtual coupons and gifts from local businesses, as a “thanks” for running! There are often similar races throughout the country on Thanksgiving morning, along with random races throughout the year – some of them to benefit charities! These races are a great opportunity to train for longer races, enjoy the great outdoors, or just enjoy running with fellow runners. The best part? The community lines up along the sidewalks to cheer you on, which really keeps you going strong!

me sister and me before the race

getting ready for the race!

I hope everyone had an amazing Thanksgiving, as we all have so much to be thankful for! Keep fueling your body with foods that make your body thankful! Remember – food is fuel for your run, your workout and your active life!

A Sweet Thanksgiving Side Dish

Baked Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon

Forget the marshmallows- these sweet potatoes are sweet, tasty, aromatic and straight-up comfort food, sans grease! These baked sweet potato fries are naturally sweet and flavored with cinnamon to enhance the taste of this fall favorite! Sweet potatoes offer a ton of beta-carotene, a precursor form of vitamin A, along with fiber and a creamy taste, while being naturally low in fat! Instead of baked yams with butter and marshmallows, relish the real flavor of these potatoes without all of the extra calories!

Ingredients (serves 4):

2 medium sweet potatoes

1 tsp cinnamon

3 Tbsp canola oil

1/2 tsp ground black pepper

Dash salt

Non-stick vegetable oil cooking spray

Directions:

1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.

2. Wash sweet potatoes well. Dry with paper towel (the skin is included in this recipe).

3. Slice sweet potatoes in half. Cut each half into strips (approximately 1/2 in thick, or to desired thickness).

4. Spray baking sheet or casserole dish with cookin spray. Place sweet potato strips on baking sheet/in casserole dish.

5. Drizzle oil over sliced sweet potatoes. Add salt, pepper and cinnamon. Mix well and arrange in thin, single layer.

6. Bake for 45 minutes- 1 hour (depending on desired crunchiness), mixing every 15 minutes. Fries should be soft and slighty crunchy. Serve hot.

The Goods: What’s Inside?

Nutritional Analysis Per Serving:

Calories 151 calories, Fat 11 g, Saturated Fat 1 g, Cholesterol 0 mg, Sodium 60 mg, Carbohydrates 12 g, Fiber 2 g, Sugar 5 g, Protein 1 g, Calcium 29 mg.