Blue Zones Project — North Hawaii

Have a gratitude attitude every day

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Have a gratitude attitude every day

Gratitude doesn’t have to be confined to just one day of the year. The healthiest, happiest people in Blue Zones areas around the world notice and enjoy life’s simple pleasures every day. Boost your outlook on life by taking time each day to think about the things that you are grateful for and make you happy.

Make it a plant-slant Thanksgiving

Satisfying Sweet Potatoes

For years, this hardy vegetable has been a staple in the diets of many Okinawans. Sweet potatoes are a tasty way to pack in plenty of vitamins and minerals. They are high in fiber, potassium, vitamins A and C, and folic acid. And they’re easy to prepare. Just poke holes in the potato with a fork and microwave it for about five minutes. Season with salt and pepper and enjoy!

Put a plant-slant on this Thanksgiving by adding more lean protein sources, whole grains, fruits and veggies to your menu. With these simple ideas, you can still enjoy satisfying flavor without the extra fat and calories. Here are some ideas:

* Use healthy cooking techniques. Roast, broil, steam, grill, poach, or stir-fry meats and veggies. Cook in wine, water, or broth rather than in butter. Trim fat off meat before cooking, and drain the fat drippings after cooking. Skim fat off the tops of soups, stews, sauces and gravies.

* Bring on the bird. Skinless turkey breasts are low in fat and high in protein — 3 ounces contains 20 grams of protein, hardly any fat and only 100 calories. Not only that, but you get 25 percent of the recommended daily value for both niacin and vitamin B6. Other lean protein sources include fish, chicken, beans, peas, lentils and tofu (bean curd).

* Add more fruits and vegetables to your holiday meals. Create festive combinations such as broccoli with cherry tomatoes. Or add red and green apple slices to your dessert dishes for more color and nutrition.

* Add whole grains. Whole grains are low in fat and calories and are great sources of fiber. Use whole grain breads in your stuffing and serve wild and brown rice and whole grain dinner rolls. Look for recipes that call for grains like barley, cracked wheat, couscous and brown or wild rice.

* Toss in some vibrant, fresh cranberries. Fresh cranberries, which contain the most nutrients, are at their peak from October to December, just in time to add their festive color, tangy flavor and health-protecting benefits to your holiday meals. These festive berries are a good source of vitamin C and cancer-fighting phytochemicals. Pair them with roasted pears, fold them into pancake batter, or blend them into a smoothie.

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Blue Zones Project – North Hawaii involves dozens of community volunteers from Waimea, Waikoloa, North Kohala, Kawaihae, Puako and Hamakua who are dedicated to helping us all “Live Longer, Better.”

To join the effort go to hawaii.bluezonesproject.com to learn more. North Hawaii is one of only three communities in the state selected as a Blue Zones Project demonstration site. Blue Zones Project by Healthways is brought to Hawaii by HMSA. Questions? Email CarolR.Ignacio@healthways.com or call 202-4958