Su­per­foods give a boost to Thanks­giv­ing feast

Daily Local News (West Chester, PA) - - FOOD - By LeeAnn Wein­traub Spe­cial to Dig­i­tal First Me­dia

Since Thanks­giv­ing is right around the cor­ner, you may al­ready be busy plan­ning your hol­i­day menu. It wouldn’t be Thanks­giv­ing with­out the must-have tra­di­tional foods like tur­key, sweet pota­toes, stuff­ing and pump­kin pie.

While the typ­i­cal Thanks­giv­ing feast can be un­healthy and overindul­gent, per­pet­u­at­ing the myth of in­duc­ing sleep, it need not be.

Con­sider the up­com­ing hol­i­day an op­por­tu­nity to be try out some de­li­cious and nu­tri­tious sea­sonal su­per­foods wor­thy of show­cas­ing on your Thanks­giv­ing table.

Truth­fully, hol­i­day meals should not be dreaded for their po­ten­tial to break the calo­rie bank. In fact, many com­mon hol­i­day recipe in­gre­di­ents like pump­kin, tur­key and cran­ber­ries are not just palate-pleas­ing but also are nu­tri­tional pow­er­houses — of­fer­ing a wide ar­ray of health ben­e­fits.

The key is pre­par­ing them with­out us­ing loads of fat and sodium and keep­ing por­tion sizes rea­son­able.

Here are some unique hol­i­dayin­spired su­per­foods that are in sea­son and easy to find to in­cor­po­rate into your fa­vorite Thanks­giv­ing recipes.

Freekeh

Move aside, quinoa. Freekeh, which is wheat har­vested while still green, is the “new­est” an­cient grain.

It has more fiber and pro­tein than other grains and is a unique source of lutein, a nu­tri­ent that is im­por­tant for eye health. Plus, its high fiber con­tent is ben­e­fi­cial for healthy di­ges­tion.

Add freekeh to a roasted but­ter­nut squash and kale salad with dried cran­ber­ries for its hearty tex­ture and nutty fla­vor or in­clude it in your tra­di­tional stuff­ing for a nu­tri­tional boost.

Pomegranate

Pomegranate is a good source of fiber, potas­sium and polyphe­nol an­tiox­i­dants. These an­tiox­i­dants give pomegranate its bright ruby red color.

The seeds or ar­ils are both sweet and tart, adding a pop of fla­vor and color to your menu.

Try sprin­kling pomegranate ar­ils onto a wild rice side dish, use them as a gar­nish for green beans or throw them into an au­tumn fruit salad. Try mix­ing pomegranate juice with sparkling wa­ter and a splash of fresh lime juice for a light and re­fresh­ing hol­i­day “mock­tail” with no added su­gar.

Rutabaga

A root veg­etable that is in the cru­cif­er­ous veg­etable fam­ily, rutabaga can be used sim­i­larly to pota­toes, but with fewer calo­ries and car­bo­hy­drates. Plus, they are a fan­tas­tic source of vi­ta­min C and other vi­ta­mins and min­er­als.

Rutabaga can be added to mashed pota­toes to help lighten up the calo­ries, while main­tain­ing the starchy tex­ture ex­pected from pota­toes. They also may be

used in casseroles or pre­pared with other root veg­eta­bles like car­rots, beets and turnips.

Gin­ger

Gin­ger is an aro­matic root that gives a de­li­cious spicy fla­vor to sweet and sa­vory dishes. The bioac­tive com­pound in gin­ger, gin­gerol, has anti-ox­i­dant and anti-in­flam­ma­tory prop­er­ties.

Plus, this spice can help with di­ges­tion, nau­sea and im­mune sup­port. Freshly grated gin­ger can be added to veg­eta­bles like car­rots or sweet pota­toes, cran­berry sauce or even a baked dessert with fruit and nuts.

Fen­nel

All parts of fen­nel — the bulb, seeds and leaves — are edi­ble and boast a unique com­bi­na­tion of phy­tonu­tri­ents, vi­ta­mins and fiber, mak­ing it ben­e­fi­cial for a healthy heart and im­mune sys­tem.

Fen­nel has a slightly sweet, licorice-like fla­vor and its crunchy and stri­ated tex­ture is rem­i­nis­cent of cel­ery or onion. There­fore, sliced fen­nel adds a fresh and crisp el­e­ment to a stuff­ing or risotto. Raw shaved fen­nel can be added to a veg­etable salad, or serve grilled chunks of the bulb along­side roasted tur­key.

By high­light­ing cer­tain nu­tri­ent-dense, health­ful and fla­vor­ful foods in a way that pri­or­i­tizes qual­ity over quan­tity, your friends and fam­ily will be well on their way to feel­ing en­er­gized from a well-bal­anced, tasty and mem­o­rable Thanks­giv­ing spread.

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