Although some of us may have indulged in too many treats over Halloween, more of us have a greater struggle towards the end of this month as the official holiday season kicks off. This year, however, you can try my Top Thanksgiving Stay-Trim Tips to overcome any Turkey Troubles. Start the holidays off right with these healthy hints.
1. Instead of dark turkey meat, choose the white meat. It is a lean protein that is lower in fat, cholesterol, and calories.
2. Skip the skin. This is the part of the turkey that is highest in fat, cholesterol, and calories.
3. Try a topping of cranberry sauce instead of gravy. It has a great, sweet flavor and is lower in sodium, fat, and cholesterol than gravy. Yes, cranberry sauce is often high in sugar and can add up quick in calories, so keep your portions small. You can also try the Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce recipe below.
4. Instead of cream and butter, mash your potatoes with skim milk and cholesterol-free margarine or spread.
5. Try baked or mashed sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes. They are richer in minerals and vitamins, especially beta carotene, and have a lower glycemic index. Their natural sweet flavor can be enhanced with just a pinch of cinnamon and don’t need milk and butter. OR try roasted white or sweet potato “chips”. Slice potatoes thin and place in oven drizzled with olive oil to bake.
6. Fill up on fruit or vegetable appetizers. They are high in fiber and make you feel fuller longer. This will help prevent overeating during the main meal.
7. If you are a guest at someone else’s house, spoil your appetite. Have a significant filling snack before you go: yogurt + fruit, a salad, vegetable soup, or even half a sandwich. This way you will not arrive hungry at your dinner and will be less tempted by unhealthy options.
8. If you are hosting Thanksgiving, you have the control (and your guests will thank you) to offer healthier options. Serve a green salad and/or vegetable soup for beginning courses. Make a vegetable, nut, and/or whole wheat-based stuffing. Include another vegetable side, such a Brussels sprouts, asparagus, or zucchini.
9. Offer and/or choose healthy hors d’oeuvres. Try vegetables (celery, tomato, peppers, carrots, broccoli) with lowfat dips (hummus, lowfat dressings) or whole wheat bread and crackers with lowfat, low sodium cheeses.
10. Be on Portion Patrol, especially if you are eating family or buffet style. Put everything on your plate first so you are aware of what you are eating.
11. Plate Perfect for better balance: Make sure 1/2 of your plate is filled with a vegetable, 1/4 with a lean protein, and 1/4 with a starch, preferably one that is high in fiber/whole grains.
12. Fruit for dessert–you will be surprised how popular this will be, especially a fresh fruit salad. Try the baked apple recipe below and avoid the high-fat pie crust of apple pie.
13. Work out! A lot of gyms ARE open on Thanksgiving day, so get in a good sweat before you sit down for your meal. OR make sure you work out Wednesday and Friday of Thanksgiving week. If you are away and/or not near a gym, go for a walk, run, jog, do a workout video and/or play an exercise/active video game.
14. If you DO indulge on Thanksgiving, remember it is just one day or one weekend. Get back on track immediately to healthy eating and exercise habits.
Sugar-Free Cranberry Sauce
Try this cranberry sauce, not only on your turkey over the holidays, but as a flavorful addition to meals, snacks, or desserts! Customize with your choice of some of the below ingredients.
2 cups fresh cranberries, rinsed (with soft or brown ones removed)
1 cup orange, apple, or white grape juice concentrate
1/2 cup unsweetened applesauce or 1/4 cup raisins, dried apricots, dried figs or dried dates
1 tsp orange zest
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tsp nutmeg
1/4 tsp salt (if desired)
1. Add all ingredients to a pot and bring to a boil on medium-high heat.
2. Stir frequently, as the cranberries will burst open and gel together.
3. Simmer for about 30 minutes at reduced heat.
4. Serve warm or chilled, and ENJOY!
**Makes about 8 servings of 1/4 cup.
Baked Apple Recipe
Try this sweet, healthy alternative to apple pie on Thanksgiving or any time during the year.
-6 apples (choose your favorite variety!)
-1/2 cup raisins and/or dried apricots
-1/4 cup chopped walnuts OR pecans (or other nut)
-3/4 tsp grated orange zest
-3/4 cup water
-3/4 tsp powdered cinnamon
-3/4 tsp powdered nutmeg
Preheat oven to 350F. Remove apple cores and peel around core opening. Place apples in shallow baking pan. Stir together raisins, nuts, and zest in a small bowl. Add water and spices to saucepan and heat until it boils. Simmer at low heat for 2 minutes. Fill each apple core with nut mixture. Spoon the hot mixture over each apple. Place pan in oven for 30-35 minutes or until apples are soft. Enjoy!