Healthy holiday sides – Tufts

Dr. Lichtenstein’s Roasted Veggies

“Roasting root vegetables, squash, and other veggies is easy,” says executive editor Dr. Alice H. Lichtenstein. “The heat caramelizes the natural sugars, resulting in a deliciously sweet dish without added sugars. Simply cut the vegetables into one to one-and-a-half inch pieces, put into a plastic bag, add a bit of plant oil, close the top, and shake so veggies are lightly coated. Spill onto a cookie sheet or roasting pan, season as desired, and roast at 400°F until soft and slightly browned. That’s all there is to it!”

Try something new, like roasted leeks, or go with what’s trending, like Brussels’ sprouts (see recipe below. “Just plan ahead, pick good recipes, and try them in advance,” Roberts suggests.

Swap it Up. A healthier Thanksgiving doesn’t have to mean a totally different menu. “In addition to introducing new healthy sides, you can try lighter versions of favorite recipes,” says Roberts. Ingredient swaps are a simple way to boost nutritional quality in your traditional family favorites, as well as easing up on ingredients such as sugar and salt. The changes can be small or bold, depending on your preferences. Swapping out the butter, which is high in saturated fat, for plant oil such as soybean or canola in dishes like vegetables and stuffing is a simple change that will likely go unnoticed. Herbs and spices, with their unique flavor profiles, are the perfect way to enhance flavor while cutting back on salt in your recipes.

The swaps don’t have to be all or nothing. As an example, if croutons in the salad are a must-have, Roberts suggests using half the usual amount and making up the difference with nuts or seeds. Likewise, substitute toasted almonds or pecans for just some of the fried onions on the green bean casserole, or sprinkle cinnamon on top of the sweet potato casserole and add fewer marshmallows. “You don’t have to make drastic changes if your family is wedded to their traditions,” says Roberts.

Strategize: Go into the holiday season with a flexible attitude, knowing you may be eating foods that are less healthful than your usual choices. Give yourself permission to enjoy celebratory food as a part of an overall high-quality diet. Be mindful of portion control and truly savor each bite, chewing slowly as the flavors bring back memories of Thanksgivings past.

If you want to serve the sweet potato casserole with marshmallow topping, go ahead, just limit the portions and serve a healthier option as well. “Many people are so thankful for healthy options,” says Roberts. “They like Thanksgiving, but they don’t want to gain five pounds! If you do gain a pound, be proactive to lose it. Catch it quickly, before you start with other challenging holidays, and don’t give up,” Roberts adds. “If you keep getting rid of each pound, you won’t weigh an ounce more on January second.”

Serving a variety of colorful, tasty, seasonal side dishes—both old and new—is an excellent strategy for celebrating this Thanksgiving. After all, isn’t good health something to be thankful for?

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