Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

As we head in to Thanksgiving and Christmas, my biggest piece of advice is – take small pieces! Don’t overload your plates at parties, don’t eat it just cause it’s there, don’t go back for seconds and don’t take all the leftovers. Portion sizes just might be the number one thing to watch when you’re trying to lose or maintain your weight over the holidays. 

A typical Thanksgiving meal is roughly 3,000 calories… for ONE meal! This doesn’t include drinks, appetizers or the late night leftovers. I know most people look at this and think “yes, it’s ONE meal, just ONE day… it’s fine to indulge this ONE time.” Yes, I agree that you can indulge a little on special days, but for most, the time between Thanksgiving and Christmas becomes one huge holiday excuse. The parties, events, potlucks, quick mall meals, leftovers, leftovers and leftovers. So it doesn’t stop at the 3,000 calorie Thanksgiving, does it? That’s just the beginning of a downward spiral – well, I should say, upward weight spiral.

I’m personally not a huge Thanksgiving meal person. I love celebrating thankfulness and getting together with family and friends, but the whole idea of making an entire day all about preparing and eating food, just seems silly. Not to mention it’s pretty much all high sugar, high fat and/or high carb. If I’m gonna meal prep like that, it’s going to be some delicious, healthy fuel that I can and should have all week. 

Whenever we go to a get together at other people’s houses, we always bring a healthy side dish that can also work as the bulk of our meal. Something like a loaded salad, healthy quinoa casserole or bean salad – the idea is that I can take small portions of what they offer, but most of what I eat will be my clean food. You can do the same on Thanksgiving. You know there will be turkey and/or ham, so you can certainly fill your plate with that good protein. Then have small tastes of the sides, and bring a healthy side to share. To help you out here are some clean, healthy Thanksgiving recipes that you can fill your plate with and save for leftovers.

CAULIFLOWER MUSHROOM RISOTTO

2 heads cauliflower
1 onion, chopped
16 ounces Portobello mushrooms, washed and sliced
1 bunch asparagus, ends trimmed
4 tablespoons coconut oil
6 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup vegetable broth
3/4C parmesan cheese
Salt and pepper, to taste
1/4 cup pumpkin seeds 

How to:

1. You can certainly make your own cauliflower rice, but I say, buy the pre-made package. You’ll need to small bags.

2. Cut asparagus in half. 

Coat the bottom of a large, high-sided skillet by melting two tablespoons of oil. Add the onion and season with salt and pepper. Cook about eight minutes or until onions are caramelized.

Add the rest of the oil and mushrooms. Cook until they begin to soften and then add in the cauliflower ‘rice’ and garlic. Let the cauliflower cook for four to five minutes.

Add in the asparagus and veggie broth. Let cook until broth has simmered out and asparagus is tender.

Stir in parmesan cheese until melted and the “risotto” has a creamy, blended texture.

Remove from heat and top with pumpkin seeds.

KALE FARRO SALAD

1 cup farro
1 clove garlic, crushed
1 teaspoon Dijon mustard
1/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
3 tablespoons apple cider vinegar
Salt and pepper to taste
2/3 cup walnuts
1/3 cup parsley
3 stalks celery, finely chopped
2 cups kale, shredded

How to:

In a pot over medium heat, simmer the farro and five cups water for 25 to 30 minutes until the farro is softened, but still slightly chewy. Drain and rinse with cold water to cool.

 In a small bowl, whisk together the crushed garlic, mustard, olive oil and vinegar. Season with salt and pepper.

 In a larger bowl, combine the nuts, shredded kale, chopped parsley and celery. Toss with the dressing and serve.

PARMESAN CARROT FRIES

1 pound fresh carrots
2 teaspoons olive oil
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
Cracked black pepper, to taste
2 tablespoons fresh basil, chopped
2-3 tablespoons freshly grated Parmesan

How to:

1. Preheat oven to 450°F.

2. Peel carrots and cut into thin matchstick slices.

3. In a medium bowl, toss slices in olive oil, salt and pepper.

4. Spread out carrots on a baking sheet and bake for 12 to 15 minutes or until the carrots are browned slightly.

Remove from the oven and sprinkle with fresh basil and Parmesan cheese before serving.

CHIA BRUSSELS SPROUTS

2 lbs. brussels sprouts

1-2 Tbsp. Chia seeds (black or white)

2 Tbsp. organic balsamic vinegar

2 tsp. organic Dijon mustard

2 tsp. water

3 Tbsp. olive oil

Salt & pepper to taste

How to:

Preheat oven to 400°F

To make the sauce, combine chia seeds with water, balsamic and mustard. Let sit at room temperature for at least 30 minutes.

Cut off the brown ends of your brussels sprouts, then cut in half lengthwise.

Toss the brussels sprouts in olive oil, salt and pepper. Add the balsamic mustard sauce and toss again.

Place brussels sprouts on a baking sheet lined with aluminum foil or parchment paper and roast for about 30-40 minutes. Dark, crispy outer leaves are normal.

Remove from oven and serve immediately. Sprinkle with additional chia seeds to garnish. Some of the balsamic chia sauce may clump while baking. Just remove the clumps or mix them around. 

ALMOND FLOUR CRUSTED APPLE PIE 

2.5C almond flour

3/4C coconut oil

6 sliced apples (any variety)

cinnamon & stevia to taste

1/4C water

Optional: add a handful of crushed nuts, chia seeds and/or hemp hearts to crust mix. You can even do all 3!!

How to:

Preheat oven to 350 degrees.

Combine almond flour and softened (not melted) coconut oil in a bowl. 

Press almond flour dough into a pie dish and bake 30-40 minutes.

Chop apples and place in a large pot with water. Simmer low while adding cinnamon (at least 1/2 TBSP cause this really adds the flavor), 4-5 Stevia packets or 8-10 liquid drops, 1 tsp vanilla.

Cover and simmer for 10-20 minutes. You may need to add more water to make them more “gooey” if the pot starts to look dry.

Remove crust from oven and fill with apples. Bake an additional 10-15 minutes. Crust will still be soft. This pie must be served cold or at room temperature to keep the crust firm. It’s so delicious!


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