Thanksgiving is days away and we all know that healthy eating on this specific holiday, is not the easiest feat. Reality is, temptations lie around us all the time and this holiday is no different. Whether you are cooking or are simply a guest, the challenge lies within finding healthy alternatives to the traditional meal.
For those cooking the meals and eating them, finding 100% fat free options are a staggeringly difficult task. Most people can roll with the healthier option, but want to stay within the Thanksgiving meal itself. So, replacing turkey and all the fixins’ altogether, aren’t very realistic for most. What we can do, is reduce the fat greatly, replace some components with others, monitor our portions and make conscious choices all around.
Take the turkey for example (many recipes call for basting it in butter) to help ensure the moisture within the turkey. And I get it…who wants a dry piece of turkey? Most likely, if I were to get one, I would then slather it with gravy, and that is not helping tackle the healthier Thanksgiving day option either. If you do not overcook a turkey, the meat will stay moist…do away with the butter and save yourself a good chunk of caloric intake and fat. Add spices, herbs, garlic and maybe a splash of extra virgin olive oil, if you insist on adding something to the already delicious holiday bird. Once the turkey is cooked, there are some ways to decrease the impact on your waistline. First and foremost, dodge the skin. Extra fat and calories lie in it and you can help yourself by simply avoiding it all together. Limit the salt as well…your body and your heart will thank you.
Green bean casserole is one of my favorites, but reality is…the bean is about the only healthy component of this dish…those lovely little French onions and cream of whatever, may be delicious but will keep you running on that treadmill for quite some time. Keep the green beans…add a little fresh onion…dash of some spices and roast them in the oven. If you are completely unwilling to forego the casserole, use reduced sodium cream of whatever, take a small helping and try to forget those French onions at the grocery store.
Stuffing…we all LOVE stuffing. I think most people in my family typically tap into the Stouffers Stuffing for Thanksgiving, yet it still holds a special place in my heart. If your recipe calls for butter, avoid it. Try using bouillon cubes or broth instead. This will not give you a fat free version, but it will be a better route to take.
Sweet potatoes often have their place at the table as well. The name speaks for itself….sweet. They are naturally made that way, so for a healthier option, avoid adding sugars and marshmallows. For a much healthier kick on the potatoes all together, try mashed cauliflower as a substitute for the potatoes. This can be a pretty difficult switch as we almost always associate mashed potatoes with Thanksgiving. But if you are serious about your health and your diet, Thanksgiving does not have to be the worst day of the year.
The internet is filled with suggestions and recipes for Thanksgiving. If you are looking at trying healthy options, spend some time looking before you hit the grocery store. Regardless of what your holiday holds, spend more time with your loved ones and less time in the kitchen. Although we remember that Thanksgiving involves delicious food, it is the time we spend with those we care about, that is truly the food for the soul.