Holiday nostalgia is in the air. Everywhere you turn coffee shops highlight sweetened drink specials including pumpkin spice and eggnog lattes. While as the weather becomes gloomier, rainier and cooler, in the home kitchen, more soups, casseroles and roasted vegetables make it to the table. Even receptors on our tongues are heightened during the fall and winter months, further enhancing the flavors of rich comfort foods.
However our busy lives do not stop in the winter and food is in abundance all around us throughout the seasons. With this constant abundance we can often make unhealthy decisions when it comes to holiday gatherings. Perhaps a new approach can help heighten the wellbeing of this holiday. Following are some great tips to enhance your Thanksgiving experience, which can support your health as well as those you love.
- Don’t skip breakfast. Not only does this habit enforce overeating later at dinnertime, but your energy will lag throughout the day. Eating a well-balanced breakfast will help keep you satisfied, and less prone to overindulge in appetizers and dinner.
- Opt for whole food recipes. Utilizing whole foods, in place of packaged or canned ingredients, adds more nutrient density to your meal, while simultaneously reducing added sugars, preservatives, and additives. For example, instead of serving cranberry sauce in a can, try making my quick and healthy raw cranberry relish which is low in sugar and allows all the powerful anti-inflammatory phytonutrients and enzymes to stay intact. See my recipe below.
- Attempt a new plan of attack. Instead of eating everything that is offered, choose only your favorite dishes, and then make some room for a salad or roasted vegetables. This way you will be more satisfied emotionally, quenching those cravings that have culminated over the last year.
- Eat mindfully. With each bite of food, chew slowly, savoring the flavors and aromas you have missed all these months. It can take up to 20 minutes for the body to identify fullness cues. Consequently, taking the time to eat your meal will allow you to identify when you are happily full before you reach the point where you need to unbutton your jeans.
- Catch some fresh air. Instead of cozying up on the couch after dinner, go for a walk with a dear relative or friend. Good conversation is a great way to reconnect with those you have not seen all year. Afterwards you may feel even more satisfied and rejuvenated than before, allowing you to more consciously make a healthy decision when picking out a slice of your favorite dessert.
Raw Cranberry Relish
Did you know most cooked cranberry sauce recipes call for 1-1 1/2 cups of sugar! This recipe calls for only ¼ cup of maple syrup or honey and requires a bit of resting time to enhance the flavors. Therefore, taste it the following morning to see if you really need to add more sweetener. This relish tastes great tossed in salads, in wraps, sandwiches, or along with your Thanksgiving turkey. A little goes a long way!
12 oz fresh organic cranberries
1 organic orange, juice and zest
1/4 cup maple syrup or honey
1/4 teaspoon sea salt
1 teaspoon grated fresh ginger root
Optional: 1/4 teaspoon red chili flakes (can replace with a little deseeded jalapeño)
Rinse cranberries and strain. Pour onto a clean kitchen towel and pick out any soft cranberries. Add the fresh cranberries into a food processor. Process until finely minced. Be careful not to process it too much because then the relish will become too soggy. Pulse in the orange juice, zest, maple syrup, grated ginger root, and sea salt. If you want to add heat, do so now. Transfer into a glass jar, allow to rest overnight before serving, and store in refrigerator for up to one week.
Makes about 2 cups • Time: ~ 10 minutes
By Selva Wohlgemuth, Co-op News Contributor
Selva Wohlgemuth is a Registered Dietitian Nutritionist and owner of Happy Belly Nutrition in Bellingham, Washington. She specializes in gut health and has an in-depth knowledge of women's health. She is an avid outdoorswoman and mother.