Creating Healthier Holidays

By Lisa Turan, NC, CNE

Whether you are hosting the family holiday meal OR attending lots of parties- you can make healthy and delicious choices that won’t undo all the hard work you have put in all year. Thanksgiving is often terrifying for those of us that want to stay on track. If you really think about it, however, it is technically ONE MEAL. I am usually the one hosting and cooking. I have been doing it with nutritious ingredients for years. Yes, my family and neighbors look forward to coming. If they didn’t know me, they would not know the difference. I also welcome any dishes they bring no matter what they are. It is all about choices, and really, we all choose for ourselves what we put in our mouths. Challenge yourself this year to do something a little differently. From my holiday kitchen to yours: Happy, Healthy Holidays!

Simple Tips to keeping the holiday’s healthier and full of joy:

1. Limit the alcohol. I know it is a staple for many family get-togethers, but larger amounts not only lead to poor food choices and quantities but it leads to other health issues as well. If that isn’t enough, keeping it in check can reduce the family arguments with “Uncle Joe”. Try sparkling water with frozen cranberries in a fancy glass.

2. Ditch the refined sugars. I know, but what about pumpkin pie and Cool Whip? There are a ton of pumpkin dessert recipes out there that use natural sweeteners like dates, pure maple syrup and honey that will not disappoint.

3. Damaged oils. Cooking with unstable, processed oils and fats like Vegetable oils, margarine, Crisco, etc. is not doing you any good. They are chemical concoctions that have no place in a healthy home. What vegetable can you squeeze and get an OIL? Um, none. For sweeter dishes, swap in coconut oil, for savory dishes at higher temperatures use Ghee or organic butter. There are a variety of olive and nut oils that are great for dressings and cold dishes. Roasted root vegetables with a drizzle of coconut oil and a sprinkle of sea salt is a perfect side dish.

4. Sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. Not only are sweet potatoes more blood sugar balancing than white ones, but they pack a healthy dose of Vitamin A that helps support your immune system. You are also less likely to pour on the butter and cream. Sweet potatoes are perfect with a little olive oil or Ghee sprinkled with a little cinnamon, baked or mashed.

5. The Turkey. Pick your bird, preferably organic and free range, but that is really a personal choice. Roast and baste with one of the stable oils like Ghee or organic butter. Pile on the fresh herbs. Healthy does not mean vegetarian or vegan to many. Animal proteins are the only protein source that contains all of the essential amino acids which are necessary for protein production / building. Imperative for those Mountain Life Fitness workouts!

My last piece of advice. If you choose to indulge in a dish that is less than desirable to your health: Pick one thing, choose it consciously, clarify how much you will eat/drink, enjoy it completely, then let it go.

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