No doubt about it; the holiday season is going to look a lot different this year.
Diwali, Thanksgiving, Chanukah, Christmas, Kwanzaa, and New Year’s are all celebrations that traditionally bring friends and family together. The common denominator for all these holidays is delicious foods that evoke enjoyment and memories.
The foods we eat during holidays in the United States mirror the changing colors of nature. Red, yellow, orange, and browns start to dominate both the dinner table and the foliage during these holiday feasts. These comfort foods are warm, hardy, and stick to your ribs. These foods helped prepared folks for the long winter in yesteryears, but for present times, these foods are more often about carrying on traditions passed down from the previous generation.
While many families are choosing to tune down the size of gatherings, the meals we eat will most certainly take on a larger role in making these holidays feel normal.
For those trying to find a balance between making the holiday season feel normal and continuing to make health and fitness a priority, here is a list of foods to keep in mind:
Turkey is a very rich source of protein, niacin, vitamin B6, and the amino acid tryptophan. It also contains zinc, selenium, and vitamin B12. The skinless white meat of turkey is low on fat and is an excellent source of protein. Don’t be afraid to double down on turkey if you’re missing out on other healthy options at the table.
Pumpkin is rich in potassium and vitamins A, C, and E. A serving of pumpkin also contains more than 20% of your daily recommended intake of fiber. This fun fall food can be prepared in various ways, so try to keep this dish simple and not too sweet by doctoring it up with freshly ground cinnamon and a little sea salt. And no, a pumpkin spice latte does not count!
Squash a tremendous source of beta carotene, manganese, and antioxidants like vitamin C. It’s also a great source of potassium that is associated with lowering blood pressure. A roasted acorn squash with a little grass-fed butter and some lean protein can be a simple and delicious harvest dinner!
Apples are a fan favorite when it comes to fall foods and a fun fall activity. They are a great source of Vitamin K, potassium, and immune-boosting Vitamin C. You also get plenty of dietary fiber (pectin) from this delicious fruit that can help you feel satiated. Eat this fruit whole, add it to a salad, or make it the foundation of a healthy dessert. Bonus points if you pick your own!
Cranberries are a fall superfood high in vitamins, fiber, minerals, and antioxidants. They are also correlated with reducing the incidence of urinary tract infection and contain immune-boosting properties to boot! Rather than buying pre-packaged cranberry sauce, try making your own with fresh-squeezed orange juice for a healthier alternative.
Pecans are a great source of Vitamin E (which is both immune-boosting and anti-inflammatory), B-vitamins, and magnesium, all essential for a healthy heart and muscle function. A handful of pecans make a great snack, but some pecan-themed desserts can be loaded with sugar so proceed with caution.
Brussel sprouts are a cruciferous vegetable that contains potassium, iron, and heart-protective B vitamins—including B6 and thiamin. Brussel sprouts also contain prebiotics, which feeds the healthy bacteria in your gut. You can’t get enough of this crispy, crunchy veggie!
Beets are a go-to fall food when it comes to fiber, iron, potassium, and folic acids. This superfood can be prepared in various ways, from roasted beets and beet chips to a nice cold glass of beet juice to help you detox.
Enjoying these foods for the holiday season will help boost your functional nutrition while keeping the vitamins and nutrients high.
We hope you have a wonderful Thanksgiving everyone!