As I’ve gotten older, I’ve realized that Thanksgiving is my absolute favorite holiday. No gifts, just spending quality time with family and friends and reflecting on all the things to be grateful for.
Of course, Thanksgiving is also known for complete gluttony! Many wear elastic waistband pants to allow some growing room for the feasting of the day!
This time of year, you will see health gurus and websites preach ways to be healthy and not deviate too far from the norm, offering tips on what to eat - eat this instead of that, and providing “skinny” options to our holiday favs.
I don’t know about you, but this doesn’t sound like fun to me at all! Eating modified versions of my favorite holiday dishes made with low fat ingredients - yuck! It just doesn’t taste the same and ends up leaving you not feeling satisfied. Ultimately, research has shown that when we are not satisfied, we end up reaching for more and consume the same amount of calories we would have gotten in the first place, if not more.
So, what to do then? I’m going to share my top strategies with you: I eat all the foods I love, just smaller portions and fill up on the veggies. I’m also choosy - is XYZ really worth the calories? Is it so delicious that it’s worth eating? Do I really need to eat that dinner roll (like, what’s so special about a white piece of bread)? Choose the special stuff.
No veggies on your holiday food table - or are they laden with fat? That’s where I come in to save the day!
I have some amazing holiday veggie side recipes that I’m going to share with you. They are tried and true dishes that I’ve served over the years and everyone loves them. At a potluck, I always offer to bring a veggie dish. At least I know that I will be able to fill my plate with some good veggies to counterbalance the heavier foods.
Besides those key strategies, there are a couple of other tips I think are key during this holiday time:
First, get active! I know the last thing you may want to do after eating a big meal is to run around, so take a little snooze, watch some football, if that’s your thing, and then get off the couch and have some fun! Take your family and friends out in the yard, play a game of football, frisbee, kickball, whatever floats your boat. Get the kids involved and make it a holiday tradition. My family loves playing a round of football, particularly on Thanksgiving. If the weather is miserable outside, play a game of charades, Twister or something that gets you off your tush and gets you moving a bit. These games also create quality time together, which is really what the holidays are all about, right? 🙂
Finally, but definitely very important. Even if you just go all out and don’t pay attention to anything I just said, Thanksgiving or Christmas (or any other holiday) is just ONE day! You will not gain 5 pounds in one day, I promise. This only happens if you make it a whole holiday weekend or week. I know, you love the leftovers, so do I! You can have those leftovers, but again, eat less of them and add even more veggies to the mix. I love to make a big salad and pair it with leftover turkey or ham. Don’t forget - PORTION CONTROL is key here!!
I hope these tips help you enjoy the holidays and your favorite foods without breaking the bank!
Check out these fav recipes that I've made over the years:
Brussel Sprouts with Pomegranate and Pecans
This dish always adds a nice splash of color to the table and the intricate flavors of the brussel sprouts, pecans, pomegranate and gorgonzola make this an impressive veggie side that has received rave reviews from my dinner table compadres! Get the recipe here.
Confetti Carrots with Maple and Pomegranate
Can you tell I like pomegranate? :) This carrot dish will liven up any table and any palate! Even kids like carrots, so this is one that everyone will eat. The carmelized maple flavor makes it so yummy! Get the recipe here.
Lemony Green Beans with Toasted Almond Slices
This one is so simple to make, it surprising how good it is! For those of you who believe that green beans is a must on a holiday table, this recipe gives you a healthy twist that's also delicious. Get the recipe here.