Thanksgiving is just a week away?
Wait a second…really? Good, because I love Thanksgiving. I love sitting around a big table with all of that delicious food, surrounded by people I love. Since moving to New York, I’ve been blessed to spend every Thanksgiving with my boyfriend and his lovely Aunt Cathy (hey Cathy!!). I don’t have to worry about what I’m going to eat as a vegan, because Cathy can cook. She can cook some mean (aka delicious) veggies! Even more, the food around her table is healthy and full of love.
Unfortunately we don’t all have the pleasure of eating at Aunt Cathy’s dinner table when we’re being health conscious vegans. And lets be honest, it can be difficult to know where to start when preparing a Thanksgiving dinner that is delicious, noteworthy, satisfying and nutritious. I’ve got a few simple tips to help you cut the calories, and still have a deliciously memorable holiday.
1. Embrace the versatility of veggies
This Thanksgiving, try new preparations of vegetables. Roast them, shred them, stir fry them, broil them and mash them! Changing the way your prepare vegetables will change the way you experience eating them; making them more exciting. Add even more appeal by using exotic ingredients and spices. One of my favorite exotic holiday inspired dishes is shredded Brussels sprouts sauteed with sweet potato, apple and toasted coconut.
|Caramelized Onion Cornbread|
2. Avoid butter and heavy cream.
Be kind to your waistline and avoid these unnecessary fats. You can easily create creamy and delicious dishes without butter and heavy cream. Use extra virgin olive oil or coconut oil to cook with. If you want to serve something spreadable, whip up a simple pumpkin or apple butter. Your guests will be so impressed!
For creamy and flavorful soups, simply puree them. Coconut or soy based yogurt is great when you want a dollop of silky goodness on top.
In baking, coconut cream works wonders as a butter stand in. It is also a great alternative to heavy cream for desserts.
3. Go Gaga for Grains.
Whole grains are tasty nutritional powerhouses. Instead of leaving your guests in a food coma after dinner by serving refined carbohydrates like traditional dinner rolls and stuffing–serve hearty whole grains. Roasted vegetable and herb pilafs tossed with quinoa, farro, millet, wild rice or barley make a fantastic side dish.
|Quinoa Cauliflower Cakes|
4. Skip the turkey
Feasting on a giant turkey is Thanksgiving tradition, but who says you can’t make a new tradition for the sake of good health? Instead of a roasted bird, this year create tastier and more progressive main dishes. Try a holiday worthy vegan main made with hearty lentils or flavorful vegan sausage. My favorites are lentil loaf, shepherd’s pie, stuffed squash and lasagna. By avoiding the turkey, you’ll avoid the cholesterol and a post-dinner coma.
|Raw Apple Pie|
5. Heighten dessert.
Take your usual sugary and white flour laden dessert to the next level. Skip the refined stuff, and try guilt-free sweets made with whole food sweeteners like maple syrup, coconut nectar, dates and brown rice syrup. Instead of white flour, try spelt, whole wheat pastry or gluten free flour. If you really want to impress your guests, make a spectacular raw dessert. My favorites include raw chocolate mousse tarts (made with avocado and dates), raw pumkin pie, and raw cheesecake (made with creamy cashews).
|Maple Mustard Sweet Potato & Fingerling Salad|
If you’re not hosting dinner, and feel you’ll have no control over what is served, bring a stellar healthy dish for everyone to share! Enjoy the vegetables and your dish, and you’ll be fine. Plus, the hosts will probably appreciate your delicious and thoughtful gift.
Do you have any more healthy Thanksgiving tips? Do share in the comment box!