Thanksgiving is the time of year for feasting, football, family, and friends. I fully encourage you to enjoy and even indulge, but don’t hesitate to put a healthier spin on some of your traditional recipes so that you can feel good about enjoying the leftovers long after the Black Friday Deals are done.
First up, turkey. Turkey is actually a nice, lean protein source. Opt for the traditional roasting method over the crazy deep fried version to keep it nutritious and still delicious.
For stuffing, consider a veggie-based one. Mushrooms are a great base to create that delicious umami flavor. Either one of the ones below would be a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving table.
Mashed potatoes…this one’s tricky, as getting that rich, creamy potato goodness and still making it “healthy” is nearly impossible. Subbing in half mashed cauliflower and half potatoes is a great option to increase veggies, decreases carbs, and still give you that traditional side-dish we all know and love.
Cranberry Sauce – the standard cranberry sauce is about as much “fruit” as a fruit roll-up (in case you’re still unsure, there’s about zero fruit in a fruit roll-up!). Instead, consider a fresh cranberry relish. I LOVE this simple cranberry apple mix. It goes amazing with turkey and is just as good on its own as a leftover. Finely dice up 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 1-2 granny smith apples, and one orange (try to reserve as much of the orange juice for the relish, too). Mix and enjoy.
Green Bean Casserole…while not one of my personal favorites, is often gracing the table of tables around the country on Thanksgiving Day. Consider doing sautéed fresh green beans with some caramelized onions and even a sprinkling of finely diced almonds for some crunch.
Finally, dessert! If you don’t already, try to opt for a pumpkin pie. Pecan pies are pretty nearly impossible to “improve”. Pumpkin pie at least has some fiber and micronutrients! Consider using a recipe like one of these 2, which use maple syrup in place of processed sugar and keep a good low sugar to other ingredient ratio. These recipes happen to be vegan, but you don’t have to go that direction! Most pumpkin pie recipes will work just great; just lower the sugar, often by half!
And above all, remember to be thankful for your friends, your family, and this body that has taken you this far already.
Aubrey Phelps, MS, RDN, LDN
Pizza probably isn’t what you think of when you think of “healthy” food. But, that doesn’t have to be the case. Like many “comfort” or “junk” foods, there are ways to make these treats a more regular – and even nutritious – part of your diet. Here are my favorite tips for making pizza healthier, but not even a bit less tasty.
1) Make homemade crust. Seriously. It’s not that hard or time consuming and means that you can control the number and type of ingredients (hint: it only takes 3 + water, seriously). Try:
2 1/3 cups flour (I like a mix of regular and whole wheat)
1 ¼ tsp active dry yeast
¾+ cup warm-ish water
Mix dry. Add water. Stir and add tiny bits of water until a dry dough forms. Knead for a minute and then let rest until doubled. Spread out onto a very lightly oiled sheet and bake at 475 (with desired toppings) for about 15 minutes.
2) Make homemade sauce. Again, seriously. It doesn’t take much, will prevent you from having added sugar, etc., and you can make a big batch and freeze leftovers for another pizza night in your future. You can also blend in spinach or pumpkin puree to even up the veggies and nutrition further! Try this recipe; it’s our absolute favorite.
3) Expand your Topping-game. Think beyond the typical pepperoni, sausage, etc. Try roasted veggies (squash, zucchini, parsnips, carrots), or some weird veggies like broccoli. Caramelize onion. Add spinach. Any veggie can be added to a pizza, and I guarantee the cheesey, saucey, baked dough back drop will make them taste awesome.
4) Think creatively. Try a homemade cheese-free pesto for your base instead of the typical tomato sauce. Use stronger-flavored cheeses so you can use less (goat cheese, smoked gouda, blue cheese – the stronger flavor means you’ll need less to make a real impact!). Try adding fresh greens on top before serving for an added texture and increased veggies. Use the recipes below for inspiration!
http://www.backtoscratch.net/whats-cooking/best-intentions (Mint Pea Pesto Pizza)
http://www.backtoscratch.net/whats-cooking/good-bye-summer (Arugula Pesto)
http://www.backtoscratch.net/whats-cooking/pesto-power (Basic Pesto + variations)
With some simple tweaks, you can make pizza a regular and even nutritious part of your diet! For more ideas and recipe hacks, come in to CoreLife.
Aubrey Phelps MS RDN LDN
Stock is….amazing. Not only does it make soups, rice, and quinoa better, elevating the taste in seconds, but it packs a major nutritional punch, too. With cold season upon us, keeping yourself stocked on healing, immunity boosting foods is essential, especially if you have kiddos!
This is a great place to use up all sorts of veggie scraps. Onion peels, leek ends, beet and carrot greens – every time you have some veggie “junk”, toss it in a zip lock and then into the freezer to save for when you make stock. You can, certainly, make just veggie stock, but for serious healing benefits, I highly recommend some sort of bones in there, too. One of my favorite ways to do this is to simply purchase a whole chicken, oven roast it for dinner one night, pull the extra meat off to save for leftovers, and then toss the carcass (and giblets, if you have them!) into your pot to start your stock overnight. You’ll wake up to one of the most heavenly, homey, and comforting aromas you’ll ever meet.
I hear you – “What!? Leave my stove on all night?! Is that safe?” Here’s my next game-changing tip. Stock should be simmered low and slow for a loooooooooong time. Unfortunately, when you do this on the stove, you often need to monitor it for safety, AND it tends to reduce quite a bit as steam escapes, leaving you will significantly less liquid than you started with. BUT! If you use a slow cooker….yep, that’s right, I make my stock in the slow cooker. I start it the night before, leave it on low all night, wake up to that heavenly scent, and then sometime in the late afternoon, turn it off to cool before straining and portioning for the freezer.
The collagen, bone marrow, and vitamin D and calcium from bones provides extra nutrients and gut healing, which is why I really recommend you add some chicken/beef/fish/combo bones.
Homemade Healing Stock
makes about 8-10 cups, depending on the size of your crockpot
Lots of veggies (onion, carrot, celery, leeks, beet greens, turnips, parsnips, herbs), like filling at least half the crockpot with them
Bones (chicken carcass, beef marrow bones, fish bones, pheasant carcass, etc)
Water, up to about the top, like an inch from the of the crockpot
Start the crockpot. On Low. Let it go for 12-24 hours. Cool a bit. Strain into 2-3 cup containers. Cool completely. Freeze. Enjoy the health.
Aubrey Phelps, MS, RDN, LDN
We’re gearing up for the holiday season, which in many ways, started with the sugar-rush of Halloween and doesn’t really stop until after at least the New Year (although Valentine’s Day and Easter don’t help the situation!). While the idea is obviously to give OUT the candy, it often ends up lingering in our pantry, tempting us at all hours of the day, especially in the evening, and derailing our nutrition efforts, all in the name of making cute kids happy. So, today, I’d like to offer some suggestions for making Halloween still super fun, but also not quite so unhealthy.
- Natural Candy – don’t get me wrong, sugar isn’t good, even if it’s organic cane instead of corn syrup. BUT, there are different levels of junk. Avoiding food dyes, high fructose corn syrup, hydrogenated oils and trans fats, are all great ways to make sweets just a little be “sweeter”. Look for dark chocolate, natural food dyes, and just generally sweets that only contain ingredients you can pronounce and know.
- Non-Candy Options – consider NOT getting candy. Pretzels, chips, teddy grahams, fruit strips (dried fruit ones, not just sugar ones!), and even freeze dried fruit are all great options. Yes, some kids might not be as happy receiving them, but any leftovers will make pretty good snack options for you and your family.
- Non–Food Options – take it even a step further; don’t just avoid sweets, don’t hand out food at all! Stickers, play-dough, bouncy balls, glow sticks or jewelry, miniature cars/trucks, magnets, bubbles – all make great, fun, inexpensive options for kids to enjoy and also provide a ready-made alternative for kids suffering from food allergies.
- Set Limits – if, in the end, you decide to hand out traditional candy (and that’s fine!), limit yourself so you don’t end up binging on junk for the next month. Don’t over-buy just because it’s on sale. If you have a lot left over at the end of the night, allow yourself a few pieces of your favorites and then…toss it! You’re not doing yourself any favors by keeping it around.
The holidays are just beginning; set the right tone now by making better choices for your Halloween fun. And stay tuned for more holiday tips to keep you healthy and happy through the end of the year!
Aubrey Phelps, MS RDN LDN
Today I have a recipe I highly, highly recommend making a regular part of your dinner rotation. Thanks to my modifications, this dish supplies a full dose of veggies, no side dish necessary. Which is my favorite kind of meal – the one dish kind! I would NOT recommend using canned crab for this recipe. You can either splurge and buy the big container of crab (just portion out the excess into small baggies and freeze for future use – you’ll use it up in no time; this dish is awesome!), or, if you have a seafood counter at your grocery store, just ask them if they can provide you with 2-3 oz for the actual recipe (if they make crab cakes in-store, it should be very easy for them to just use that to measure out for you!).
Crab Fried Rice with Jalapeño Aioli
2-4 servings, depending on how hungry you/your spouse is 🙂
1 cup sushi rice (best if you soak in cold water overnight)
½-1 fresh head of cauliflower, processed into “rice” or riced on a cheese grater
½ – 1 small bell pepper, finely diced
1 small onion, diced
1-2 tsp minced garlic
1 Tbsp pickled jalapeño, finely diced
1-2 Tbsp Oil
3-4 oz crab (NOT canned)
1-2 tsp rice wine or sake (optional)
1 jalapeño (we remove all the seeds; toddler doesn’t love spicy!)
1-2 handfuls of fresh baby spinach
1/3 cup mayonnaise
squeeze of lime juice
1 tsp fish sauce
water to thin as needed/desired
At least 2 hours and up to 24 hours ahead, rinse the rice several times in cold water and cover with water in a large bowl. Let soak for at least two hours and up to 24. I have forgotten to do this multiple times and the dish will still work, BUT the rice definitely isn’t as sticky in the final product if this soaking isn’t done.
Bring a few inches of water to a boil in a large pot. Drain the rice in a fine-mesh strainer or colander, and place over the boiling water. Don’t let the rice actually touch the water. Cover and let steam for 15 minutes. Uncover and flip the rice a few times with a wooden spoon, then cover again and continue to steam for another 10+ minutes, or until rice is translucent, glossy, and not crunchy. If it’s still a bit firm, flip the rice again and continue to steam for another 5-10 minutes. If you skip/forget the soaking step, it definitely takes longer to cook.
While the rice cooks, heat a large skillet over high heat. Add the oil and heat until shimmering, then add the onion, garlic, and pickled jalapenos. Season with salt, then cook, stirring, until onion begins to soften.
Add the bell pepper and cauliflower rice. Cook for a minute or two. Push the veggies and such to one side and add the beaten eggs. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the egg reaches a soft scramble, then add the sticky rice, crab meat, salt, and pepper. Drizzle the rice wine evenly around the edges of the pan, if desired, and stir vigorously until everything is well-combined, then turn the heat down to its lowest setting and cover while you make the aioli.
For the aioli: Combine the mayonnaise, jalapeño, spinach, lime juice, and fish sauce in a blender and blend until smooth. Add water as desired to thin. Then, either swirl some of the aioli onto each plate or bowl, or serve the fried rice and drizzle the aioli on top. Consume.
Most recipes can be modified to meet allergy needs, as well as improve nutrition profile. Re-doing recipes is one of my favorite things to do with clients so that you can keep your favorites without compromising your nutrition!
Aubrey Phelps, MS RDN LDN