Thanksgiving leftovers are easily the best part about the holiday. But digesting rich foods can sap your energy. We spoke with Emily Cook Harrison, a registered dietitian at the Centre for Dance Nutrition in Atlanta, for the scoop on the best Turkey Day leftover recipes for performance power. She suggested a number of delicious combinations, all of which are easy to prepare and transport.
(Photo via Thinkstock)
1. Cranberry-apple relish on multigrain toast
The giant bowl of cranberry sauce sitting in the fridge keeps for up to a week and can be transformed into an energy-rich breakfast treat. Harrison suggests chopping some tangy Granny Smith apples and mixing them in with the sauce. For an extra kick, shave a bit of ginger and sprinkle it in. Cranberries outrank almost every fruit when it comes to antioxidants, and with the toast’s carbohydrates, you’re sure to feel energized.
2. Wild rice and turkey salad
It’s a given that there’s always too much turkey at Thanksgiving—this dish is a great way to use up what’s left. Simmer 1 cup of wild rice in about 2 cups of water for 35–40 minutes (if you have some vegetable stock, use it instead of water for added flavor). Chop up any leftover vegetables (celery, spinach and kale work especially well) and sauté them with olive oil. Shred or slice some lean, white turkey meat and add it in. Once the rice has cooked, mix all the ingredients together. The vegetables paired with the turkey offer both antioxidants and protein, and the rice’s high magnesium content promotes sharper memory.
3. Day-after dip
Sweet potatoes are one of the most delicious Thanksgiving foods—and they’re also one of the best carbohydrates for you. Heat up any leftover potatoes, and chop up a mix of almonds, pecans and pumpkin seeds. Once the potatoes are warm and easily mashable, put all the ingredients into a food processor and blend for a delectable dip. Serve it with everything from crackers to fruit.
Bye-Bye Bad Habits
Everyone has bad dance habits, and getting rid of them can feel next to impossible. According to Art Markman, a psychologist at the University of Texas at Austin, trying to break your bad habits isn’t enough—you have to replace them with better ones, instead.
Why? For starters, if you know you’ve got a habit to break, like constantly looking in the mirror during class, it only seems natural to say, “I need to stop doing that.” The problem with this is that it’s a negative goal—something you inherently don’t want to do. And since it’s a habit, it’s nearly impossible to unlearn, because your body and mind are so used to it.
Markman says it’s much easier to learn something new than unlearn something old, so try developing a better habit to replace the bad one. If you catch yourself looking in the mirror too frequently, practice using your head to complete your épaulement—and make sure to follow the line with your eyes. A little modification can go a long way.
Did You Know?
Reaching for your laptop or scrolling through an endless feed of Instagram pics is tempting, especially during a holiday break, when you have more downtime than usual. But it’s important to limit your screen time. A number of studies have shown that our short-term memory has limited storage, and according to Erik Fransén of KTH Royal Institute of Technology in Sweden, even a single session on the internet can affect our ability to retain information. That means if you OD on @real_world_ballerina’s Instagram feed, the choreo that was fresh in your mind before break may be harder to remember once you’re back in class. Browse wisely!
This Thanksgiving, two celebrity families served up a LOT more than turkey and mashed potatoes. Former "Dancing with the Stars" partners Derek Hough and Maria Menounos ("Extra") battled it out over Instagram in a Thanksgiving dance war. And in the spirit of the holiday, their families got involved too.
It was a bold move for the Menounos family to challenge the Houghs to a dance-off, considering they've got two not-so-secret weapons: Derek and Julianne. But they brought their A-game with some Flo Rida, T-pain and shades:
In a surprise comeback, the Houghs relied on their family charm, rather than a flashy display of their professional skills:
Who do you think won the #Thanksgivingdancewars?
Thanksgiving dinner is one of those moments where it's more than okay to help yourself to everything. And you shouldn't feel guilty, either—your dinner plate is packed with nutritional goodness that'll keep your body in tip-top dancing shape. Dance Spirit spoke with Peggy Swistak, MS, RDN, CD, of Pacific Northwest Ballet, about the bountiful benefits of the most popular turkey-day dishes.
A small portion of white meat turkey (sans skin) is packed with healthy, low-fat protein that'll give you the energy boost you need to hit the studio post-holiday.
If there are green vegetables on the table, Swistak encourages you to load up your plate! “Green veggies are filled with polyphenols," she says. These compounds, which are found in natural plant sources, have been proven to reduce inflammation and help prevent cancer. Don't know which veggies to pick? According to Swistak, one delicious option is steamed Brussels sprouts—they're a great source of immune-system–boosting antioxidants and vitamin C, and filled with fiber to help regulate your digestive system. Green beans are another tasty low-calorie, high-fiber choice.
Sweet potatoes hit the spot, and Swistak encourages dancers to enjoy one: “A roasted or baked sweet potato is high in fiber, antioxidants and vitamin A." White potatoes are another great option. They're filled with potassium to help promote muscle strength and
bone health. Make sure to keep the skin on—it's full of nutrients, too.
According to Swistak, a scoop of homemade cranberry sauce goes a long way. This superfood is a great source of vitamin C and antioxidants.
It's not Thanksgiving without dessert! Swistak recommends pumpkin pie, which is lower in fat than other pie varieties and high in vitamin A and fiber.
Happy Thanksgiving, dance friends! Are you about to be stuffing yourself with turkey, or in the process of stuffing yourself with turkey, or already stuffed with turkey? We hope so. Because that's what Thanksgiving is all about. (Also, Pilgrims.)
But seriously: The world needs a little cheering up right now, and that's why we're glad to have this minute to think about all that dancers have to be thankful for this year. Because there's a LOT. Let's not forget that 2016 gave us the #MannequinChallenge, and Laurie Hernandez's floor routine, and the NYC Dance Project book, and the #PantsuitPower flashmob, and Jenna Dewan Tatum for Danskin, and the Cats revival, and Ashley Bouder's "fouetté-ing while pregnant" videos, and Center Stage: On Pointe, and SO MUCH MISTY COPELAND.
Feeling better already? Me too.
Let's keep the happy feels going: Here at Dance Spirit, we have a Turkey Day tradition in which I force the other editors to tell me what dance-y things they're thankful for. And because they are the best, their responses make me all 😊😊😊. Without further ado:
Courtney Bowers, managing editor: "I'm thankful that I got to watch all those littles kill it all season on 'SYTYCD.' And for the heartwarming feels the relationships they had with their All-Star mentors gave me. And for the awesome pieces that I'll continue to obsess about through next year."
Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, assistant editor: "I'm grateful for all the choreography that goes unseen and unrecorded, but exists nonetheless; for ReQuest Crew in the 'Sorry' music video, which makes me feel giddy with excitement every time I watch it; for Beyoncé's dancers, who should be worshiped like demi-goddesses; for Crystal Pite's The Statement, which is literally breathtaking; and for the dancers who, in a sometimes scary world, keep showing up and trying to make a difference."
Olivia Manno, assistant editor: "Last year, I was thankful for James Whiteside's calves, and that still stands. In fact, I think I'm more thankful for them this year. But I'm also thankful for Crystal Pite for being a boss-lady and making some incredible work, like The Statement and The Season's Canon; for all the sequined dresses on 'DWTS'; and for Amar Ramasar (no reason—just for existing)."
Helen Rolfe, fashion editor: "This year, I'm dancing with gratitude because: there's so much amazing dance on Broadway right now (oh hey, On Your Feet! and Cats); Cloud & Victory's HILARIOUS Instagram gives me life; and—last but definitely not least—I get to play with the prettiest dancewear and costumes all day. In other words, I'm super grateful to be DS's new fashion editor!"
Enjoy your Thanksgiving feasts! And also this gif, which I am thankful for every minute of every T-day every year:
It isn't really Turkey Day unless the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade is on in the background as you're arguing with Aunt Linda about why she shouldn't put the stuffing in the bird (E. COLI FOR CRYING OUT LOUD!). And since the Parade is celebrating its 90th birthday this year, the lineup is packed with extra-special, extra-dancey goodies. Here's what to look out for tomorrow:
Why yes, the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees will be there! (via)
- An appearance by [spoiler alert] Miss Laurie Hernandez—aka your "Dancing with the Stars" Season 23 champion, eee!
- Numbers from no fewer than four Broadway shows: Paramour, Waitress, Holiday Inn and (YES) Cats
- An Armenian folk dance performance by Boston's Sayat Nova Dance Company
- Appearances by Spirit of America Cheer, Spirit of America Dance and the Kilgore College Rangerettes drill team
- A piece featuring 140 fabulous young tappers from the National Dance Institute's Celebration Team, honoring the parade's Harlem culture and history theme
- A preview of Hairspray Live!, which airs December 7 on NBC and which you should go read all about right now in our December issue
- A performance by the Tap Dancing Christmas Trees, which is exactly what it sounds like and exactly as glorious as you'd imagine
- And, as always, a number by the Radio City Rockettes—because just as it's not Thanksgiving without the Parade, it's not the Parade without an appearance by those leggy ladies.
Watch the whole shebang tomorrow beginning at 9 am (in all time zones) on NBC. Happy Thanksgiving!
Hi friends! It's Thanksgiving, that day when we gather with our families to eat turkey, and watch the Macy's Thanksgiving Day Parade, and maybe eat some more turkey, and watch football, and definitely eat a little more turkey. And, you know, give thanks for all the wonderfulness in our lives. Because Pilgrims.
But seriously: Us dancers in particular have a lot to be thankful for right now! I mean, this was the year that gave us Hamilton, and the Fraternal Twins, and the Center Stage 3 announcement, and the Justin Bieber "Purpose" movie, and the Sergei Polunin Hozier video. Our dance cups runneth over.
Here at Dance Spirit, we have a little Thanksgiving tradition: I force the other editors to tell me what dance-y things they're most thankful for. And every year, their responses make me so stupid happy. Because this is what Thanksgiving is all about, Charlie Brown.
Without further ado:
Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, assistant editor: "I'm thankful for the hip-hop littles who bring fire, the freelancers who keep hustling, Left Shark for showing us how to live and Batsheva Dance Company in Sadeh21 for turning me into an emotional wreck."
Olivia Manno, assistant editor: "The dance-y things I'm thankful for are (in no particular order): James Whiteside's calves, Yanis Marshall's stiletto collection and the fact that it was not only acceptable to blog about Drake's 'Hotline Bling' dance as much as possible, but highly encouraged."
Alyssa Marks, style editor: "This Thanksgiving (and every one, honestly), I'm thankful for Newsies—the Broadway show, the Broadway tour and the movie! I can never get enough of those fabulous dancing men."
AwwWWWww. Feeling those Turkey Day feels right now. As for me: I'm thankful to be right here at Dance Spirit, a place that lets me obsess over the dance world I love each and every day. And for the fact that Center Stage is on HBO Go right now. And for this GIF:
Last year, we saw the first ever Instagram #Thanksgivingdancewars, courtesy of former "Dancing with the Stars" partners Maria Menounos and Derek Hough. The two families (and the Ballas fam) battled it out, 'gramming their goofiest kitchen dance moves while prepping for Thanksgiving dinner.
We're happy to report that the #Thanksgivingdancewars broke out again this year—and while lots of celebs got in on the fun (including Kate Hudson), it really came down to a battle of duck vs. turkey.
#TeamTurkeyMan, aka The Houghs, stepped things up this year with fancy partnering and, of course, Turkey Man.
A video posted by juleshough (@juleshough) on
But #TeamDuck—aka Mark Ballas, Sadie Robertson and fam—gave #TeamTurkeyMan a run for their money with clean formations, unison choreo and a certain (bearded) secret weapon.
This is war part 1...Where you at @derekhough @juleshough @witneycarson @therealalfonsoribeiro @bethanynoelm @janelparrish @iamvalc @mariamenounos @erinandrews @legitsadierob @bosshogswife @duckdynastyae @young_and_beardless #ThanksgivingDanceWars #DanceWars #DanceBattle #TeamQuackAttack #QuackPack #DuckDynasty
A video posted by markballas (@markballas) on
P.S. Two makes tradition, so we're expecting this to be an annual thing from now on. Just sayin'.
I'm also thankful for dancing turkeys. Thank you, dancing turkeys, for dancing. And being turkeys.
What are you thankful for this year? Finally hitting that 6 o'clock penchée? Being cast in your dream Nutcracker role? Getting your first pair of pointe shoes?
Here at Dance Spirit, we have a Thanksgiving tradition: Each year, everyone on staff expresses appreciation for the dance-y things that make our world a little brighter. And since being a member of the DS team comes with pretty amazing dance-related perks, we always have a lot to be thankful for. Here's what everyone had to say this time around.
"I'm thankful for the many web series about dance, like AOL On's 'city.ballet.,' Teen Vogue's 'Strictly Ballet' and Dance Spirit's own 'Road to Nationals.' Whenever I need a break at the office, I can grab my headphones, sit back and watch an inspiring episode—and it still looks like I'm doing work!" —Jenny Dalzell, managing editor
"I'm thankful to get to interview some of the youngest dancers featured in DS for our 'You Should Know' column. I'm constantly inspired by their passion, optimism, humility and gratitude—not to mention their insane talent!" —Maggie McNamara, assistant editor
"I'm thankful to be surrounded by amazingly gifted dancers. I always have inspiration to work harder." —Nicole Loeffler-Gladstone, assistant editor
"I'm thankful for artists like Misty Copeland, Tiler Peck and Wendy Whelan, who show dancers everywhere that there are so many options beyond a traditional stage performance career." —Meggie Hermanson, fashion editor
As for me? I'm thankful to be living in NYC, a city with more dancers per square foot than anywhere else in the universe. Every single day, I have opportunities to experience these artists' energy and passion—onstage, in the studio, at DS photo shoots, on the subway (it happens!). I love you, NYC—almost enough to make me forget how much rent I'm paying.
Happy Turkey Day!
Get Dance Spirit in your inbox