Thanksgiving provides the perfect opportunity to make healthier choices for your family meal. The Alliance for a Healthier Generation, founded by the American Heart Association and the William J. Clinton Foundation, suggests the following tips to ensure a healthy and delicious Thanksgiving meal:
1. Start small:
When it comes to Thanksgiving, the biggest concern is not just WHAT you are eating, but HOW MUCH of it you are eating. Aim to have small portions of those foods that are high in calories such as casseroles and desserts while filling up on lighter fare such as vegetables and lean turkey.
2. Talk turkey:
Turkey is a great source of lean protein and is healthiest if you skip the skin and go for the white meat. If you prefer the dark meat, mix and match in order to get a little extra flavor without adding too much fat.
3. Be sweet on sweet potatoes:
Sweet potatoes are a source of vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber that can make a tasty side dish or dessert. A healthy way to cook them is to cut them in half, sprinkle with orange juice and a little brown sugar, and pop them into the oven.
4. Kick the canned cranberry:
Cranberries are packed with antioxidants that can help keep you healthy. Unfortunately, canned cranberry sauce is often also packed with sugar and calories you don’t need. Try making your own by mashing fresh cranberries with a generous splash of balsamic vinegar or apple juice concentrate.
5. Pick a pumpkin:
Pumpkin is low in fat, low in calories, and loaded with potassium, vitamin A, and vitamin C. Make pumpkin pies with canned, evaporated fat-free milk, half the amount of sugar in the recipe, a graham cracker crust, and light or fat free whipped topping for a light and tasty dessert.
6. Stuff with more veggies and less bread:
Opt for less bread in your stuffing and add more onions, celery, vegetables, or fruits such as dried cranberries or apples to make a lower calorie version of the old stand by. Try using whole wheat bread to make it an even healthier option.
7. Go fruity!:
Baked apples or poached pears are perfect, light ways to end any autumn meal.
8. Avoid greasy gravy:
Use a fat separator or refrigerate the pan juices and skim the fat before making the gravy. This can cut out a significant amount of fat.
9. Sacrifice fat, not flavor:
Use low-fat buttermilk or low-sodium chicken stock in place of cream or whole milk in dishes like mashed potatoes, whipped sweet potatoes, or butternut squash. You’ll achieve a creamy consistency and loads a flavor, minus the unnecessary fat and calories.
10. Steam and mash:
Try sneaking in more low calorie vegetables by mashing or pureeing steamed or boiled cauliflower with low-fat milk. It’s a flavorful substitute for mashed potatoes and can help balance an otherwise potato-rich meal!
BONUS! Veg out: Fall veggies such as squash and green beans are great side dishes that can add color and variety to the meal without adding too many extra calories.