Thanksgiving can be a real diet buster. According to an
analysis by Tara Parker-Pope of The New York Timeslast year, a typical Thanksgiving meal can add up to a whopping 2,500 calories, and that’s not even counting wine or pre-dinner snacks.
Before you dig into your long-awaited turkey feast, try these simple substitutions to make it a bit healthier this year.
Start out with lighter appetizers.
A lot of binge eating can happen even before you sit down for dinner. Instead of chips or crackers, set out raw veggies and hummus for your guests to snack on while they wait for the main dishes to be ready.
Pick white turkey meat over dark, and skip the skin altogether.
Both types of meat are a great source of protein, but white turkey meat has significantly fewer calories and grams of saturated fat. Turkey skin is crunchy and delicious, but unfortunately it’s also packed with fat. Cooking your turkey with the skin intact will help preserve its moisture, but it’s a good idea to take it off before you feast.
Use fat-free chicken broth for gravy and basting.
Thick gravy can take your turkey dinner to a new level of deliciousness, but it has a ton of fat and can lead to high cholesterol. Substitute fat-free chicken broth for fat drippings and your gravy will be a much healthier addition to your meal.
Make fresh cranberry sauce instead of that jelly from the can.
Though it’s definitely a holiday classic, canned cranberry sauce is filled with high fructose corn syrup and has no nutritional value — it’s a bit like eating a candy bar. Homemade cranberry sauce has a much more complex flavour and texture, and it uses real cane sugar instead of that artificial stuff. Food Network has a simple and delicious recipe for this natural alternative.
Don’t skimp on veggies.
Eat plenty of vegetables before you get full on turkey and sweets. A good guideline: half of your plate should be vegetables, while one-fourth can be turkey and the last fourth can be any side dish you choose.
Make your stuffing a bit lighter.
Stuffing is a Thanksgiving must, but it can be packed with high-fat ingredients. Be sure to use whole wheat when your recipe calls for bread, and try using olive oil instead of butter.
Hold the marshmallows, and try glazed sweet potatoes instead of candied yams.
Sweet potatoes are a good source of fibre and carbs, plus they have a decent amount of protein. Shape has a good recipe for sweet potatoes that substitutes natural honey and cinnamon for of all of the sugar and marshmallows you would find in your typical candied yam.
You don’t have to skip dessert, but there are a few substitutions you could make.
Calorie-wise, pumpkin pie is your best bet for dessert. Use natural sweeteners like honey or agave when you’re baking, and try not to eat the crust since that part has the most calories and fat.
For a light and elegant treat without a crust, try a pumpkin caramel mousse in a glass. This amazing flourless dessert really brings the calorie count down a notch.
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