Thanksgiving is this week, and that means family time and the use of family favorite recipes. There are so many easy ways to slightly adjust your holiday recipes to be a bit healthier.

Serve it up healthy at Thanksgiving

Image Thanksgiving Dinner Family Image Thanksgiving Dinner Family Image Thanksgiving Dinner Family

Thanksgiving is this week, and that means family time and the use of family favorite recipes. There are so many easy ways to slightly adjust your holiday recipes to be a bit healthier – perhaps lighten up the sodium or sugar content, for example. And this can help you enjoy the holidays with good blood pressure and good glucose readings. Here are some healthy ideas.

Feature seasonal vegetables in your holiday menus:

  • Oven-roasted turnips,  parsnips, carrots, onions and Brussels sprouts tossed with olive oil and fresh thyme or rosemary
  • Spinach salad with fresh apple slices and dried cranberries
  • Mashed sweet potatoes seasoned with a touch of olive oil and maple syrup
  • Multi-grain rice and quinoa stuffing with cubed butternut squash, chopped pecans and dried cherries

Even the sweets and desserts can be lightened up. It helps to wait on serving dessert until three hours after Thanksgiving dinner, providing time for a timely walk.

  • Poached pears drizzled with honey
  • Homemade oatmeal cookies made with dried cranberries and walnuts
  • Pineapple upside down cake made with extra pineapple and natural applesauce in the batter to replace part of the oil or butter
  • One-crust apple or berry pie
  • Pumpkin mousse made with low-fat evaporated milk

Many of your family members who come for Thanksgiving dinner have chronic health issues. You might want to make menu adjustments such as:

  • For heart disease: serve fish or roast a turkey breast to reduce saturated fat
  • For celiac disease: serve a wild rice dressing; roast a fresh turkey breast that has not had a broth solution injected
  • For diabetes: serve a variety of non-starchy vegetables such as green beans, greens or yellow or zucchini squash that keep the carbohydrate content down
  • For managing weight:  one-crust or crustless pies to reduce calories
  • For high blood pressure: from-scratch dishes to keep the sodium  in check since salt can be omitted from most recipes

I think the best part of the holidays is the time with your family: time to chat or go for longer-than-usual walks; time to cook with your children sharing the old-time family recipes that perhaps have a story behind them. Since Thanksgiving marks the beginning of the holiday season, it is nice to set a healthy tone for the season.

__

About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.