You might think that you’re binging on the holidays, but the truth is you can fill your plate with holiday superfoods. Yes, they might be filling, but they’re loaded in fiber, antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. Check out these options for a healthy end of the year.
PUMPKIN: It’s a holiday staple that’s one of the healthiest foods you can eat. Just one cup of cubed pumpkin – filled with potassium and heart-healthy fiber– also provides twice the recommended daily intake of vitamin A, which maintains healthy skin, teeth and bones, plus boosts your vision. Pumpkin is also rich in beta-carotene and various antioxidants that help prevent cancers. Pumpkin seeds help to lower your blood sugar. The seeds are also rich in tryptophan, an amino acid that helps you sleep better. One note for guys: Just one quarter of a cup of pumpkin seeds contains about 2.75 mg of zinc, which is key to male sexual health by upping testosterone levels.
TURKEY: Roasting a bird around this time of year might feel routine, but it’s a healthy tradition. Turkey is rich in protein and if you take the skin away, it’s actually low in fat. The meat provides a source of iron, zinc, potassium and phosphorus. It also gives you a rich source of vitamin B6 and niacin, which helps your body produce energy. In fact, a regular diet including turkey can also help lower your cholesterol levels.
CRANBERRIES. You don’t want to roll them out of a can, but creating dishes using fresh cranberries is a solid health choice. Fresh berries including phytonutrients that offer antioxidants, anti-inflammatory and anti-cancer health benefits while also providing vitamin E and vitamin K. One cup of fresh whole cranberries only has 46 calories. Just skip the sugary cranberry recipes. An easy way to enjoy them is to place two bags of cranberries, plus ¾ cup pineapple or orange juice plus ½ cup applesauce (the no sugar added variety) in a pan. Add ½ cup of water. Bring to a boil. Cook on medium heat (stir constantly) as you watch the cranberries explode. Simmer. You can top with honey or the juice of an orange. Chill in your fridge for three to four hours or overnight and serve.
SWEET POTATOES. A plain baked sweet potato is a far better alternative to the using sugar laden ways to use this already sweet treat. Eat them knowing that this root veggies is a solid source of vitamin A, plus provide vitamin C, manganese, vitamin B6, potassium, fiber, niacin and the list goes on. If you really want to maximize their nutritional value then cut them into ½ inch slices and steam them for seven to eight minutes to bring out their flavor. Best yet: One cup is only 180 calories.
SIDEBAR: AFTER THANKSGIVING TURKEY CREATONS
The bird was the word. The day after the holiday food feast means your fridge is jammed with leftover turkey. The good news is this is an excellent source of protein and low in fat. Instead of just drowning it in gravy, there are healthier ways to create leftover meals. Try these options:
TURKEY BURRITOS. Grab four, eight-inch whole-wheat tortillas. Heat one can of fat-free refried black beans. Warm up 2 cups shredded, cooked turkey. Serve with separate bowls of chunky salsa, low fat queso fresco cheese, cubes of avocado, shredded lettuce, chopped tomatoes. Have your family create their own burritos at the table.
TURKEY LETTUCE CUPS. It’s easy, kid friendly and extremely low in calories. Either slice or make small cubes with leftover, cooked turkey. Line up radicchio lettuce cups. Fill them with turkey, thin green apple slices, thin slices of celery and top with thin slices of Gruyere cheese.
SOUTHWEST TURKEY SOUP. Just take 1 ½ cups of shredded, cooked turkey and add four cups of vegetable broth. Add 1 can of whole peeled tomatoes, 2 roma tomatoes (chopped), one onion (chopped) and two cloves garlic (crushed). Combine all ingredients in large pot and cook on medium heat for 20 minutes. Add salt and pepper to taste. Top with avocado slices and cilantro.
TURKEY CHILE. An easy fix for turkey leftovers is to make turkey chili. Brown one onion (chopped) in olive oil. When translucent, place them to a large pot and 28 ounces of can diced tomatoes with their juice, one 15-ounce can of kidney beans, rinsed. Add salt and pepper to taste. Simmer and stir occasionally for 30 minutes. During the last 10 minutes of cooking, add two cups of roasted turkey. Serve with avocado slices on top or crushed, low fat tortillas.