Thanksgiving is a time to count our blessings and visit with family and friends. It’s also a time to enjoy holiday foods. With just a little bit of effort, you can eat your favorite dishes and still achieve your goals for better health. Don’t believe me? Keep reading. Recipes are below, and I've also included some helpful recipe substitutions to make any favorite recipe a little lighter.
Below are 11 tips to help you have a healthier Thanksgiving. Try picking one or two for this year’s turkey day and see if you can tell a difference in how you feel.
Tip #1: Enjoy the day:
Make family and friends the centerpiece of your day and not the dessert table! (This is also known as “move away from the table.”)
Tip #2: Be selective:
Strategize on how you want to fill your plate. Focus on holiday goodies that are not as calorie dense such as turkey without the skin, vegetables, salads, fruits and whole grains. It’s OK to sample the foods you only get at Thanksgiving, but try to eat a smaller amount.
Tip #3: Savor the goodness:
Enjoy the meal by slowing down. Take a smaller bite; chew your food longer; and put your fork down between bites. (This is a great strategy for meals throughout the year and can help you eat less.)
Tip #4: Think ahead:
If you are not hosting, can you bring a healthier dish to the meal? I've provided some wonderful recipes below. Also, some of your own favorite recipes can be modified to lower the fat or added sugars and still have great flavor! (see recipe substitutions below)
Tip #5: Don’t skip breakfast:
Not eating in order to “save up” for the big meal can actually backfire, leading to increased hunger and overeating. Play it smart. Start your day with a healthy breakfast such as a high fiber cereal with low-fat milk & fruit.
Tip #6: Enjoy beverages without added sugar:
Make water look impressive and enticing by putting it in a carafe with slices of lemon, lime, orange or another fruit. It looks pretty, tastes great and has no added sugar!
Tip #7: Stuff the turkey and not yourself:
How many times have you left the Thanksgiving dinner table feeling so full you’re almost sick? Avoid that feeling this year by paying attention to the portions you put on your plate. Make it a goal to have one plate of delicious food and enjoy the leftovers the next day!
Tip #8: Plan for dessert:
There will be dessert. It will be delicious. Instead of pretending you don’t see it or deciding to just eat a piece of everything, choose 1 – 2 desserts you really love and eat a small portion.
Tip #9: Watch the alcohol:
If alcohol is part of your celebration, try to limit yourself to one glass of wine, a beer or wine spritzer. Alcohol is filled with empty calories that can take up valuable real estate in your stomach, and it can also weaken your resolve for making good food choices!
Tip #10: Modify a recipe:
For flavorful foods without all the added calories, check out the recipe modification tips below. Easy substitutions include trading plain, fat-free Greek yogurt for sour cream or replacing cream cheese with Neufchatel Cheese (1/3 less fat). How about trying to decrease the sugar in a recipe by ¼?
Tip #11: New Tradition:
If Thanksgiving generally consists of sitting, eating and napping, incorporate something new. Take a walk, go for a hike, or play games that require activity. Just move your body.
I hope these tips can help you navigate the holiday with health and flavor!
When a recipe calls for… Use instead…
Other substitution tips
| 1 whole egg
||2 egg whites OR ¼ cup egg substitute-egg whites (without yellow food coloring)
| Sugar, 1 cup
|| ½ cup sugar & ½ cup Splenda Granular OR
½ cup Splenda Sugar Blend
| Brown Sugar, 1 cup
||½ cup Splenda Brown Sugar Blend
| Butter or stick margarine
||Tub Margarine (No partially hydrogenated oils listed in ingredient list) or Light Margarine * Soft tub margarine or light margarine does not work well in baked goods
| Basting with butter
||Wine, fat-free broth, or fruit juice
| Vegetable oil for frying
||Nonstick vegetable spray using nonstick cookware
| Buttered bread crumbs
||Plain bread crumbs for crushed cereal
| Fat (oil, margarine, shortening), 1 cup
||Replace ½ or more of the butter, oil or shortening in baked goods with pureed fruits like bananas, dates, prunes or applesauce:
Example: ½ cup applesauce, ½ cup vegetable oil
| Sour Cream
||Light or nonfat sour cream OR Fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
||Light or Fat-free mayonnaise
| Cream Cheese
||Light cream cheese, Neufchatel Cheese (1/3 less fat)
| Whole milk
||Fat free milk or 1% milk
| Half & Half
||Fat Free Half & Half
| Evaporated milk
||Evaporated skim milk
| Ricotta Cheese
||Part-skim or nonfat ricotta
| Cottage cheese
||1% or nonfat cottage cheese
| Cheese, such as Cheddar, Monterey Jack, Provolone
||Reduced fat or light cheese
| Sausage or ground beef
||90% or leaner ground beef, ground white meat turkey or chicken breast (cooked & drained)
| 2 pie crusts
||1 pie crust on top or Graham cracker crust
| Chocolate chips, 1 cup
||1 cup raisins, dried cranberries OR ½ cup mini chocolate chips
Understanding Sugar Substitutes and Sugar Blends
Role of Sugar in Baking:
- Roast or bake poultry with skin but serve without
- Review the food label on packages of ground beef and other ground meat products to select the leanest product.
Sugar Substitutes & Sugar Blends
- Structure, texture & volume
- Enhances caramelization & browning
- Helps retain moistness & tenderness in baked goods
- Can act as a preservative, keeping baked goods fresh
There are now a variety of sugar substitutes available for purchase to replace added sugars as a tabletop sweetener or to be used in cooking and baking. Many product lines may be purchased in different forms such as packets or spoonable form. Some products are created to measure cup for cup as sugar when replacing sugar in recipes. Some products are a blend of sugar and a sugar substitute providing baking qualities of sugar with fewer calories.
Companies of each product have developed recipes for the specific sugar substitute, tips for using the products in cooking/baking and conversion charts. Consumers can register for newsletters, coupons & free samples for many of the products reviewed.
Down East Maine Pumpkin Bread
1 (15 oz.) can pumpkin puree
½ cup vegetable oil
½ cup unsweetened applesauce
2/3 cup water
3 cups sugar substitute to equal 3 cups of sugar
(i.e., 3 cups of Splenda Granulated or 1 ½ cups Splenda Sugar Blend )
3 ½ cups all-purpose flour
2 tsp. baking soda
1 ½ tsp. salt
1 tsp. ground cinnamon
1 tsp. ground nutmeg
½ tsp. ground cloves
¼ tsp. ground ginger
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Grease (use non-stick cooking spray) and flour three 7 x 3 inch loaf pans.
2. In a large bowl, mix together pumpkins puree eggs, oil, applesauce, water and sugar substitute or sugar blend until well blended.
3. In a separate bowl, whisk together the flour, baking soda, salt, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves and ginger. Stir the dry ingredients into the pumpkin mixture until just blended. Pour into the prepared pans.
4. Bake for about 50 minutes in the preheated oven. Loaves are done when the toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
Source: Adapted from www.Allrecipes.com
Turkey Breast with Apricot Glaze
1 small onion
2 whole cloves
1 small orange, halved
1 bone-in turkey breast (4 ½ pounds)
1 cup Smucker’s Low Sugar Apricot Preserves
½ cup unsweetened apple juice
1 tsp. Dijon mustard
1. Peel onion and insert cloves.
2. Stuff onion and orange into the neck cavity of turkey.
3. Place on a rack in a shallow roasting pan. Bake, uncovered, at 325 degrees for 2 to 2 ½ hours or until a meat thermometer reads 170 degrees. Let stand for 10-15 minutes before slicing.
1. In a saucepan, combine the preserves, apple juice and mustard. Bring to a boil.
2. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 4-5 minutes or until slightly thickened.
3. Remove skin, onion and orange from turkey.
4. Slice turkey; drizzle with glaze.
Yield: 12 servings
Roasted Cranberry, Wild Rice and Kale Salad
2 cups fresh cranberries
2 teaspoons olive oil
2 teaspoons chopped fresh thyme
1 tablespoon sugar
½ cup chopped pecans, toasted
6 cups Tuscan kale, finely chopped
2 cups cooked wild rice
Maple Apple Dressing
1 ½ tsp Dijon Mustard
3 tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1 tbsp. finely chopped shallots
1 tbsp. 100% pure maple syrup
¼ cup extra virgin olive oil
½ tsp salt
¼ tsp fresh ground pepper
1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees F. Toss cranberries with olive oil, thyme and sugar.
2. Place in a glass baking sheet and roast until softened and slightly caramelized, about 15-20 minutes. Let cool.
3. Toss kale, chopped pecans, wild rice and roasted cranberries together
4. In a small bowl, whisk together the mustard, vinegar, shallot, maple syrup, olive oil, salt and pepper
5. Toss the dressing with the salad and massage until wilted. Serve immediately.
Butternut Squash Soufflé
*This is a great holiday side dish!
3 cups cooked mashed butternut squash (about 2 pounds whole or available ready mashed in frozen vegetable section of grocery store. )
2/3 cup Splenda Granular
1 large egg
3 egg whites
1/3 cup light sour cream
1 tablespoon butter or margarine, melted
¾ teaspoon cinnamon
½ teaspoon vanilla (optional)
1 teaspoon baking powder
¼ teaspoon salt
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Coat a 2-quart casserole or soufflé dish with nonstick cooking spray.
2. Prepare squash; prick squash with a knife in several places and place in microwave (whole).
Microwave on high for 8 – 10 minutes. Remove and cut squash in half lengthwise. When cool enough to handle , scoop out seeds. Place halves, cut-side down, in a glass baking dish; add 1/3 cup of water, cover tightly with plastic wrap (or lid), and place back in microwave for 10 more minutes or until flesh is very soft. Scoop out flesh into large bowl.
3. Add remaining soufflé ingredients and beat vigorously with a spoon until well blended. Spoon into baking
dish and smooth top.
4. In a small bowl, combine all topping ingredients and mix with fork or fingers until crumbly. Cover top of soufflé with crumb mixture.
5. Bake for 30 – 35 minutes until soufflé puffs up in center and top is well browned.
Source: Courtesy of: Fantastic Food with Splenda by Marlene Koch (M. Evans 2004)
Loaded Cauliflower Casserole
6 -8 strips center cut bacon or turkey bacon, cut ½-inch thick
2 medium heads cauliflower, cut into bite size florets (3 to 4 pounds total)
Kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper
6 oz. Philadelphia 1/3 less fat Neufchatel Cheese at room temperature
2 cups shredded reduced-fat Cheddar cheese
4 scallions, white and light green parts only, thinly sliced
2/3 cup light sour cream or fat-free, plain Greek yogurt
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees F.
2. Cook the bacon in a medium nonstick skillet over medium heat, stirring occasionally, until brown and
crispy, 6 to 7 minutes. Transfer to a paper towel-lined plate.
3. Put the cauliflower florets in a 3-quart casserole dish. Toss with the reserved 2 tablespoons olive oil, ¾ teaspoon salt and ½ teaspoon pepper. Roast until the florets are soft and begin to brown, about 30 minutes.
4. Meanwhile, mix together the cream cheese and 1 cup of the Cheddar cheese in a medium bowl until well combined. Dollop over the cauliflower, then sprinkle with the remaining 1 cup Cheddar cheese and bake until the cauliflower is tender when poked with a knife and the Cheddar is melted and bubbly, 5 to 7 minutes more.
5. Dollop the light sour crème or fat-free, plain Greek yogurt evenly over the casserole and sprinkle with the
scallions and reserved bacon pieces.
Source: Adapted from www.foodnetwork.com
Oven-Roasted Green Beans
2 pounds green beans, trimmed
4 tsp. extra virgin olive oil
1 tsp. sea salt
½ tsp. freshly ground black pepper
1. Preheat oven to 425 degrees.
2. Place a jelly-roll pan in oven for 10 minutes. Place beans in a large bowl. Drizzle with
oil; sprinkle with salt and pepper. Toss well to coat. Arrange green bean mixture in a
single layer on pre-heated baking sheet. Bake at 425 degrees for 8 minutes or until crisp-tender.
Yield: 12 servings (serving size: about 2/3 cup).
Source: Cooking Light Magazine
Cranberry Fruit Mold
2 cups boiling water
1 package (8-serving size Jell-O- Brand Cranberry Flavor
Sugar Free Low Calorie Gelatin
1 ½ cups cold diet ginger ale or water
2 cups green and/or red seedless grapes halves
1 can (11 ounces) mandarin orange segments, drained
Makes 9 servings, about 2/3 cup each
1. Stir boiling water into gelatin in large bowl at least 2 minutes until completely dissolved. Stir in cold diet ginger ale. Refrigerate about 1 ½ hours or until thickened.
2. Stir in grapes and oranges. Pour into 6-cup mold sprayed with cooking spray.
3. Refrigerate 4 hours or until firm. Unmold.
Source: Diabetic Cooking
Sunshine Gelatin Mold
2 packages (3 oz. each) sugar-free lemon gelatin
1 cup boiling water
1 quart No Sugar Added, light vanilla ice cream, softened, such as Edy’s Slow Churned
Vanilla Bean No Sugar Added, Light Ice Cream
1 can (11 oz.) crushed pineapple (no sugar added), drained
1 can (8 oz.) Mandarin oranges (no sugar added), drained
1. In a large bowl, dissolve gelatin in boiling water.
2. Whisk in vanilla frozen ice cream until melted.
3. Stir in oranges and pineapple.
4. Pour into a 6-cup ring mold coated with cooking spray.
5. Refrigerate for 2 hours or until firm.
Source: Adapted from Taste of Home