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Have a healthy Thanksgiving

Posted on Nov. 24, 2014 ( comments)
Thanksgiving Cranberries
Photo credit: Flickr user Ruthanne Reid
Thanksgiving. There is perhaps no other holiday that focuses so exclusively on food. Lots and lots of food.

It’s not a day many associate with healthy eating. But — overeating aside — several traditional Thanksgiving foods are actually beneficial. Here, Chelsea Lindahl, RD, CD, a wellness dietitian with the MultiCare Center for Healthy Living, and Beverly Utt, MS, MPH, RD, a Center for Healthy Living wellness dietitian and coach, offer their insight for creating a healthier Thanksgiving plate.

  • Turkey
    Turkey has an awesome protein package when compared to other holiday entree choices like brisket, ribs or filet mignon. Its healthy profile includes being a lean meat choice that is low in saturated fat and high in protein. Paired with vibrant red cranberry sauce, which is high in anthocyanin pigments responsible for the berry’s red color and which provide a number of health benefits, this Thanksgiving entrée gets three thumbs up for its health-promoting potential.

  • Mashed Potatoes
    Although they have a bad reputation, potatoes are not void of nutrients. They are high in some great nutrients, such as fiber and potassium, and they’re also a very good source of vitamin C. To get the most nutritional bang for your buck, leave the skins on. Red potatoes are excellent “smashed” with roasted garlic. Our favorite is Yukon gold potatoes mashed in the traditional way. They are so creamy, you won’t even notice the skins, but you’ll certainly appreciate the time you save not having to peel them!

  • Thanksgiving Stuffing/Dressing
    Stuffing or dressing is often notoriously unhealthy, but it doesn’t have to be! Stuffing is an excellent opportunity to add nutrient-rich foods to your Thanksgiving meal. Add vegetables or fresh fruits, such as onion, celery, mushrooms, and apple, to increase the amount of fiber and vitamins. Dried fruits, like cranberries and cherries, add a pop of color and a hint of sweetness, while also contributing disease-fighting antioxidants. Chopped nuts, like walnuts, pecans or chestnuts, increase fiber, mineral and protein content.

    You can even take it a step further and make your own bread cubes using multigrain or whole grain crusty bread. Making your own bread cubes at home is simple and can be done ahead of time. Take a multigrain or whole grain crusty loaf of bread, cut the loaf into ½ inch cubes and spread in single layer on a sheet pan, bake at 300 degrees for 30-35 minutes.

  • Sweet Potatoes
    Sweet potatoes have been gaining popularity for a number of years — and rightfully so. Sweet potatoes are highly pigmented with carotenoids, making them full of the diseas- fighting antioxidant beta carotene. They’re an excellent source of vitamins A and C, as well as minerals like manganese and potassium. Enhance sweet potatoes natural sweetness, and reduce the amount of refined sugar in your Thanksgiving meal, by using natural sweeteners like pure maple syrup and honey in your dish. Alternatively, sweet potatoes are delicious roasted with spices like curry, chili powder, paprika, salt and pepper.

Pro-tip: Think big, bold colors for your Thanksgiving table side dishes. Many holiday favorites incorporate reds, oranges, greens and browns, each carrying special protective properties for our health.

Posted in: Healthy Living
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