Today’s Thanksgiving post is by Agatha, the founder of Yummy Spoonfuls. Read on for her simple tips to a healthier holiday and delicious stir fry recipe.
Ladies, you all can relate I am sure: as much as we love holidays and celebrations, they can be stressful – especially for those of us whose efforts towards keeping our ‘hips’ in check via a healthy diet and exercise are usually derailed by the holidays. Luckily, we don’t have to feel pressured, deprived or guilty because quite frankly we can still have our health while keeping with the family traditions of celebratory foods. We don’t have to let the holidays and other celebrations create an excuse for us to abandon our healthy diet.
It’s important that we approach each and every meal with the right attitude. To me, cooking creates health, and eating is how I sustain my health. With that mindset, a little creativity and effort goes a long way in making your Thanksgiving, and every other holiday, a healthy and fun family affair.
If you are hosting/cooking there are subtle changes that you can make to traditional family recipes that will keep things healthy and reasonably close to the original.
Easy Ways to Make Your Thanksgiving Healthier:
- Limit the meal to 3-4 items, including bread – can we all agree that there is usually way too much food on the table during the holidays anyway? Quality, not quantity, is what we need. Having our guests groaning and looking for a place to nap after eating is not a good thing!
- Use good quality oils, like olive for cooking and coconut for frying.
- Reduce calories in many dishes by using homemade broth to intensify flavors, instead of cream and butter.
- Making gravy? Replace your flour or cornstarch with arrowroot powder.
- Instead of ham hock in your beans and greens, try substituting with smoked turkey or salmon. You will have the smoky flavor without the extra fat.
- Your family can’t do without their sweet tea? No problem! Brew herbal teas and sweeten with raw honey. They will never know the difference. Skip sodas, and offer fresh juices, or infused water; simply add citrus slices or herbs to a pitcher of ice water.
- When making mac ‘n cheese you can reduce the amount of cheese by adding a cup of creamy butternut squash for every cup of cheese taken out. Every little bit helps, and I can guarantee you no one will be the wiser.
- Substitute plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. It has similar texture with far less fat and more nutritious protein.
- Start a new tradition! Use wholegrain brown rice as a main side dish instead of mashed potatoes, etc. Make it so fancy that no one will be able to resist. Try adding minced fresh herbs, colorful bell peppers, onions, and garlic – or chopped nuts and raisins. Use your imagination!
When it comes to your turkey, make sure you are not getting a bird that is packed with added hormones, which nobody needs. If you can, buy from a local, trusted farmer, or choose Certified Organic. Brine it before you bake to keep it juicy and tasty, instead of deep-frying. If possible, use good quality, homemade bread for your stuffing.
When you start thinking about the little ways you can keep your holiday wholesome, the sky is the limit – so get creative for the best and healthiest season yet! Here’s a recipe to get you started…
Brown Rice Stir-Fry
- 2 cups cooked brown rice (for an intense flavor use homemade broth to cook your rice)
- 1 small red onion, diced
- 1 yellow bell pepper, deseeded and diced
- 3 large ripe tomatoes that is firm to the touch, diced
- 3 spring onions, diced
- 3 cloves of garlic, minced very finely (you can use a hand grater)
- 1 thump ginger, minced finely with a hand grater
- ½ of the white part of leaks (about ¼ cup depending on size), chopped
- 3 tablespoon coconut oil
- 3 tablespoon sesame oil
- Salt and pepper to taste
- Chopped fresh basil
- Chopped fresh spinach
In a medium size Dutch oven, heat up oil and sauté the onions and tomatoes on low heat until the juices are reduced. Add bell peppers, spring onions, garlic, ginger, leaks and continue cooking. You don’t want to over cook this if you like it crisp and crunchy. Season to taste and add the rice. Stir and cover to heat through.
Add basil and spinach, stir, and turn off the stove.
This can also be made into a main dish by adding fish, shrimp, chicken etc.
May you find something to be truly thankful for this holiday.
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