By John Salak –
Roast turkey with crispy skin, stuffing, mashed potatoes, sweet potato pie, cranberry sauce, cornbread, pies, whipped cream and, okay, maybe a few vegetables for decorations: it is the meal of dreams for many that are otherwise known as the traditional Thanksgiving Feast.
It is also a caloric tsunami, coming in at a whopping 3,000 calories per person on average, which includes 229 gut-busting grams of fat, according to the Calorie Control Council. Of course, that’s the average intake. The really adventurous can push the Thanksgiving Day calorie count to 4,500 if they focus on extra-large portions of particularly unhealthy goods, warned Ginny Ives, director of nutrition services at the Cooper Clinic in Dallas.
Considering that the US Food and Drug Administration recommends a daily calorie count of 2,200 and 2,800 for moderately active women and men, respectively, that Turkey Day munch down is both impressive and frightening.
Sure, Thanksgiving comes just once a year so maybe the eating indulgence can be overlooked. But there are some ways and recipes that can help lessen the load. Lower-calorie food alternatives abound. Thankfully, this doesn’t mean giving up the bird for something soy or skipping pies, stuffing, cornbreads and pies altogether. It just means building these dishes a little differently. A simple internet search will yield dozens if not hundreds of options. But here are a few to consider.
This option is healthy, grain- and gluten-free and is made with eggs and veggies. Better yet it is said to taste great and hold its own with regular fare.
This recipe is easy to make and delivers an amazing stuffing at about half the calories and carbohydrates of traditional options.
Apple Pie Winners
Described as “a cozy and comforting dessert,” this healthy and tasty option is made without refined sugar or butter.
Here’s an option for an apple crisp that tastes great and isn’t overloaded with calories. This crisp is gluten- and dairy-free and is sweetened with maple syrup.
Sweet Potato Delights
This sweet potato dish is designed to lighten up a table without sacrificing taste. It includes an amazing crunchy pecan oatmeal streusel topping.
Marshmallows are on hold with this recipe, which not only cuts calories, it helps the natural flavor of the sweet potatoes shine through. Seasonings include ginger, nutmeg, cinnamon and brown sugar.
Cranberry Sauce Savior
This homemade recipe delivers that sweet and tart flavor everyone loves without the added calories many store-bought sauces and traditional concoctions hold. It is sweetened with honey or maple syrup.
This option promises a classic cornbread that is easy to make, lightly sweetened, tender and, well, wonderful.
Helpful Thanksgiving Habits
Aside from simply dealing with lower-calorie food options, the Calorie Control Council has some suggestions for keeping healthy at Thanksgiving and through the holiday season. Here are five winner tips.
Exercise: Doesn’t matter what but burning calories through a workout is a great way to fend off the consequences of overeating. It will also release endorphins that reduce stress and promote better mental moods.
Advanced Munching: Don’t head out hungry to a holiday feast. Of course, it is essential to feed up on healthy snacks like fruits or veggies. Skip donuts, cookies, cakes and double cheeseburgers.
Keep It Small: Portion control is always important but especially during the holidays when so many options are available. One approach is to think of the various dishes as free samples to be tried but not ravaged.
Distance Matter: Try socializing away from food, especially before meals when snacks are available or if a buffet is the order of the day. Ultimately, it is a good idea to strike up conversations outside of the sight of food.
Hold The Leftovers: Those in love with leftovers, and who aren’t, should look for healthier options than a turkey and gravy sandwich. Maybe just go for turkey and leftover veggies or perhaps turn leftovers into salads or soups.