I Hate “Healthy” Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving for me is full of memories. Memories of watching the Macy’s Day Parade. Memories of hearing my mom put the turkey in the oven and family chats. Memories of grandparents, aunts, uncles, cousins, siblings, friends sitting around a table and sharing a meal. Memories of the wonderful smells that made our Thanksgiving special.
I’m a firm believer that if you eat right 80-90% of the time, you can have little indulgences in the remaining 10-20%. Thanksgiving is my 10-20%.
Because food carries memories. The smells, the sounds, the sight of different foods brings up both good and bad memories.
Food is comfort, warmth, love. Its why we tend to overeat certain foods or at certain times. Its why asking someone to change their eating habits can be like asking them to give up their first born child. Most make changes to their diet slowly and its why most diets don’t work.
So to me, to have a “healthy” Thanksgiving, well….yuck!
But here’s my secret….Thanksgiving lasts one day and I keep enough leftovers for one post Thanksgiving meal (afterall, those are even better!). The rest, I give to our guests to take home, so they too can have that favorite post Thanksgiving meal. Come to my house for dinner and you’ll leave with turkey, fixings and dessert to take home.
This way I can ENJOY the holiday. I can ENJOY my family and friends. I can ENJOY the food. I can ENJOY the memories. And I don’t feel guilty or deprived and I don’t stretch it out for days to come. 80-90% clean eating, 10-20% splurge.
One other secret…..a few of my families Thanksgiving food memories are healthy and keep things balanced if I don’t feel like going for broke!
- We start dinner with soup and salad.
Not only do these help to fill you up with healthier grub so you don’t go overboard on the stuffing, bread or mashed potatoes, but they can be made in advance or served as appetizers to keep the natives (kids or hungry husbands) from getting restless.
Chicken Soup for the Soul
2 carrots, peeled and diced medium
4 celery ribs, diced medium
1 large onion, diced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2 chicken breasts with bones and skin
10 brussel sprouts, chopped
1 cup quinoa pasta (I used spaghetti and just chopped it into spoon sized pieces. Kids are GREAT for this!)
2 organic chicken bullion cubes
12 cups water
3 bay leaves
1/4 cup dried parsley
sea salt and pepper to taste
1 tablespoon olive oil
In a large soup pot, heat olive oil.
Add chopped carrots, celery, onion and garlic. Saute till onion is translucent, approx. 5 minutes.
Add chicken breasts skin side down. Sear 2 min each side. Add water and bay leaves. Simmer for 1 hour with cover on on a medium/low heat.
Take out chicken and shred. Add brussel sprouts, parsley, bullion cubes and pasta. Add chicken back to soup. Simmer till pasta is done about 10 minutes.
Season with sea salt and pepper to taste. Serve
Side Salad with a Twist
6 cups mixed greens
1 tart red apple, diced
1 cup shredded carrots
1 cucumber, diced
1/4 cup dried cranberries
1/4 cup crushed walnuts
2 tablespoon rice wine vinegar
1 tablespoon curry powder
2 teaspoon local honey
1 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
Combine first 6 ingredients in a large bowl.
Place last 6 ingredients in a blender bottle and shake till emulsified.
Serve tossed together or with the dressing on the side.
2. Have more than 1 non-starchy veggie side.
Believe me, these veggie sides never stand a chance. Even people who don’t normally like their veggies eat these. I’ve never had leftovers of any of them.
Bacon Roasted Brussel Sprouts
2 pounds brussel sprouts (fresh or frozen)
2 tablespoon extra virgin olive oil
1/2 pound think sliced local bacon (the fresher the better)
6 cloves garlic, minced
3/4 cup organic chicken broth
1/4 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Bring a large pot of salted water to boil. Add the brussel sprouts and cook till tender, approx 10 minutes. Drain and rinse under cold water to stop the cooking process. Or, if using frozen, cook according to package.
In a large skillet, heat the oil over medium. Add the back and sauté, about 7-10 minutes or until crisp. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the bacon to a plate lined with paper towels.
Add the garlic and saute until golden brown, about 1 minute.
Add the brussel sprouts to the same skillet and saute until heated through and starting to brown, approx. 5-7 minutes. Add the broth and pepper, simmer until the broth reduces just enough to coat the brussel sprouts, approx 3 minutes.
Transfer the brussel sprouts to a bowl and combine with bacon. Toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper to taste. Serve.
Garlicky Mixed Veggies
1 cup sliced button mushrooms
1 large onion sliced
1 medium zuchinni, sliced
1 medium summer squash, sliced
4 cloves garlic, minced
2 tablespoon, extra virgin olive oil
1 teaspoon sea salt
1/2 teaspoon ground pepper
Heat a medium skillet over medium heat. Add oil. Heat 2 minutes.
Add onion. Cook approx. 5 minutes or till golden brown.
Add mushrooms and sea salt. Cook approx. 5 minutes. Transfer to a bowl.
Add zucchini, summer squash, garlic and pepper. Cook approx. 5-7 minutes or till golden brown.
Combine with mushroom and onion mixture. Season with salt & pepper to taste. Serve.
3. Have a dessert that is light, but satisfies a sweet tooth.
In my house, this is fruit salad. I can’t tell you how many years I’ve sat down with a big bowl hours after Thanksgiving dinner has past, but still not hungry enough for a full meal. This fruit salad always hits the spot. Not to mention that it can be made a day ahead!
Family Fruit Salad
1 small cantaloupe mellon, diced
1 small honey dew mellon, diced
2 apples, diced
2 pears, diced
3 kiwi, halved lengthwise & sliced
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 pint frozen blueberries
1 pint fresh raspberries
2 star fruit, sliced & halved
1 pomegranete, seeded
1 cup sweet red wine
1 cup orange juice with pulp
Combine mellons, apples, pears and frozen blueberries. Pour wine and orange juice over fruit and let sit overnight or for a an hour.
Add remaining fruit and serve topped with sherbet or fresh whipped cream.
Enjoy your Thanksgiving. And most of all, remember to give Thanks for all the blessings of the previous year. I’m sure there are many.
I’m thankful for family, friends, living close to family after so many years away, a great new home and being able to share my love of exercise, food and helping women feel GREAT about themselves. Thank you for sharing a part of yourself with me.