TASTE OF THYME: HAVE A HEART-HEALTHY THANKSGIVING

By Allison Davis

 

November is just the start of the downward spiral of classic holiday overeating. First, there is the leftover candy from trick-or-treating, then come the pies, pumpkin rolls, fudge and candies. With the holiday season around the corner, your waistline and your health are at risk. During Thanksgiving, it’s easy to go overboard with the calories and consumption. Temptations of gooey pecan pie and dense sweet potatoes topped with crackly marshmallows make it seem impossible to be disciplined. It doesn’t have to be this way. There are some excellent options and recipes available for all the classic Thanksgiving sides and sweets, without all the nonsense and dense calories, AND it can still taste amazing. I hate the look some people give me when I say something is gluten free or low calorie, and they automatically think it doesn’t taste good – in all honesty, it can taste better! 
November is not just the month for Tom the turkey and the Macy’s Thanksgiving Day parade, but a month we draw awareness to the Go Red For Women campaign. Only 55 percent of women realize heart disease is their 
No. 1 killer and less than half know what are considered healthy levels for cardiovascular risk factors like blood pressure and cholesterol. The Go Red For Women movement works to make sure women know they are at risk so they can take action to protect their health.
One quick way to start improving cardiovascular health is through lifestyle and exercise. 
I use the word lifestyle instead of diet because 
I don’t believe in diets. Diets are temporary and if you are committed to improving your health (especially your heart health) then it is anything but temporary, and it’s a lifestyle choice where you focus on the food you eat, why you are eating certain foods, and how those foods can benefit your body and the health of your heart from the inside. 
I have put two wonderful, heart-healthy Thanksgiving sides and a bonus heart-healthy dessert together, along with healthy tips on why you should be cooking more with these amazing products. 
Enjoy, have a great Thanksgiving and many more to come in the future! 
Holiday Broccoli Salad 
Ingredients
3 heads of broccoli crowns, stalks 
removed and chopped into small thumb size florets 
1 red onion, diced small 
10oz bag of lightly salted peanuts 
10oz bag of dried cranberries or 
cherries 
2 granny smith apples finely chopped 
1 can of coconut cream 
2 Tablespoons of red wine vinegar 
2 Tablespoons of sugar or substitute with 100% pure maple syrup 
Salt and Pepper to taste 
½ lemon juiced 
Pomegranate arils (seeds) for garnish 
Directions
In a medium bowl mix the florets of broccoli, diced red onion, cranberries, peanuts, and apples. In a separate bowl whisk the coconut cream, lemon juice, red wine vinegar, sugar, and salt and pepper. Adjust seasoning to your taste. If you prefer a sweeter dressing add another tablespoon of maple syrup or honey. Pour the dressing over the broccoli salad ingredients and toss to generously coat the salad. This is best prepared a day or two ahead so the flavors have a chance to marry together. Before serving garnish with a handful of pomegranate arils for a pop of color and an extra boost in 
antioxidants. 
Healthy Tip: 
When it comes to your health, you really can’t go wrong with vegetables. But green vegetables may give an extra boost to your heart. These are high in carotenoids, which act as antioxidants and free your body of potentially harmful compounds. They’re also high in fiber and contain tons of vitamins and minerals.
Pomegranates contains numerous antioxidants, including heart-promoting polyphenols and anthocyanins which may help stave off hardening of the arteries. If you don’t like pomegranates or can’t afford them, reach for apples, which also contain plenty of health-promoting compounds.

Creamy Coconut Cauliflower Soup
Ingredients
1 Tablespoon olive oil (rosemary-infused adds great flavor)
1 medium onion, diced
2 medium stalks celery, diced
1 teaspoon garlic (approx. 
1 clove, minced)
3 large potatoes, scrubbed and roughly cut into small chunks
1 head of cauliflower, washed and cut into florets
6 cups chicken broth
1 can of full-fat coconut milk or coconut cream
1 Tablespoon ground turmeric 
1 lemon juiced 
Sea salt & fresh pepper, to taste
Directions
Heat olive oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add onion and celery and a sprinkling of salt and pepper, stir and let sauté over medium low heat for about 5 minutes. Stir in garlic puree or garlic and let cook for another minute. Add potatoes, cauliflower, broth and turmeric. Bring to a boil, then reduce heat to a bubbling simmer for 20 to 25 minutes until potatoes and cauliflower are soft. Remove pot from the heat and, using an immersion blender, blend until smooth. Stir in coconut milk, lemon juice, and add more salt and pepper to taste. Garnish with fresh chives (optional, but pretty good!)
Healthy Tip: 
Turmeric has been shown to generate incredible overall health benefits. The main active compound in turmeric, curcumin, is often responsible for turmeric’s benefits due to its anti-cancer, anti-inflammatory and antioxidant properties.
Dark Chocolate Pomegranate Bark 
Ingredients
10oz bittersweet chocolate (60-70% cacao), broken into 1-inch pieces
1 cup fresh pomegranate arils (from 1 large pomegranate)
1½ Tablespoons minced candied ginger
¼ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt 
Directions
Line a baking sheet with a silicone baking mat or waxed paper. Put the chocolate in a wide, shallow microwave-safe bowl and microwave on high until it just starts to melt, about 1 minute OR use the double boiling method on the stove over a small saucepan of water. Stir with a spatula until the chocolate is completely melted and smooth, heating in additional 15-second increments, if necessary.
Gently stir half of the pomegranate seeds, the ginger (break up any clumps with your fingers), and the salt into the chocolate. Scrape the chocolate mixture onto the baking sheet and spread it into an 8x10-inch rectangle. Sprinkle the remaining pomegranate seeds and Himalayan sea salt evenly over the top, pressing them into the chocolate. Refrigerate until fully set, about 30 minutes. Break the bark into chunks with your hands (be careful not to crush the seeds), and serve.
Healthy Tips: 
Several studies have now shown that dark chocolate may benefit your heart, including one in 2012 that found daily chocolate consumption could reduce nonfatal heart attacks and stroke in people at high risk for these problems. The findings applied only to dark chocolate, meaning chocolate made up of at least 60-70% cocoa. Dark chocolate contains flavonoids called polyphenols, which may help blood pressure, clotting and inflammation. Unfortunately, milk chocolate and most candy bars don’t make the grade when it comes to protecting your heart.
Ginger is an amazing root with many healing powers, helping with: appetite, arthritis, cellulite, pneumonia, colds, sea sickness, nausea, preventing blood clots and increasing circulation. Ginger is also used for blood pressure, cholesterol regulation, increased circulation and overall heart health.

 

 

 



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