Thanksgiving Sides That Won’t Leave You Stuffed

The weather is getting colder, the leaves are falling off the trees, the wind is slapping you in the face with mucho gusto. The fall is ushering its way out and winter. is. coming. This bittersweet turn of the season means it’s time for my favorite holiday of the year: Thanksgiving. I find that nothing is better than a day devoted to family, food, and football. However, Thanksgiving also kicks off the holiday season, which can mean day after day of holiday cookies, festive cocktails, and other forms of celebrations that can lead to hundreds of excess calories a day. Not that indulging every now and then is a bad thing. You should never feel like you need to deprive yourself of anything. But, if you want to stay healthy throughout the holiday season, there’s no better place to start then at the beginning, Thanksgiving. Here are a few ideas to get you going…

1) This Caramelized Butternut Squash. It combines two of some of my favorite ingredients of all time (butternut squash and brown sugar) to make a vibrant, sweet, and comforting starch that would balance out any Thanksgiving plate without tipping over the scales the next morning. I swapped out the butter in the recipe for 2 tablespoons of olive oil to cut back on cholesterol and calories, and felt that it didn’t make much of a difference in how the brown sugar cooked in the oven, but feel free to stick to the recipe or add any additional spices that you want.

Nutrition Facts per Serving: Calories: 228; Total fat: 5g; Cholesterol 0mg; Sodium: 297 mg; Total Carb: 49g; Fiber:7g; Protein: 3g.

2) This healthy peanut butter brownie recipe is a good dessert option for Thanksgiving, or for any holiday party. It’s made with boxed Devil’s Food Cake Mix and, get this, a can of pumpkin puree. And that’s it! This recipe comes straight from Hungry Girl, a great website that offers lower-calorie recipes and interesting snack ideas. Now, I have to admit, while making this the batter looks quite questionable, and I had to resist adding more liquid like an extra egg or water (the batter gets THICK). But, the finished product is actually light and quite tasty, and I gave it to my unknowing friends who said that they were delicious, and couldn’t detect a drop of pumpkin flavor.

The original recipe for the peanut butter pumpkin brownies can be found here, I used Peanut Butter and Co’s Smooth Operator peanut butter as opposed to reduced fat peanut butter because, to be perfectly honest, that peanut butter is just soooooooo good.

Seen here with Ben and Jerry’s Chocolate Fudge Brownie Frozen Yogurt and some frozen blueberries (not included in the nutrition info).

Nutrition Facts per Serving (using full fat peanut butter, sorry Hungry Girl!): Calories: 154; Total fat: 5g; Cholesterol: 0mg; Sodium: 240 mg; Total Carbs: 26g; Fiber: 2g; Protein: 3g.

What are some of your favorite healthy Thanksgiving/Holiday treats?

Also, can you tell that I love the color orange/any and all orange vegetables??

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GREEK YOGURT SOS!!!

I really want to go to Greece. The plate smashing, the bright blue waters, the history, and of course, the Greek yogurt. There’s no snack that I find more versatile and delicious. Greek yogurt is more extensively strained than regular yogurt, removing much of the liquid, whey, and lactose, leading to the thicker texture that we all know (and hopefully love). Greek yogurt serves up more protein per ounce than regular yogurt, rendering it a healthful and powerful snack that keeps you fuller for longer.

HOWEVER, when perusing the dairy aisles for a good Greek yogurt, I’ve noticed that there is now A TON of different options. It’s hard to sit in the aisle looking at all the different labels to determine which one is the best, so I went ahead and did it for you!

I researched 3 (of probably the most, at least in my opinion) popular Greek yogurt companies and compared their strawberry non-fat Greek yogurts. I also threw in a new company on the rise, which technically isn’t a Greek yogurt but is considered an Icelandic Skyr (thicker than Greek yogurt, if you can imagine, but very comparable flavor and nutrition-wise).*

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*Note: I typically buy the 2% or full fat versions of these yogurts just for taste and mouth-feel purposes, and used 0% fat (or fat free) here in order to make sure I’m comparing apples to apples.

The bottom line: Do you notice how when you take away the flavor and go for the plain yogurt, the sugar drops (the only sugar in plain yogurt is the naturally-occurring lactose, or milk sugar) and the protein shoots up? Of the flavored yogurts, Chobani has the most amount of protein, but also the most amount of sugar, 23 g is NO joke. 1 teaspoon of sugar = about 4g, so just imagine dumping 5 spoonful’s of sugar into the little yogurt container, it’s a lot! Siggi’s has the least amount of sugar with a still impressive amount of protein. The Fage and the Yoplait are pretty much comparable in sugar and protein content.

In my opinion, the best option is to go with the plain Fage (only 10 more calories as the Chobani, but with 3 more grams of protein, which I think outweighs the fact that it has a little bit more sugar considering the serving size for the Fage is 6oz, compared to the Chobani which is 5.3 oz), and dress it up on your own accoutrements, such as real fruit, nuts, granola, berries, and sweeteners like honey. For instance, one of my favorite breakfasts to bring to work is plain Greek yogurt, frozen tropical fruit, and salted roasted cashews with a ½ packet of Splenda. If you must go with a flavored yogurt, buy the Fage or a Chobani “fruit at the bottom” variety where you can control how much of the fruit/sugar mixture you actually mix in, and try to only eat half of the entire flavoring.

So hopefully this helps the next time you’re stuck blocking up the dairy aisle with a blank stare on your face (we’ve all been there, right? No? Just me? OK then). Happy eating!