Photo by Suellen Pineda, RDN, CDN

Healthy Thanksgiving! (And a Yam Recipe)

Prep Time: 10 minutes
Cook Time: 35-40 minutes
Servings: 6-8 servings

It’s almost Thanksgiving! El Día de Acción de Gracias is a nice opportunity to get together and be thankful for all important things in life. However, for many people, Thanksgiving dinner is just one more stressful event that requires much planning and work.

And it is not only the fact of not knowing what to cook but how much to eat. We all need to be mindful about our food choices throughout the year, and although most people tend to think that holidays and healthy eating do not belong in the same sentence, it is still possible. Truth is that although weight loss may not be realistic during the holidays, people can still aim at not gaining extra weight.

Turkey is usually the entrée choice for Thanksgiving. However, some families prefer ham or even roasted pork.  Regardless of the choice, it is most important to have a "juicy" meat that doesn’t require so much gravy; remember, gravy tends to be high in calories and fat.

Cook your meat at about 375F for as many hours as needed and baste the meat with its own drippings. Avoid using extra butter. Always let the meat rest for about 15-20 minutes before carving it, so all the juices are retained in the meat and don’t end up on the serving platter.

For flavorful, low-calories sides, choose at least two non-starchy options. Some examples include roasted carrots, Brussel sprouts, roasted cauliflower steaks and garlicky broccolini. Of course, choose one starchy side, like stuffed sweet potatoes or celery root mash.

Rethink your classic recipes for a waist-friendly version. For instance, instead of topping your classic sweet potato casserole with marshmallows, add toasted pecans and craisins. Another example is to use whole milk instead of heavy cream for traditional mash dishes or green bean casseroles.

Don’t drink your calories! Prepare a holidays fruit cocktail with seltzer water or calorie-free ginger ale.

All in all, the most important aspect of the holidays, is to connect, value and appreciate what we have. A nice meal is always a great complement to the experience.

Yams and cider are very traditional this time of year, so I’m sharing with you an easy yam recipe to enjoy this Thanksgiving. Yams are an excellent source of potassium, vitamin A, antioxidants and dietary fiber. Spices like cinnamon, nutmeg and pumpkin spice bring out their sweetness and creamy texture.

Many Latin American countries use yams and/or sweet potatoes in a variety of dishes, from soups to desserts like Camotes Enmielados or Mexican Candied Sweet Potatoes.

This simple recipe uses basic ingredients and toasted pumpkin kernels that provide color contrast and a nice crunch as well.


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  1. Mash the yams using a fork (use a ricer if a smoother texture is desired). While still warm, add the butter. Add apple cider and applesauce. Season with salt and pepper. Garnish with pumpkin kernels.
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