a healthier thanksgiving

by erin thursby
Replace Butter or Corn Oil with Olive Oil
While olive oil is still a fat (and as such should be used sparingly) it’s a better choice than corn oil or butter, when going for a healthier choice.
If you decide to baste with an olive oil as a base, keep in mind that regular olive oil is better than extra virgin for the task. Regular olive oil has a higher smoke point and it does better than extra virgin at high temperatures. It’s also a little cheaper. It’s a waste to cook with extra virgin, as it loses most of its flavor during cooking. Extra virgin is best in salad dressings or added toward the end of cooking. Those who are unsure about going olive oil all the way, you can use half unsalted butter as your base for the baste.
In most side dishes and casseroles, you can get away with subbing olive oil for any other fat. I’ve also had success in using it in baked goods and breads.
Stuffing Substitute
Stuffing is mainly bread and fat, so you’ll find it to be one of the least healthy choices on the table. You can do a few things with it. First you can replace it with a brown rice and couscous mixture, seasoned in the same way you would dressing. You can also mix the dressing with brown rice, so that it still has its familiar form, but actually has some healthy nutritional value. Make both the brown rice and the dressing, then stir in the brown rice slowly.
Go Low Salt
When using any canned items such as cream of mushroom soup or chicken broth, go for the low salt version. Do make sure to read the label to make sure they didn’t add more fat to make up for it. You can always add more salt if need be, but chances are, you’ll never miss it.
Mashed Potatoes
You don’t have to have mashed potatoes on your Thanksgiving table. Parsnips, rutabagas and turnips can all be mashed to replace mashed potatoes. They all have a sweeter flavor, but they’re better on carbs. Mashed cauliflower is also a popular substitute for the traditional mashed potatoes. Rutabagas are particularly arduous to prepare. They’re so hard that some people use an axe to cut them. An ordinary veggie knife is likely to get wedged in rutabaga. All of these mashed veggies can be mixed with potatoes, which is a way to make a healthy change without sacrificing taste. There are a ton of recipes you can google online, but make sure you watch the fat content- heavy cream is often called for.
Creamy Substitutes
If a recipe calls for sour cream, not as a garnish or topping, but mixed in, you can sub plain, low-fat yogurt. Heavy cream can often be replaced by 2% evaporated milk or a combo of yogurt and milk. If you really want to go healthy or you’re lactose intolerant, you can search out vegan heavy cream substitutes on google or you can just use a blender on silken tofu. If it’s a little too thick, add a spoonful of soy milk, blend again and check the texture.
Is Ice Cream Worth Substituting?
Ice cream is an indulgence, so the calorie-counters among you might be tempted to use frozen yogurt instead. Don’t bother. Though it varies by brand, ice cream and yogurt have about the same calories (with some brands actually spiking higher) and because yogurt has less fat, manufacturers add more sugar to make up for it. What frozen yogurt does have going for it is live active cultures, so if you find that ice cream tends to upset your stomach a bit, frozen yogurt can be a better choice. I personally love gelato, but there really is nothing like a scoop of vanilla ice cream next to a hot slice of apple pie. Simply make sure that your ice cream has ingredients that you can actually pronounce and don’t go overboard with portions. As far as I’m concerned, this particular indulgence isn’t worth substituting for pie a la mode.
How ever you decide to serve your healthy Thanksgiving, just make sure you cut a little fat and calories here and there, keeping the taste in mind. Go with fresh, simple ingredients, less salt, shave the fat whenever you can, and enjoy your meal! These little changes can help keep the meal tasty, while keeping you and your guests from adding to your waistline.
Cutting the Fat on Your Plate
Looking to diet during the holidays or just wanting to keep trim? Use some of these tricks if you aren’t in charge of the menu– because you’re still in charge of your plate!
-Stick to white meat on the turkey, as it’s lower in fat. And, as good as it is, skip or limit the amount of turkey skin you eat.
-Limit condiments. The big fat busters often come from what you add to your meal. Gravy, butter and other add-ons do add up.
-Portions don’t have to be huge to be enjoyed.
-Choose wisely, using common sense. Veggies are healthier than starchy choices, so cut out or limit stuffing, bread and potatoes.
-Pecan Pie is the devil. Because it’s made of nuts, it seems healthier than other choices, but the glycemic index is through the roof. Even the Splenda version, which cuts the sugars down to about half of the normal slice, still has Karo syrup, so even that is still higher in sugars than a serving of many pies and cakes. Opt for something else, even if it seems more indulgent.