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How to Have a Happy, Healthy Thanksgiving

The holidays are always exciting, but for kids, the holidays are considered the height of childhood joy. There’s nothing but magic in the air, there’s music, decorations, presents, and parties. And guess what’s right in the middle of all the festivities? SUGAR!

Cookies, cakes, pies, candy canes, hot chocolate with marshmallows - the list could go on forever. As much as we parents love the sweet treats that come with the holidays, we don’t love the sugar rush that fills our kids up with energy or the grouchy crash that follows. That’s when the holiday magic turns into an emotional rollercoaster.

Almost every parent experiences how much their kids slow down or become hyperactive after eating holiday foods loaded with sugar, refined flour and the wrong types of fat. Never fear parents! You actually can maintain your kids’ health during the holiday season without sacrificing the sweet traditions.

Here are 3 tips to help you have a healthy Thanksgiving:

Keep it fruity

Even though sweets and heavy meats are a big part of Thanksgiving, there are still a lot of sweet tasting fruits in season. Clementines, crab apples, pears, citrus, berries and bananas are all available for you to add to your holiday meal. Make sure you keep fresh fruit out where the family can see it. The easier it is to eat, the better. You’d be surprised at how often your child will grab a piece of fruit to eat if you make them available!

You can also take advantage of these in-season fruits by using them in your Thanksgiving desserts. Pies are great because even though they still have a lot of sugar, they are still getting a good serving of fruit. Berries, strawberries, and apples are excellent choices. You can also skip the pie and serve peeled and segmented pink grapefruit with dinner, loose pomegranate seeds or heated frozen fruit by itself. My toddler enjoys eating frozen cherries or apples warmed on the stovetop and served with cinnamon!

Try some tofu

A lot of families are cutting down on eating meat, and Thanksgiving is no exception. Doesn’t mean you have to toss the turkey, but this year consider having some non-meat options such as tofu available for the family.

Tofu makes an excellent meat replacement, but more importantly, it can help balance out excess calories during the holidays. Tofu is rich in protein and calcium but won’t weigh your children down. You can easily swap tofu for meat in soups, stir-fry and pasta dishes - and the kids won’t even notice.

Make veggies look festive

Not all kids will want to have veggies on Thanksgiving, but sometimes it is all about the presentation! Choose colorful veggies for your salads and dishes like sweet red bell peppers and bright orange carrots. Take an extra step and use mini cookie cutters to add some extra “bling” to your salad or platter. You can create animals or funny faces with your sliced veggies to make them more appealing. Broccoli, snap peas, baby carrots, corn, and sweet peppers are all tolerated by most children. One of my favorite dishes to create for holidays like Thanksgiving is a veggie platter like the one pictured in the shape of a turkey or wreath.


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