Nutritionist Approved Holiday Feasting
Happy, Healthier Holidays to All!
And now, a direct message from our nutritionist, Sharon Price, about Holiday Feasting:
For Those of Us with Food Allergies or Health Conditions
The holidays often can feel like a minefield to navigate, but they don’t have to! As a nutritionist, I approach eating from the perspective of all the foods we can eat rather than hyper-focusing on what we can’t. And enjoying delicious food while feeding your immune system seems particularly appropriate this year.
Keep the Turkey Simple
For those who eat meat, a simple roasted turkey is a very healthy choice. Skip the deep frying or fancy tur-duck-en experiments, and simply roast with carrots, celery, and onion, in some low sodium broth, and keep it well-basted throughout the cooking process. As always, we recommend the healthiest meat you can afford—preferably an organic turkey or one raised without hormones and antibiotics, and one not packaged with salty brine or other chemicals you can’t pronounce.
Plant-based Holiday Options
Your horn of plenty does not have to include meat for you to get ample protein and savory taste! Sweet potatoes and other root or other vegetables round out a colorful table. There are great vegan options, even for those not up for cooking them all. Soul Cocina, a vegetarian/vegan restaurant in the Triangle, has the following options on order for their Thanksgiving menu this year: Puy Lentils and Butternut Squash Roasted Butternut Squash Lasagna with Cashew Mozzarella Broccoli and Millet Gratin Each of those dishes features protein (the lentils and nuts and even a little from millet, a gluten free grain), along with the savory root vegetables customary for the season. And these options make great side dishes, too. Whether you’re inspired to order or to experiment, know that there are lots of balanced and delicious options for your table.
Healthier Holiday Dinner Ideas
For those who can’t imagine Thanksgiving without stuffing (or “dressing”), both Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods offer gluten-free stuffing mixes to get a little taste of that tradition without the gluten. I personally prefer to explore different dishes entirely, but each family has different can’t-do-without traditions. If you’re up for something a little different, you can try the Deep-Dish Greens with Millet Amaranth Crust recipe at the bottom of this post.
Modify Recipes to Cut Sugar
Swap the canned cranberry for homemade cranberry sauce with liquid stevia to taste and a little orange zest. It literally takes a few minutes to make on the stove top, and does away with all that unnecessary sugar. Dessert in moderation can still be a sweet way to end your meal. I like this crustless pumpkin pie recipe from Grain Changer, with a few modifications. I use buckwheat flour, although you can use a general gluten free blend as she suggests. I also use liquid stevia or monk fruit in place of the sugar to make it even healthier. That way, you get all the taste and nutrients of the pumpkin, with none of the sugar crash to follow.
Make sure to take your time and savor the different flavors gracing your table, as well as the people around it. This holiday may be smaller than previous ones, but as always, a feeling of abundance and gratitude goes best with Thanksgiving— whatever is on your table. Stay safe and be healthy! Happy Holidays to all!
Deep Dish Greens with Millet Amaranth Crust PREP: 10 minutes COOK: 55 minutes SERVES: 4
Adapted from Natural Health
- ¾ cup combined millet and amaranth
- 2 cups vegetable stock ¼ tsp sea salt (optional)
- 2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley Freshly ground black pepper (optional)
- Extra virgin olive oil to taste
- 1 medium yellow onion, chopped
- 1 Tbsp grapeseed oil
- 3 carrots, chopped
- 2 Tbsp mirin (optional)
- 1 bunch kale, chopped
- 1 bunch collard greens, chopped
- 1 cup water
- 2 Tbsp coconut aminos sauce
- 1 Tbsp arrowroot powder
- Place millet and amaranth in a pot or rice cooker with vegetable broth and salt. If not using a rice cooker, bring to boil, cover, reduce heat, and simmer until all liquid is absorbed (30-40 minutes). Remove from heat and set aside.
- In a large Dutch oven over medium heat, sauté onion in oil 3 minutes or until soft. Add carrots and continue sautéing to heat through. Add mirin, fold in kale and collards, and sauté until tender and bright green. In a small mixing bowl, whisk together water, coconut aminos, and arrowroot powder. Pour over vegetables, stir until sauce starts to thicken and remove from heat. Transfer to a pie plate or casserole and set aside.
- Turn on broiler.
- When grains are done, fold in parsley and season to taste with sea salt and black pepper. Stir to crumble and spread evenly over vegetables. Drizzle with olive oil and broil five minutes to yield a creamy grain topping with a crisp crust. Remove from the oven and serve hot.