Enjoy a Healthy Thanksgiving
Thanksgiving – is a special day to give thanks for all the good things in life. However, it has also developed into a time of traditional over-indulgence. The table is filled from sunup to sundown with food – lots of food! Plates are piled high with goodies over and over again, and over eating is not only NOT discouraged, it is encouraged!
Yes, it is a celebration of abundance, with roots in the story of the First Thanksgiving when the settlers and native tribes joined together to partake in the great gifts the autumn harvest had to offer. It is indeed a joyous time for all of us who have warm homes and plenty to eat.
Even though we have an abundance of food to eat every day, instead of giving reverent thanks for that amazing gift, we seem to use this holiday to wallow in the abundance set in front of us on the Thanksgiving table. It is a fun holiday that is fully embraced by most Americans. Unfortunately, the “wallowing” can and does, cause some dietary distress and overall health issues for many people.
A study of 1,986 heart attack patients presented at a meeting of the American Heart Association in 2000 suggested that an unusually large meal quadrupled the chance of having a heart attack within the next two hours.
Therefore, this Thanksgiving, enjoy the feast without sacrificing your health.
Here are few things you can do to stay focused on good health while celebrating the holiday.
Focus on People
This is a wonderful holiday to reconnect with family and friends. Talk to the people in your life – and really listen. Find out what they have been doing, what is important to them, and how they are feeling.
We all live very busy lives. The holiday season, beginning with Thanksgiving, is the perfect opportunity to slow down. Spend quality time with friends and family members. Take their hands and tell them how happy you are to have them in your life. And, maybe – just maybe – Aunt Gertrude will finally share her secret recipe with you for the perfect pumpkin pie! All kinds of miracles can happen when you really listen and let people into your life.
Focus on Fun
A great way to reconnect with family and friends is by playing games – any kind of game will do. Try board games, card games, puzzles, video games, or some kind of sport. The focus is on the fun. Games make it easy to talk, laugh, and share something about yourself.
You can even use dinnertime games. For example: fill little cups with mints and as dinner is drawing to a close, ask each guest to share something they’re thankful for as they eat each mint in their cup. Little moments form memories; and, those precious moments flow naturally when gathered together just to have fun.
Focus on Food (Taste Every Bite)
Yes, of course we still want to enjoy the feast. But instead of building a mountain of food on your plate, take small portions and focus on the flavor and texture of each bite. Pay homage to every morsel you eat. Appreciate the effort and love the cooks have put into the meal to please their guests. They will be delighted to see you slowly nibbling on small portions of all the delicious dishes presented, rather than gobbling everything down as if it were you last meal.
Finally, enjoy the personal benefits of knowing that your body will thank you for the care and consideration you are giving it. For those who are watching their diet, you will also be able to stay on track when you keep your portions under control.
Some guidelines to help you are providing by the Consumers Union of United States Inc. (c) Copyright 2010
- Don’t arrive famished. Have a snack an hour or two before.
- Stay away from the finger food at the hors d’oeuvres table.
- Eat the salad first.
- Use a salad plate instead of a dinner plate.
- Taste everything to your liking, but take small portions and resist seconds.
- Eat slowly, and participate in conversation.
- Skip the dessert, or at least go easy on it. Fruit is preferable.
- Limit alcohol intake to one glass of wine, and drink at least one full glass of water.
Focus on Fitness
The party is over. Tummies are full. It is time to get up and move. I know there can be an intense desire to lie down and sleep, but the indigestion and regrets are not worth giving into the temptation.
After dinner, gather up your group and take a walk around the block. Your full belly may not allow for a rousing game of volleyball, but it will appreciate a good stretch of the legs. This post-dinner walk is not only good for the digestion, it lifts spirits and brings smiles to tired faces. And you don’t feel like you sacrificed all your good exercising history with one big meal.
Just because a holiday is about abundance, doesn’t mean we have to give in to over-indulgence. Take the time to be thankful for the good things in your life. Celebrate by staying focused on those special things – enjoying the feast wisely as part of the celebration rather than the full focus of the celebration.
Delicious Healthy Holiday Meals
Most of us love the holidays and the scrumptiously delicious foods that are available in abundance throughout November and December. At the same time many of us worry a little (or a lot) about over eating and eating too many rich foods that we should probably not be eating (at least not in large quantities). How do we deal with that cognitive dissonance (conflicting beliefs/behaviors)? It is tough, but it can be done.
To help myself and all of you, I have put together a list of books, videos, and recipes. Hopefully, it will help all of us get through the holidays with less mental conflict and guilt and at the same time let us enjoy the holidays in a deliciously healthy way – without gaining extra pounds. ENJOY!
Naughty Holiday Recipes Made Healthy! [Kindle Edition] ~ Dr. Kristen Harvey.
Everyone loves the holidays but they don’t love the imminent weight gain that seems to happen. But this year the weight gain does not have to happen. Pick up this quick 48-page Kindle eBook and you can still cook delicious, decadent tasting holiday recipes just a healthier version of them.
Healthy Holidays (Spiral-bound) ~ Chef Heather Haxo Phillips.
In this 48-page spiral bound book you will find out how you can still enjoy delicious holiday meals without packing on the pounds. It may only be 48 pages, but it’s packed full of savory recipes for holiday drinks, appetizers, entrees and more.
The Healthy Holiday Cookbook: Quick, Easy, Tasty and Affordable Recipes for Christmas, Thanksgiving and Other Celebrations [Kindle Edition] ~ Jessica King.
This book is broken down into eight different chapters – New Year Delights, Sweetheart Valentine’s Day Recipes, Scary Tasty Halloween, Eating too Much for Thanksgiving, A Taste of the Holidays, Hannukah, Other Holiday Treats and Conclusion. With the different chapters to choose from you’re sure to find some tasty recipes for the Holidays. And better yet, they’re healthy recipes!.
If you are looking for quick, easy, and healthy holiday recipes, pick up this 94-page book. The author provides seven simple to follow tips that will help you keep the weight gain, this holiday season, away.
25 Holiday Gluten-free Recipes Home-made Delicious and healthy ~ Carolyn DeLong.
This holiday season if you’re eating gluten-free (or have family/friends who are) and wanting to avoid the inevitable holiday weight gain, this book is for you. You’ll find sweet and savory recipes such as Garlic Mashed Potatoes, Turkey Dinner, Gingerbread Cookies and many more.
Have Yourself a Healthy Little Holiday [Kindle Edition] ~ Rogene A. Robbins.
With over 20 recipes to choose from, there’s something so savory and delicious about these recipes that your family and friends won’t even know they are healthy. You won’t find just recipes in this 70-page Kindle book either. The author says that holidays aren’t just about food so it’s not surprising that one section of the book is devoted to and titled that – “Making the Holidays about More than Food”.
Healthy n’ Wholesome – Holiday Favorites Cookbook: Awesome Healthy Cookbook for Beginners ~ Healthy n’ Wholesome.
Now you can eat healthy during the holidays too. And just because you’re eating healthy doesn’t mean you have to skimp on taste. Grab this book and you’ll find mouth watering holiday recipes so quick and easy that even a beginner can prepare them. From recipes like Sweet Potato Pie, Collard Greens, Fruit Cake, Eggnog and more, you’re sure to find something that will suit even the pickiest eater.
This cookbook offers 98 pages of easy, healthy and budget-friendly holiday recipes. What more could you ask for? From Cheese-Stuffed Potatoes to Turkey Patties to Orange Gelatin Salad and Sugar Cookies, you’ll have several mouth-watering recipes to choose from.
Your Healthy Holidays Mini-Cookbook 2013 (Holiday Entertaining) [Kindle Edition] ~ Sorcha MacMurrough, Shanna Murchison & Evelyn Trimborn.
This is exactly what it says it is – a mini cookbook but your family and friends will thank you for picking up a copy of it when you tantalize their taste buds with mouth-watering goodness such as roast pork with cranberry glaze, broccoli with lemon butter sauce, low-fat peanut butter cookies, and more.
Delicious Healthy Holiday Recipes and Videos
Imagine your own family’s traditional Thanksgiving table. There is a very good chance that in the center of the table sits a big turkey complete with Mom’s special stuffing, surrounded by bowls of whipped potatoes, hot rolls, and cranberry sauce, plus piping hot dishes of the ever popular green bean casserole and candied yams. And . . . finally, there is the dessert where Pumpkin pie is certain to be among the choices.
These are only a few of the dishes we think of when we imagine a Thanksgiving table in America. But, how many of these dishes actually reflect the original feast? Let’s take a look just for fun.
A big golden brown turkey stuffed with an abundance of bread dressing takes center stage at most American tables during the Thanksgiving feast. But, that twenty-pound bird is really the product of modern times.
According to historical notes, a hunting trip was organized for the first three-day harvest feast. The hunting group would have bagged whatever was plentiful, which was very likely a mix of duck and geese, along with other small wild fowl, and possibly a few wild turkeys along the way. The birds would have been stuffed with onions and herbs, and not with any sort of bread-like stuffing.
In addition to the variety of wild game birds, deer were also plentiful and the meat was given as a gift from the Wampanoag tribe to the Pilgrims for the feast. This venison would have been roasted over an open fire pit, some served immediately on the first day, while the remaining meat slow simmered for stew to be served over the next few days.
From The Waters
The region also had an abundance of seafood. Mussels, oysters, fish, clams, and even lobster were part of the diet in the region, so it makes sense that these foods were part of any feast.
Large fish may have been stuffed with onions, other vegetables, and herbs, then roasted over an open fire. During one of the three days, this may have actually been served as the main dish.
Because this three-day celebration was held during the fall season, we know the foods harvested in this region’s climate would have included onions, carrots, cabbage, beans, turnips, and even some late season corn.
The onions may have been used to flavor other dishes, but would also have been roasted and served as a side dish. Large pots of carrots, cabbage, and beans (flavored with herbs) were also roasted on open fires.
Corn was not the super-sweet and tender variety we enjoy today. Late season corn, in particular, would have been a bit starchy. It was most likely cut from the cob and thrown into a skillet to simmer, probably along with other vegetables. Some of the corn would have been dried and ground to make a coarse meal suitable for making bread.
Even though the settlers had learned to enjoy some tubers, like turnips, they never discovered the deliciousness of potatoes (russet or sweet). These were introduced to America later by Spanish explorers and the European settlers. So potatoes, one of the staples of the modern day Thanksgiving dinner, were not part of the original feast.
Fresh fruits and berries would have been plentiful. Plums, gooseberries, raspberries, and cranberries were probably served in a variety of ways, none of which were sweet. Sugar was scarce,so the dishes made with fruits and berries were typically tart. There was definitely nothing similar to the cranberry relish we know today.
Finally, we come to one of the dishes has Thanksgiving stamped all over it – pumpkin pie. Although it is true that pumpkin was found on tables in the region during the time of the first Thanksgiving feast, it would not have been in the form of a pie.
The settlers did not have fully equipped kitchens or pantries such as we know today. They cooked in fire pits, not ovens. And the pantry did not have butter or refined flour to produce tender pie crusts.
Instead, there is documentation that shows the settlers created a sweetened pumpkin dish by carving out the pumpkin and filling the insides with honey, milk, and even berries, then putting the top back on the pumpkin and roasting it whole in the fire pit. Once removed and cooled slightly, the creamy insides were scooped out and served warm. Except for the missing crust, this sounds pretty close to our traditional pumpkin pie and was probably a tasty early predecessor.
I hope you will share these early beginnings with your family as you enjoy the ease and abundance that makes our holiday feasts so wonderful.