This is a guest post by eating psychology expert Elise Museles of kaleandchocolate.com.
It’s nearly Thanksgiving! A day for family, love, and gratitude and (if we’re not extra careful) eating till we’re uncomfortably full…and oftentimes feeling guilty about it.
This year, we’re having none of that. We’re going to eat the food we love while feeling nurtured and supported. We’re going to leave the food guilt by the door with our muddy shoes. We’re going to savor every single bite and serve a menu that combines traditional family favorites and newer, fresher, slightly healthier dishes.
Just like any meal, Thanksgiving dinner should nourish our bodies and hearts. Here are a few of the things I do to make this meal meaningful and delicious—followed by a lot of my favorite recipes.
Fill up emotionally (as well as physically)
It’s not hard to finish Thanksgiving with a full stomach, but I think it’s just as (or more!) important to end it with a full heart.
If you’re hosting the meal, it’s easy to get flustered or stressed and spend most of your day in the kitchen. If you’re a guest, you might spend the holiday avoiding an annoying cousin or fielding nosy questions about your romantic life.
Make a conscious decision to have meaningful conversations with the people you love. Get beyond “How’s work going?” Ask your mom about Thanksgiving when she was a kid; talk to your grandpa about his favorite holiday memories. If you’re the host, step away from the kitchen, sit down, and engage with your family. Let others clean up while you connect with the people who traveled all this way to see you!
Make your grandmother’s recipe the way she intended it
When you take pride in eating healthily, it can be tempting to tinker and tweak Grandma’s recipe for mashed potatoes. “What if I made it half mashed potatoes and half mashed cauliflower? What if I used cashew cream?” I get it. I’ve been there, too.
But Thanksgiving dinner is as much about the cooking and preparation as the eating. When you pull out the recipe card covered in your Grandma’s sweet cursive, you’re connecting with your family and your history in a way that you don’t when you’re scrolling through epicurious.com.
So choose a few recipes that have been passed down through the generations and make them in all their white flour, not-so-healthy fat glory and remember the people who first cooked these things for you. When you eat those dishes, you’re eating love and memories in addition to potatoes and butter!
Mix the old with the new
Luckily, it is possible to relish those family classics and add in a bit of a modern (healthy!) twist. I’ve found my Thanksgiving guests prefer a new, fresh recipe over a ‘healthy’ version of an old favorite. So rather than trying to make a healthier version of green bean casserole, I try something new altogether. I like to aim for a Thanksgiving menu that’s filled with a combination of traditional dishes and half interesting, new dishes. That way everybody’s happy!
If you’re looking for healthy, fresh recipes to tuck between those family classics, I’ve rounded up a delicious & nutritious line up of some of my favorites for you here.