Breath-taking fall colors…front porch pumpkins…scarecrows…fireplaces crackling…piles of leaves…the first frost…the first snowflakes…enticing fragrances of homemade foods coming from the kitchen. All heart-warming indicators that the season of Thanksgiving, the time when we pause to give thanks for our many blessings and freedoms, has arrived. Unfortunately, many of us think of the Thanksgiving and Christmas holiday season as being anything but a time to concentrate on health. Did you know that a healthy Thanksgiving is absolutely doable without giving up most of those tasty dishes you love? I’m happy to say that it is and best of all, most of you family and guests will never know your recipes are now much more healthy.
Below are 15 of my best suggestions for enjoying a healthy Thanksgiving season. By the way, don’t feel like you must implement all of these suggestions. Try doing a few this year and then next year you can add more. Make incorporating these healthy thanksgiving ideas fun and, for goodness sake, don’t allow stress to rule.
15 Suggestions For a Healthy Thanksgiving Season
1) Purchase a locally grown, free-range, pasture-raised turkey.
To make sure that your turkey is moist, bake without stuffing, leave the skin on while roasting and remove the turkey from the oven when the internal temperature reaches 170 degrees in the turkey breast. Remember that cooking the stuffing outside the turkey saves time, prevents the possibility of food poisoning and keeps the turkey edible for those with certain food allergies.
2) Organic baking ingredients.
Stock up now on organic baking ingredients to use in all your baking. Many holiday recipes are easily converted into tasty healthy recipes just be changing a few ingredients.
Prepare eye-appealing side dishes with colorful vegetables and herbs that are locally or organically grown.
4) Organic hors d’oeuvres.
Prepare organic vegetable trays and organic fruit trays with organic dips as hors d’oeuvres for your guests and family members to snack on before the big feast. Offer healthy drinks or hot tea made with organic fruits and juices. For veggies and fruits that are not organic, be sure to check if they are GMO (genetically modified).
MORE INFO: Non-GMO Thanksgiving Infographic
5) Gluten-free choices.
Check ahead of time with any guests that may require some gluten-free food choices. You can find some great recipes at http://www.pinterest.com/oawhealth/gluten-free-recipes/
6) A naturally scented home.
A naturally scented home just makes you want to sit down and relax. It’s a great stress reliever as well. To make your home smells warm and inviting, simmer in water a few sticks of cinnamon, some orange slices and a few cloves of allspice on the stove. Dab a few drops of pine essential oil or other favorite essential oil on any pine cones that are part of your centerpiece (be careful not to dab too much as a little goes a long way).
7) Reusable Shopping Bags.
When grocery shopping for your Thanksgiving menu, be sure to take along your reusable cloth bags. Pass on those plastic bags that clog our landfills.
8) Reusable bake ware.
Roast or bake your organic turkey in a reusable roasting pan. One website indicates that if everyone in the United States used a disposable roasting pan to cook their Thanksgiving turkey, there would be 46 million tinfoil pans heading to the landfill every year. In the long run, a reusable roasting pan (non-aluminum, non-coated) will save you money and help our environment.
9) Beautiful and natural tablescape.
Create a Thanksgiving tablescape with festive plates, silverware and glasses. Even everyday dishes are easily dressed-up for the holidays. Purchase cloth napkins or make your own. The average American uses 2,200 two-ply paper napkins per year — adding up to 662 billion napkins being added to the landfill on an annual basis. Make napkin rings out of grapevine or ribbon. This will save trees and creates far less plastics that clog our landfills. Thanksgiving Tablescape Ideas
10) Include the kids.
Come up with some activities for younger children that helps them to feel included in the preparation and festivities. Children can gather colorful leaves for the table, design place cards for the table, watch a Thanksgiving movie, etc. If including a “children’s table” let them choose and make the decorations for “their” Thanksgiving tablescape. There are some great Thanksgiving Craft Ideas for Children here.
11) Purified water – Drink Up!
Stay hydrated during the day with pure, clean water. Prepare a large container of “infused water” containing filtered water and infused fruits and veggies.
12) Healthy desserts.
Healthy and delicious desserts are easily made by changing out some of the ingredients with more healthy ingredients. Always have plain fruit options along with traditional choices. For some great healthy recipes check out http://www.pinterest.com/oawhealth/healthy-foods/
13) Don’t be a couch potato.
After the big meal and clean-up time, rather than taking a snooze, get some exercise and sunshine by going on a nature walk with the children or engaging in a friendly game of touch football or basketball. What is Thanksgiving Day without football, right?
Make your home a “digital-device-free-zone” for today. Thanksgiving is a great day to focus on and truly reconnect with your family/guests and to savor your time away from business-as-usual. Place a decorated basket by the front door and encourage your guests to place their phones, tablets, ipads, etc. in the basket for the day. The majority of even the most pressing issues are able to wait until Friday.
15) Focus thankfulness.
Most important for the entire Thanksgiving season. Prepare for a special time to give thanks for your many blessings. Upon arrival hand each guest (young and old) an index card and pen. Instruct them to write two things they are most thankful for and then either before or after the Thanksgiving meal have each person read their card aloud. Place all cards in a “Basket of Thanks” and have someone express a verbal prayer of thanksgiving.
Healthy Thanksgiving Bonus Suggestion #1: Don’t forget to recycle and re-use.
Use leftover turkey meat and vegetables to make a healthy turkey soup for the next week. Compost potato skins, egg shells, vegetable clippings, etc. Recycle glass containers, newspapers, boxes, etc.
Healthy Thanksgiving Bonus Suggestion #2: Bless your parents and grandparents.
If you’re spending Thanksgiving Day at your parents’ or grandparents’ home, suggest that everyone spend Thanksgiving evening decorating for the Christmas holidays. They’d probably love help getting the Christmas tree out of the basement and setting it up…and ultimately they will enjoy the time spent with you!