Thanksgiving for many families in the United States is the biggest cooking holiday and is full of food traditions. Generally, Thanksgiving centers around turkey and lots of buttery, starchy sides: white potatoes, sweet potatoes or yams, corn, stuffing, rolls and of course pie(s) for dessert.
Starches such as potatoes, bread and pasta are an important part of our diet and provide an easy to digest source of energy for our bodies. When eaten in their “whole” form (such as eating whole wheat bread or potatoes with the skins on), they pack lots of fiber, vitamins and minerals.
However, when it comes to vegetables, it’s important to mix it up and eat other types of vegetables other than the starchy ones. Dark leafy greens, red, orange, purple….you get the idea. Phytonutrients (which are also called antioxidants, polyphenols and more) are what give fruits and vegetable their color and strengthen the plant’s immune system. Similarly, when we eat colorful plant foods, they can help us prevent common diseases like diabetes and cancer. You may be familiar with how orange produce such as pumpkin, carrots and sweet potatoes are high in beta carotene which improves our vision and immune system. Red and purple produce like plums & cranberries improve blood vessel health, and green veggies like cabbage, Brussel sprouts and collard greens have compounds that work to block cancer cells.
Instead of trying to memorize all of this, it is easiest to remember that all colors have benefits for our bodies and to try to “eat the rainbow”. There are many colorful fall and winter fruits and vegetables to try this holiday season. Brighten your plate with purple cabbage, winter greens, golden beets, cranberries (fresh, frozen or canned) and winter squash. And on Thanksgiving Day as well as year round, see if you can fill half your plate with fruits and vegetables first!
You can learn more about in season produce by checking out:
Want to know more about Phytonutrients? https://fruitsandveggies.org/stories/what-are-phytochemicals/
Nobody wants to pass up their favorite foods during the holidays, here are a few healthy tips to enjoy them all:
- Work in some of the above mentioned non starchy vegetables to balance your plate.
- Try taking just a small amount of each dish, so they all still fit on one plate (vs. going back to more).
- Wait before going back for seconds-your stomach may not have as much room as you think it does!
- Work in some physical activity throughout the day
Check out these fun Holiday Recipes:
These recipes could also find a place on your holiday table: