Thanksgiving doesn’t have to be a carb-loaded, overeating frenzy. You can make satisfying, anti-aging food choices for this holiday that will leave you feeling thankful for indulging. Take turkey, for example. I cook at least four turkeys each Thanksgiving because I usually have about 30 people over for dinner. Turkey contains tryptophan, which produces niacin, giving us energy. Turkey also contains the selenium, a detoxifying antioxidant. You don’t have to drown your turkey in fatty gravy. It can be deliciously sauced using healthier ingredients. I like to marinate my turkeys in a mixture of red wine, soy sauce, and lemon juice before roasting. By the time the turkey is done roasting, the marinade has become a rich sauce.
Resveratrol is present in another classic Thanksgiving ingredient: cranberries. Every year I make Cranberry Bread Pudding. I add walnuts to my bread pudding because they are high in antioxidants like Omega-3 fatty acids and vitamin E—both of which reduce the risk of heart disease. Instead of butter, I use a butter substitute, Smart Balance®, so that this dessert stays heart-healthy.
Wild rice is another holiday staple that is really good for us. It’s a whole grain that provides the FoodTrient fiber for great digestion and Omega-3s, which also is good for our skin. It can be cooked with plenty of herbs and tossed with lightly sautéed bell peppers for a colorful side dish.
You can also add some healthy holiday vegetables like red cabbage and leeks.
The trick is to load your table with delicious healthy options while minimizing exposure to foods—such as like mashed potatoes, white rolls, or creamy gravies. Mashed sweet potatoes are a better choice than mashed white potatoes because the orange tubers contain carotenoids, a FoodTrient that supports the immune system. Whole-grain rolls (as opposed to white ones) will provide fiber, Omega-3 fatty acids, and selenium.
Pumpkin is another healthy Thanksgiving tradition. Be sure to use evaporated milk in your pumpkin pies instead of cream and a sugar substitute like Xylotol. In the crust, you can substitute Smart Balance for the shortening. That way, you will reap all the benefits of pumpkin’s carotenoids and fiber without taking in too much fat or sugar. The same rules apply to apple pies. Just remember to leave the skins on the apples so that you will get some quercetin , an anti-inflammatory that can reduce allergy symptoms and keep arteries from becoming inflamed. I make a beautiful Pear and Apple Tart with plenty of cinnamon, an antioxidant-rich holiday spice that makes me feel good about eating dessert.
Another favorite dessert of mine is my Brazil Nut Tarts. These tarts, with their hint of lime and rich texture, take Brazil nuts to a new level. Brazil nuts are full of selenium and protein, as well as Omega-3s, which help to keep your skin elastic and hydrated and to reduce swelling and redness. I like to make several small tarts from this recipe, but you can make one large tart if you prefer—just increase the baking time by 10-15 minutes.
2 9-in. whole-wheat pie crusts
1 can (12 oz.) evaporated milk
2 Tbs. tapioca flour diluted in 4 Tbs. water
2 beaten large eggs
2 Tbs. coconut butter
2 Tbs. lime juice (about 1 lime)
1 tsp. lime zest
1/2 cup organic sugar or xylitol
1 cup toasted and finely chopped Brazil nuts