How many of us are excited for Thanksgiving dinner but dread the weight that we are sure we will gain from all of the extra calories? Well, you will be happy to learn that your Thanksgiving meal is actually full of essential nutrients. In my house, we usually have a turkey, cranberry sauce, baked potato, mashed cauliflower or mashed radish, green beans with almonds, turkey gravy, and whole-wheat rolls. Oh, and pumpkin pie! We cannot forget the pumpkin pie!
Here are the key nutrients in those foods:
- Sweet potatoes are an excellent source of Vitamin A, a good source of vitamin C, potassium, fiber, and other key nutrients.
- Cranberries offer antioxidant benefits. They are a source of vitamins C, E, K, and more!
- Green beans provide plant protein, iron, potassium, fiber, thiamin, riboflavin, niacin, vitamins B6, and calcium, A, C, and K. And that’s just the beginning!
- Almonds are the lowest-calorie in the nut family. The fat that almond contains is the wonderful, heart-healthy monounsaturated fats, as well as, protein and fiber. Add almond slivers to your green beans to create a super nutritious, delicious side dish.
- Turkey is low in fat and high in protein.
So, how do you make your Thanksgiving meal healthier?
Stick to skinless, white turkey meat. Use less sugar in your cranberry sauce and add a sweet fruit like blueberries to enhance the flavor, sweetness, and antioxidants. Use olive oil instead of butter. Mashed cauliflower or radish is a great option instead of mashed potatoes. They are sweeter so you do not have to add a lot of butter or other ingredients to make them tasty. They are also easy to make. Not to mention, it is one more veggie on your plate. If you are going with a potato dish, serve baked potatoes. A medium baked potato is just 110 calories. They are fat free, sodium free, and cholesterol free. You can get half of your daily value of vitamin C and more potassium than a banana. Add Greek yogurt or olive oil for flavor.
Sometimes I am so busy cooking, cleaning, and running to the store for forgotten items, I forget to drink water. When we think we are hungry, we are usually thirsty. Drink plenty of water throughout the day to keep yourself hydrated as you tackle all of your holiday needs.
Stuffing yourself at Thanksgiving is not necessarily bad. Don’t beat yourself up about it. Adding activity into your day will help with holiday stress and burn off all of those added calories. Go for walks whenever possible.
Last tip, eat leftovers on a small plate.
Corey Flynn NDTR, CDM, CFPP
Here is what they mean: Nutrition and Dietetics Technician, Registered; Certified Dietary Manager; and Certified Food Protection Professional. She is also an ACE certified personal trainer.
Corey has degrees in nutrition, photography, and journalism. She enjoys adventure triathlons and hiking. She is currently working on a master’s degree in public policy and management with a concentration in environment and sustainability at the University of Pittsburgh Graduate School of Public and International Affairs while working full time and caring for her husband, three children, three cats, a beagle, two geckos, and one goldfish