Thanksgiving… one of our favorite holidays, but if there is one thing we won’t be giving thanks to, it’s the huge portions, extra calories and pounds gained following this festive celebration. In this article we’ll tell you 10 ways to have a healthy thanksgiving so you can enjoy yourself without the regrets.
Don’t be in Denial
When enjoying yourself over thanksgiving it’s important not to be in denial about the calories you are consuming… don’t think just because it contains healthy green beans that a big helping of green bean casserole isn’t going to add a whopping 500 calories to your meal.
Traditionally, thanksgiving meals serve up over 2000 calories! That means in just one meal you’re getting almost your daily intake of calories- not to mention the added saturated fat and sugar!
1. Preparing Your Turkey
Usually many people focus on lathering up their turkeys to perfection using oil and butter- being totally unaware of the calories and sheer saturated fat this adds to our thanksgiving favorite. Instead of using a block of butter- why not opt for a healthier rub. Focus on using complimentary herbs and spices with a small amount of olive oil and lemon juice. By replacing butter you can save a lot of calories and spare yourself the high fat intake!
When it comes to choosing your turkey- make sure you try and consume more white meat- such as the breast and leave behind the fatty skin!
Consider how much fat you are adding to your gravy- believe it or not gravy doesn’t need fat to taste delicious! Why not try a mushroom gravy… I know mushrooms right? There’s no way they can accompany your turkey! Well actually porcini and cremini mushrooms have a meaty flavor- all you have to do is sauté garlic, onions and mushrooms in a pan, add low fat chicken broth or turkey stock and then some whole grain flour, salt and pepper! Blend and you’ll have a delicious healthy gravy alternative!
3. Creamed Onions
When making dishes such as creamed onions its easy to go ahead and add half a cup of heavy cream and a tablespoon of butter, but this really isn’t necessary for creating a delicious dish! Instead of sautéing your onions- try roasting them! By roasting onions you can get a delicious caramelized sensation which added more flavor to the dish! Replace your heavy cream for low fat Greek yogurt and taste as the fresh creamy yogurt and caramelized onions make magic.
4. Healthier Stuffing
Stuffing is one of my personal favorites when it comes to creating the perfect thanks giving meal. Often enough, many of us seem to get lazy with stuffing and opt for pre packaged stuffing mix that just needs boiling water. Well, there’s mistake number one. Instead of choosing pre packaged food make the stuffing yourself…. It really wont take that much out of your day! If sausage stuffing is your favorite- try using a turkey sausage for less saturated fat and more vegetables and apple in the recipe.
Traditionally stuffing is made using breadcrumbs- if you want to stick to tradition make sure you use wholegrain bread! Or… why not try using ground oats! That’s right! Oats are a healthy source of beta glucan soluble fiber and a great alternative to bread crumbs! Another great idea is making quinoa stuffing!
5. Vegetable Side Dishes
There are so many ways we can make vegetable taste amazing- but this again doesn’t mean adding packets of butter and cream to the mix! Looking into using small amounts of health olive oil and plenty of amazing seasonings- you could also get down with citrus flavors and experiment with dressing your vegetables in black pepper and lemon! Vegetables offer tons of healthy micro nutrients- don’t ruin it by adding saturated fat to the mix!
6. Mashed Potatoes
When it comes to making your mashed potatoes instead of using milk, cream and butter- try adding Greek yogurt and use butter sparingly. With good seasoning, family members are not likely to notice if you’re clever and you might even end up doing them a favour! Another option is to try mashed sweet potatoes! That way you get a naturally sweet delicious flavor.
7. Plan and Prepare
Have you ever heard the saying “fail to prepare and prepare to fail”? yep its that old chestnut again! Make sure you prepare in advance for your thanksgiving meal. If you’re doing the cooking, you can pre prepare vegetable side dishes the day before which also means you’ll have more time on the day! Know exactly what ingredients you will be using and exactly how much- weight everything- often enough a “teaspoon here and there” can turn into using half a bottle of oil.
8. Don’t Starve in Preparation
If there’s one technique we have without a doubt all tried, its starving ourselves before a big meal. “If I skip breakfast and lunch this means I can enjoy thanksgiving care free!”- Not so fast! In fact starving yourself prior to a meal leads to over eating which means you will probably end up consuming more calories than if you had had that healthy breakfast.
Keep your hunger levels satisfied before the big meal- this doesn’t mean stocking up on potato chips- but enjoy small healthy snacks before hand including high fiber foods such as fruit and vegetables.
9. Drink Water
Its fine to enjoy alcohol over the festive season- but be aware of just how much you are drinking and the added calories that alcohol offers! Beer, ciders and wine are just a few of the drinks that are packed full of calories, carbs and sugar that can add huge amounts of calories to your thanksgiving meal. Drink more water throughout the day and if you chose to opt for a drink be sure to know exactly how much alcohol you are consuming.
10. Enjoy Your Food and the Day
The thing many people tend to focus on during thanksgiving is cutting calories or losing weight- but this often leads to feelings of guilt and shame after a hearty thanksgiving meal. Make sure you enjoy your food and chose what you eat- opt for your favorite foods but in small portions and eat slowly, focusing on the flavor itself. Its so easy to get so hungery that you practically inhale your food- but why go to all the trouble of creating a delicious meal if you cant take the time to fully enjoy each unique dish!
Make sure you spend time with family- this holiday is not meant to be dreaded due to potential weight gain, it’s a holiday to give thanks and be with loved ones!
After your meal you may be tempted to curl up on the couch- instead why not go for a family walk or organize some family games! This Tip might be the last on the list but it is by far the most important!