Thanksgiving is about graciousness and gratitude but let’s be honest, for most of us it’s also about a delicious feast! Indeed overindulging on Thanksgiving is a common ‘tradition,’ and it’s one that can leave you feeling lethargic, sluggish and bloated, and sometimes even sick and/or guilty. Fortunately, Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be an unhealthy ordeal; with a few simple tweaks, many traditional Thanksgiving foods can actually be super healthy.
Load-up on the following healthy Thanksgiving staples and you’ll have less room to over-indulge on the not so healthy stuff. Bon Appetite!
Turkey is an excellent source of protein, which will help to prevent dessert induced blood-sugar crashes. It is also a rich source of all the nervous system protecting, energy enhancing B-vitamins. If that weren’t enough, turkey contains a healthy dose of selenium (which helps support thyroid and skin health and may reduce the risk for heart disease) and zinc (which boosts the immune system).
Healthy Tweak: Choose pasture-fed organic turkey for more nutrients, an increased dose of anti-inflammatory omega-3s and reduced exposure to antibiotics.[i]
Squash (and sweet potatoes) are rich in carotenoids, which functions as free-radical fighting antioxidants, and help promote healthy eyesight.[ii] They are also both rich in complex carbohydrates, fibre, vitamins C and B6; omega-3s and the minerals manganese, potassium and copper.
Healthy Tweak: Avoid caramelized squashes (which typically have a lot of added sugar); instead make baked squash by slicing it down the middle and cooking it until soft inside. Once prepared, you can add butter, coconut oil and/or a dash of salt if desired.[iii]
This is one health food that has gotten an undeservedly bad rep. Butter adds depth to dishes and the fat and flavour that it provides helps make you feel satisfied so you’re less likely to overindulge. It also contains healthy CLA fats which helps prevent cancer and diabetes; all of the fat soluble vitamins (A, D, E and K), and the trace minerals manganese, chromium, zinc, copper and selenium.[iv]
Healthy Tweak: To avoid unnecessary exposure to artificial hormones and antibiotics and to ensure you receive the highest possible dose of nutrients, buy pasture-raised organic butter. Also, butter is healthful but best consumed in moderation.
#4 Cranberry Sauce
Cranberries are rich in vitamin C and also in phytonutrients, which are naturally occurring plant compounds that have antioxidant and disease-preventing properties. Preliminary research has found that the phytonutrients in cranberries may help prevent the growth and spread of cancer cells, and cranberries may also help prevent urinary infections, lower cholesterol and blood pressure and prevent blood clots.[v] [vi]
Healthy Tweak: Store bought cranberry sauces are typically vitamin void and can contain a whopping 21 grams of added sugar per serving![vii] Instead, try making a no-sugar added sauce at home using unsweetened applesauce or stevia to taste.
Coleslaw made primarily from cabbage is an excellent source of fibre, vitamin C and vitamin K (which supports healthy bones and helps prevent blood clots). The cabbage in coleslaw also helps prevent stomach ulcers and it contains two ingredients that are currently being studied for their potent cancer-fighting capabilities: indole-3-carbinol and sinigrin.[viii]
Healthy Tweak: Avoid store-bought coleslaws; most are made with canola oil and high fructose corn syrup. This recipe from Jamie Oliver is not only delicious it’s also extremely healthy.