Have a Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

As you gather around your dinner table this Thanksgiving, enjoying those tasty traditional dishes, leave guilt behind – most of what you are about to eat is actually good for you!    Here’s the breakdown:Sweet potatoes – these babies are a superfood, full of beta-carotene, which produces large amounts of Vitamin A for your body!  Vitamin A not only strengthens eyesight, but also your immune system!  The incredible amounts of Vitamin C, potassium, Vitamin B6 and fiber packed into this family favorite also benefit the body.  The bad news is that adding sugar and too much unhealthy fat to this dish downplays the benefits – so try using olive oil in the dish instead of butter, and enjoy the natural sweet flavor instead of smothering the potatoes in sugar!

Pumpkin Pie - Full of fiber, beta carotenes, Vitamin C, potassium, and iron, this nutritious treat is almost all good!  Try making it with less sugar and low-fat evaporated milk for a healthier version, and you’ll have a dessert that is good for your heart, immune system, and eyes!

Stuffing – This dish can go either way, as some versions include too much butter and processed carbs.  Try making yours this year with whole wheat bread crumbs, and add in apple bits, nuts or seeds, and extra veggies; like carrots and squash, to add fiber and other nutrients to this traditional favorite!  With the benefits from the broth and those nutrients combined, your stuffing now has more nutritional punch!

Sides – Yesterday, during the pre-Thanksgiving dinner rush in the grocery store, I noticed there were more shoppers in the fresh foods department than anywhere else in the store!  The traditional dinner often includes collard greens, green beans, squash dishes, and brussel sprouts as filling and delicious sides. (I wonder if we eat more fresh veggies as a nation on this holiday more than any other day of the year!)  What can I say?  Does this health coach’s heart good!  These sides are loaded with multiple vitamins, minerals and fibrous benefits for our bodies – so good for us!  Just try and keep the “additions” like butter and salt, to a minimum.  Many of these selections can be steamed and just lightly sea-salted or drizzled with a small amount of olive oil.

And let’s not forget the “star of the show;” the big bird!

Turkey – This main event is a lean protein, providing healthy benefit to your body without a lot of fat or harmful additives.  It’s high in tryptophan, the nutrient that helps your body produce serotonin, which helps you regulate mood and sleep patterns.   It also includes such necessary nutrients as the B Vitamins, folic acid, selenium, and potassium.  It’s healthier to enjoy it skinless, and without a lot of additional fats, like butter, so try moisturizing it with olive oil, and “steam cooking” it in a bag in the roaster to keep it tender without the additional oils.

The nutritious benefits you’ll be getting from these family-favorite dishes is worth every bite.  Enjoy them in moderation (always a good rule of thumb!) and your body will thank you for the added nutrients this delicious dinner brings.  Have a wonderful and warm Thanksgiving holiday, everyone!