You Can Enjoy That Thanksgiving Feast AND Eat Healthy!

By DeDe Hausmann

Don’t laugh—you CAN enjoy that turkey and all the fixings but you don’t need to overdo it.   It just takes wise planning.

Many of us have foods/specific recipes that we always prepare for TURKEY DAY.  Take the time now to pull out those recipes and see how you can make them more nutritious without sacrificing taste.

For potato dishes, reduce the added fat and/or sugar by at least a couple of tablespoons and use lower-fat dairy products (as in cream cheese, plain yogurt and cheese).  Simmer white or red potatoes in their skins in chicken or vegetable stock and don’t ditch all that moisture when draining the potatoes.  Add some when mashing those spuds to add moisture (and flavor) and don’t forget seasonings.   Leave the skins on and add green onions, parsley and other seasonings so those potato skin bits fit right in.  NOTE: For sweet potatoes/yams or baking potatoes I microwave them which helps retain more nutrients.

For other vegetable and fruit dishes, again note the amount of calorie-laden additions (as in fat, sugar, etc.) and reduce those when possible.  I sometimes use natural sugar substitutes and love to pump up the flavor with herbs/seasonings without increasing calories.

Grill (indirectly) or roast the turkey (or other poultry) and make sure to season the bird well before cooking.  I rub a thin coat of olive oil on the bird and then sprinkle lots of great seasonings on it and in the cavity before cooking.  Make sure to place a meat thermometer in the thigh before roasting/grilling.  FOOD SAFETY is a must!!

Do you prefer ham, beef, fish or ethnic dishes for this special day?  Just check your recipes and make small healthy reductions/substitutions.

Offer healthy appetizers before your meal.  This will help family and guests savor nutritious foods (as in fresh veggies and fruit chunks served with flavored low-fat/fat-free yogurts AND reduced fat cheese slices or cheese balls and whole grain crackers).  Everyone will still be able to enjoy the meal and will allow them to push back from the table feeling satisfied, not stuffed!

Regarding serving: avoid portion distortion. Cut foods into smaller serving sizes and encourage everyone to come back later for more.  Get everyone engaged in conversation during the meal, including asking what each is thankful for.  This can slow the eating process so one can feel contented before over-indulging.

DESSERTS are a part of holidays so don’t give them up.  Again try reducing the fat and/or sugar by just a little, cut into smaller portions and savor every bite!!!

You will enjoy Thanksgiving if you plan ahead, consider healthy substitutions in your favorite recipes, and serve nutritious but tasty foods in reasonable portions.


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