Monday, November 25, 2013

A Healthy Thanksgiving

     It comes only once a year, but a food-centric holiday like Thanksgiving often means adding 2,500 more calories to your average daily intake.

     Joe Fleischman, head chef at Meritus Medical Center, suggests scaling back on the fat, calories and sodium for a healthier Thanksgiving meal. “I use fresh ingredients such as roasted sweet potatoes instead of candied yams,” says Chef Joe. “I also favor a fresh turkey over a frozen one.” Here’s how Chef Joe replaces unhealthy fats and sodium with fresh ingredients and spices.

Main entrée
     Instead of adding fat during the cooking and serving of the turkey, dry rub your turkey with canola oil, fresh parsley, thyme, marjoram, sage, salt and pepper. Click here to view Chef Joe's turkey recipe! For gravy, use the pan drippings, sage, apple cider, flour and fat-free half and half.

     Remember, an extra slice of turkey isn’t so bad. The protein in turkey slows digestion and absorption of carbs.

     Replace the traditional, crunchy onion-topped, calorie-laden casserole with fresh green beans. Dress up the beans with olive oil and cider vinegar and top with basil and almonds. “Your taste buds won’t miss the fat,” says Chef Joe.

     Stuff your stuffing with cranberries. Cranberries are loaded with antioxidants called anthocyanins which have been linked to a reduced risk of heart disease and cancer.

     Replace mashed potatoes with sweet potatoes. Mash in chicken broth, cinnamon, milk, vanilla extract and a smidge of butter.

     Don’t forgo the pumpkin pie! Instead swap out the heavy crust with gingersnap cookie crumbs, butter and vanilla.

Moderation and mindfulness are the keys to a healthy Thanksgiving:
  • Don’t skip breakfast Thanksgiving Day to stave off calories. You’ll arrive at the celebration famished and overeat at the dinner table.
  • Drink plenty of water to fill you up before dinner and socialize to avoid the appetizer spread.
  • Fill half of your plate with veggies or serve yourself golf ball-sized portions of everything you want to eat.
  • Make trade-offs for better eating. If you like your pie, go light on stuffing and potatoes and devote more space to turkey and vegetables.
  • Watch the alcohol. Not only does it add calories, but lessens your willpower. If you must drink, stick with light beer or wine versus the egg nog. 
  • Take a late afternoon or evening walk and catch up with friends and relatives. Offer to help clean up. Instead of lounging on the coach watching football, burn calories by standing and washing the dishes.

By: Anne Gill

Sources: Women’s Health,, American Cancer Society.

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