Get Your Glow On: The Thanksgiving Edition

This is the fourth in a series of monthly posts by Certified Health Coach and Plant-Based Chef Julie Magnussen. We’re calling it “Glow From Within,” because we know that what you put in your body is just as important as what you put on your skin.

The leaves are golden, the air is crisp, and there is the wonderful aroma of cinnamon and cloves coming from the oven. I close my eyes and deeply inhale my surroundings, basking in the absolute nostalgic joy of the holiday season's arrival! I get a thrill at the thought of indulging in creamy vegetable casseroles, sweet soul-warming pies, and spicy hot drinks that create the perfect environment for Thanksgiving fun. I know what you’re thinking, “Sounds nice Julie, but I can’t eat those foods without going up a pant size or walking around looking like Frosty the Snowman.” Yes, these decadent holiday foods are typically filled with dairy, gluten, and all those other little irritants we try to avoid. But before you have visions of skin flare-ups and want to put on the brakes in terms of fully engaging in Thanksgiving,

I’m here to introduce to you the joys of eating this holiday season -- those that actually encourage healthy, beautiful, and glowing skin to keep you looking and feeling your best, one party after another! Are you ready for the most exciting secret to keeping your holiday glow? ADD MORE IN! Yup – it’s pretty simple! From pomegranates and cranberries to sweet potatoes and pumpkins, there are SO many seasonal foods that offer your skin the needed boost in nutrients. Your skin is an indication of what’s going on inside. If you’re nourishing your system in the way your body needs, you will be more likely to shuttle out toxins and keep your system in balance. This doesn’t mean eating a plain salad while everyone else is savoring every bite of grandma’s marshmallow-topped Sweet Potato Casserole. Every whole food ingredient you add to a dish will provide a unique set of vitamins and minerals that are the foundation of healthy skin. Vitamins C and A, potassium, iron, and zinc – they’re all great for you and are abundant in a host of veggies. Did you know that micronutrients manifest themselves through color? So, if you eat a variety of colors, you will get a variety of nutrients in your system. What’s an easy way to do this? Add at least one EXTRA fruit or veggie to every single meal you have. So if you usually have scrambled eggs in the morning with sautéed spinach – add a diced red bell pepper and start there. Eventually you may want to add another, but start small so it doesn’t seem cumbersome to take this approach for every meal, every day. I’ll even help you get started on your Thanksgiving Dinner. Here are a few ways you can incorporate more skin-loving fruits and veggies into your favorite meal of the year and still feel like you're indulging in those nostalgic foods that make the holiday special.

Turkey – The star of the show in its own right! Add a variety of herbs, as the natural oils of these flavor enhancers provide a plethora of benefits to keeping your system in balance. Also, I’d recommend using clarified butter/ghee instead of regular butter for this classic staple. Traditional butter consists of whey, butterfat, and casein. Whey and casein (what most people are allergic to in dairy) are removed in clarified butter so you end up with a high smoke-point fat that is so good for you it has been used medically in Ayurvedic medicine for centuries! Check out this quick video tutorial on how to make your own.

Stuffing – Hold the gluten please! If you have a slight intolerance you may decide that Thanksgiving Day is the time to throw caution to the wind and deal with the uncomfortable bloating. To reduce some of the effects, be sure to include rosemary and celery in your recipe. If you have celiac disease and are choosing a gluten-free option, try to avoid those fake, unappetizing breads and make your own at home a few days before. This way you can control the amount of sugar and you know exactly which type of flour you’ll be consuming (Plus, who needs all those extra binders and preservatives in their lives? Not me!).

Mashed Potatoes – The ultimate indulgence, am I right?! A simple twist is to add some scallions/chives, getting those mineral-rich alliums in your diet. Or try a whole new dish (the version I actually prefer now) Cauliflower Mashed Potatoes that is dairy free and, of course, rich in veggie-lovin’ micronutrients.

Green Bean Casserole – This is one dish that makes me a little squeamish, as I usually see the potential nose-dive and never recover. The key to a GREAT Green Bean Casserole is to not overcook your beans. Start with fresh green beans and lightly blanch them for 1 minute before tossing with your cream sauce to bake in the oven. Add some chopped swiss-chard leaves for another veggie. Oh, and did someone say dairy? Try this substitute for your cream - in a blender, mix soaked cashews and water until smooth; you still get to indulge in the velvety texture that we know and love. You could also try my Garlic Cashew Aioli recipe and mix in some vegetable broth to thin it out.

Pumpkin Pie – Pumpkin pie is sweet! And we all know that sugar is a common culprit in not-so-stellar skin. But don’t forget we want to live in the moment and really enjoy our meal so focus on the quality of ingredients in this one. You can add a sweet potato for a greater variety of minerals. Also, either start with a real pumpkin or buy the pumpkin puree from the store that doesn’t have added sugar. Be sure to use a bit of cinnamon in the filling, as this will help reduce the rate at which the sugar is absorbed into your blood-stream (ie. no sugar-spikes/crashes!).

Cranberry Sauce – This is another one to keep on our sugar-intake radar. Cranberries are very tangy so it’s important to add sugar to balance out the flavors. If you add a bit of vanilla extract to bring out the sweetness as it hits your palate you won't need to add as much sugar. On that note: pick a good-for-you sugar. Maple syrup and oranges actually provide a number of skin-loving minerals. Try out my recipe below for a delicious cranberry sauce that will get your body on track to balanced and beautiful skin!

Cranberry Sauce Photo: Julie Magnussen[/caption]

Ingredients: 1 12-oz. package fresh cranberries 1/3 cup maple syrup 4 dates, pitted and chopped 1/2 cup fresh orange juice (juice from 1 navel orange, zest before juicing) 1/4 cup water 1 tsp. cinnamon 1 tsp. vanilla extract 1/2 tsp. cardamom 1/2 tbsp. fresh orange zest 1/2 tbsp. fresh ginger, grated dash of fresh nutmeg, grated

Directions: Bring the all the ingredients (except orange zest, ginger and nutmeg) to a simmer in a medium saucepan. Cover the mixture and allow it to simmer on medium-low heat for 7 to 10 minutes, or until the cranberries are just beginning to burst and you notice the mixture thickening. Add the orange zest, ginger and nutmeg and stir to combine. Simmer uncovered for an additional 1 to 2 minutes. Remove from the heat and allow the sauce to thicken a bit more as it cools. Enjoy! Certified Health Coach and Plant-Based Chef, Julie Magnussen (BS, CHC) is the creative force behind Healthy Julie, a healthy foodie blog with a fresh and conscious approach to a healthier lifestyle. The wellness and cooking blog features original recipes that taste great, look beautiful, and boast incredible health benefits.

The goal of Healthy Julie is to educate others to be an active participant in their own health and healing.