Kenzie Finch, a University of Denver senior planning to pursue an advanced degree in nutrition, shares whole food recipes on her blog titled “Chance of Fog.” A native of Northern California, where cuisine can be almost a religion, Finch is a fan of whole foods, fresh foods and optimum nutrition — even during or perhaps especially during the holidays. Finch emphasizes that Thanksgiving dinner can be enjoyed without the food hangover, the extra pounds or the gluttony guilt all too often part of the holiday.
“The uncomfortable aftermath of Thanksgiving is legendary, but you can enjoy the feast and actually feel good afterwards,” she said. “During the football games or meal preparation time, eat hummus and vegetables or some mixed nuts. Nibble from the deli meat platter or snack on fruit. Grapes always accompany the cheese platter, but avoid the rich cheeses and crackers. Stay away from chips and dips – especially baked dips filled with cheese.”
Finch advised health conscious diners to consider what they’re piling on their plates and to have a plan. “For the feast, help yourself to turkey breast without the skin. Opt for salads with light dressing — no cream-based salad dressings. Fill your plate with green vegetables, but not so much the green-bean casserole with canned soup and fried onions. Starches like brown rice or corn are good options,” she said.
Not all foods are off limits, but some should be eaten in moderation. Or perhaps not at all.
“Eat the mashed potatoes or roasted potatoes, but only in moderation. Go easy on the gravy if made from scratch. A little cranberry sauce is fine. Ham, also in moderation, is a good protein source,” Finch said.
“Try to stay away from store-bought gravy, dinner rolls and the stuffing – especially if it’s sausage stuffing. Steer clear of mystery casseroles if you can’t figure out what is in them.”
And after the savory dishes have been cleared it’s time to get serious about dessert. Finch confessed that she baked a pecan pie from scratch.
“It’s not Thanksgiving dinner without dessert,” she said.” Pumpkin pie is typically the lowest in calories. Apple pie is another option. Whipped cream is mostly air and is low in calories. If you’re able, stay away from pecan pie, cherry pie and ice cream. But it’s a holiday, after all! Fill your plate with the healthier options first and if you’re still hungry, go back for the indulgences.”
Finch added the following general tips for the Thanksgiving table:
• “Use fresh herbs from your herb garden to add fresh flavors to the salads, mashed potatoes, and cooked vegetables.”
• “If anticipating acid reflux, start the afternoon with a glass of lemon water.”
• “Drink water between wine, beer or cocktails.”
• “Start the day off with yoga or a walk and finish the meal off with a neighborhood walk.” Weather permitting, of course, which might not be the case for this Thanksgiving in Denver.
• “Eat slowly and enjoy conversation with the people around you.”
• “Give thanks and be grateful that you’ve done your body a favor by providing solid nutrition, as well as holiday treats.”