Planning anything for Thanksgiving lately? Well, you may want to try some Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving to supplement your meals with a healthy alternative.
From our previous blog posts you must be aware by now about the health benefits of the Mediterranean diet and how it may improve your health and reduce your risk of chronic illnesses like heart disease and diabetes. The Mediterranean diet is also great for digestion and weight management, because it emphasizes on whole foods, fiber-rich produce and grains, and mindful eating.
Of course, you can prepare delicious Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving too! You’ll be able to avoid all the big Thanksgiving pitfalls like overeating, bloating, and the post-meal crash when you include more whole grains and non-starchy veggies in your diet.
Try a Healthy Alternative of Mediterranean Diet Recipes for Thanksgiving
The Mediterranean diet emphasizes people to consume whole grains than refined grains. The reason is simple; refined grains have undergone a heavy refining process that unfortunately also removed some of the most nutritious parts of the grain, including the fiber. We’ve compiled a list of helpful tips and tricks to make Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving. Take a look at them below.
Follow these simple tips to add more whole grains to your Thanksgiving menu:
- Substitute about 50% of the bread in your stuffing recipe with whole-wheat bread.
- Mixing wild rice or quinoa into your stuffing is a good idea too, because they’re whole grains. You can even use cauliflower rice.
- Discard the white dinner rolls and opt for whole-wheat instead. You may also want to include legumes and pulses in your diet, as these are key component to the Mediterranean diet. These non-meat based source of proteins have as much saturated fat as your Thanksgiving turkey does, plus it also has lots of fiber to make you feel full, yet lets you eat less. How’s that for your weight-loss plan? Incorporate more beans into your Thanksgiving menu with these tips:
- For your Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving main course meal, try making a “lentil loaf.” The lentil loaf will look like an artificial meatloaf (although it is composed of health-giving, all-natural ingredients) which combines beans, nuts, seeds, and grains.
- Replace your traditional ranch dressing with hummus on the vegetable tray.
- Puree white beans into your butternut squash soup (or any pureed soup). One thing that made the Mediterranean diet one of the best diets in the world is because of its emphasis on heart-healthy unsaturated fats. Spoiler: No, the fat from the puree white beans is not the same as the fat in your turkey or gravy. Trade the saturated fats you’re using with healthier forms of fats by following these tips:
- Cook and season with olive oil instead of butter, but do it in moderation also.
- Replace the sweets on your toppings and use nuts instead. For example, you can add almonds, hazelnuts, pine nuts, pistachios, or walnuts on your sweet potato, instead of marshmallows. You can also use herbs and spices to season your food and since this is the Mediterranean diet way of seasoning food, you can be assured it’s super healthy. Not only will this enhance the flavor of your food, but it will also help you cut back on butter and salt. Try these herb-loving tricks for your Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving menu:
- Trade butter and salt for garlic, sage, and thyme when you season your mash potatoes.
- Avoid using butter or honey when roasting carrots, instead replace them with parsley, thyme, and oregano. And remember, the Mediterranean diet isn’t just all about food – this is very important that people who follow this diet say that the food you eat will not have its greatest effect on your health if you will not do this one thing. That one thing they’re referring to is making sure that you eat leisurely and mindfully with friends and family. Yes, that’s right! The Mediterranean diet is a fusion of nutritious food and your overall physical, mental and emotional health. I think this is the reason why patrons of the Mediterranean diet have such a long life span. Of course, Thanksgiving is all about enjoying a feast and festive spirit, but try not to turn it into an eating contest. There’s that old saying that goes “don’t bite more than you can chew,” because you might regret eating more than you intended and you get all sorts of gastrointestinal problems later on. Learn more about the benefits of eating more slowly with Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving.
Feel free to prepare whatever kind of foods you desire, but make sure that it is what is recommended in the Mediterranean diet and enjoy it and be thankful for a holiday weekend. Most of all avoid having belly aches due to overeating by learning to enjoy eating slow and savoring every bite, while enjoying the company of your family.
Try These Amazing Mediterranean Recipes at Home
A few months ago I had the opportunity to visit Drakona, Crete and dined at a restaurant called Dounias. I tried the Boureki – a cheesy potato casserole recipe and it was delicious. Now I’m regularly cooking this version of the Boureki and enjoy eating it at home with my family and sometimes with friends. I’ve included it in my Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving, as a matter of fact. This mountain tavern is not like your typical restaurant. Most of the dishes were prepared in clay pots over wood fired stoves right in front of the main house and all the ingredients that they use for their meals were cultivated and harvested directly from the owner’s farm nearby. The tables were set in a timber framed open-air pavilion overlooking the protruding mountain peaks and beautiful valleys that had olive groves and wild flowers and herbs scattered all over them.
Quinoa, Feta and Pistachio-Stuffed Acorn Squash
I got the inspiration for this recipe from the vegan recipes of Martha Stewart, but I added a few things of my own to accentuate the flavor. Stuff like lemon, garlic and a hint of onion in the form of chives for a bigger punch of flavor. If you’ll search for superfoods online or in any local grocery store, then you’ll find that they typically contain quinoa and nuts. However, winter squash like acorn ought not to be considered the lesser variant; as it is loaded with vitamin C which is an important nutrient during the winter to fight off the seasonal cold virus. Tip: when you buy accord squash, make sure to check its color and it should have a “flash” of orange on it. Acorn squash with this color seems to have the perfect ripeness and enhances the flavor of the Quinoa, Feta and Pistachio-Stuffed Acorn Squash recipe.
Pumpkin with Rosemary and Cinnamon
What’s the first thing that comes to your mind when you hear the words pumpkin and Mediterranean diet? I know most of you probably answered “it makes no sense,” but since pumpkin is a vegetable and is very nutritious, then it fits into the category of healthy meals for the Mediterranean diet. In fact, pumpkin is prepared with fresh ravoli in Italy and in Greece; they bake pumpkin in between phyllo dough for their version of pumpkin pie. Most of the known American-style pumpkin recipes are cooked with butter, because our ancestors didn’t know better but now we do and have access to high-quality extra virgin olive oil, we can now cook healthier pumpkin meals. Seasoned with cinnamon and rosemary, this pumpkin dish is more than your average American-style pumpkin meal. The olive oil is the key ingredient that helps blend all the flavors together, which makes this dish ideal all throughout autumn and perfect for Thanksgiving as well. Now your Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving are spicing up!
Apple, Walnut and Gorgonzola Salad with Dijon Vinaigrette
I love salads that are a meal in themselves, don’t you? This could be a game changer for your Mediterranean diet recipes for Thanksgiving. This Mediterranean diet salad was originally inspired by the Waldorf salad, except it has a little bit of twist to it, and it is a meal in and on itself also. As far as nutrition is concerned, it contains all the nutrients your body needs such as fruits and vegetables, walnuts which has proteins and omega-3, olive oil and pungent which has anti-inflammatory properties, and gorgonzola cheese which is rich in calcium. It is usually served with soup and/or a small piece of crusty Italian bread. The Dijon Vinaigrette salad dressing is not only delicious but nutritious too! There’ll be plenty of it when you make this dressing, so you can use it on all of your salads for weeks to come. Enjoy!