This Digestion-Boosting Thanksgiving Elixir Is So Much Better Than Wine

Photo: Tieghan Gerard

Thanksgiving might be the ultimate You. We. All. holiday, with an emphasis on giving back, gratitude, and community—and, of course, plenty of delicious food.  While a typical Thanksgiving table might be enough to induce a stomachache based on sight alone, we think of the holiday as an opportunity to nourish your body, in addition to your soul.  With that in mind, we reached out to some of the year’s biggest food stars to share their favorite healthy Thanksgiving recipe, and some tips, tricks, and traditions that help them get through the holiday with a smile on their face (and bellyache free!).  

Tieghan Gerard of Half Baked Harvest makes, arguably, some of the most drool-worthy food on the internet.  Her high-flavor twists on classics are both genius and completely accessible for any home cook, one of the many reasons her just-released cookbook has become a staple on so many shelves. Today, she’s sharing the digestion-boosting cocktail that you’ll want to drink all season long.

mbg: What are your favorite Thanksgiving traditions or rituals?

TG: I love cooking all day in the kitchen with my little sister and mom while watching the Thanksgiving Day parade, then enjoying dinner with my family and whomever else decides to show up at the house, and finishing off the day with decorating our family Christmas tree after dinner. Every year we cut down our tree on Thanksgiving Day and then decorate at night while watching a Christmas movie.

mbg: What are your best tips for making Thanksgiving dinner a bit healthier (but just as delicious)?

TG: When making my mashed potatoes, I love using a little plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream and heavy cream. You get that creamy consistency but without the extra calories and unhealthy fats. I also love roasting a couple of pans of veggies with olive oil, salt, and pepper as a simple side that is delicious and filling. I also make a big salad full of greens, persimmons, pomegranate arils, and simple balsamic vinaigrette. It's gorgeous and delish.

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mbg: When you're feeling super full post-Thanksgiving, what do you do to feel better?

TG: Take a hike! My family always cuts down our Christmas tree Thanksgiving Day, and it's a fun activity that also gets our bodies moving. We will hike up the mountain in our backyard, cut it down, and then decorate it all night long.

Cranberry Thyme Spritz

Photo: Tieghan Gerard

This drink is the perfect healthy alternative to sugary holiday drinks. I like to use honey in place of simple syrup to keep the sugars down, antioxidant-rich cranberries, and plenty of fresh ginger, which help with digestion, making it perfect for sipping on Thanksgiving Day!

Ingredients

Serves 6 to 8

  • ½ cup honey
  • 2 cups fresh cranberries
  • 2 sprigs fresh thyme
  • 1 inch fresh ginger, sliced
  • 8 ounces vodka
  • 4 ounces elderflower liquor
  • ⅓ cup fresh-squeezed grapefruit juice, plus slices for serving
  • ¼ cup fresh lime juice
  • 4 to 6 ginger beers
  • star anise, for serving (optional)

Photo: Tieghan Gerard

Method

In a medium pot, bring ½ cup water, the honey, cranberries, thyme, and ginger to a boil over high heat. Boil 5 minutes or until the cranberries begin to burst, then remove from the heat. Let cool. Remove the thyme and ginger. If desired, strain out the cranberries.

In a large pitcher, combine the cranberry syrup mix, vodka, elderflower liquor, grapefruit juice, and lime juice. Chill until ready to serve.

Add the ginger beer just before serving. Garnish each drink with a grapefruit slice and star anise, if desired.

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