Thanksgiving is one of my favorite holidays; it means time spent with my family, leaves turning beautiful colors as the season changes, and cozy nights in front of the fire. For most of us, Thanksgiving also means excessive amounts of food! Unfortunately, traditional Thanksgiving foods are fat- and calorie-laden diet disasters; stuffing, candied yams, and pies are just a few of the culprits. It is possible to lighten a few Thanksgiving staples without sacrificing taste. Making just small recipe adjustments benefits not only your waistline but also your health and the health of your family! Try these tips:
- Baked turkey: Skip the deep-fried turkey and choose a plain bird that you season with herbs and spices. To ensure a moist bird, leave the skin on while roasting and remove before serving.
- Gravy: Use a gravy cup or refrigerate the pan juices (to separate the fat and juices) and skim all but 1 tablespoon of the fat off before making gravy. This saves around 45 grams of fat per cup!
- Candied yams: Leave out the margarine and marshmallows. Sweeten with apple or other fruit juice and crushed pineapple, and flavor with cinnamon and nutmeg.
- Green bean casserole: Cook fresh green beans with a low-fat cream soup. Top with slivered almonds instead of fried onion rings.
- Mashed potatoes: Instead of whole milk and tons of butter, use skim milk, roasted garlic, low-fat cream cheese, and some freshly snipped chives to give you creamy flavor-packed mashed potatoes.
Once you are resolved to cook more healthful food, the real challenge of eating the Thanksgiving meal must be considered. Try these tips to curb your appetite and balance your meal while still enjoying the holiday food you crave!
- Start your day off right. Don’t skip breakfast in hopes of saving up calories for the big meal. Start your morning off right with a well-balanced breakfast. A breakfast consisting of fiber and protein, like a bowl of whole grain cereal and low-fat yogurt, is the ultimate combination, because these nutrients have the fewest calories and take the longest to digest.
- Build a smarter plate of food. Once you arrive, scan the table before you choose what you are going to eat. Imagine your dinner plate as a peace sign: the two side portions are each 35 percent and the bottom is 30 percent. Put lean protein on one side and vegetables on the other. The starchy sides or dessert gets the smaller bottom section.
- Who wants dessert? Everyone needs a little sweetness during the holidays. Get your sweet fix from a piece of dark chocolate or berries. If you look forward to that slice of pumpkin pie each year, take a small slice and fill the rest of your dessert plate with fresh fruit. This way you have a little indulgence with a side of healthy.