by Barry’s Bootcamp Trainer MEGAN CONNER
Okay peeps. Let’s be honest – I LIKE TO EAT. I mean, c’mon – who doesn’t?! And yes, I’m a trainer at Barry’s Bootcamp (and a mean one at that), so I will not lie to you and say that I don’t own a headband that says “I run so that I can eat cupcakes.” Because – I DO. No judging, ok?
Because I have such a passion for cooking and baking, it has been really fun finding healthy alternatives to some of my favorite not-so-healthy dishes. Surprisingly there’s a lot that you can do these days to maintain flavor and still keep it healthy!
When you think of the holidays – you think presents, snow, jolly and happy times full of joy… and FOOD. Lots and lots of food…mmmmmmm… So, why not enjoy all of the yummies this year during the holidays? You’ve gotten in the best shape of your life but don’t you dare throw it away the last two months of the year! It’s just about making the right choices and decisions, which isn’t always easy to do, but IS entirely possible.
I’ve decided to stay in Nashville this Thanksgiving… maybe help out with a few extra classes at BBC while people go away for the holidays, hit the sales and do some Christmas shopping. What I’m really excited to do is to host a healthy Turkey Day dinner at my house…I’m currently taking reservations now.
I’ve been compiling recipes that I already love and some that I’ve found that I want to try for this healthy feast. There are always potluck dinners around this time, so you might want to try one of these healthy options for your own T-day dindin or gathering. There are some fancy schmancy recipes and some traditional ones mixed in that I want to share with you. I’ve tried to prepare a menu rich with proteins and veggies and provide nutrition info when I could as well. A lot of the dishes have a protein and veggie combination so it’s a double whammy of greatness. Bon appetit my friends!
Hummus Dip with Pomegranate Seeds
Simply get a carton of your favorite plain hummus. Trader Joe’s and Whole Foods both have a GREAT selection. Sprinkle the top with pom seeds and serve with a side of crackers and/or baby carrots.
Kale and Pine Nuts Salad (Epicurious)
- 2 tablespoons dried currants
- 7 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, divided
- 1 tablespoon unseasoned rice vinegar
- 1 tablespoon honey
- 1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
- 1 teaspoon salt
- 2 bunches Tuscan kale (about 1 pound), center ribs and stems removed, leaves thinly sliced crosswise
- 2 tablespoons pine nuts, lightly toasted
- Parmesan cheese shavings
Place currants in small bowl; add 5 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar. Let soak overnight.
Drain currants. Whisk remaining 2 tablespoons white balsamic vinegar, rice vinegar, honey, oil, and salt in large bowl. Add kale, currants, and pine nuts; toss to coat. Let marinate 20 minutes at room temperature, tossing occasionally.
Season to taste with salt and pepper. Sprinkle cheese shavings over salad and serve. (Image: Farm shop)
Smoked Salmon on Rye (Food Network)
- 1 cup finely diced red and green seedless California grapes
- 1 tablespoon chopped fresh dill
- 2 teaspoons rice vinegar
- 1 teaspoon sugar
- Pinch salt
- 4 tablespoons lowfat cream cheese
- 4 slices (roughly 3 x 5) Danish-style rye bread, each cut crosswise into 4 pieces
- 2 oz. thinly sliced smoked salmon
In a small bowl, combine the grapes, dill, vinegar, sugar and salt. Spread the cream cheese on the bread slices and top with pieces of salmon. Drizzle with the grape relish and serve.
Nutritional analysis per snack:
Calories 37; Protein 1.6 g; Carbohydrate 6 g; Fat 1 g; 23% Calories from Fat; Cholesterol 3 mg; Sodium 105 mg; Fiber .5 g.
TURKEY, duh! Keep it simple – salt and pepper, olive oil, baste in its own juices. Stuff with herbs – rosemary, thyme and so forth – get creative and have fun! Want a real simple recipe, probably the simplest ever? Check out this spatchcocked turkey.
Sometimes the REAL trick is finding the turkey that’s the best before you even get it to the table. Taste tests have shown that organic, free-range turkeys are far superior in flavor (and ethical treatment) to typical farm-raised birds. Here’s a great article from FitSugar — 6 Tips to Buying a Healthier Turkey.
Pear, Prosciutto & Hazelnut Stuffing (EatingWell.com)
- 3 teaspoons extra-virgin olive oil, divided
- 4 ounces prosciutto, thinly sliced, cut into ribbons
- 2 cups onion, chopped
- 2 cups diced fennel bulb
- 1/4 cup minced shallot
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh sage
- 2 teaspoons minced fresh thyme
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh rosemary
- 8 cups stale baguette, preferably multi-grain (not sourdough), cut into 1/2-inch cubes
- 2 Bosc pears, ripe but firm, chopped
- 1/3 cup chopped flat-leaf parsley
- 1/3 cup chopped hazelnuts, toasted
- 1 14-ounce can reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/4 teaspoon salt
- Freshly ground pepper, to taste
Preheat oven to 350°F. Coat a 9-by-13-inch baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 1 teaspoon oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium heat. Add prosciutto; cook, stirring, until crispy, about 5 minutes. Drain on a paper towel.
Wipe out the pan and heat the remaining 2 teaspoons oil over medium-high heat. Add onion, fennel and shallot and cook, stirring, until softened and beginning to brown, 6 to 8 minutes. Add sage, thyme and rosemary and cook, stirring, for 1 minute more.
Transfer everything to a large bowl and gently stir in bread, pears, parsley, hazelnuts and the prosciutto. Add broth; toss to combine. Season with salt and pepper. Spoon the stuffing into the prepared baking dish; cover with foil.
Bake for 40 minutes; remove the foil and bake until the top is beginning to crisp, 25 to 30 minutes more.
TIPS & NOTES
Make Ahead Tip: Prepare through Step 3 and refrigerate for up to 1 day.
If you don’t have stale bread ready to use, spread the baguette cubes on a baking sheet and toast at 250°F until crisped and dry , about 15 minutes.
To toast chopped nuts & seeds: Cook in a small dry skillet over medium-low heat, stirring constantly , until fragrant and lightly browned, 2 to 4 minutes.
Per serving: 176 calories; 5 g fat ( 1 g sat , 2 g mono ); 8 mg cholesterol; 29 g carbohydrates; 9 g protein; 6 g fiber; 489 mg sodium; 283 mg potassium
Healthy Homemade Green Bean Casserole (EatingWell.com)
- 3 tablespoons canola oil, divided
- 1 medium sweet onion, (half diced, half thinly sliced), divided 8 ounces mushrooms, chopped
- 1 tablespoon onion powder
- 1 1/4 teaspoons salt, divided
- 1/2 teaspoon dried thyme
- 1/2 teaspoon freshly ground pepper
- 2/3 cup all-purpose flour, divided
- 1 cup low-fat milk
- 3 tablespoons dry sherry , (see Ingredient Note)
- 1 pound frozen French-cut green beans, (about 4 cups) 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream
- 3 tablespoons buttermilk powder, (see Ingredient Note)
- 1 teaspoon paprika
- 1/2 teaspoon garlic powder
Preheat oven to 400°F. Coat a 2 1/2-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Heat 1 tablespoon oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, 1 teaspoon salt, thyme and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, 3 to 5 minutes.
Sprinkle 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Add milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in sour cream and buttermilk powder. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
Whisk the remaining 1/3 cup flour, paprika, garlic powder and the remaining 1/4 teaspoon salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion; toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 tablespoons oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice, until golden and crispy, 4 to 5 minutes.
Spread the onion topping over the casserole. Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let cool for 5 minutes before serving.
TIPS & NOTES
Don’t use the high-sodium “cooking sherry” sold in many supermarkets. Instead, purchase dry sherry sold with other fortified wines.
Look for buttermilk powder, such as Saco Buttermilk Blend, in the baking section or with the powdered milk in most supermarkets.
Per serving: 212 calories; 10 g fat ( 2 g sat , 5 g mono ); 10 mg cholesterol; 23 g carbohydrates; 7 g protein; 3 g fiber; 533 mg sodium; 259 mg potassium.
Oven Roasted Corn (Livestrong.com)
- Fresh corn on the cob
- Canola oil
- Salt and pepper (or other seasoning alternatives below)
Preheat your oven to 450. Shuck the corn. Baste the corn in a bit of canola oil. If you only want this simple taste, wrap the corn individually in a sheet of foil. If you want more of a twist, squeeze lime juice and black pepper onto the corn for a sweet and healthy alternative to butter and salt. Or mix together 3 tbsp. paprika, 1/2 tsp. cayenne pepper, 1/2 tbsp. black pepper, 1/2 tbsp. garlic powder and 1/2 tsp. thyme in a small bowl.
Sprinkle the herb mixture over the corn for a spicy flavor. You can also roast corn in its husk to enhance its flavor. If you choose this option, do not wrap the corn in foil. Loosen the husk from the corn cob, brush the kernels with a little oil and then recover the cob. Set the husks in your oven and roast for 20 to 30 minutes.
For the best taste and nutritional value, roast the corn on the same day it is purchased.
Spiced Roasted Carrots with Raisins (FoodNetwork.com)
- 8 fresh carrots
- 1 red onion
- Walnut oil
- Lemon juice
- Cilantro and dill optional
Cut eight carrots into one-inch sticks. Toss with 1 chopped red onion, 1 tablespoon walnut oil, 1/8 teaspoon allspice, and salt to taste on a baking sheet.
Roast at 425 degrees F, 10 minutes. Meanwhile, soak 1/4 cup raisins in 1/4 cup water. Add the raisins and 1/4 cup chopped walnuts to the carrots; stir and continue roasting, 10 more minutes.
Toss with the juice of 1 lemon, some chopped cilantro and dill, and salt to taste.
Spinach, Garlic and Parmesan Mashed Potatoes (My Recipe)
- 3 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
- 1 bundle of fresh spinach
- 2 tablespoons kosher salt
- 2-3 cups of skim milk (depending on the consistency you like)
- 6 cloves garlic, crushed (optional)
- 6 ounces grated Parmesan (optional)
Peel and dice potatoes, making sure all are relatively the same size. Place in a large saucepan, add the salt, and cover with water. Bring to a boil over medium-high heat and then reduce heat to maintain a rolling boil. Cook until potatoes fall apart when poked with a fork.
Cut the stems from the spinach and set aside. Heat the half-and-half and the garlic in a medium saucepan over medium heat until simmering. Remove from heat and set aside.
Remove the potatoes from the heat and drain off the water. Mash and add the garlic-cream mixture and Parmesan; stir to combine. While the potatoes are still hot – fold in half of the bundle of spinach. Add more depending on how much spinach you want vs. potatoes. Let stand for 5 minutes so that mixture thickens and then serve.
Roasted Brussels Sprouts (My Recipe)
- 1 bag of Brussels sprouts (Trader Joe’s) Olive oil
- Salt and Pepper
- Fresh garlic cloves
- Honey or maple syrup optional
Lightly douse the bottom of a baking pan with olive oil. Lay out the Brussels sprouts on the pan, and place the full garlic cloves throughout the pan. Use 5-10 depending on taste and how many sprouts you have.
Sprinkle with salt and pepper and make sure that all of the sprouts have oil and salt and pepper on them. Bake 10-12 minutes turning them throughout at 450 degrees. In the last 5 minutes of baking, optional to drizzle maple syrup or a bit of honey over the sprouts to caramelize and add a sweetness to the sprouts.
Pumpkin Pie Spice Sweet Potato Fries with Cinnamon Greek Yogurt Dip (FoodDoodles.com)
- 1 sweet potato/yam/orange-fleshed potato cut into thin fries
- 1 tablespoon olive oil
- 1 large egg white
- 1 tsp pumpkin pie spice
- 1 tbsp sugar(optional)
Cinnamon Yogurt Dip:
- 1/2 cup plain Greek or regular yogurt
- 1 tsp cinnamon
- 1 tsp vanilla
- Sweetener to taste (I used vanilla stevia but any sweetener will work fine. Honey would be especially good)
Preheat your oven to 400 degrees. Cut your sweet potato into fries by cutting the ends off first then slicing lengthwise into thin slices then chopping each slice into fries. Line a sheet with parchment. The sweet potatoes at my grocery store are particularly huge, in which case you may want to double the oil, egg, spice and sugar. This recipe should normally serve one, but my sweet potato would have fed at least two adults.Whisk oil,egg and spices and sugar (if using) till slightly foamy and pour over the fries. Toss till evenly coated then arrange in a single layer. Bake approximately 40 minutes or till the desired level of doneness is reached. While the fries are baking mix up the yogurt dip. When the fries are done, serve immediately with dip.
Sweet Cranberry Sauce with Blueberries (About.com)
Pack an antioxidant punch into your traditional Thanksgiving cranberry sauce by adding some sweet blueberries. Whether you call it cranberry sauce or cranberry relish, no Thanksgiving or Christmas meal is complete without some, and this is a healthy homemade recipe that is fat-free and low-calorie.
- 1 cup fresh blueberries
- 1 cup fresh orange juice
- 8 oz. fresh cranberries
- 1 tbsp orange zest
- 3/4 cup sugar or splenda
- 1 tsp vanilla
Combine all ingredients in a medium saucepan over medium heat. Cook until the sugar dissolves and the berries soften, for about 15 minutes. Remove from heat, cover and chill.
This cranberry sauce with blueberries recipe is best made in advance to let flavors blend.
Makes 12 1/4 cup servings
Nutrients per serving: Calories 76, fat 0, cholesterol 0
Carrot Cake (Self Magazine)
- 2 cups all purpose flour
- 1 cup packed brown sugar
- 3/4 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
- 2 teaspoons ground cinnamon
- 1 1/2 tsp baking powder
- 1 1/2 tsp baking soda
- 1 cup slightly beaten egg whites (about 7 egg whites)
- 1/2 cup applesauce
- 1/2 cup cooking oil
- 3 cups finely shredded carrot
- 2 cups powdered sugar (sifted)
- 8 oz reduced fat cream cheese
Preheat the oven to 350 degrees and coat a 10 x 15 pan with cooking spray. In a large mixing bowl – stir together sugars, flour, cinnamon, baking powder and baking soda. In a medium bowl, stir together egg whites, applesauce and oil. Stir into flour mixture. Stir in shredded carrot.
Spread batter in prepared pan and cook 25-30 min until a toothpick near the center comes out clean.
In a medium bowl, beat together powdered sugar and cream cheese until smooth and spread frosting over cooled carrot cake.
Chocolate, Chocolate-chip Clouds (my grandma’s recipe)
- Whites of 3 large eggs
- 1/2 tsp of salt or cream of tartar
- 2/3 cup granulated sugar or Splenda
- 1/2 tsp vanilla extract
- 3 tbs of unsweetened cocoa powder
- 1/2 cup of mini semi-sweet chocolate chips
Heat oven to 200 degrees. Spray 2 large cookie sheets with non-stick cooking spray.In large bowl with electric mixer at high speed, beat egg whites and salt until foamy. Beat in sugar 1 tablespoon at a time, until stiff glossy peaks form. Beat in vanilla gently and fold in chocolate chips and cocoa powder. Drop mixture by heaping teaspoons on prepared cookie sheets, spacing about 1 inch apart. Bake 1 hour until outsides of cookies are dry and set. Using spatula, remove to wire rack and cool. Calories per cookie: 31 (image: Skinny Taste)
Paleo Pumpkin Muffins (PaleoPumpkinMuffins.com)
- 1 1⁄2 cups almond flour
- 3/4 cup canned pumpkin (or cook and puree pumpkin yourself)
- 3 large eggs
- 1 tsp baking powder
- 1 tsp baking soda
- 1⁄2 tsp ground cinnamon
- 1 1⁄2 tsp pumpkin pie spice 1/8 tsp sea salt
- 1/4 cup raw honey (optional) 2 tsp almond butter
- 1 Tbs sliced almonds
Mix all ingredients and pour evenly into tins. Bake for 25 minutes on the middle rack. Sprinkle almonds on top immediately after taking them out of the oven.
*If you want to splurge add a dollop of store bought vanilla frosting or even better – just finish it off with a dollop of low fat or fat-free cream cheese.
Jonathan Rollo, owner/chef of Greenleaf Gourmet Chop Shop has these expert tips to healthify any pumpkin pie recipe! Use your favorite recipe and substitute egg whites for eggs, Stevia Baking Sugar Substitute for sugar, evaporated milk instead of condensed, and whole wheat crusts. It turns out super light and fluffy!
Remember that it is OK to splurge a bit, so don’t feel guilty for letting yourself have that piece of pie or that extra serving of mashed potatoes. You’ll just do an extra Barry’s Bootcamp class this week, huh?
In spite of food, this year let’s not forget what this day is truly about – being thankful and grateful for life, health, breath, blessings and each day we have here on earth. I will leave you with a few quotes and I wish you all a happy, healthy and wonderful Thanksgiving!
Thanksgiving comes to us out of the prehistoric dimness, universal to all ages and all faiths. At whatever straws we must grasp, there is always a time for gratitude and new beginnings.”
– J. Robert Moskin
Megan has been teaching and training for over 12 years. She is known for her spunk, loud mouth and her hard classes. She began teaching kickboxing and spinning while attending Baylor University. Megan trained at Equinox and eventually taught spinning, sculpting and other classes all over NYC as well as other cities across the country. While in New York, she taught at world class gyms such as Reebok/NY, Sports Club LA, New York Athletic Club, Equinox, Crunch and the Athletic and Swim club, among others. She was the Program Director/Group Fitness Manager of the Athletic and Swim Club for over two years.
In 2006, Megan had the opportunity to move to Nashville to pursue a career in music. Megan feels so lucky to be a part of the BBC family and watching people transform their lives through BBC. “The energy, atmosphere and people, above all at Barry’s, make this gym experience completely unique to anything else.” While teaching at Barry’s, Megan is also currently writing, performing, producing and is working on a project to fuse the music and fitness together.