6. Chestnuts -Thanks to the popular Christmas tune about roasting them “on an open fire”, chestnuts are most associated with the winter holiday season . In reality, however, they are a healthy, delicious treat that can be enjoyed year-round. Sometimes referred to as the “grain that grows on a tree”, chestnuts are lower in fat (and protein) and higher in carbohydrates than other nuts. An ounce of chestnuts contains only 1.3g fat per ounce, (the lowest of all nuts) and 1.2g protein. Chestnuts also contain vitamin C and folate and like all nuts they have zero cholesterol.
7. Squash – High in fiber and betacarotene, but low in fat and calories, squash is terrific as a snack, or in a soup or side dish. Butternut squash soup, for example, is a wonderful, satisfying, nutritious dish this time of year. Acorn or spaghetti squash makes a healthy side dish. Take a small acorn or spaghetti squash, poke holes in it and microwave it until tender – about 10-12 minutes. Cut in half and remove the seeds. Mix the squash flesh with raw spinach leaves – the heat will wilt the leaves. Mix in two Tbsp chopped walnuts and drizzle with EVOO. Salt, pepper to taste. Mmmmm!
8. Popcorn – First cultivated by native Americans centuries ago, popcorn or some version of it, may have been enjoyed by the early pilgrims. I always associate popcorn with Christmas tree trimming parties. Believe it or not, popcorn is a whole grain which makes it a great snack anytime. Skip the movie theater popcorn and/or most microwave varieties. Instead, pop it yourself in a little canola oil and then just spray it lightly with EVOO and sprinkle on some garlic salt for more flavor.
9. Green bean casserole- In the traditional Thanksgiving form, green bean casserole is typically a calorie nightmare as it contains butter, cream of mushroom soup, deep fried onions and sometimes cheese. Green beans themselves, however, are one of the healthiest holiday foods around. They are an excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. They also contain a good amount of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Make a lower-fat version of green bean casserole by using fat-free cream of mushroom and light butter (or make it even leaner by using shallots, olive oil and chicken broth) and you will be able to enjoy the yummy taste without the guilt!
10. Wild rice pilaf -Another whole grain worthy of the Thanksgiving feast, wild rice pilaf is a delicious accompaniment to turkey. Or, to save calories without sacrificing flavor, you can even substitute rice pilaf for bread when you make your stuffing. Get creative with your pilaf, seasoning it with the traditional onions, celery, parsley, sage, thyme and mushrooms, as well as raisins, fennel seeds, dried apricots and walnuts – all of which are themselves nutritious.