trainers-thanksgiving-foods

WHAT TRAINERS COOK FOR THANKSGIVING

Eight healthy, seasonal options to serve or bring to a gathering

While it’s easy to write off Thanksgiving as a day of mindless eating amidst a year of mindful decisions, that’s not how Equinox’s personal trainers approach the holiday. Instead, they seize the opportunity to cook healthier versions of festive, seasonal foods, embracing the natural flavors of spices and herbs instead of sugar and readymade seasonings, and subbing in whole, nutritious ingredients in place of more processed ones. 

This year, instead of resigning yourself to the often-bland classics, follow their lead. Here are eight dishes to add to your table or bring to a celebration. 

AVOCADO-AND-QUINOA-STUFFED ACORN SQUASH
“This is one of my favorite Thanksgiving dishes to make. Combining the naturally sweet squash with healthy fats (avocado and pumpkin seeds), fiber (black beans), whole grains (quinoa), and seasonings like cumin, coriander, and garlic makes for a nutrient-dense dish that looks and tastes great.”
Alex Zimmerman, director of Tier X

PURÉED, MASHED BRUSSELS SPROUTS
“This is a family recipe that was passed on to me by my grandmother. Green vegetables can be underrepresented at Thanksgiving. I cook Brussels sprouts until they are so soft you can mash them with a fork, then add salt, pepper, and a dash of nutmeg. I serve them with butter at the table, but of course my grandmother would always add that in before.”
Margaret Schwarz, Tier 3+ trainer, East 92nd Street in New York City 

HOMEMADE BONE BROTH VEGETABLE SOUP MEDLEY
“This dish is incredibly easy and heart-and-soul-warming. You can remix the original broth by keeping the base bones, proteins, and vegetables in the pot, but switching up the herbs and spices.”
Julian Ho, group fitness instructor, Bay Street and Yorkville in Toronto

BEET AND WALNUT SALAD
“I love the versatility of salads, and make it my mission to ensure that salad isn't the food left over at the end of the meal. This year, I'll bring a simple but nutritious salad of golden and red beets, walnuts, and greens. I’ll add in tomatoes, cucumbers, dried cranberries, goat cheese, and a drizzle of olive oil for dressing. This maintains the fiber and healthy fat content, without the added calories of heavy dressings or croutons.”
Cassie Kipper, R.D., Tier 3+ personal trainer, La Costa in Carlsbad, California

ROASTED DELICATA SQUASH STUFFED WITH WILD RICE, PISTACHIOS, AND DRIED CHERRIES
“This is the epitome of a Thanksgiving side in that it has lots of varied tastes and textures. It’s also vegetarian and doesn’t take a ton of time or effort to prep. It’s a good dish to make with friends and family—I find cooking with others can make big meals a much more enjoyable and fulfilling experience.” 
Bethany Snodgrass, certified health coach and operations manager, Equinox Fitness Training Institute

SWEET POTATO FRIES
“I like making sweet potato fries because I get to choose the thickness and flavorings. You can season some of them differently so everyone is happy, whether they're snacked on before the main meal or during.”
Stephane Vehrle-Smith, Tier 3 trainer, Greenwich Avenue in New York City

ROASTED BRUSSELS SPROUTS WITH PINE NUTS AND BALSAMIC
“With Brussels being low in calories but dense in nutrition, this is always a great, easy dish to bring to Thanksgiving dinner. Adding pine nuts to the mix gives the dish healthy fat rather than a sweetener (like cranberries). The glaze, made with unsweetened balsamic vinegar, is perfect for drizzling.” 
Julie Wandzilak, Tier X coach, E at Columbus Circle in New York City

CRANBERRY, APPLE, AND ONION RELISH
“I make a sugar-free cranberry sauce that is essentially sautéed onions, diced apples, and cranberries. I add organic fruit juice and some juice-sweetened jam along with cinnamon sticks, whole cloves, cardamom pods, and vanilla beans. I let it simmer all day long—it tastes delicious and tangy and makes the house smell amazing.”
Allison English, yoga instructor, Lincoln Park, Loop, and Gold Coast in Chicago