I would guess the initial thoughts that come to mind for many of us about Thanksgiving is: Turkey and pumpkin pie (yum!), followed by bloating and food coma (ugh).
Ok, let’s work on this. Because food comas and adjusting your belt loop after a meal aren’t usually what we like to look forward to. Below are some tips I share on how to celebrate Thanksgiving while keeping your health goals in check and preventing that Thanksgiving bulge:
1. Let’s keep the over stuffing for the turkey, not our bellies.
Over eating creates havoc on our digestive system and we end up with that dreadful gut rot feeling. It’s so easy to get carried away when there is so much food around. The trick is to start with a salad, baked veggies, or soup followed by a protein so that you begin filling your stomach up with dense nutrients, leaving little space for the breads and casseroles that tend to be the bloat culprits.
I also recommend taking a high quality digestive enzyme with your meal to help with digestion so you can absorb the nutrients from your food better, ultimately reducing bloating and that sensation of food sitting in your stomach.
2. Slow it down
Thanksgiving is a great occasion to surround yourself with family and friends around good food. Distract yourself with conversation. There’s no rush to finish your plate. Take a breather, and put your fork down between bites. This gives your brain time to register that your stomach is currently on duty. No one is forcing you to eat everything on the table, choose what you really want to eat and mindfully enjoy every bite of it. This goes for dessert too, choose 1 dessert that you have been eyeing, and savour every delicious morsel.
3. Contribute a healthy side dish or dessert for the dinner
Make something you can bring to the dinner that is something you would love to eat yourself. I have below some recipe ideas for you that make fantastic nutritious side dishes:
Vegan Pesto Spaghetti Squash
How to cook the spaghetti squash
Cut the squash in half lengthwise (or by the waistline for longer noodles!). Put the halves cut side down on a lightly greased baking tray and bake for 40 min at 350 degrees. (This cook time is for a smaller squash). Use your fork to scoop out the insides and there you have it! Oodles of spaghetti noodles that your belt buckle will thank you for.
Yield: Just under 1 cup
4 cups loosely packed fresh basil leaves
1/3 cup organic nutritional yeast
2 small cloves of garlic, minced
1/2 cup of organic hemp seeds
1/2 cup extra-virgin olive oil
1/2 tsp Himalayan pink salt
1 tsp of fresh lemon juice
place all ingredients into a blender or food processor, and slowly pulse until it forms a paste. You may need stop and scrape down the inside of the jar and pulse again.
alternatively, if you are strapped for time, you can always purchase a good quality pesto, however make sure there are no preservatives added and olive oil is the only oil used.
Autumn Salad with Honey Ginger Dressing
Serves: 3 as side salad (but can easily multiply the ingredients)
1 box of arugula (5oz)
1 cup of cooked and cubed acorn squash
1/2 cup of walnut pieces (or pecans)
1 gala apple, cubed
1 cup of cooked chickpeas
1 handful of sprouts (ie: alfalfa, broccoli, sunflower)
Ingredients for the dressing:
2 TB apple cider vinegar
2 1/2 tablespoons of honey
1 TB finely grated fresh ginger
1/2 tsp of salt
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/4 tsp freshly ground pepper
6 TB olive oil
How to cook acorn squash:
Set oven to 350 degrees. Lightly grease baking pan with organic butter or coconut oil. Cut acorn squash in half lengthwise and place cut side down on the pan for 40 minutes.
Instructions for the dressing:
Place all dressing ingredients into a mason jar and tightly seal it. Vigorously shake the jar until the dressing emulsifies and the honey is fully blended in.
Arrange the salad ingredients into a large mixing bowl and lightly dress the salad with the dressing. Dressing leftovers can be stored for up to 1 week.
Mashed Cauliflower with Gravy
Serves: 3 as side dish
1 head cauliflower, cut into florets
1 tablespoon olive oil
1 clove garlic, smashed
1/2 teaspoon Himalayan pink salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 TB of organic butter (optional)
1/2 C of vegetable broth
Place a steamer insert into a saucepan and fill with water to just below the bottom of the steamer. Bring water to a boil. Add cauliflower, cover, and steam until tender, about 10 minutes.
Meanwhile, heat olive oil in a small skillet over medium heat; cook and stir garlic until softened, about 2 minutes. Remove from heat.
Transfer half the cauliflower and slowly pour in a little vegetable broth to a food processor or powerful blender; cover and blend on high. Add remaining cauliflower florets one at a time along with remaining broth, until vegetables are creamy. Blend in garlic, butter, salt, and black pepper.
Yields: close to 2 cups depending on your preferred consistency
2 1/2 TB olive oil
1/4 cup gluten free flour
1 1/2 cups vegetable broth
2 TB tamari sauce
1/4 tsp fresh ground black pepper
Instructions for Gravy
Put olive oil in pot on low heat then add flour and mix well with whisk. Stir in the rest of the ingredients until it becomes a creamy sauce. Add a dash more vegetable broth if you want a slightly runnier consistency.
Butternut Squash Soup
Serves: 3, as side dish
I followed this ridiculously simple recipe using any of these broths.
Lastly, Nutritionist approved DESSERTS!
No Bake Vegan Pumpkin Pie
(please stick with dark grade maple syrup, yacon syrup, coconut nectar, or raw honey to sweeten)
Pumpkin Pie Energy Bites
MARK YOUR CALENDARS! Sunday October 18 at 2pm, Maya Eid will be hosting a talk on ‘How to Avoid Winter Weight Gain’, with tons more practical strategies like these to help you get through the winter looking fit and healthy as ever! More details to come, so stay tuned!