Health & Wellness, health coach, Corporate Wellness, Nutrition, veggies, fruit, holidays, thanksgiving

Healthy Thanksgiving Food Swaps

We have now conquered Halloween but still have Thanksgiving and Christmas right around the corner! Most associate Thanksgiving with creamy mashed potatoes, tasty stuffing, juicy turkey slices, green bean casserole, soft biscuits, corn bread and pumpkin pie!  Yum!

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Now the question is, can we still have a tasty Thanksgiving meal but make it healthy? According to various reports, the average American consumes somewhere between 2100-4000 kcals at one Thanksgiving meal (averaging ~ 3050 kcals). For most of us this meal alone is more than our daily caloric allowance, sometimes two days’ worth! I get it, the Thanksgiving meal comes once a year, the food is tasty and you do not want to waste it. At FitBliss, we strive to encourage healthy behaviors even around the holidays. In our eyes, the healthier you are, the easier it is to stay on track with your goals.

Here are a few tips to help cut unwanted calories and unhealthy fats without taking away from the holiday taste this Thanksgiving!

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FitBliss Favorite Holiday Meal and Recipe Swaps:

  • In recipes that call for sour cream, choose Greek Yogurt instead. This helps cut calories, and increases the protein content.
  • Instead of mashed potato, choose cauliflower mash -- a hot and healthy nutrition trend, which helps cut calories and adds in more fiber! There are many recipes available online, so pick one that has the least number of ingredients and made without cream. If you prefer purchasing cauliflower mash, grocery stores such as Trader Joe's and Whole Foods provide this lovely dish! 
  • Instead of store-bought sweet mashed potatoes, choose whole and fresh sweet potatoes that you can bake at home for the whole family (helping cut calories, while adding more vitamins and fiber)!
    • Fitbliss Tip: Pierce sweet potatoes with a fork, add cinnamon and salt with a 1 tsp of butter, bake at 400 degrees for 45 minutes. 
      • Try adding cooked diced sweet potatoes to a salad with sliced almonds, kale, avocado and cooked quinoa
  • Instead of pie, try grilled fruit topped with granola; if you must have pie, choose a slice of pumpkin over pecan pie (cutting an average of 300 calories)!
  • Other fruit dessert options include baking apples and adding cinnamon (makes the home smell lovely and is very tasty)!
    • FitBliss Tip: Cut apples in half and remove the core and seeds. Then combine coconut oil, brown sugar, oats and cinnamon in a bowl. Top apples with the mix and bake for 30 minutes at 350 degrees.
  • Instead of grilled bean casserole (which is high in fat and calories), choose roasted cauliflower or roasted green beans to pair with your main meal
    • FitBliss Tip: Sauté or spray veggies with avocado oil. Bake veggies at 425 degrees for 25 minutes.
  • Instead of ranch dressing or cheese sauce, choose hummus! Helps cut calories, adds more protein and heart-healthy fats.
    • FitBliss Tip: Use hummus as a fiber-rich dip for vegetable sticks or to eat on its own as an appetizer!
  • Instead of store-bought cranberry sauce, make home-made cranberry sauce. Making your own will result in less sugar and calories!
  • Instead of white bread stuffing, choose whole grain bread mix or quinoa which adds in more fiber and protein! For those who are vegan, there are plenty of recipes online and most of which include lentils! This again helps add in more protein and fiber. 
  • Instead of 3 oz pieces of dark turkey meat, choose 3 oz pieces of white turkey meat (which will help cut fat and at least 50 calories)! 
    • For Pescatarians: Salmon will be a great protein choice this Thanksgiving;
    • For Vegans: Create meals with a base of plant proteins such as lentils and garbanzo beans! Cooking with fall vegetables such as kale and squash will also be a great addition to any meal.
      • FitBliss Tip: Try a kale, lentil and beet salad topped with pecans or walnuts!
  • Another Vegan/Vegetarian friendly meal at Thanksgiving is butternut squash soup. However, instead of the traditional cream-based butternut squash soup, make the soup with a vegetable broth base. 
  • Instead of sugar-rich cocktail mixes, choose sparkling water and add fresh lemon/lime juice and mint (cutting calories and so much sugar)!

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The first step is being mindful of ways you can make your Thanksgiving meal healthier, but the next and just as important step is adopting healthy behaviors around the holiday! We have come up with our FitBliss Thanksgiving Holiday Game Plan.

  • Avoid skipping meals… we say this repeatedly throughout the year because it’s so important! Skipping meals causes one to overeat at one sitting. Many will save all their calories for the holiday dinner and not eat anything else that day.
    • FitBliss Tip: Space meals out just as you normally would (preferably every 3-4 hours), so that you don’t feel stuffed at your holiday meal.
  • Get moving! Make it a family affair. Get out (if the weather allows it) and take part in at least 30-40 minutes of physical activity (walking, biking, playing basketball).
    • FitBliss Tip: If you must stay at home, get the whole family to dance or invest in an interactive game that gets the whole family moving!
  • Hydrate! Consume at least 8-10 cups of fluids (2-3 of these cups can include tea or coffee)
    • FitBliss Tip: Save alcohol for after you have met your hydration goals.
  • Add greens! Whether it’s the appetizer, or the side to your main meal, get at least two servings of veggies
    • FitBliss Tip: Consume veggies and hummus for an appetizer and add a spinach salad or roasted veggies to your main meal.
  • Enjoy your family! Take your time while eating this holiday meal.
    • FitBliss Tip: Chew well and eat slowly as this prevents overeating and allows for quality family conversation!

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 Cheers and Happy Thanksgiving Fueling from FitBliss!

#ThanksgivingwithFitBliss

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Yasi Ansari, MS, RDN, CSSD

Yasi currently works as a Clinical Dietitian through Sodexo at Hoag Hospital Newport Beach, Hoag Orthopedic Institute and Hoag for Her Center for Wellness in Southern California. Yasi’s previous work includes a position as the Clinical Nutrition Coordinator at University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Athletics fueling student athletes and nutritional work at USC Norris Cancer Hospital. Yasi also works as a health and nutrition content writer for local dietitians and physicians. She holds a Bachelor of Arts degree in Mass Communication Studies from UCLA and a Master of Science degree in Family and Consumer Sciences with an emphasis in Nutrition and Dietetics from Cal State University, Northridge. She is passionate in educating clients, corporate wellness facilities, patients and students on the importance of optimal nutrition for performance, wellness and longevity.

Follow @spoonfulofyaas on Instagram for more information.

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