Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: The healthier side of Thanksgiving | VailDaily.com

Off the Hill with Tricia Swenson: The healthier side of Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate all things bountiful … lots of food, lots of friends and family, lots of snow (hopefully) but unfortunately, it also means lots of calories.

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat during a typical holiday gathering from snacking and eating a traditional Thanksgiving dinner with turkey and all the trimmings.

Turkey itself isn't that unhealthy for you, but when all the sides that go along with the traditional meal are accounted for, the numbers start to quickly add up.

We asked Tracy Miller, the Colorful Cook, to provide a healthy alternative to a typical side dish, and she has the recipe for success. A salad highlighting seasonal butternut squash, crunchy carrots, leafy greens and homemade dressing featuring turmeric, cinnamon, curry and cumin provides a nutritious alternative for those trying to count calories.

PLAN AHEAD

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If you need a pre-meal game plan, then consider hitting the gym for a cardio class. The Allegria Spa hosts its annual Turkey Burner class at 10 a.m., which gives you the opportunity to burn calories before indulging in the big meal later in the day. YouthPWR365 offers the 10th annual Turkey Trot on Thanksgiving morning. Held in Eagle-Vail, the course is relatively flat which is good for guests not accustomed to the altitude. Skiing and snowboarding are great ways to burn some calories and with the weather being a bit warmer lately, hiking and biking get the body moving, too.

During the meal, consider portion control by taking small amounts of the dishes you want to try. Savor the flavors and your surroundings, the company you're with and eat slowly. Drink a glass of water to help you feel full and be aware of the calories in beverages.

If you do indulge, then don't beat yourself up about it. Thanksgiving comes once a year. Get back on track and try to eat healthy the next day.

Recipe for Roasted Butternut Squash with Turmeric Vinaigrette

1 medium butternut squash
2 cups cooked red quinoa
3 large carrots, thinly sliced
5 cups mixed greens, chopped
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup white wine vinegar
1 tablespoon lemon juice

Spice Mixture:
2 teaspoons turmeric
1 teaspoon curry
1 teaspoon garlic powder
1 teaspoon cinnamon
1 teaspoon ground cumin
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon pepper
1/2 teaspoon ground chili powder

Combine all spices in a small bowl.
Wash the squash and place it in the microwave for 3-4 minutes. This will allow the skin to soften and make it easier to peel. Peel and cube into 1/2-inch pieces.
Heat oven to 350 degrees.
Mix 1 heaping tablespoon spice mixture with 1/8 cup olive oil and toss with squash.
Place squash in a single layer, parchment covered baking sheet and cook for 15 minutes until cooked but still firm. When done, remove squash from hot baking sheet and place in refrigerator to cool.
Cook quinoa according to package directions. When cooked, spread on a clean baking dish or plate, place in the refrigerator and allow to cool.
To make dressing, mix vinegar, lemon juice, remaining olive oil and spice mixture and stir.
Toss the lettuce and half the dressing together and place on a serving platter, top with squash, carrots and quinoa. Add more dressing if needed.
*One cup of chickpeas are a great addition for added protein and texture.