Your calendar is packed full of gatherings – family Thanksgiving, holiday work parties and your neighbor’s annual potluck. Endless celebrations mean you’ll be faced with choosing (or declining) foods that could derail your healthy diet or weight-loss efforts. In order to maintain optimal health, you don’t have to say no to all your favorite foods. Instead, say yes to these nine superfoods. You’ll feel and look your best for the coming new year, we promise!
1. Baked Turkey
Though fried turkeys are rising in popularity, Jenalee Richner, RD, LDN, at McConnell Heart Health Center, says this is the unhealthiest way to prepare turkey. Typically, a single serving of turkey packs anywhere from 100 to 250 calories per serving — and is your main protein source on the big day — and keeps you full so you’re less likely to fill up on sweets later.
2. Unsweetened Sweet Potatoes
Many people think they need to add brown sugar and butter to make these veggies flavorful, but that’s not the case, Richner says. Simply wrap them in foil and bake for about two hours at 350 degrees. Their creamy, naturally sweet flavor is just a bonus; sweet potatoes are packed with vitamin C, manganese and vitamin B6.
3. Root Vegetables
These colorful seasonal veggies like beets, parsnips, carrots and turnips are rich in fiber, antioxidants and magnesium, among other nutrients.
4. Apple Dessert
Roast fresh seasonal fruits like apples in the oven with cinnamon for a light and sweet dish at the end of your meal that’s rich in fiber. If you do have a slice of pumpkin pie, choose a small slice, Richner says.
5. Homemade Cranberry Sauce
Richner says that her favorite pick to take to holiday gatherings is homemade cranberry sauce, naturally filled with vitamins C, K and E, plus lots of fiber. It’s simple to make and often more flavorful than the canned varieties. Sweeten with apples and oranges rather than sugar.
6. Glass of Wine
Instead of creamy, caloric holiday punches or eggnog, choose a light wine spritzer to keep calories in check. Men should limit themselves to two drinks per day, and women to one.
Pumpkins and Thanksgiving go hand-in-hand, and they’re also full of nutrients. Pumpkins are full of vitamins A and C and potassium. If you carved any of your own pumpkins, keep the seeds! Pumpkin seeds are loaded with protein, minerals, such as phosphorus, manganese and magnesium, and vitamin K.
Many people love to make a pecan pie for Thanksgiving, but these nuts alone pack a powerful punch of vitamins and minerals – 19 total to be exact. They are also certified heart-healthy by the American Heart Association and low in sodium.
Ok, so kale may not be the first food you think of when you think of Thanksgiving, but if you’re making a salad, try kale instead of iceberg or romaine lettuce. Kale has a lot of nutritional value – with vitamins A, K, C and B6 and five other minerals, this easy swap will add a lot more nutrition to your dinner than regular lettuce.
During the holidays, balance and portion control are key. There’s no reason to deprive yourself during these special times; after all, food is a way to celebrate with your family and friends. But by making small changes — like choosing baked turkey over a fried one — can help keep your mood up and weight down during this particularly indulgent time.
Don’t forget about exercise, try these running clubs in Columbus this fall!