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Thanksgiving Food Your Health Will Thank You For

 

Yes, we all love Thanksgiving, but you know what isn’t as nice? Having to worry about putting on those extra holiday pounds while your enjoying your holiday meal, or, even worse, noticing them in the mirror later. But who said that a delicious Thanksgiving and maintaining your waistline were mutually exclusive? Check out these tips to make your Thanksgiving a little healthier while still satisfying your hunger, and your sweet tooth!

1. Turkey? Try Tofu!

Yeah, yeah, we’ve all heard it before. There are jokes galore about the overly health-conscious nuts that trade a traditional turkey for this supposedly tasteless substitute. But think again! If prepared right, tofu can be a tasty and healthful, and you don’t have to be a vegetarian or vegan to enjoy it! As far as substitute turkey tofu goes, it’s all about the spices. Add in traditional spices like thyme, rosemary and sage, as well as vegetable broth and poultry seasoning, to the tofu as you prepare it in a food processor to get that perfect Thanksgiving taste. Then just prepare and serve as desired- however you like your tofu!

2. Simply Veggies

Here’s an easy, simple trick- when you’re filling up your Thanksgiving table, go heavy on the vegetables, and lighter on the processed carbs, like biscuits, and fatty dishes, such as casseroles. While these sides can be delicious, they often contain high amounts of butter and other fats that add to your caloric intake, not the taste! Vegetables make great sides to almost any dish and you can easily replace heavier dishes, like green bean casserole, with green beans or another vegetable cooked in spices- just as tasty, but much better for you!

3. Fresh is Best

Yet another easy trick -stick to fresh ingredients! It’s easy to be pulled into the trap of canned cranberry mix and boxed mashed potatoes while your family is around and there’s football to be watched. But trust me, preparing your own food with fresh ingredients is worth the extra time! For your cranberry sauce, opt for the healthier version of fresh, crushed cranberries mixed with a little bit of cherry or blueberry. With the addition of some crushed walnuts and onions, you’re well on your way to a great tasting and healthy side. And as for mashed potatoes? Definitely avoid the prepackaged kind. But if you want to try something new, check out sweet potatoes instead of your usual white potatoes. While the added health benefits of sweet potatoes have been suggested but not proven, this change of pace will add flavor and variety to your meal, and the natural sugars in sweet potatoes will help to satisfy your sweet tooth a little before dessert.

4. A New Look at Pie

Love the taste of pumpkin but not willing to indulge in the excessive calories, fat and sugar of the regular pumpkin pie? Then no-bake, and gluten-free, is the way to go! With less added sugar and fat, this is the perfect treat to leave you guilt-free. Using pureed pumpkin as a base rather than a sugary pie mix, combine it with cocoa powder (or you could even use whey protein powder if you’re a real health enthusiast) with a little salt and vanilla extract, as well as pumpkin pie spices. Blend all of the ingredients together, pour them into a piecrust and chill until served. It’s the perfect low-guilt, great taste, and easy to make, treat.

(Idea inspired by: http://chocolatecoveredkatie.com/2011/11/21/no-bake-chocolate-pumpkin-pie/)

Northwestern sophomore; journalism & history major
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