You’ve been eating really well all year and have been looking forward to this day. It’s circled in red in your calendar and it’s finally here! Thanksgiving is a wonderful time to gather with your family and friends. It’s also a wonderful opportunity to enjoy what is arguably one of the best meals of the year.
While a dinner this extravagant is often served up with a side of guilt, it doesn’t have to be! Read on for some nutrient info you may not know about your favourite feast, as well as some tips and swaps to help you enjoy it guilt free.
When you think of traditional foods served at Thanksgiving dinner, most, not all the time, roasted turkey is at the top of your mind. A delicious 4 oz serving of dark meat turkey (with skin) contains roughly 206 calories, and includes 2.4 g of saturated fat. But, it also provides a whopping 33 g of protein. It’s also a great source of essential nutrients, including niacin, which helps support the digestive system, and the amino acid tryptophan, a key ingredient to making moodlancing serotonin. Have you ever wondered what makes you feel so relaxed after your Thanksgiving feast? Turkey deserves most of the credit!
Healthier alternative: If you’re watching your calorie intake, try cutting a 4 oz piece of white meat without the skin. It has roughly 185 calories, 0.4 g of saturated fat and still contains 33 g of protein.
On their own, potatoes provide a decent source of immune- boosting vitamin C and naturally energizing vitamin B-6. They also contain fibre, which can help lower blood cholesterol and glucose levels. Traditional mashed potato recipes contain a large amount of butter, milk and salt, which increases the amount of calories, hand-in-hand with decreasing the nutritional value. If you want an alternative with the same great taste and are keeping a close eye on your starch intake, try a new take on this traditional dish below.
Recipe swap: Substitute your traditional mashed potatoes for a mashed cauliflower recipe. Cauliflower is low in calories and fat, and high in potassium and vitamin C, making it the healthy alternative!
Ever heard of the saying “a carrot a day keeps the eye doctor away?” Probably not, but it is partially true! Carrots are rich in beta carotene, and once ingested, the body converts beta carotene into vitamin A. One of the many known benefits of vitamin A is the role it plays in the maintenance of good vision and prevention of vision problems. Coated lightly with honey and lemon juice, glazed carrots are so deliciously nutritious you’ll easily forget you’re eating a vegetable.
Cooking tip: Looking for an olive oil substitute? Place a natural cinnamon stick in two cups of boiling water and let it sit for 5 minutes. Use this as the base to for cooking the carrots.
It’s time for pumpkin pie!
Pumpkin pie is a good source of iron, which is a component of hemoglobin, a protein molecule that helps transport oxygen in our red blood cells. However, there’s no way around the fact that, although it contains important nutrients, a 4.8 oz slice contains upwards of 310 calories and roughly 50 g of carbohydrates. If you’ve over- indulged and want something to help balance everything out, try this delicious treat below, for dessert instead.
Recipe swap: Cut an apple into even slices, place them on a baking tray and sprinkle cinnamon on top. Bake them in the oven at 450° F for 10 minutes. Cinnamon is known for helping curb blood sugar levels, making this the perfect treat after a feast.
Dietitian’s Note: It’s okay to “cheat” every now and then. Treating yourself once in a while can help keep your healthy eating on track because you don’t feel deprived, so don’t feel guilty! If you’re worried about overeating, drink water before and in-between meals and measure food portions to be no bigger than your palm. Drinking water before and after meals will help break down foods and aid in digestion. Eating a large meal can do a number on your digestive system, and if you have food sensitivities, it can aggravate it even more. So before you dig right in, don’t forget to take a digestive enzyme to help avoid an upset stomach and aid in the digestion process.