8 Steps to a Healthy Thanksgiving Feast!
To me healthy and delicious must go hand in hand or it won't work. The holidays have a bad reputation for over-eating and ruining a diet--but for me it is all about enjoying whole foods, changing the proportions of what is served and having that holiday dessert! Strategize, make less desserts so there are no leftover desserts for there rest of the week, and make more veggie sides so there ARE more leftovers of these for the week!
Here are some more tips:
1. Choose Seasonal Fruit and Veggies
The stars of the season will be filled with vitamins because they are grown in the season and soil that they were meant to be grown. Choose brussels sprouts, artichokes (read Artichoke King of the Winter Vegetables here!), asparagus, cabbage (watch my Healthy Cole Slaw video here), and mushrooms. For fruit, choose pomegranates, pears, apples, cranberries and grapes.
2. The Appetizers
This is an excellent time as your guests arrive to have some nibbles lying around that will be delicious and entertaining. However you don't want to stuff them and then they have no room for the meal and all the hard work you did goes to waste.
Serve light fare- high in protein and less starches (carbs) because carbs fill you up and make you feel more full.
Pick cheese plates with fresh seasonal fruit (inspiration for your own Cheese Plate here) or crudite dipped in caponata dip (eggplant) or hummus or yogurt avocado dip with dill (recipe here) or some beautiful pears wrapped in prosciutto. Or go unorthodox and steam a pot of Beer'd Mussels (recipe here)
3. The Alcohol
Whether its a pumpkin-tini or an warm Amarulu cocktail or simply wine, make sure there is enough but keep the flow slow and steady so your guests don't mindlessly eat as they chat and then feel too full for dinner- get rid of chips, pretzels and all the college style snacks-they lack elegance and stuff you silly.
4. The Turkey
This bird is the star of the show- no matter how you cook it keep it juicy and luscious. The luckiest diners will grab the iron rich legs and thighs- while the rest can have the breast (blah). This bird is lean and the leftovers can be chopped into a turkey salad made with hummus the day after!
I grew up on Italian Peasant Stuffing filled with sausage, egg, mushrooms and gizzards (watch my mother and I make it here!) so I am not familiar with Stove Top and breaded versions. I think there is enough starch at the meal that the bird doesn't need to be stuffed with it too- unless it is your Nanna's recipe and then tradition trumps everything. This rule applies to every category here.
6. The Gravy
I honestly couldn't care less, choose what you like- just don't make it lumpy and grainy.
7. The Sides
This is the place where the proportions are important
If you are making 6 sides:
4 should be veggies
1 should be whole grain
1 should be your choice.
Here are some ideas by category:
Roast (Roasted Veggie recipe here) them, sautee them or barbecue to enhance the flavors- add roasted nuts like pecans, hazelnuts or chestnuts and chop up some apples to complement the brussels sprouts. Dress the vegetables with pesto! (Fiorella's Pesto video here). These are full of fiber, antioxidants and vitamins so they should be more of these on table than the starches.
Keep most of the sugar for the pies, don't candy your starches- sweet potatoes are sweet enough! Keep the brown sugar and marshmallows where they belong! Choose a great corn bread ( I love the one from Whole Foods, remember Top Things I Bring Home for Thanksgiving read here)-great crusty olive bread or my Very Wild Rice and Quinoa Medley with dried cranberries and pecans (recipe here). You only need one or two good ones.
8. The Desserts!
They are part of every healthy meal- eat in moderation and use the seasonal fare- with apple tarts, pumpkin pies and baked apples with cinnamon and roasted pecan with whipped cream! Make less of these, so there are no leftover desserts for there rest of the week!