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Here Are Some Holiday Season Foods That Are Actually Good For You

These are the foods that you can totally enjoy this Christmas. Eat up, sis.

Food & Drink

If there's one thing that I think we all can agree on, it's the fact that one of the best things about this time of year is all of the good home-cooked eatin' that we get to partake of. It's like, no matter whose house you walk into, there's gonna be some sort of casserole, freshly-baked pie or traditional family recipe that the host is going to be more than happy to offer you—and you're gonna be more than happy to oblige.

Problem is, even when it comes to holiday cooking and eating, there is such a thing as going overboard. Even though most of us only gain 1-2 pounds by the time the New Year officially gets to going, it's still important to go easy on foods that may taste good but aren't exactly the healthiest for you and your system. For the record, some that top the list include eggnog, pot roast, cheesecake, sausage stuffing, croissants, and just about any kind of dip that you can think of. The main reason is because they are loaded with fat and calories.

That's the bad news. The good news is there are several "traditional holiday foods" that are actually pretty good for you (especially if you prepare them in a healthy way). If you're ready to know what you actually can chow down on without having any guilt, here are 10 foods that both your taste buds and digestive system will love.

1. Turkey

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Most of us know that if anything can trigger "itis" in our system, it's turkey. The reason why is because it has a lot of the nutrient tryptophan in it, and since that is what helps our bodies to produce the neurotransmitter serotonin which helps us to sleep…there you have it. But that's not all that turkey is able to do. It's high in protein, niacin and vitamin B3, B6 and B12. If it's skinless and roasted, it's low in fat. Turkey contains less cholesterol than chicken, beef or pork. It's also rich in zinc, selenium and phosphorus. Oh, and as you or one of your relatives is carving the turkey up, if you're curious about if white or dark meat is best, while I'm a dark meat kind of gal myself, it's actually the white kind that wins out; it's got less fat and more vitamins.

One more thing—as far as the "itis" goes, I recently read "Does Turkey Make You Sleepy?" which claims that turkey making us sleepy is a myth. Personally, I still feel that it does. Then again, maybe it's the combo of the turkey and the dressing and the mac 'n cheese that sends us over the edge. Nonetheless, I'd be remiss if I didn't advise that you not eat a turkey leg and drive right after. Don't say a sista didn't warn you.

Try This: Herb Roasted Turkey Recipe

2. Pumpkin

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Hands down, one of the most popular foods during this time of the year is pumpkin. It's a fruit that is actually a winter squash that's good for you in a lot of different ways. Pumpkin is loaded with fiber as well as vitamins A, B2, C, E, copper, potassium and manganese. Because it's made up of almost 95 percent water, it's a low-calorie food. Some of its other health benefits include the fact that pumpkin is high in antioxidants, the iron in it will help to keep your red blood cells in good shape, and pumpkin contains compounds that are good for your skin as well.

Try This: Pumpkin Pie Oatmeal with Graham Cracker Crumble Recipe

3. Cranberries

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Cranberry sauce. Cranberry muffins. Apple crisp with cranberries in it. These are some of the dishes that come to mind whenever I think about how cranberries are incorporated into the holiday season. They are another fruit that you can feel good about because they're a superfood that contain powerful antioxidants to fight off the bacteria that causes urinary tract infections (UTIs). Cranberries also have the ability to remove toxins and build-up in your digestive tract. They are also able to reduce your risk of heart disease and fight the cells that lead to breast and lung cancer too. Something else that's cool about cranberries is they've got polyphenols (micronutrient compounds) to build up your immune system so that the dreaded cold and flu bugs can be kept at bay.

Try This: Healthy Cranberry Sauce Recipe

4. Green Beans

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When it comes to green beans, let's actually go with the bad news first. Although green bean casserole is a staple on a lot of people's holiday season menu, it's important to avoid using a ton of canned soup and fried onions while preparing it. Since both of those are considered to be processed foods, this means that they've also got more than their fair share of preservatives and sodium in them.

That said, green beans themselves are super good for you. For starters, they've got folate, vitamins A, C and K, and the chemical element silicon (which is really good for your skin and hair) in it. Some other perks include the fact that green beans contain no cholesterol, they've got a good amount of protein, calcium and magnesium in them, and they're 31 calories per serving which means that you can have more than a couple of servings, if you'd like.

Try This: Healthy Green Bean Casserole Recipe

5. Ginger

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Gingerbread. Ginger tea. Ginger cookies. There's a good chance that you'll have at least one of these things before the new year rolls around—and yes, since ginger is in them, you're in good hands. The best thing about this particular spice is it has the bioactive compound gingerol in it. Thanks to gingerol, if you've got this in your system, the medicinal properties in it will help to fight off any cold-related symptoms. Some other benefits of ginger is, thanks to its anti-inflammatory properties, ginger reduces muscle pain and soreness (if you consume it daily); lowers blood sugar levels in your system; treats chronic indigestion; reduces menstrual pain and discomfort and, of course, it's the go-to for motion sickness and pregnancy-related nausea.

So yeah, keep some ginger tea bags or some crystalized ginger in tow if you're about to board a flight, if you know you're about to eat more cobbler than you should, or if you are newly expecting (congrats if you are, by the way!). By consuming some, you'll feel much better.

Try This: Healthy Gingerbread Muffins Recipe

6. Collards

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Would it even be a traditional holiday meal without collard greens? Hmph. Not if you're sittin' at a Black family's table, it wouldn't. And yes, this is a food that also makes the list because dark leafy greens always have our back. When it comes to collards, in particular, they have about four grams of protein per serving in them. They are also high in vitamins A, B6, C, E and K. The amino acids that are in collards have a remarkable way of detoxifying your liver and boosting your immune system while the Vitamin K that are in them will help to keep your bones nice and strong. The key is to prepare them without all of the bacon, salt and fat. Yeah, collards are a brilliant example that, when it comes to healthy eating, it's not always about the food itself but how you prepare it.

Try This: Simple Garlic Sautéed Collard Greens Recipe

7. Yams

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It really can't be said enough. Although sweet potatoes and yams are both "tuber vegetables", they are not the same; they aren't even related.

The reason why this is important to mention is because I can't tell you how many times that I've been grocery shopping with someone who will pick up a sweet potato and think that it's "all good" because it's basically a yam. It isn't. But if you're looking forward to sitting down to some yams this year, you can smile about it because yams contain compounds that bring premenstrual and menopausal relief. Some other great benefits are the fact that yams are also able to lower bodily inflammation, reduce oxidative stress, improve liver and kidney function and bring relief that's associated with rheumatoid arthritis too. Yams have fiber, copper, potassium, manganese and antioxidants in them as well so there's no reason to avoid getting your fill.

Try This: Baked Candied Yams—Soul Food Style Recipe

8. Pecans

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If something within is trying to make you feel guilty for having a slice of pecan pie, don't. Pecans are also a food that's really good for you. A fun fact about this nut is it's got more antioxidants than any other nut does. Some other bonuses include the fact that pecans contain monounsaturated fats like oleic acid that are good for your heart, fiber to keep you regular, magnesium to keep you calm and relaxed, and zinc, folate and Vitamin E to keep your skin and hair looking and feeling beautiful. Speaking of beauty, something else that's in pecans is ellagic acid; that provides anti-aging benefits. As far as your hair goes, the amino acid L-arginine that's in them can trigger hair growth. So yeah girl, have that pie. Just remember that it's one thing to have a slice. It's another to eat an entire pie in one sitting. Balance. Balance is key.

Try This: Healthy Pecan Pie Bars Recipe

9. Cocoa

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Whether you're planning on making a dessert out of cocoa or you like nothing more than drinking hot cocoa with a few marshmallows in it, this is something else that is good for your health. Cocoa contains antioxidants that help to fight off free radicals as it also reduces your cholesterol and blood sugar levels. Cocoa has also been proven to lower blood pressure, increase blood flow to the brain and even improve depression-related symptoms. Another awesome thing about cocoa is it's got flavanols in it that help to fight type 2 diabetes too. The main thing to keep in mind here is to not "water down the effects" of the cocoa by adding a ton of sugar to it. Also, since not all cocoas are created equal, in order to get the most benefits possible, check out "The 10 Best Cocoa Powders in 2019" to help you figure out which one to buy.

Try This: 5-Minute Vegan Hot Cocoa Recipe

10. Sangria

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C'mon. You've got to turn up, at least a little bit over the holidays, right? Although a lot of us are more than happy to drink a glass or two of sangria pretty much any time of the year, it's not uncommon to see more than your fair share of it during Thanksgiving and Christmas. Since the traditional recipe calls for apples, oranges, peaches, lemons, plums and sometimes strawberries, along with some good ole' red wine—yeah, make it a point to make at least two full pitches of it this holiday season. Just the resveratrol and polyphenols in red wine that help to protect your blood vessels and heart should be enough of a reason to drink and be merry. So, indulge in some old-fashioned sangria. It's just one more reason to look forward to sitting around the holiday-themed dinner table with your loved ones. Enjoy!

Try This: The Ultimate Holiday Sangria Recipe

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Originally published on November 27, 2019

ACLU By ACLUSponsored

Over the past four years, we grew accustomed to a regular barrage of blatant, segregationist-style racism from the White House. Donald Trump tweeted that “the Squad," four Democratic Congresswomen who are Black, Latinx, and South Asian, should “go back" to the “corrupt" countries they came from; that same year, he called Elizabeth Warren “Pocahontas," mocking her belief that she might be descended from Native American ancestors.

But as outrageous as the racist comments Trump regularly spewed were, the racially unjust governmental actions his administration took and, in the case of COVID-19, didn't take, impacted millions more — especially Black and Brown people.

To begin to heal and move toward real racial justice, we must address not only the harms of the past four years, but also the harms tracing back to this country's origins. Racism has played an active role in the creation of our systems of education, health care, ownership, and employment, and virtually every other facet of life since this nation's founding.

Our history has shown us that it's not enough to take racist policies off the books if we are going to achieve true justice. Those past policies have structured our society and created deeply-rooted patterns and practices that can only be disrupted and reformed with new policies of similar strength and efficacy. In short, a systemic problem requires a systemic solution. To combat systemic racism, we must pursue systemic equality.

What is Systemic Racism?

A system is a collection of elements that are organized for a common purpose. Racism in America is a system that combines economic, political, and social components. That system specifically disempowers and disenfranchises Black people, while maintaining and expanding implicit and explicit advantages for white people, leading to better opportunities in jobs, education, and housing, and discrimination in the criminal legal system. For example, the country's voting systems empower white voters at the expense of voters of color, resulting in an unequal system of governance in which those communities have little voice and representation, even in policies that directly impact them.

Systemic Equality is a Systemic Solution

In the years ahead, the ACLU will pursue administrative and legislative campaigns targeting the Biden-Harris administration and Congress. We will leverage legal advocacy to dismantle systemic barriers, and will work with our affiliates to change policies nearer to the communities most harmed by these legacies. The goal is to build a nation where every person can achieve their highest potential, unhampered by structural and institutional racism.

To begin, in 2021, we believe the Biden administration and Congress should take the following crucial steps to advance systemic equality:

Voting Rights

The administration must issue an executive order creating a Justice Department lead staff position on voting rights violations in every U.S. Attorney office. We are seeing a flood of unlawful restrictions on voting across the country, and at every level of state and local government. This nationwide problem requires nationwide investigatory and enforcement resources. Even if it requires new training and approval protocols, a new voting rights enforcement program with the participation of all 93 U.S. Attorney offices is the best way to help ensure nationwide enforcement of voting rights laws.

These assistant U.S. attorneys should begin by ensuring that every American in the custody of the Bureau of Prisons who is eligible to vote can vote, and monitor the Census and redistricting process to fight the dilution of voting power in communities of color.

We are also calling on Congress to pass the John Lewis Voting Rights Advancement Act to finally create a fair and equal national voting system, the cause for which John Lewis devoted his life.

Student Debt

Black borrowers pay more than other students for the same degrees, and graduate with an average of $7,400 more in debt than their white peers. In the years following graduation, the debt gap more than triples. Nearly half of Black borrowers will default within 12 years. In other words, for Black Americans, the American dream costs more. Last week, Majority Leader Chuck Schumer and Sen. Elizabeth Warren, along with House Reps. Ayanna Pressley, Maxine Waters, and others, called on President Biden to cancel up to $50,000 in federal student loan debt per borrower.

We couldn't agree more. By forgiving $50,000 of student debt, President Biden can unleash pent up economic potential in Black communities, while relieving them of a burden that forestalls so many hopes and dreams. Black women in particular will benefit from this executive action, as they are proportionately the most indebted group of all Americans.

Postal Banking

In both low and high income majority-Black communities, traditional bank branches are 50 percent more likely to close than in white communities. The result is that nearly 50 percent of Black Americans are unbanked or underbanked, and many pay more than $2,000 in fees associated with subprime financial institutions. Over their lifetime, those fees can add up to as much as two years of annual income for the average Black family.

The U.S. Postal Service can and should meet this crisis by providing competitive, low-cost financial services to help advance economic equality. We call on President Biden to appoint new members to the Postal Board of Governors so that the Post Office can do the work of providing essential services to every American.

Fair Housing

Across the country, millions of people are living in communities of concentrated poverty, including 26 percent of all Black children. The Biden administration should again implement the 2015 Affirmatively Furthering Fair Housing rule, which required localities that receive federal funds for housing to investigate and address barriers to fair housing and patterns or practices that promote bias. In 1980, the average Black person lived in a neighborhood that was 62 percent Black and 31 percent white. By 2010, the average Black person's neighborhood was 48 percent Black and 34 percent white. Reinstating the Obama-era Fair Housing Rule will combat this ongoing segregation and set us on a path to true integration.

Congress should also pass the American Housing and Economic Mobility Act, or a similar measure, to finally redress the legacy of redlining and break down the walls of segregation once and for all.

Broadband Access

To realize broadband's potential to benefit our democracy and connect us to one another, all people in the United States must have equal access and broadband must be made affordable for the most vulnerable. Yet today, 15 percent of American households with school-age children do not have subscriptions to any form of broadband, including one-quarter of Black households (an additional 23 percent of African Americans are “smartphone-only" internet users, meaning they lack traditional home broadband service but do own a smartphone, which is insufficient to attend class, do homework, or apply for a job). The Biden administration, Federal Communications Commission, and Congress must develop and implement plans to increase funding for broadband to expand universal access.

Enhanced, Refundable Child Tax Credits

The United States faces a crisis of child poverty. Seventeen percent of all American children are impoverished — a rate higher than not just peer nations like Canada and the U.K., but Mexico and Russia as well. Currently, more than 50 percent of Black and Latinx children in the U.S. do not qualify for the full benefit, compared to 23 percent of white children, and nearly one in five Black children do not receive any credit at all.

To combat this crisis, President Biden and Congress should enhance the child tax credit and make it fully refundable. If we enhance the child tax credit, we can cut child poverty by 40 percent and instantly lift over 50 percent of Black children out of poverty.

Reparations

We cannot repair harms that we have not fully diagnosed. We must commit to a thorough examination of the impact of the legacy of chattel slavery on racial inequality today. In 2021, Congress must pass H.R. 40, which would establish a commission to study reparations and make recommendations for Black Americans.

The Long View

For the past century, the ACLU has fought for racial justice in legislatures and in courts, including through several landmark Supreme Court cases. While the court has not always ruled in favor of racial justice, incremental wins throughout history have helped to chip away at different forms of racism such as school segregation ( Brown v. Board), racial bias in the criminal legal system (Powell v. Alabama, i.e. the Scottsboro Boys), and marriage inequality (Loving v. Virginia). While these landmark victories initiated necessary reforms, they were only a starting point.

Systemic racism continues to pervade the lives of Black people through voter suppression, lack of financial services, housing discrimination, and other areas. More than anything, doing this work has taught the ACLU that we must fight on every front in order to overcome our country's legacies of racism. That is what our Systemic Equality agenda is all about.

In the weeks ahead, we will both expand on our views of why these campaigns are crucial to systemic equality and signal the path this country must take. We will also dive into our work to build organizing, advocacy, and legal power in the South — a region with a unique history of racial oppression and violence alongside a rich history of antiracist organizing and advocacy. We are committed to four principles throughout this campaign: reconciliation, access, prosperity, and empowerment. We hope that our actions can meet our ambition to, as Dr. King said, lead this nation to live out the true meaning of its creed.

What you can do:
Take the pledge: Systemic Equality Agenda
Sign up

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