By Guest Blogger (nutritionist), Mary Brown, MS, RD, LDN
It’s November and the first thought that probably crosses your mind is Thanksgiving dinner – the feast of all feasts! At this point you have probably heard all you want to hear about ways to keep off the pounds over the holiday season. Isn’t this a time to celebrate? To sit back, relax and enjoy a special meal with your family and friends? You may eat more calories and fat on Turkey Day compared to any other typical day but it only comes once a year, right?! You may be surprised to find out how delicious AND nutritious the meal is! Lets breakdown a typical Thanksgiving dinner and relish in the fact that we are providing our bodies with much needed nutrition (as well as splurging on an incredible feast).
Turkey: Turkey is a great source of lean protein. Did you know white turkey meat has the lowest amount of calories per serving compared to all other meats? And if you take the skin off it has the least amount of fat too! Turkey is also a good source of B vitamins, zinc, niacin, iron, potassium and magnesium.
Stuffing: Stuffing often contains vegetables, dried fruit, nuts, herbs and spices. All of these ingredients contain vitamins and phytonutrients that are great for your health. And bread crust is a rich source of fiber as well as cancer-fighting antioxidants. If you make your stuffing with whole grain bread you will also be including extra minerals that will boost the immune system.
Mashed Potatoes: While russet potatoes have gotten a bad rap recently with the low carbohydrate craze, they provide a nutritious punch! Potatoes are a great source of vitamin C, vitamin B6, copper, and manganese, just to name a few.
Cranberry Sauce: Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants that reduce your risk of chronic diseases like cancer, stroke and heart disease. Regular consumption of cranberry juice can also prevent and treat bladder and urinary tract infections, peptic ulcers and may provide protection against chronic age-related afflictions like loss of coordination and memory.
Sweet Potatoes: Remember how healthy russet potatoes are? Well sweet potatoes have even more nutrition including vitamin A, beta-carotene, fiber, potassium and iron. They’re rich in antioxidants and anti-inflammatory nutrients, and are described as an anti-diabetic food that helps stabilize blood sugar levels.
Green Bean Casserole: Green beans contain lots of vitamin K for healthy bones and anti-inflammatory nutrients that may lessen the severity of asthma and arthritis. They also contain nutrients that have been found to protect the heart, prevent colon cancer and support the immune system, skin and memory. Green beans could be one of the healthiest foods out there!
Pumpkin Pie: While pumpkin is low in fat and calories, it is a rich source of vitamin A and fiber. Pumpkin is loaded with potassium, vitamin A, beta-carotene, folic acid and vitamin C and E. Not to mention yummy!
Pecan Pie: Pecans are great sources of heart-healthy fats – people who eat nuts are less likely to die of heart disease than those who don’t. Pecans provide protein, fiber, and over 19 vitamins and minerals including vitamins E and A and folic acid.
Now that you know how nutritious thanksgiving dinner is dig in and enjoy! Just remember not to go overboard. These nutritious foods are usually loaded up with butter and sugar, so watch your portion size and ENJOY! And maybe after the feeding frenzy gather up your friends and family and go for a brisk stroll outside – some fresh air, conversation, and exercise are perfect ways to wrap up the meal. Check out my blog next month, when I will be giving ideas how to “healthify” common food items we will be eating throughout the month of December.