Thursday, November 21, 2013

Thanksgiving Swaps for less saturated fat and calories

It's that time of year again: Thanksgiving. A time for family, friends and food...lots of it. While the day is traditionally filled with way too many calories, help yourself or the athlete in your life by making these easy swaps. Little changes cut down on added sugar, saturated fat, sodium and calories...but won't sacrifice flavor. And yes - I get that this is only one day so you think you should be able to eat whatever you want. But if you can make these changes without even tasting the difference, why wouldn't you?

Baste with low-sodium/low-fat broth or olive oil. Season with herbs and spice. While the white meat is lower in fat, the dark meat is higher in vitamins and minerals. So a little of each is okay.

Mashed Potatoes
Substitute trans-fat free tub margarine for butter, sub non-fat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream and sub non-fat milk for cream/whole milk. Cut the added salt by half. Consider sweet potatoes versus white, which are lower in calories and higher in vitamins and minerals. If you go the sweet potato route, spice to your heart's delight but go easy on the brown sugar or marshmallows where calories can add up quickly. Try keeping them plain enough that you can actually taste the potato. When mashing, leave in some of the skin, which is where most of the fiber lies.

Forgo the canned version and make your own gravy this year. If you can make the other dishes listed here, you can make gravy. It is ridiculously easy. Try this recipe. Don't like mushrooms and onions in your gravy? Leave 'em out.

If choosing pre-made, look for lower sodium and whole wheat varieties. Better yet, try making your own. Here is a great recipe that uses whole wheat bread. It is easier than you may think. 

Green Bean Casserole
It is difficult to make this one healthier. You can try using fresh green beans instead of canned and forgoing the crunchy onions on top. However, there typically isn't much you can do about the creamed soups - though sometimes they are available in low sodium versions. Consider forgoing this altogether and instead enjoy green beans sautéed in garlic and olive oil. 

Enjoy fresh vegetables sautéed in canola or olive oil or trans-fat free tub margarines instead of butter. Omit cheese. Season veggies with spices and herbs instead of salt. 

Choose 100% whole wheat rolls and smear with trans-fat free tub margarine instead of butter. Intentionally choose the smallest sized rolls you can find or make them in a smaller size. 

Cranberry Sauce
Use or choose whole cranberries. If you making your sauce, cut down the sugar by 1/3.

Pumpkin Pie
Use non-fat (versus regular) evaporated milk and cut down the sugar by 1/3. If you typically use salt, decrease by 1/2.

Use low-fat cream cheese (nonfat ruins the consistency) and cut the sugar by 1/3-1/2. Substitute nonfat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream. 

Apple Pie
Cut the sugar by 1/3-1/2. Use only trans-fat free tub margarine. Not much you can do to the crust without completely ruining the consistency, so save calories elsewhere (see above).

Recognize that one beer, one glass or wine or one shot of liquor each have around 100-200 Calories. So, alternative drinks with water and sip slowly. If you are not a fan of low-calorie beers, slow down and truly enjoy that craft beer instead of pounding one after another. Use non-calorie mixers where possible. If you find yourself gulping down your drink, you are probably thirsty...drink water and then go back to SIPPING your drink.

To save even more calories, start your day with a great workout to burn off some extra energy.

Remember to spend the day enjoying the company of friends and family more than the food. That is, afterall what the holidays are about. Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Extraordinary,


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