Thursday, November 21, 2013

Make Thanksgiving Healthier with Small Ingredient Changes

It’s tempting to overeat on Thanksgiving… and after Thanksgiving, too. Between the day-of festivities and all the leftovers, it can be easier than we think to pack on the pounds during the holiday season. Fortunately, there are ways to make Thanksgiving healthier but still enjoyable. 

Simple ingredient substitutions can help to make dishes just as tasty and better for you. For example, one 8-ounce cup of whole milk contains about 149 calories and 8 grams of fat. Instead, swap that with the same amount of skim milk at 86 calories and none of the fat. Or, eat only the white meat of your turkey with no skin rather than the dark meat with the skin left on. It’s lower in calories and fat.

Consider trying the following easy ingredient changes to your recipes this holiday season (or, throughout the whole year!):

Original Ingredient  Substitute Ingredient(s)
1 cup oil for baking  1/4 cup oil, 1/2 cup applesauce
1 cup sour cream  1 cup plain low-fat Greek yogurt
1 cup shortening  3/4 cup olive oil
1 cup heavy cream  1 cup evaporated skim milk
1 lb 80% lean ground beef  1 lb 93% lean ground turkey
Turkey drippings for gravy                      Vegetable oil for gravy
Canned, jellied cranberries  Whole, fresh cranberries
Candied yams  Fresh sweet potatoes
Cooked stuffing inside turkey  Baked dressing in casserole dish
Butter/cream for mashed potatoes         Broth, evaporated skim milk                                                                           or plain low-fat Greek yogurt

While it may seem like a good idea to skip breakfast and lunch on Thanksgiving Day so that you have plenty of room for a big meal, don’t give in! This sets you up for overeating. Also, try not to pack your plate full of food. Leave some space in between items so that you won’t overdo it. Make an extra effort to eat your holiday favorites mindfully – first, note how visually appealing the meal, then focus on the aromas, and finally, enjoy all of the tastes and textures. When eating mindfully, the pace of eating is slowed while the satisfaction is increased. 

Remember, while the holidays are notable for their delicious cuisine, emphasize the time you’re getting to spend with your loved ones. Enjoy the good company and maybe even start a family activity like going on a walk or playing flag football together to get everyone moving.

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