Healthy eats for Thanksgiving


Thanksgiving is fast approaching. Can one prepare a delicious dinner and be health conscious at the same time? Absolutely! Here are some ideas.

A well-dressed salad is an eye-catcher and a satisfying beginning to any meal. A mixture of greens, such as spinach, arugula, and romaine create a fine bed for dried cherries or cranberries, chopped walnuts, mandarin oranges, and sliced red onions. Toss with flavored vinegrettes or wine vinegar and olive oil. This dressing will compliment the greens and not overpower their flavor.

As a side or salad, one of my favorites is broccoli slaw with a mix of fat-free plain yogurt and a favorite slaw dressing, adding just enough to lightly coat the slaw. This can be made more festive with dried fruit and chopped nuts, also. A tart, diced apple will add even more flavor and texture.

Twice-baked potatoes are a tradition in some households at holiday time. These can be prepared with low-fat versions of sour cream and cream cheese and the low-sodium version of chicken or vegetable broth without sacrificing flavor. A sprinkle of paprika before baking will add color, too.

If the family prefers sweet potatoes, try baking these vitamin-packed veggies in the skins instead of the usual high-calorie, high-sugar recipes with marshmallows. Whether mashed or served individually, a little brown sugar and chopped pecans added to the potatoes can make them just as yummy as the higher calorie versions.

Instead of the usual green bean casserole, how about oven roasting Brussels sprouts, squash, or green beans? Both white and sweet potatoes would take well to roasting, too.

On to the turkey. How about basting the turkey with broth or juice? Orange, apple, cranberry—these all add great flavor. Or, make several slits in the skin and tuck in favorite seasonings. Garlic, thyme, and rosemary are just a few that work well with fowl. For the stuffing fans, lighten it up a bit by omitting the butter in the recipe and moistening the bread with low-sodium broth instead. Try using half whole wheat bread cubes and again, add some herbs for flavor. If the recipe calls for sausage, give the lower fat turkey sausage a go. Brown and drain sausage first before adding to the bread mixture.

And dessert! Yes, this part of the meal can be a tad more nutritious, too! For example, the traditional pumpkin pie turns out perfectly yummy using fat free sweetened condensed milk instead of the full fat version. The typical recipe with 2 eggs can be altered to 1 egg and two egg whites. To reduce the fat further, make the pie with a graham cracker or gingersnap cookie crust. Or try Frozen Pumpkin Mousse for a twist on the traditional.

There are many ways to make nutritious and tasty additions to the holiday meal that the family will enjoy.


Heathy eats for Thanksgiving

It is a little more than a week until Thanksgiving.  The local grocery store was crowded early this morning with shoppers buying turkeys and other food items for next week.  Many shoppers clutched lists and coupons and were intently reading labels while looking for the best buys.  And I was right there in the thick of it.

People are often curious about what a nutritionist will serve for a holiday meal.  Nuts and twigs or will she indulge?  How about a little of both?

Our family Thanksgiving meal varies from year to year, depending whether or not the chief cook and bottle washer feels like experimenting with new recipes.  And this also depends on whether the family members are game for a few surprises.

The general idea is to serve turkey with various sides.  These sides usually include stuffing, sweet potatoes, twice-baked potatoes, green vegetables (green beans, limas, or peas), sweet-sour red cabbage, dinner rolls, gravy, assorted relishes (carrots, pickles, celery, olives), and, of course, pumpkin pie with a topping.  Sounds traditional, right?  And with a few variations, the meal is healthy, too.

Usually we have turkey and just the breast portion.  The size works well with our family.  Sprinkling rosemary and thyme on the turkey or inserting the herbs with garlic under the skin before baking adds a tasty touch to the white meat.

Stuffing is a mix of white and whole wheat breads, browned and drained turkey sausage, whole egg, onion, celery, vegetable or chicken broth, and herbs to taste.

The sweet potatoes are baked in the skin and adorned with the individual’s preference of spread and/or gravy.  No one really misses the marshmallows or sugary additions found in potato casserole recipes.

Twice baked potatoes are prepared with a mix of Neufchatel cheese and low-fat sour cream.  I let the guests decide on salt and butter or spread.

Veggies, such as green beans, are also prepared without any additions except for toasted almonds or other nuts. Toasting brings out the nutty flavor and serves as a compliment to the vegetable.

Dinner rolls are homemade.  I do enjoy my bread machine for preparing the dough and making life a bit easier this time of year.  Canola oil works well for any fat called for in the recipe.

Dessert is always pumpkin pie.  Pies are made with fat-free sweetened condensed milk and whole eggs.  A graham cracker crust works well for the shell.  Sometimes I use a similar crust made with gingersnaps.   I heard a few sighs—she is taking this low-fat stuff too far.  Well, I do add a full-fat pecan pie to the meal that more than makes up for any fat loss.

This year I may experiment with oven-roasted Brussels sprouts. There are several tempting recipes available to try.  Browning the vegetable brings out its sweetness.

By making a few, easy, ingredient substitutions, holiday meals can be delicious and satisfying without causing the scales to tip.

And remember, if a dish does not turn out as expected, most likely no one will notice.  Thanksgiving is about family.  Enjoy the day.