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.
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 vitamins 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
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.
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 contains powerful antioxidants to fight off the bacteria that cause 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
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 menus, 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
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 are, 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 crystallized 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
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 is 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.
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 that I can't tell you how many times 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.
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; which 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
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
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 helps 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
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Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
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Halle Berry is a legend for many reasons, one of those being that her face card never declines. While she will always be cemented in history as one of the most beautiful women in the world, the Oscar-winning actress is getting real about aging. At 57, she is experiencing what many women do at this age, menopause.
“I'm challenging all those stereotypes about how you have to look a certain way or feel a certain way,” she shared. “I'm my best self now that I reached 56 years old. I have the most to offer. I have zero blanks to give anymore. I'm solidly in my womanhood. I finally realize what I have to say is valuable, even if no one else agrees.”
The Bruised actress and director also explained the importance of women having safe spaces and feeling comfortable having these types of conversations with one another. As Halle puts it, “If you start the conversation, most women will follow.”
“Community is the entrée into understanding. We're all going through it. And we learn from one another when we talk about it, when we become curious, and when we share with each other what we're going through," she said. “We educate each other and we give each other ideas. We understand how to manage things better.”
Outside of acting and directing, Halle is also the founder of rē•spin, which is a health and wellness website. The site features products from supplements to skincare. As a health and wellness advocate, Halle often shares posts about self-care and fitness on her social media. Further talking to Women’s Health, she revealed that it’s less about the look and more about feeling good.
“As women, it's really important that we stay in touch with our bodies. That we stay active, that we put importance on working out. And so I always try to find the fun in it,” she said.
“When we're working out, it's not for a look. It's for a feeling, right? It's for a health benefit. And by feeling good and having those health benefits, the byproduct is okay, you also look good.
The Catwoman star concluded, But looking good is never the motivation. It's always about a feeling and about a health benefit.”
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