Monday, November 23, 2015

Check out these easy Thanksgiving swaps to save on calories!

Eating healthy on Thanksgiving doesn't have to difficult. While the day is traditionally filled with way too many calories, help yourself or the athlete in your life by making these easy swaps. I wrote this post a couple of years back and decided to update and re-post because it is a good reminder of simple tips and swaps to save big on calories without sacrificing flavor. 

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. If your family likes to deep-fry your turkey, don't eat the skin to omit a good portion of saturated fat.

Mashed Potatoes
Substitute trans-fat free and olive oil based tub margarine for butter, sub non-fat plain Greek yogurt for sour cream and sub non- or low-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 potato skins, 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 grain bread. 

Green Bean Casserole
It is difficult to make this one healthier without spending a lot of extra time making it (here is a recipe if you have the time). 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 or low fat 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. And remember that the darker the vegetable, the better!

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 own sauce, cut down the sugar by 1/3.

Pumpkin Pie
Use non-fat (versus whole fat) 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.

Recognize that one beer, one glass of wine or one shot of liquor each have around 100-200 Calories. So, alternate alcohol 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.

Most importantly, remember to spend the day enjoying the company of friends and family more than focusing on the food. Being with those you love is what the holidays are about. Happy Thanksgiving!

Be Extraordinary,


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