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Thanksgiving: On Gratefulness and Greenery

The holiday season is upon us, and Thanksgiving is less than two weeks away. (Seriously, where does the time go?!) Here are some things to consider to make this Thanksgiving the best yet.

Thanksgiving is generally filled with good food and fellowship, but too often it leaves people feeling uncomfortably full, guilty about what and how much they’ve eaten, and with a sense of dread about all the rich food and drink to come throughout the rest of the holiday season. The good news is that there are some things you can do to promote feeling your best, both physically and mentally, this Thanksgiving.  We recommend a focus on gratitude and including some  greenery (you know, vegetables) at the table as a good start. Read on to learn about the benefits of adopting an attitude of gratitude and for some tasty, nourishing recipes that pair perfectly with turkey, dressing, and pie.

One simple definition of gratitude is the quality of being thankful. This is perfect for Thanksgiving but important throughout the year. A study found that those who think of gratitude as a permanent trait rather than a temporary state of mind experience more health benefits than the not-so-grateful.  Below are some scientifically proven benefits of gratitude.

  1. Grateful people experience fewer aches and pains, feel healthier, are more likely to address their health, and exercise more often than others.

  2. Gratitude increases happiness, decreases depression, and reduces toxic feelings like resentment and frustration.

  3. Grateful people sleep better, specifically when spending a few minutes before bed to jot down some things for which they’re grateful.

  4. Gratitude reduces stress, and it contributes to resilience when faced with trauma.

Ways that you can practice gratitude include: thinking of 1-3 things you’re grateful for either when you wake up or before you go to bed (or both!), writing a list of things that you’re grateful for, expressing gratitude to someone else, or discussing things that you’re grateful for with someone else. 

In addition to being grateful, Thanksgiving is largely about food: turkey, stuffing, pie, and all the side dishes. Unfortunately on Thanksgiving, the leafy greens are often forgotten. This is sad not only because we know that greens are good for us, but because a table with variety is visually pleasing, inviting, and satisfying. You’re likely to feel better, both physically and mentally, if you’ve had a little roughage alongside your turkey and pie. Below are some recipes that include leafy greens and pair perfectly with Thanksgiving, as well as some BONUS Thanksgiving recipes that offer a fresh twist on the favorites. 

  1. Luscious Beet Salad with Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

  2. With beets, beet greens, arugula, and pumpkin seeds, this dish is beautiful, festive, and a nutritional powerhouse.

  3. Becky’s Braised Greens

  4. Doesn’t sound very glamorous, and I’m not sure who Becky is, but these are simple and tasty, AND they promote good digestion (who doesn’t need that on Thanksgiving?!).

  5. Emerald City Salad

  6. With a nod to Seattle, this kale and wild rice salad is somehow both fresh and hearty, and it’s sure to win over even those skeptical of kale. It can be made several days ahead of time to reduce day-of preparation.

  7. Green Bean Casserole with Crunchy Onions

  8. Arguably a bit healthier than grandma’s, but probably prettier and tastier. We still love you, grandma!

  9. Cranberry Apple Relish

  10. Perfectly sweet, tart, seasonal, and festive. Great with turkey, biscuits, and more.

  11. Savory Cornbread Stuffing

  12. A twist on everyone’s favorite, this cornbread stuffing is easily doubled to feed a crowd.

  13. Sweet Potato Pie with Cornmeal Crust

  14. Take a break from pumpkin with this perfectly spiced sweet potato variation.

Whether you’re at home or on the road this Thanksgiving, don’t underestimate the power of gratitude to brighten your day and your health, and see if you can’t sneak in some greenery alongside your pie. No matter where you are or what you’re eating, remember that guilt about food is NOT invited to the table this Thanksgiving, as it’s sure to make you feel worse, not better. Let us know if you try any of the above recipes, and stay tuned for a post about guilt-free eating during the holidays.

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