Alyssa Koens, Profile's Nutritionist in Chief, gets you ready for Thanksgiving with some nutritional wisdom and delicious recipes to boot!
Here’s some food for thought: the average amount of calories consumed on Thanksgiving Day is around 3,000-5,000 calories! Eeek! While food usually hogs the spotlight during the holidays, it doesn’t have to overshadow your goals for good health. Knowing which foods you should be eating more of, and those you should enjoy just a few bites of, will help make your Thanksgiving Day a little healthier.
Typically, our Thanksgiving plate looks like this: stuffing, mashed potatoes, gravy, fried turkey, pumpkin pie, maybe a couple glasses of wine (not to mention the possibility of seconds, and thirds). All these foods are high in carbs, sugar, sodium and fat. Meanwhile, there’s hardly any fiber and the meal is low in antioxidants, vitamins and minerals. After eating this type of plate, we are usually bloated, tired, and all around feeling sluggish.
How to Enjoy Your Thanksgiving While Sticking to Your Nutritional Plan
One easy way to redo your Thanksgiving plate, and still enjoy some of your favorites is to start with greens and veggies and treat your plate like a pie chart.
- First, fill half your plate with vegetables, such as green beans, salad and brussels sprouts.
- Next, pile one-quarter up with turkey breast (or whichever lean protein you are serving)
- Leave the remaining one-quarter for your other favorite sides.
The total calories won’t be low, but it’s much more reasonable and you won’t feel like you’ve undone any progress. With the focus on vegetables, your plate will be much higher in vitamins, minerals, antioxidants, and fiber. If you go for seconds, trying to stick with veggies is a smart idea.
I know you’re probably going to eat more on Thanksgiving than you would on most Thursdays. And, I understand! It’s a holiday filled with food, family, friends, and football. But remember that one day isn’t going to undo all the amazing work you’ve done so far to get here. Enjoy your day and remember what the holidays are all about!
Try these dietitian-approved, wellness program and Profile-friendly recipes for your Thanksgiving meal this year!
Click here for a downloadable version of these recipes.
- 4 tsp. olive oil
- 2 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
- ½ tsp. raw honey
- 1 dash salt
- 1 medium head cabbage, finely shredded (about 5 cups)
- 2 medium carrots, finely shredded
- ¼ cup pomegranate seeds
- ¼ cup chopped raw walnuts
- 2 green onions, sliced thin
- 12 fresh cilantro sprigs, finely chopped
- Combine oil, vinegar, honey, and salt in a small bowl; whisk to blend. Set aside.
- Combine cabbage, carrots, pomegranate, walnuts, green onions, and cilantro in a large bowl; mix well.
- Drizzle cabbage mixture with dressing; toss gently to blend.
Profile Exchange per serving: 1 ½ cups vegetables, 2 fats
Balsamic Brussels Sprouts
- ½ cup Profile Balsamic Vinaigrette
- 1 ½ lbs. brussels sprouts, ends trimmed, cut in half lengthwise
- 2 cloves garlic, coarsely chopped
- ¼ tsp. salt
- ½ tsp. pepper
- 4 tsp. olive oil
- Preheat oven to 425°F.
- Line a baking sheet with aluminum foil.
- Trim off the outer, dry leaves, cut the bottom off and slice sprouts lengthwise.
- In a large bowl, toss brussels sprouts with 4 tsp. olive oil, salt, and pepper to coat thoroughly.
- Transfer the brussels sprouts to baking sheet and roast until tender and caramelized, about 20 minutes.
- Place brussels sprouts back in bowl. Add Profile Balsamic Vinaigrette and toss to coat evenly.
Profile Exchange per serving: 2 cups vegetables, 1 fat, 1 free food
- 1 medium head of cauliflower
- 4 tsp. olive oil
- 1 small yellow onion, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 3 stalks celery, sliced thinly
- 1 cup mushrooms, sliced
- ½ tbsp. poultry seasoning or Mrs. Dash seasoning of choice
- 1 tsp. red wine vinegar
- ¼ tsp. black pepper
- Pulse cauliflower in a food processor until “rice” consistency is reached.
- Add olive oil to a large skillet over medium-high heat.
- Add onions, garlic and celery and sauté for 5 minutes.
- Add cauliflower and cook for about 10 minutes, or until fully cooked.
- Add mushrooms and continue cooking until they’ve begun to sweat, about 5 minutes.
- Top with spices and vinegar and cook for 1 minute.
- Serve alongside turkey.
Profile Exchange: 1 cup vegetables, ½ fat
Sweet Potato Casserole
- 4-6 large sweet potatoes, peeled and cut into ¾- inch cubes
- 1 cup low-fat vanilla yogurt
- 1 tsp. cinnamon
- Pinch nutmeg
- Pinch salt
- 1 tbsp. brown sugar (optional)
- 4 large egg whites, lightly beaten
- ¾ cup chopped pecans
- ½ cup mini marshmallows
- Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 2.5-quart casserole dish with nonstick spray.
- Put the sweet potatoes in a medium sauce pan with enough water to cover them. Bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce to a simmer and cook until fork-tender, about 5-7 minutes. Drain.
- In large bowl, use a blender to mash the sweet potatoes.
- Add the yogurt, cinnamon, nutmeg and salt. Mash the potato mixture some more. Add brown sugar if desired.
- Add the eggs and blend them in as well. Transfer the mixture to the casserole dish.
- Bake for 30 minutes. Top evenly with the pecans and marshmallows and continue to bake until marshmallows are puffed and lightly browned, about 10-15 more minutes.
Profile Exchange per serving: 1 starch, ½ cup vegetable, 1 free food
- 1 10-12 lb. fresh turkey (neck & giblets removed)
- 1 medium white onion, sliced into quarters
- 2 celery stalks, sliced into 2″ pieces
- 1 tbsp. garlic powder
- 1 tbsp. onion powder
- Salt to taste
- Black pepper to taste
- 1 tbsp. poultry seasoning or Mrs. Dash Seasoning for Chicken
- If using a frozen turkey, thaw turkey 24 hours in refrigerator first. Remove neck and giblets from the neck and body cavities, discard the neck and remove the tail portion of turkey.
- Preheat oven to 325 degrees.
- Rinse the turkey inside and out with cold water and place the bird breast side up on a rack in a shallow roasting pan.
- If using a roasting bag, place a bit of flour in bag, give it a quick shake, add the turkey to the bag and place in a shallow roasting pan.
- Combine seasonings and rub all over turkey inside and outside cavity while in roasting bag or in roasting pan.
- Next, place the onion and celery into cavity of bird.
- If using roasting bag, seal it and cut small air slits into bag.
- Roast turkey according to directions on roasting bag. Or without a bag, roast turkey at 325 degrees for approximately 3 ½ hours; if turkey browns too quickly cover with a foil tent.
- Turkey is done when thermometer inserted into breast reads 165 degrees and 180 degrees when inserted in the thigh, not touching bone.
Profile Exchange per serving: 5oz. very lean protein
Profile Pumpkin Pie Pudding
- 1 packet Profile Vanilla Shake mix
- 1 tbsp. pumpkin puree
- 1 tsp. white chocolate sugar-free pudding mix
- ½ tsp. pumpkin pie spice
- cold water
- Fat-free whipped topping
- Combine all ingredients, except whipped topping, in a small bowl and stir until smooth.
- Let chill for 5 minutes.
- Top with whipped topping and a dash of cinnamon.
Profile Exchange: 1 meal replacement, 1 free food