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Honor this Season’s Healthy Food Choice MVPs

11.22.2011 / Blog Posts Health and Wellness

Think you'll have trouble navigating Thanksgiving  for healthy choices this year? Think again. Redskins team nutritionist, Jane Jakubczak, breaks down the dinner table for WOW...

Traditional Holiday fare can play a major role in a winning nutrition plan. The following is a list of foods that deserve the “Most Valuable Player” award at this time of year.

Roast Beef. This choice is a solid source of protein, iron, and zinc. In the blood, iron carries oxygen to working muscles, and zinc speeds healing and injury recovery. Go for the extra point—trim visible fat before eating and go light on the gravy.

Turkey. Carve off a slice and you'll get a good dose of protein, as well as some iron with each serving. Dark meat contains more iron than the lighter parts. Go for the extra point—Top slices of turkey with cranberry sauce instead of gravy.

Cranberry Sauce. This nutrient-rich sauce is excellent on its own or as a topping for turkey, stuffing, or potatoes. It also boosts fiber and phytochemical levels. Go for the extra point – make this sauce yourself with fresh ingredients instead of the canned variety. A great recipe can be found here.

Squash. The pilgrim who introduced this beauty to the table was a true nutritional visionary. Dig in to the butternut, hubbard, or acorn varieties and be treated to a mouthful of flavor as well as a whole host of phytochemicals and the potent antioxidant, vitamin A. Go for the extra point—go easy on the butter; often a sprinkling of cinnamon and nutmeg is enough to bring out squash's natural flavor.

Sweet Potatoes. Vitamins, minerals, fiber, phytochemicals, antioxidants, carbohydrate… All this and it can satisfy your sweet tooth with barely any calories and no fat. Go for the extra point—go easy on the butter and sprinkle with cinnamon – cinnamon has been shown to help the body regulate blood sugar.

Pumpkin Pie. This is a pumpkin's time in the spot light! Not only does this pie provide the vitamin A and potassium we come to expect from anything pumpkin, it also delivers a good supply of calcium and carbohydrate. Go for the extra point—skip the whipped cream or go for the lighter version.

Apple Pie. (Or any other fruit pie for that matter, especially if it's homemade.) It's as close as most people will get to eating fruit for dessert, and often slightly lower in calories than other desserts, like cakes or pastries. Go for the extra point—top with low-fat frozen yogurt (for calcium) instead of ice cream.

So go ahead and enjoy these foods knowing you are “doing your body good!” Next week we will discuss strategies to help you navigate the next two months of celebrations without gaining unwanted weight.

Have a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving!
- Jane

* Portions of this blog were taken from an NYU Medical Center’s 2007 article written by K. Schroeder.

Have nutrition questions for Jane? Leave them in the comments section below and she will answer them in an upcoming post! 

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