Holiday Health Starts in the Kitchen!

With Thanksgiving just a few days away, the temptations are too! It’s very easy for us to pack our plates with the unhealthy choices and chuck it up to “the holidays”. The key to remaining healthy during the holiday season is to enter with a plan. There will be plenty of celebrations at work and at home so having a plan for making healthier choices is important. 

This week, bae and I will be eating VERY lightly because he intends to overload on starches/sweets Thanksgiving Day. It’s his idea of balance. I however, will be sure to pile my plate with the healthy dishes I make, aside from the mac and cheese. To ensure I stay on track, I intend to slightly indulge only the day of and leave the leftovers for bae the following day. My version of portion control for the holiday. 

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As a way of allowing yourself to indulge and still keep it healthy, consider the following alternatives.

Substitute your greens for cabbage sautéed with peppers and onions. Cabbage is so delicious this way, adding seasonings of your choice and cooked in a few tablespoons of olive (or coconut) oil. This is a good way to cut down on sodium as well. 

If you’re feeling a little adventurous, you can try cauliflower stuffing. Super easy with fewer calories and carbs. Fresh ingredients are better! Just chop some carrots, onions, cauliflower, celery, and onion, Sauté the onions, carrots, and celery in butter until they are all soft. Add the cauliflower and season with rosemary, salt, pepper, parsley, and sage. Stir. Add 1/2 cup of vegetable broth and cover until liquid is absorbed.

You can also try some maple glazed carrots. The more vegetables on your plate, the more guilt-free you feel after! 

For dessert, you can try grilled fruit. Peaches would be a good alternative to that slice of peach cobbler.

This week, I’ll be making these dishes instead of our traditional candied yams and collard greens.

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Sweet Potato Casserole
4 sweet potatoes
1 teaspoon nutmeg
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1/2 teaspoon ground clove
4 tablespoons butter
1/4 cup almond milk

Pecan topping
1 cup pecans, ROUGHLY chopped
3 tablespoons maple syrup
4 tablespoons coconut flour
1.5 tablespoons butter

Half bag or so of mini marshmallow’s

1.Wash, peel and cut sweet potatoes.
2. Boil in water until tender with the touch of a fork.
3. Drain cooked potatoes and place in a bowl with almond milk, cinnamon, butter, ground cloves and nutmeg. (I add a little bit of pumpkin spice because, DUH!) Mash and mix until creamy.
4. In a separate bowl combine maple syrup pecans flower and melted butter. 
5. Spread mashed sweet potato mix into a casserole dish and top with marshmallows, then spread the pecan mix on top of the marshmallows. 
6. Bake at 350 for approximately 20-30 minutes. 

To make this even healthier, omit the marshmallows. This will be extremely satisfying without all the added sugar and butter in our typical candied yam dishes!

Also, Earth Balance is possibly THEE best vegan butter. 

 

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Roasted Brussel Sprout Salad

1 lb. Brussel sprouts, shredded
3/4 cup of dried cranberries
1/2 cup of candied pecans (or almonds)


1. Coat brussel sprouts with olive oil and seasonings of your choice. (i like tuscan seasoning and pepper)
2. Spread across a baking sheet, roast Brussel sprouts at 350* for about 30 minutes. (i like them crispy so i just eyeball it until i see them darkening)
3. Add roasted brussel sprouts to a serving bowl and toss gently with dried cranberries and pecans (or almonds). 

I know brussel sprouts are hard to enjoy for some, but the nuts and cranberries REALLY sweeten it up making them even tastier! You could even add some mandarin slices.

Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!

-Megan "Master Chef Meg" Swendsen, Contributing Blogger, Cooking Enthusiast, All-Around Based-God. 

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