6 Tips for a Healthy Feast

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6 Tips for a Healthy Feast

If you’re looking for inspiration for a healthier feast this year, you’re in the right place!

1. Choose Quality, Not Quantity

A healthy family feast need not be devoid of taste and fun; all it takes is switching out a few of the high-calorie, low-nutrient foods for other delicious dishes that are lighter.

For example, if you’re itching for a piece of delicious pie, why not use dates to sweeten the crust and filling instead of refined sugar? With cake, try sweetening the icing with an almond meal and apple juice frosting to add extra nutrients. Almonds are also a great source of calcium and antioxidants, as well as fiber.

2. Skip the Turkey, Save a Life!

Not only will the turkeys and other critters be thankful if you leave meat off your plate this year, so will your waistline, arteries and digestive system – not to mention your wallet!

Switching meat and dairy for plant-based sources of protein like beans, pulses, nuts, seeds and healthy whole grains, also helps to increase your intake of fiber, vitamins, minerals and other nutrients.

Try switching sausage meat for a delicious combination of chestnuts, breadcrumbs, hemp hearts and/or oil, sultanas and chia seeds. This will help to cut down on sodium and pro-inflammatory arachidonic acid while stocking up on heart-healthy omega-3 and potassium.

3. Quick Tips to Lower GI

If you’re a big fan of cranberry jelly but are concerned about the sugar content of your traditional recipe or store-bought jar, try something different this year. Make cranberry sauce at home and keep the sugar content and glycemic index (GI) low by using fresh berries, a little apple pectin, a small amount of coconut sugar, fresh grated ginger, and cinnamon powder. Full of good nutrition, and tasty to boot, this cranberry jelly is the ideal accompaniment for a nut-roast, lentil loaf, stuffed mushrooms or squash, and chickpea cutlets.

Other quick ways to lower GI include:

  • Adding acidic foodstuffs like vinegar, tomato paste or lemon juice to dishes.
  • Mixing a scoop of protein powder into a fruit smoothie, fruit juice or even a pie filling.
  • Eating a high protein spread such as hummus or peanut butter with crackers or bread.
  • Choosing soups with lentils, beans, and other pulses for added protein and fiber.

4. Dare to be Dairy-Free

It’s likely that at least half of the people at your table will be some variant of lactose intolerant (up to 15% of people of northern European descent, 80% of African Americans and Hispanics, and up to 100% of Asians and First Nations people do not produce lactase!).

To lighten up on the dairy on, try switching out the egg, milk and butter in cakes and pastries for mashed bananas, applesauce, flaxseed, soy milk and apple cider vinegar, and coconut oil or aquafava (the starchy water that is left over after cooking beans). By skipping the animal products, you will be avoiding a whole load of pro-inflammatory animal fats while stocking up on essential fatty acids, fiber, vitamin C, and a raft of phytochemicals that can help support overall health and well-being.

5. Mull it Over

Most people agree that mulled wine is delicious, but that tantalizing aroma may induce some of us to indulge a little too much! Try mulling some non-alcoholic apple cider instead so that the whole family (and designated drivers!) can enjoy it.

6. Outdoor Fun

If you have family coming from out of town, treat them to a tour of your favorite nearby hiking spots or take a stroll after lunch to take in the scenes. Get the kids excited (and exhausted!) by organizing a themed scavenger hunt. For older kids and adults, devise a checklist of items to photograph, such as fungi, birds, types of rocks, icicles, flowers and berries, taking care not to disturb the environment of course!