My name is Lisa Tsakos, Registered Holistic Nutritional Consultant, corporate speaker and author. This blog provides professional advice from a nutrition and weight loss expert (me!) about corporate and family health. Here you'll find recipes and articles that address work-related challenges like eating on-the-go and maximizing your productivity with the right foods. You'll also find out about how you can help your children develop strong immune systems and healthy bodies. As a nutrition instructor, I often found myself thinking, "When I have kids, this is how I will feed them." With two toddlers, I have the opportunity to practice what I have been preaching and to try out my theories. So far, they seem to be working! Follow me on my journey and also on Twitter @NuVitalityHW.

13 Oct 2015

Happy Healthy Thanksgiving

I have much to be grateful for this year. 

I'm surrounded by beauty. Inspiring, overwhelming beauty. The colours take my breath away - gardens still abundant with summer flowers, the changing leaves, the sunlight glistening on the ocean. I can hardly stand it. After a magnificent summer, our first living by the ocean, what a blessing to have mild fall days that feel more like early September than mid-October. Our tomato plants are full of blossoms!

This weekend, for Canadian Thanksgiving, Mother Nature graced us with glorious sun and warm temperatures - perfect for celebrating the fall harvest. 
Carrots from our organic garden!

It was our first Thanksgiving living away from family, so we celebrated with new and old friends - friends who have helped us feel at home in our new city and for whom I am very  grateful. 

One of our guests, a pescetarian with an allergy to wheat, inspired a meat-free, gluten free meal. I was more than ok with that!

In a way, it was liberating. I didn’t feel obligated to prepare a traditional turkey dinner and it may have been the first holiday dinner that didn’t leave me feeling bloated and tired. No turkey coma for us this year! 

With some willing guinea pigs (who are also health conscious) coming over, it was a great opportunity to try out some recipes I've been eyeing, and I hit the jackpot with a couple of them. In our household, that means foods our kids will eat. 

Our Thanksgiving feast began with a few appetizers. Nothing fancy - assorted cheeses, gluten free crackers, mixed olives, healthy spreads, and bocconcini & cherry tomato skewers. 

Sweet potato casserole from Oh She Glows

Dinner was a colourful celebration of vegetables! From the rainbow carrots to the candy cane beets, it was a feast for the eyes as well as the tummy. This was our dinner menu:

Grilled salmon with balsamic glaze (seared and barbecued)
Arugula salad with shaved pear (similar recipe here)
Sweet potato casserole (from Oh She Glows, Saweet! Potato Casserole with a Crunchy Nut Crumble)
Rainbow heirloom carrots
Roasted beets (candy cane, golden & red)

Dessert was a buffet of fall veggies disguised as delicious treats: squash cupcakes (recipe coming soon!), sweet potato brownies (gluten free - made by one of our guests) and pumpkin pie!  

In the spirit of Halloween month (and to celebrate the array of fall reds), my husband made Blackberry Smash cocktails from a recipe we found on Pottery Barn's blog (thank you Instagram!). He couldn't bring himself to use the 1 cup of sugar the recipe called for (whoa!) so he reduced it by less than half, and the drink was still outstanding!

Our friend Dan enjoying a delicious Blackberry Smash cocktail

If it sounds like a lot of food for 6 people, it was. The bonus: leftovers for days! Isn't it great not having to cook?

As far as I was concerned, the show stopper was the Grilled Vegetables with Chickpeas and Basil recipe from Whole Foods Market. I added three portobello mushrooms and 1/2 cup of pitted Kalamata olives to the recipe, and used one delicata squash (the recipe calls for 2 winter squash).

No, it isn't traditional Thanksgiving fare and it doesn't feature only fall veggies, but it's a salad that can be eaten year-round, warm or cold, for lunch or dinner as a main course or as a side dish. And it will last in your fridge for a few days. It's perfect for busy people who are always on the go. Heck, you can even toss some into a wrap or pita. 

Grilled Vegetables with Chickpeas and Basil

Unlike other salads that leave you hungry for more, this salad is sooo satisfying thanks to the chickpeas, which provide 10 to 15 grams of protein and 5 to 7 grams of fiber (depending on the size of your portion).  

By the time we finished eating, we were engaged in a lively conversation and comfortably full. No one was passed out on the couch!

The moral of this story: the traditional Thanksgiving meal provides 3,000 calories (it takes 3,500 extra calories to gain 1 pound of body fat!) and can leave you feeling blah for days. This year's meal reminded me of the origins of Thanksgiving - a celebration of the harvest, and proved that feasting on healthy, delicious food is far more satisfying than eating gobs of mashed potatoes with gravy. It was a tradition game-changer. 

By the way, if you're having trouble finding delicata squash, it is also known as sweet potato squash, baked potato squash, peanut squash and Bohemian squash!

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