Digital News Report – Thanksgiving dinner can be packed with calories. However, the meal can be made lighter in calories and become a healthy meal. You can still have a Thanksgiving meal, but with a few changes and modifications the pounds will not end up on your waistline. Additionally, eating too much sodium can be risky business, especially for people with hypertension and heart failure. Here are a few strategies to save of the fat, calories, and sodium this Thanksgiving.
Lower Calorie Green Bean Casserole
Instead of popping open a can of condensed Cream of Mushroom soup, make your own white sauce. Instead of using butter, use olive oil. Instead of using regular milk, use non-fat or skim milk. You can add extra milk flavor by adding some non-fat powdered milk. You still need to use flour to thicken the white sauce. Try to use the least amount of salt. Use fresh mushrooms instead of canned if you can, which will help avoid the sodium. You can still use the onion topping that everyone loves, but if you cut back on the fat and salt elsewhere, the dish will be healthier to eat. Even better than green bean casserole is steamed green beans minus all the extras.
Reduced Fat and Sodium Gravy
It would be nice to skip the gravy. However, reality it is difficult to avoid because people love the gravy. The drippings in the bottom of the pan make great gravy, but there is a lot of fat with the drippings. If you can roast the turkey the day before, you can take the drippings, refrigerate it and the next day you scoop off the hardened fat off the top and discard. You save a bunch of fat this way. Instead of thickening with flour, whisk in cornstarch before heating. The cornstarch works well sans the fat to thicken the mixture. Try to season with more black pepper and onion powder (no salt added) to minimize adding salt to the gravy.
Lower Calorie Mashed Potatoes
There are a couple of strategies to lighten the calorie load with mashed potatoes. You can sneak in lighter calorie cauliflower with the potatoes. Another strategy is to reduce the fat added to the potatoes.
To add cauliflower with the mix of potatoes you will need to boil the cubed potatoes and cauliflower in separate pots, because they have different cooking times. Then you drain each when cooked. You may have to refrigerate the cauliflower if your potatoes are taking a long time to cook. Then mash the potatoes as you normally would. With the cauliflower, you should consider using a food processor, stick blender, or blender to puree the vegetable. Then add the cauliflower puree to the mashed potatoes.
To lighten the fat from the mashed potatoes, substitute skim milk for whole milk. Do not add sour cream, unless it is fat free or use non-fat plain yogurt instead. Instead of using butter, consider using half butter and half olive oil. If you really want to cut the fat, consider using some of the turkey broth that has had the fat separated. Another option is to use a sprinkle butter flavor such as Molly Mcbutter, however, these can have extra sodium.
Instead of salt, try to use black pepper and garlic powder to add flavor to the mashed potatoes.
If you really want to save on the calories and salt, having boiled potatoes and cauliflower would save even more calories. Sprinkle them with something like Mrs. Dash to add flavor and spare the salt.
Lighter Cranberry Side Dish
Cranberries are healthy for you and should be eaten, but the sugar that is added to make jellied cranberries are not so good. The way to make this healthier is to make a raw cranberry salad. The raw cranberries can be chopped up into small pieces with a food processor. You don’t want to puree, instead it is more like mincing. Then add some frozen orange juice concentrate that has been thawed, and add a little bit of honey, and some sugar or artificial sweetener. The cranberries do not have to be overly sweet, they can be a bit tart. If you can let the cranberry mix refrigerate for several hours before serving, it will help to spread the flavors together.
Cranberries can be cooked built it can be tricky to get the thick gel minus the sugar. Sugar can be cut back on, but it might be too tart for what people are used to. Adding orange juice can help flavor the cooked cranberries too. Sugar substitute can be added at the end to sweeten to taste. The orange juice can also help to hide the artificial sugar substitute aftertaste.
Lower Calorie Pumpkin Pie
Pumpkins are nutritious and should be eaten. However, the piecrust, sugar, and eggs are the no-no’s that we love, and yep, they add fat, salt and calories. So how can we enjoy pumpkin pie and spare our waistline?
The strategy that makes the most sense is to make the custard part of the recipe minus the crust. If you get rid of the crust, you save the source of most of the calories. Additionally, the piecrust often uses hydrogenated vegetable shortening, which often has Trans fat. This is not the kind of fat that a doctor would recommend eating. The other fat used in the crust is the butter, and this is a source of saturated fats, which is often easy to have too much. Another problem with the crust is that it contains the majority of sodium in the desert.
Pie crust recipes are available that substitute healthy oils such as non-fat sour cream, and olive or canola oil. However, the crust will likely be hard and not flaky. So be warned, you might not like it and the calories can still be just as high as the regular crust recipes.
Another strategy is to use less sugar than is required in the recipe. Often I find that the recipes call for too much sugar. If you back off a quarter of a cup of sugar, it still will be sweet and it can still be enjoyed. Another option is to use half-regular sugar and half-granulated sugar substitute, or agave. These lower calorie options will reduce the carbohydrate load and calories. If you use the sugar substitute for the entire recipe, you might find a funky aftertaste. Add a bit extra cinnamon to the recipe, because it gives a sweet flavor and can cover up the sugar substitute after-taste.
Instead of topping the pumpkin pie or custard with vanilla ice cream, use no fat or reduced fat whipped topping.
Serving up the Plate
Mashed potatoes should be thought of as a starch or a carbohydrate. If you have stuffing, measure it as one tablespoon, because it is high in fat, salt and starch. The meat should be about the size of a playing card and should fill about ¼ of the plate. The starch should fill about ¼ of the plate. The other half of the plate should be filled with non-starchy vegetables like green beans, brussel sprouts, cabbage, spinach, broccoli, and cauliflower. You can add a little cranberry and have a bit of pumpkin custard. The best strategy of all is to stick to one serving and do not go back for seconds.
Hopefully you have leftovers, and you can eat another meal that is healthy. Remember, that if you know there will be leftovers, you can have another serving later. This may help to control the portions.
By: Jason Chang