Pull out your stretchy pants and make room on the sofa! Thanksgiving dinner is one of the heavier meals, leaving us as stuffed as a Turkey, as mashed as a potato and with a digestive working overtime to digest all that extra food.
Did you know you can still have the same sumptuous meal but still feel sprite enough to toss the ball around the yard? Try some healthy substitutes to enjoy your meal without suffering from the belly ache - and the guilt accompanying it.
Let’s Start with the Heavy Stuff – the Stuffing
There’s a reason it’s called stuffing! One of the most symbolic parts of the meal is the turkey stuffing which is often loaded with fat, high in calories and lots of salt. Often, the store-bought stuffing is made with lots of bread and butter. This year, aim for a DIY stuffing so that you have the control over which ingredients make it in and which you choose to leave out.
One healthy idea for a light, fluffy stuffing is a superstar South American grain called Quinoa (Keen-wa). This grain is very healthy and if cooked in the right broth with the right seasonings can make a tasty, fat free and guilt free stuffing. If you add squash to your quinoa, it upgrades your stuffing with a rich, buttery flavor without using any butter at all!
Another option for the stuffing is homemade wild rice which is rich in fibers. Make it taste rich and delicious by creatively adding veggies, spices and bringing out your master chef qualities!
Sweeten the Deal with Sweet Potatoes
You might think that sweet things come with a price but in the case of white potatoes vs. sweet, the latter wins and not only by taste! Sweet potatoes are actually lower in calories, while richer in fiber and in vitamins. And since they are naturally sweet – no need to pile on the brown sugar or maple. Making this small substitute actually reduces your calorie intake for this meal and as a bonus, throw in a handful of heart healthy toasted walnuts for a crunchy twist.
Add some Love to your Sauce – your Heart will Love you for it!
Making your own cranberry sauce is not as easy as opening a can, but it gives you control of what goes in your sauce. And since cranberries are so rich in antioxidants and phytochemicals that are good for your heart, buy the real deal – no dried or jellied gunk will do! And for a twist? Throw in some good red wine – also rich in ant-oxidants that will leave your heart singing, not burning.
Green is not just an environmentally friendly way to live – bring it to your holiday table. Make some delicious side dishes of green veggies such as brussel sprouts and green beans to make it easier on the digestion. Besides being healthy, these dishes require very minimal effort to turn them into delicious options so they not only cut down the calorie intake but also the prep time! Slice the sprouts in thin slices, sautee in some Extra Virgin Olive Oil till lightly brown and crispy and squeeze with some fresh lemon. Finger lickin’ good!
After Thoughts for After Dinner
Congratulations - you were able to make some changes in your meal, but you still kept the time honored tradition of over-eating on. Here are a few teas you might want to have on hand for after binge relief:
Chamomile Tea – This tea can ease your digestion after a large meal as well as help you achieve a more peaceful night’s sleep.
Ginger Tea – A cup of this spicy, delicious tea will ease your bloating and help ease your digestive system back to balance. You can even grate fresh ginger into hot water for a real, natural twist. If you feel too warm already or ginger tea makes you feel uncomfortable, substitute it with fresh mint leaves steeped in water for an exotic, Middle Eastern twist.
Green Tea – This soothing tea aids digestion of proteins in the stomach because of its polyphenols that increase the activity of our digestive enzyme – pepsin.
Fennel Tea – This tea not only helps avoid bloating and gas, it also helps clear phlegm from our respiratory system ‘tis the perfect season for consuming it!
Some herbal teas have contraindications for some people: chamomile should not be consumed during pregnancy, ginger should not be consumed by people taking blood thinners/diabetes medication/blood pressure medication, peppermint is not good for people taking blood pressure medication/diabetes medication or those suffering from reflux.
So have your turkey and eat it too! Gobble Gobble! J
Diclaimer: Information and statements made here are for education purposes and are not intended to replace the advice of your doctor. The views and nutritional advice expressed in this blog are not intended to be a substitute for conventional medical service. If you pregnant or have a severe medical condition or health concern, see your physician.