Holiday Tips: Eat all of your favorite foods and stay lean too.

baby turkey

Mindset Matter: Thankful and guilt are 2 different emotions and one is not as good to feel as the other. With that in mind, Thanksgiving is right around the corner, which means it’s time to either start planning your family’s menu or you will be a guest of someone’s for the biggest meal of the year, like literally the biggest meal of the year. My favorite things on the menu are all the carb- loaded side dishes. Unfortunately, those items can be some of the least healthy on the table. Thanksgiving is only one day, and I definitely believe in enjoying it to the fullest, whatever that looks like for you! Do not restrict yourself this Holiday season, instead empower yourself with healthier options to your favorite dishes. Your Post Thanksgiving Feast self will thank you for it.

If you are working towards a life style change and want to apply it to the holidays as well, I have some really yummy recipes to share soon.  But for now, I have a few tips I find helpful, the recipes I share will match the tips below.  If you want to eat your Thanksgiving Feast as you normally would, no modifications to “health it up” a little then that works too.  Just think of this..  sticks of butter, cream, sugar-laden sauces, and mounds of empty carbohydrates, ha, just a thought that helps me a little when I am wanting to stay conscious of the truth in the midst of all my favorite foods from my “before healthy Tonya” life;) and I know truth is always best in all things so we can make our own educated decisions:)  I will repeat, Thanksgiving is only one day, and I definitely believe in enjoying it to the fullest, whatever that looks like for you!  For me, I want to be awake, have energy and not have an aching stomach so I can enjoy time with family and friends. If that is you too, I hope you find this helpful in keeping you on track with yours and your family’s healthy eating plan this holiday season.  If you need a healthy eating plan moving forward I am happy to help there too.  For now, I have pulled together a few tips for lightening up your side dishes so you can spend the day after shopping those Black Friday sales or doing other things you enjoy instead of sleeping through them.  I meant many a Thanksgiving sleeping.


1. Stuffing – I don’t know about you but Thanksgiving is not Thanksgiving if I do not eat stuffing. This will be the first recipe I share this week. Don’t let the healthier ingredients fool you. It is amazing!! If you have a favorite recipe of your own (please share your favorites with me or in our private fb group Finish Strong) but want to make it a little healthier this year, try these tips and let me know if you liked the changes. First, choose the healthiest meat you can, such as natural chicken sausage free of nitrites, I like the one from Trader Joe’s. Cornbread stuffing is slightly healthier because stoneground corn is a whole grain.  An even better option is to make your own. I will include one of my favorite recipes for cornbread as well.
2. Mashed Potatoes – The best substitution for your taters would be mashed sweet potatoes, but if that won’t cut it in your house, try red potatoes and incorporate the skins for added fiber and nutrients.
3. Green Bean Casserole – Although this side dish is technically a vegetable, the addition of a creamy sauce and fried onion topping increases the fat and calorie content considerably. With so many other delicious items to splurge on, you could always just steam the green beans instead (did I really just type that?) If you know me you know vegetables were not my first love so to just skip over them would be fine by me except… Thanksgiving because the crunchy carbs on top of the green bean casserole always reeled me in.  If it is one of your staples, stay tuned of a healthier version of this one too.
4. Dinner Rolls – With so many starches or as my grandma called them, starches already in the meal one might could say we could probably skip the rolls altogether and not even miss them! But because we know it isn’t the carb that is not good for us but what kind, how much of it and when we eat it that matters, have your roll.  I know most of you know the healthier alternatives by now but if you are new to eating clean, choose whole wheat rolls to get a little more fiber, limit your intake to one, and go real easy on the butter.
5. Cranberry Sauce – Cranberry sauce is made of cranberries and sugar.  However, if you like cranberry sauce have a bit. However, I am not a cranberry sauce fan. It is too sweet of a carb for me.
6. Creamed Spinach – Just like with the green bean casserole, creamed spinach is an easy fix – just forget the cream. Sautee it in olive oil with some minced garlic for a healthy, flavorful side dish that may even taste better than its creamed counterpart. For an extra boost, top the spinach with some almond cheese just before serving.
7. Squash – Fall is the season of squash. Whether it’s acorn, butternut, carnival or buttercup – pick your favorite, slice it in half, scoop out the seeds, and it’s ready to roast! 45 minutes in the oven is a safe bet for most, and it can then be cut in smaller portions with the skin still on before serving. If you have more time, you can remove the skin, cube it, toss it with olive oil salt, and pepper, and roast it that way. Boiling and then mashing the squash is another healthy method and you can season it with a pinch of brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon. Don’t be too heavy handed with these, though. Squash is delicious on its own, and you want to be able to taste it!
8. Supplements –  If you are traveling to a eat with friends, family or in a
restaurant to a good protein drink is always handy to have with you.  I prefer AdvoCare’s Meal Replacement Shake
as my snack on the way to my next meal in everyday life and pre holiday gatherings

where I know I will socialize before I eat.  It keeps me from becoming “hangry” and from over indulging on things I do not need.  It also keeps my metabolism from stalling while I socialize with everyone and fills me with really good fiber, protein for shielding lean muscle and a little fast burning carbs to keep my metabolism fueled and running for the real feast.  A few of my favorite supplements everyday since 2001 including the holidays;) are AdvoCare’s Slim, Metabolic Nutrition System(MNS3) Vitamins with AdvoCare, AdvoCare’s Biocharge and Catalyst which are BCAA’s.  I take all of the above on a normal day, holiday, non workout day, EVERYDAY and have for 17 years. They help me fill in nutritional gaps should I not eat as well as planned.  Even if I stick to the above tips, I still need supplements to fill nutritional gaps. Not all foods can provide everything we need in our nutrition, in addition to that truth, we get the added benefit supplements provide in help with our digestion of what we eat.  And as always, my all time favorite for energy as a mom of 3 boys..Spark, for that boost of energy so I can do my best to let the memory highlight reel roll on.

Macro Counting Friends..
For those of you counting macros…  Plug in these foods either ahead of time or the day of, just as you would any other day. If you have questions on how to plug in the foods once I share each recipes healthier option or how to enter foods in my fitness pal and check it with the macros I can help with that too.  If you have no idea what a macro is or how to calculate them.. I can help with that too. 😉
Final Thought:
Remember, you don’t have to try all of these substitutions this year. Pick the ones that sound the best and most feasible for you and your family. It’s a holiday, so you don’t have to be 100% healthy. Our families mantra is eat everything you absolutely love, skip the things you don’t, and enjoy the day!


You are valueable to someone and your time reading is valuable to me.  Never forget it.  Tell someone today and everyday after how valuable they are to you.  Letting others know you are thankful for them doesn’t have to be saved for Thanksgiving.
Tonya, Chris and the Boys

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