Thanksgiving Recipes need to be lightened and variety needs to be decreased. A few years ago, I was teaching a class on Healthy Holiday tips, and I showed the class a light Thanksgiving meal from a Light magazine. It was a traditional meal with correct portions of:
- 1/4 cup dip with 4 small baguette pieces as an appetizer
- 1/2 cup wild rice stuffing
- 2/3 cup green beans/bacon
- Small piece of a pecan tart (1/12ᵗʰ of a pie)
We discovered two things as we looked at the beautiful photo of the meal:
- The portions were smaller than any of us would like! In other words, we would have gone back for seconds! We were an honest class!
- No one had any idea about how many calories were in these Thanksgiving recipes. The actual cost of the lightened meal, for the small servings was over 1500 calories. No one came close to guessing that much. I think the small portions and the fact that it was a lightened meal tricked them!
In the real world, the average Thanksgiving recipes will set you back over 3000 calories, probably more! Gasp! No wonder we feel sick after indulging in this calorie extravaganza! This is the meal that keeps on giving too! Leftovers abound, and we often heap our plates full for many days following this event!
Lifestyle Solutions for Thanksgiving Recipes:
- Start with a meal plan, and know the calorie count of the foods that you are preparing. You will quickly see high calories that you can lighten. You might be able to find lighter recipes, or decide to try a new item. If you always make a very high calorie dessert, try a lightened dessert.
- Do not serve appetizers. You can probably save a quick 1000 calories by eliminating them. Save the appetizer habit for Christmas Eve or your Super Bowl party!
- Use light gravy for your Thanksgiving recipes. If you have ever made home-made gravy you know it is not light. Costco has pre-made gravy that is calorie friendly and very good. It will save you many calories.
- Choose a dressing that is full of vegetables or use your recipe and add more of them. Cut down on all fat in the dressing. I make cornbread dressing. I reduce the fat at least by half or more, in my cornbread. Use fat free chicken broth, and use egg beaters or whites. Instead of frying your celery, onions, and peppers in butter, cook them in fat free broth. Whatever dressing recipe you generally make, follow these same tips and a serving is half a cup!
- Choose only one potato recipe and remember that a serving is half a cup. You do not need mashed potatoes and sweet potatoes. Do not use cheese or butter in your potatoes. They will taste great if you add a bit of lightened sour cream, garlic, green onions, and salt and pepper! You could also switch to roasted potatoes. Simply choose medium potatoes, quarter them, spray them lightly with oil and salt and pepper them. Bake them until they are crunchy!
- Do not choose corn, peas, or green bean casserole for your vegetable. You have enough carbohydrates already. Choose any fresh green vegetable that you love. Do not doctor it up with junk. Season with herbs or lemon juice.
- Do not serve rolls. Stop hating me, you can do rolls another day, when you are having a healthy meal and need a carbohydrate!
- Serve a chopped vegetable salad. Most people do not serve salads at this meal. Add a great one with a low calorie dressing. Last year I simply chopped cucumbers, tomatoes, onions, roasted green peppers, cilantro, and added a bit of balsamic vinaigrette. It was the hit of the meal.
- Serve a fresh fruit salad over Jell-O, if you need more variety. Many jell-o salads are full of all kind of added calories and ice cream. Fruit is expensive at this time of year, but worth it. It is so refreshing and light. Kids will love the simplicity of chopped fruit and it does not need marshmallows!
- Make your cranberry sauce by hand. It is quick, not too caloric, and you only eat a small amount. The canned ones are gross!
- Choose any lightened pie that you love. Costco's pumpkin pie is just a little bit over 200 calories, but that is 1/16ᵗʰ of the pie, which is the proper serving. Try to choose a pie that is around 200 calories and great without toppings!
- Eliminate all drink calories unless you allow a small glass of wine. This is such a heavy meal. There is no need to drink gallons of sparkling cider. Try ice water, iced cranberry tea, or a sparkling water with a splash of fresh fruit! Almost zero calories!
This will still be a huge meal. Are you denying yourself? Nope! You will still end up being stuffed, but you will not end up with the traditional 3000 calorie meal from your Thanksgiving recipes!
Your lightened meal plan would be: turkey/gravy, mashed, roasted, or sweet potatoes, dressing, green vegetable, chopped salad or fruit salad, cranberries, and a small piece of pie. Choosing this meal would be a healthy diet habit and help you to control holiday weight gain!
Happy Thanksgiving to All!
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