Thanksgiving can be a bright light in a dreary season or a stress-filled family fiasco. We at Heally want to help make it a joyful time to reconnect with friends and family, give thanks for all the best things in your life, and enjoy a healthy, delicious, nutritious feast.
But as with any holiday centered around food, it can be easy to eat way too much and end the day feeling lethargic and bloated. From meal planning to entertaining your clan, here’s how to make sure the Thanksgiving you have is healthy, and memorable — for the right reasons.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #1: Meal Planning
To avoid the overstuffed feeling, try swapping out some traditionally heavy recipes for healthier alternatives, or something new entirely. Here are a few great choices.
Have a glass of water 30 minutes before a meal to encourage digestion! For even more digestive stimulation and even a slight buzz, try an aperitif. It’s a European alcoholic tradition designed to stimulate your appetite before a meal. Perfect for your healthy Thanksgiving feast.
Vegan food has come a long way in the last few years. These days, you can enjoy the savory meatiness of a roast turkey with a completely animal-free meal. Products like the Field Roast Hazelnut Cranberry Roast, Trader Joe’s Breaded Turkey-less Stuffed Roast and the vegan Thanksgiving classic, Tofurky come ready to bake and serve, providing a full main course that even the most ardent carnivore can enjoy.
With all the work that goes into a Thanksgiving meal, it can be tempting to go simple with salads. After all, a few chopped cucumbers, tomatoes and onions on a bed of lettuce is easy, delicious, and hard to mess up. But a really exciting salad can encourage everyone to eat more greens and load up a little less on heavy holiday mainstays like mashed potatoes and gravy, or candied yams. Here are some great options.
Apple Avocado Spinach Salad
Nutritious and delicious, this apple avocado spinach salad takes just ten minutes to make. Best of all, it’s crammed with healthy ingredients, including apple cider vinegar, which may help control diabetes, and apples, which can help with bloating.
- Mix baby spinach, avocadoes, and sliced apples with pecans, goat cheese, and dried cranberries. Add a protein of your choice for additional nutrition, as well as some jar-shaken apple cider vinaigrette dressing immediately before serving.
Shaved Vegetable Salad
This gorgeous salad features paper-thin shaved beets and radishes on a bed of cabbage and watercress, drizzled with a piquant honey citrus vinaigrette. Beets are a nutrient-packed superfood that’s great for blood pressure, brainpower, digestive health, and inflammation (among other benefits). However, it’s really the toppings that give this salad its zing. Pepitas, goat cheese, basil, and chives make this a dish your family will remember.
Holiday Honeycrisp Salad
Chives and goat cheese can be too much for a young palate. For a more kid-friendly option, try this Holiday Honeycrisp salad. with Honeycrisp apples, toasted nuts and dried fruit on a bed of greens, it’s as easy as it is delicious.
There’s nothing wrong with splurging a little bit on Thanksgiving dessert. Holiday classics like pumpkin pie and pecan pie are hard to resist. But with some clever cooking, you can avoid refined sugars and make these classics a little more health-friendly.
Skinny Pecan Pumpkin Pie Bars
Combining two desert classics in one, these pecan pumpkin pie bars pack a lot of flavor without any flour or refined sugar (although there is a little brown sugar in the pie filling.) The secret is using dates to sweeten the delicious chopped pecan and oatmeal crust.
Want to stay up and get a jump on Black Friday? Bulletproof coffee can be a great way to energize. Mix coffee, coconut oil/butter, and CBD extract for energy after a large meal while still keeping anxiety low. Made with medium-chain triglycerides and butter or ghee, This coffee recipe is likely to help you energize during breakfast as well, helping you stay ahead of the holiday hordes.
If sugar is the issue, there’s no need to ditch your favorite Thanksgiving desserts. Stevia is an all-natural sugar substitute that tastes great in baked goods. Be sure to test the recipes out ahead of time, since converting sugar measurements to stevia can be a little tricky. Use this handy stevia conversion chart as a starting point.
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #2:
For many families, Thanksgiving is a day-long affair, starting with a morning parade and ending late in the evening. Here are some healthy activities to make sure everyone has a great time.
Instead of sitting on the couch for the game, why not get the family in on the action? Not only is touch football good exercise, but it’s also a great way to keep the kids out of your hair during meal preparation.
Board games are great for parties, but complex rules and small pieces can be tough for younger kids. Encore is perfect for mixed-age groups because anyone who can sign can play. Teams take turns performing songs with a particular word or topic (e.g. “Songs about railroads,” or “Girls names, A through M.”) It’s also easy to adapt for non-competitive play if you prefer.
Listening to Alice’s Restaurant
Depending on where you live, you’re either saying, “well, no kidding!” or wondering what we could possibly be talking about. To the latter group, congratulations — you’re about to become part of one of the greatest American Thanksgiving Day traditions.
Alice’s Restaurant Massacre is an epic 1967 story song by Arlo Guthrie, telling the true story of his 1965 Thanksgiving Day misadventures, with plenty of odd and amusing digressions. In parts of the Midwest, it’s an annual tradition, broadcast on the radio — quite a statement, considering it has a total runtime of almost 19 minutes. We won’t give it away, but if you’ve never heard it before, it’s definitely an entertaining listen!
Healthy Thanksgiving Tip #3: After Dinner Exercise
A little exercise after dinner can help control your blood sugar level and make you feel less lethargic and overfull. Whether you take a stroll around the block or just do a few squats in the living room, it will help bring your Thanksgiving meal to a satisfying end.