Big family meals can be a bit of a challenge at our house. Jared and I keep kosher which means that not only does all of the meat need to be purchased from a kosher butcher, but we don’t eat milk and meat together in the same meal. Basically, there can’t be any dairy in the sides or the desserts. My cousin is allergic to nuts, which tightens our parameters even more. Add in the fact that most of the people at the table are trying to be healthy and make smart food choices and you’ve got a challenge on your hands.
Luckily, we’re a pretty supportive and accommodating bunch and every year, we seem to work it out. This year, I offered to make the desserts so I could create something dairy free, peanut free, and guilt free. I did a lot of internet searching and experimentation before choosing my recipes, so here are some of my favorite health-ified Thanksgiving recipes!
Remember, not everything on your table has to be perfect, but choose one or two of these recipes and you’ll know that you’re offering healthy and delicious options. It’s important to note that these recipes have no fake sweetener or chemicals in them. They’re delicious classic Thanksgiving recipes with just a bit less sugar, cream, etc than the originals.
Enjoy and Happy Thanksgiving!!!
Low Calorie Stuffing
Easy Green Bean Casserole
Crispy Roasted Green Beans
Brussels Sprouts Gratin
Healthy Mac and Cheese
Roasted Beet and Carrot Salad
Cranberry Orange Sauce with Thyme
Pumpkin Carrot Bars with Cream Cheese
Cranberry Pear Crumble
Pumpkin Bread Pudding
Have you ever noticed that it’s easier to avoid snacking in the morning than after dinner? Or if you’re really sad about something you care less about getting to the gym? Well, there’s a reason for it and it’s not that you’re lazy. It’s called the Principal of Limited Self Control or Ego Depletion – the idea that self-control and willpower are limited resources that can actually be used up and need to be replenished by rest. That’s why when you’re tired after a long day of work; it seems harder to resist that cookie. Or when you’re stressed out by family issues it’s harder to get to the gym. When you’re using all of your willpower just to get through the day, you have little left over for things like exercise and healthy food.
Thanksgiving is just around the corner, and for many, that means potentially stressful travel, potentially stressful family time, and a lot of tempting food – things that can easily deplete your self-control. Here are a few tips to help you win the willpower war this Thanksgiving with just a little advanced planning:
- Plan Ahead. Planning for obstacles in advance means you’ll need less willpower when the situation comes up because you won’t have to think about it. Find out what will be on the menu ahead of time and create a game plan. Decide in advance what you’ll fill up on (like roasted veggies and lean turkey) and what you’ll indulge in. You won’t feel like you’re missing out and you won’t go crazy when you see all of the delicious food out in front of you.
- Develop an ‘If-Then’ Strategy. For example, “If Aunt Martha asks me to try one of her cookies that she made just for me; I will take one, eat half of it, and put the other half back on the table.” Or, “If everyone has a drink in their hand before dinner, I will have a glass of club soda and put a lemon in it.” Like the first tip, if you’ve already developed a plan, you won’t have to think about it when the time comes.
- Offer to make something. What’s your weakness at the Thanksgiving table? Whatever it is, you can make a healthy version to bring with you so that you can indulge without the guilt. I have a sweet tooth, so this year, I offered to make dessert. I know exactly how much is in a serving size and I can enjoy without having to worry.
Another tip that’s been shown to help with willpower is exercising in the morning, before the meal. Studies have shown that when you work out before eating, you tend to eat less because you’re more aware of the work you just did. Another tip is to not starve yourself before you sit down for dinner. You’ll be wasting that valuable resource of self-control and won’t have as much left for the actual meal.
And remember, that no matter what happens this Thursday, it’s only one day. So even if you’re not the picture of perfect nutrition, give yourself a break, enjoy the holiday, and jump back on that horse on Friday.