Here it is, part two of the nourishing Thanksgiving series (find part one here). Now let’s dive right in.
Be a carb snob
People love to blame the afternoon nap on too many bites of turkey, but I’d be willing to bet it’s a blood sugar crash! I usually don’t call out one food or food group, but on a carb-laden day like Thanksgiving (I’m looking at you bread rolls, sweet potato casserole, mashed potatoes, stuffing, desserts, and alcohol) – I encourage you to be a snob. What I mean by that is choose your absolute favorite dishes that you look forward to all year long and skip out on the dishes that don’t genuinely excite you.
For example, if you’re only taking a serving of the yam dish because it’s on the table but you would prefer to have a heftier serving of the stuffing that you have daydreams about…then don’t serve yourself the yams and grab that stuffing! As for desserts, I promise the apple pie still tastes like it did last year and the year before. You don’t need to take a slice for courtesy or because it is being served. Choose your favorite dessert, the one that makes your mouth water, and serve yourself a portion. By being more of a carb snob on Thanksgiving we’re still able to enjoy our favorite dishes and skip out on the ones that we’re eating out of habit or politeness.
Fill half of your plate with veggies
Including non-starchy vegetables does not mean we’re getting rid of the classics, it just means that we’re adding more nutrients. So to be clear – we’re adding bulk to the meal, not taking food away. By adding more fiber, vitamins, and minerals to your plate you’re enriching your health and helping you fill up on nourishing foods. Whether you make the appetizers veg-heavy or you add multiple vegetable side dishes to the menu, there are easy (and delicious) ways to increase your veggie intake the day of Thanksgiving.
- Crudité board: radish slices, beet chips, previously roasted sweet potato “chips”, bell pepper strips, carrot sticks + dip of choice
- Roasted vegetable dishes: brussel sprouts, carrots, bell peppers, mushrooms, eggplant
- Fall salad: arugula + shaved brussel sprouts/cabbage + roasted delicata squash + pomegranate seeds + raw walnuts or pumpkin seeds + dressing (tahini, olive oil, salt, pepper, lemon juice)
- Sauté: green beans + slivered almonds + sundried tomatoes + avocado oil + salt, pepper
Sometimes the smallest tweaks can make a big difference in the nutrition of the meal without sacrificing taste. Not saying we need to re-do all of our favorite Thanksgiving staples (don’t touch Grandma’s family pie recipe!), but if we can alter a few recipes to make it more nourishing then why not?
It will depend on the individual dish, but here are some ideas:
- Cut sugar amounts by 1/4-1/3 of what recipe states
- Use alternate sweeteners to replace granulated sugar (like applesauce, banana, coconut sugar, dates, or honey)
- Switch to high fiber versions of foods like whole grain rolls and nut & seed crackers
- Keep the skin on your potatoes, sweet potatoes, and other starchy vegetables to increase fiber
- Switch the method of cooking by opting for baking or roasting versus deep-frying
- Cut the cream amounts or switch to a healthier fat source (like a coconut milk/cream)
- Make items from scratch to control the ingredients used and cut the “junk” (i.e. pie crusts, whipped cream, cranberry sauce, etc.)
Set the vibes
Whether you have a forced family gathering or a complete love fest on Thanksgiving, it is nice to take advantage of the day to connect with others and raise your energetic vibrations. You may not be able to control where or with whom you’re spending the day, but you are able to control the energy you exude and the vibes you bring to the table. So remember that when you find yourself annoyed before you’ve even started the day – you are in control.
I challenge you to practice gratitude and thankfulness, it could mean a quick journal list when you wake up or a group activity with others. It is rare that we get a full day to do nothing but connect, eat, and share good food. That in itself is something to be grateful for! Whether it is sharing a list of what you’re appreciative of, naming each dish after an affirmation (thank you Gratitude Cafe for that idea), or expressing gratefulness in your community by distributing meals – I encourage you to set the vibrational standards high to make it an unforgettable and cherished day.
Download this FREE ebook to by Meg Gerber, RD, LDN, IFNCP. It is gluten and dairy free, rich in plant foods, and low in added sugars. It makes your mouth water and gives you healthier versions of your favorite Thanksgiving dishes!