Surprise: Your Holiday Feast is Healthy!

posted Dec 13, 2013, 12:30 PM by Merrin McGregor   [ updated Jan 17, 2014, 11:27 AM ]

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There are so many fruits and vegetables included in a traditional holiday feast...you might be getting stuffed with more than you thought! 

Consider this: indulging in your festive holiday feast might actually increase your fruit and vegetable consumption! If you — like most people — aren’t eating enough fruits and veggies every day, this meal may actually be a healthier-than-usual spread...as long as you don’t over do it, of course. 

Think about all the must-have recipes included in your family’s traditional feast. Within the main dish, sides and desserts, many covert cupfuls of healthy produce are likely lurking. Don’t believe it? Let me prove it to you! Here are a few starter clues to help you rethink the benefits of this annual spread:

The Main Event

Cranberries

Ubiquitous to a holiday feast, cranberries are best known in sauces and condiments, but they add a special seasonal touch to any recipe at this time of year. Fresh, dried or even in juice, cranberries are a super-nutritious addition to your sweet and savory dishes.

    What’s in it for you?
    disease-fighting antioxidants  |  immune-protecting vitamin C  |  heart-healthy fiber

    [check out this fun cranberry infographic!]

Potatoes

Sure to make an appearance at the feast is mashed potatoes. Potatoes may get a bad rap for being a white and starchy vegetable, but don’t let that fool you. They still serve up a nutritious trick or two!

    What’s in it for you? 
    teeth- and gum-healthy vitamin C  |  hunger-halting fiber  |  muscle-healthy potassium

Sweet Potatoes

By now everyone knows that sweet potatoes are healthy...but in fact they are one of the most nutritious among all produce! And because their sweet and delicious fall flavor pairs beautifully with many other seasonal fruits, veggies and spices, sweet potatoes almost always work their way into the holiday feast. Make it a must-have on your table!

    What’s in it for you? 
    free radical-fighting beta-carotene  |  anti-stress magnesium  |  energy-boosting vitamin D

Green Veggies: Green Beans, Brussels Sprouts, Broccoli, Spinach, Peas, etc.

Even green things — which strike fear in the hearts of some — are sure to make a tasty appearance in most holiday spreads. Whether your family prefers green beans or Brussels sprouts, spinach or peas, you can pile your plate because green brings a lot of goodness to the table!

    What’s in it for you? 
    cell reproduction-supporting folate  |  immune-healthy vitamin C  |  skin-healthy vitamin A

And Let’s Not Forget Dessert!

Even traditional holiday desserts offer up a healthy serving of fruits and veggies. And with that, comes a sly dose of sweet nutrition!

Pumpkin

Whether in pie, tarts, cheesecake or some other holiday recipe, pumpkin desserts are a super-traditional and sweet conclusion to the holiday feast. Not only that, but they are tasty way to accidentally get vitamins and nutrients at dessert!

    What’s in it for you? 
    disease-preventing beta-carotene  |  cell-protecting vitamin E  |  anti-aging alpha-carotene

    [check out this fun pumpkin infographic!]

Dried Fruit

One of the world’s first forms of preserved foods, dried fruit is found in so many holiday dishes. Maybe your family serves up the often-maligned but nevertheless-gobbled fruit cake, or perhaps it’s another old-fashioned recipe like panettone, or mince tarts or Christmas pudding. However you enjoy them, dried fruits are packed with sweet goodness.

    What’s in it for you? 
    immune-supporting iron  |  organ-healthy potassium  |  digestion-healthy fibre

So while most people may eat a little too much at this meal, the good news is that they might also be serving themselves a few extra helpings of fruits and veggies than they might on other days. 
Just don’t tell them...shh...
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