The Holidays are best known for warm gatherings, festive outings, and, of course, FOOD. I’ve done a little research to find some of the healthiest and most festive holiday foods to add to your dinner table or party menu this season!
Healthy Holiday Foods
These festive red berries do more than add color to your dinner table. Cranberries high antioxidant and phytochemical content help fight inflammation in the body, specifically inflammation that causes heart disease and cancer. Cranberries are also a great source of fiber. A diet rich in fiber (25-30g daily) has been shown to improve digestion, lower insulin levels, aid in weight loss, and reduce the risk of chronic diseases.
Tip: When cooking your cranberries, try adding stevia to sweeten them to cut back on unhealthy processed sugar.
If you find and buy organic pasture raised turkey, you will enjoy many more health benefits. Pasture-raised turkeys are more likely to be richer in omega 3 and omega 6, fatty acids that improve heart health, brain function, and bone health. Turkey is a great source of protein and B vitamins which are essential to cell growth and repair.
Tip: Find organic/pasture raised turkeys. Use olive oil and herbs for a healthier basting method. Bake, never fry, your turkey.
Pumpkin is full of vitamin C and A, vitamins essential for a healthy immune system. Pumpkin is also an excellent source of beta-carotene. This antioxidant is powerful enough to help prevent certain cancers and heart disease. The vitamins and antioxidants found in pumpkin also aid in vision and skin health. Pumpkin is 90% water and is full of fiber. This means pumpkin is very filling, helping you to control your appetite!
Tip: Look for pumpkin pie, bar, and cookie recipes that use natural sweeteners like stevia and honey rather than sugar. Try these healthy pumpkin chocolate chip muffins!
Asparagus is one of the healthiest veggies you could treat yourself to. Asparagus is full of vitamin K, a vitamin essential for bone strength and healthy blood clotting. Folate is also found in asparagus, a nutrient that may reduce risk of heart attack and depression.
Tip: For added health benefits, sauté your asparagus in olive oil and garlic for a delicious and vitamin packed side dish!
Pecan nuts are full of fiber, protein, and important minerals such as magnesium. Magnesium is anti-inflammatory, this means it combats disease caused by chronic inflammation such as arthritis, heart disease, diabetes, and some autoimmune disorders.
Tip: Add raw pecans to salads or other dishes for an extra magnesium boost! You can make your own healthy candied pecans by using pure maple syrup, honey, or stevia instead of sugar. Avoid processed and sugar laden pecan pies and other desserts as these will only INCREASE unhealthy inflammation in your body.
Additional tips for a fit and well holiday season:
- Fill up on veggies before anything else at parties, dinners, and other social gatherings.
- Drink water instead of soda and alcohol.
- Think moderation! Enjoy a little, but don’t go crazy.
- Always keep your goals in mind. It will help you make healthier choices at parties and festive gatherings!
Hope these tips help you have a healthier holiday season! If you have any additional healthy tips or recipes, please share in the comments!
Côté J, Caillet S, Doyon G et al. Bioactive compounds in cranberries and their biological properties. Crit Rev Food Sci Nutr. 2010 Aug;50(7):666-79. 2010.
Manganaris GA, Goulas V, Vicente AR, Terry LA. Berry antioxidants: small fruits providing large benefits. 2013.
Depression and diet Nutrition 411, review date November 2008