I could write lots of posts filled with tips and tricks to avoid overeating at Thanksgiving… Or I could write posts about not caring at all and eating everything in sight, or nagging guilty feelings that can take over during this holiday of gratitude. However, I’ve found that with my clients, neither approach feels right.
My clients know the right things to eat but often need help learning how much of something is the correct portion size, or which type of a certain food group has more nutrient density – these are savvy consumers and major foodies. I decided to change my approach with my clients to look for the color and flavor with their Thanksgivings meals. It’s so much more fulfilling to approach this special meal with an attitude of inclusion (both people and foods) instead of exclusion or deprivation.
Also, when I recently watched the “Salt Fat Acid Heat” docuseries on Netflix by Chef Samin Nosrat, she made the best point about the typical American Thanksgiving dinner. It didn’t have enough ACID! It didn’t have enough punch, enough color. It was a monotone tan – or if you’ve read the book “The Day the Crayons Quit” with your kids – BEIGE. I don’t want to lecture people on ways to make mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes because that’s not what it’s about! Let’s celebrate the abundance of gorgeous vegetables this time of year and the incredibly flavors they bring to the table. Let’s focus on those foods that are most nutrient dense, that do the most for us, and then send out thanks to those who prepared our meal, and those who we share this bounty with.
This year, I want my Thanksgiving to be a totally colorful affair! I have nothing against the juicy turkey, crisp skin, stuffing or gravy… but let’s be clear: my plate will be 75% color and only 25% beige. I can’t wait to roast up some of my most favorite vegetables from bright green Brussels sprouts and green beans to vibrant orange butternut squash, pumpkin and sweet potatoes.
Finally, growing up we never had cranberry sauce on the table (blame it on Amy,) but my husband refuses to eat Thanksgiving dinner without it, so now I’m a total cranberry convert! We usually buy the canned stuff and this year, I’m even going to make my own – maybe an Ina Garten (my personal hero) recipe or a Martha Stewart classic or a new favorite from Smitten Kitchen.
The possibilities are endless for how to make Thanksgiving filled with color. So, here are a few quick tips to help you make the best choices next week, whether you’re hosting or bringing a dish to share with a crowd:
1) Dessert - try making a crustless pumpkin pie in ramekins. Hello portion control!
2) The night before Thanksgiving is notorious for some wide parties, especially for the younger set. My advice is to keep it cool, don’t go crazy, otherwise you will be hungover and have no ability to resist the couch and all the carbs.
3) Pretty standard, but sometimes it can be hard to fit in on a busy day– my in-laws all do a Turkey Trot in downtown Dallas every year and I know other families that play football in the yard or take a group walk. My advice is make time for it, just as you make time for the football game on TV and the pie after dinner!
4) If you’re taking home some leftovers, this year stick to just the turkey and the veggies. Don’t even bring home the sweet potato casserole or stuffing because it’s not worth the calories the next day.
So follow these tips and I promise you’ll feel better afterwards, you won’t regret it and your plate will be gorgeous!