My holiday pantry and refrigerator are stocked with foods that for me, herald the start of another holiday season. I realized recently, that part of the reason I love the holidays is all the food and cooking I associate with this time of the year. The smells, the memories, and the tastes all intertwine to make each season memorable.
1. Green Apples
I only eat green apples during the holiday season. It may be that they seem overabundant at this time of the year, but I love adding them to smoothies, pancakes, salads, and desserts. While all apples are high in fiber and quercitin, a flavonoid that suppresses inflammation and the allergy response, green apples seem to have the highest concentration of polyphenols, antioxidants that regulate gut bacteria and lower obesity risks. Granny Smith apples are typically the most popular green apples. Biting into a Granny Smith apple may also improve oral health, as the tartness encourages saliva production, reducing bacteria in the mouth.
2. Brussels Sprouts
I will admit that Brussels sprouts are on our family's table throughout the year, but the holidays are an excuse to dress them up! Mixed with pecans or sweet potatoes, Brussels sprouts take on their own unique flavor, far from the bitter taste many of us remember or the raw Brussels sprouts my mom forced me to chomp down.
Brussels sprouts have a number of health benefits including high fiber, vitamin C and K content, but most importantly, high in glucosinolates, the cancer-fighting antioxidant. In fact, Brussels sprouts have the highest amount of this compound compared to all other cruciferous vegetables.
Turkey is a holiday staple for us, and the traditional roasted turkey often gets repurposed as turkey chili, stews, sandwiches, or casseroles. Turkey is a great source of protein, clocking almost 30 grams (50 to 60 percent of your daily protein intake) and is high in B vitamins.
I cannot remember a holiday where I have not waited in anticipation to welcome back pumpkin. Even as a child, I was the one who pushed my family to buy the whole pumpkin, cut it open and dig out the seeds. I, of course, did not know how healthy pumpkins are, but now as an adult, I have a health reason to include pumpkins in our holiday gatherings.
Pumpkins are loaded in fiber and vitamins A and K, providing a powerful blend of healthy nutrients, while pumpkin seeds are loaded in protein and minerals that are easy to use on the go. My children and I love experimenting with pumpkin pie recipes or pumpkin custards, while we were recently introduced to a Haitian pumpkin soup, complete with bone broth and other healthy vegetables.
5. Sweet Potatoes
Like pumpkin, sweet potatoes are another holiday staple. What can you not do with sweet potatoes? They are delicious roasted, mashed, or sautéed. I have used them to make my famous sweet potato soup and sweet potato soufflé.
Higher in vitamin A and beta-carotene than pumpkin, sweet potatoes also contain vitamins C and B as well as potassium. Slightly higher in carbohydrates than pumpkin, sweet potatoes also satisfy carbohydrate cravings and are good grain substitutes.
6. Grapefruit Juice
Last, but not least, fresh grapefruit juice is a refrigerator staple. It may seem odd, but sipping on grapefruit juice really does reduce my holiday sugar cravings. As I am surrounded by tasty treats, drinking a few ounces of grapefruit juice will stem my appetite and keep me from mindless munching! Known to be high in vitamin C, it may be the choline content that keeps my insulin regulated and helps me burn fat during the holidays.
Enjoy the food, spices, and drinks of the season. I know I will! Happy Holidays!