Thanksgiving Healthy Food Guide

shutterstock_103900019Thomas Jefferson, one of America’s Founding Fathers, wrote, “Knowledge is power.”  So, we’re going to impart a little knowledge to better enable you to make healthy choices when you’re planning (and eating) your Thanksgiving dinner.

Fill your plate with:

  • Veggies and Hummus – While you’re waiting for dinner, dip carrots, celery and colorful bell peppers in hummus instead of ranch dressing.  You’ll be trading fat for protein and fiber.
  •  Turkey – Skip the thighs.  Each one has more calories than a thick slice of prime rib!  Instead go for the skinless breast meat, which is an excellent source of lean protein.  And despite its reputation, gravy’s not all bad.  A quarter cup averages just 50 calories.
  • Sweet Potatoes – We’re not talking about the marshmallow covered out of the can variety.  Peeled, diced and roasted with a dash of cinnamon will do.  The veggies are rich in fiber and low in calories and cinnamon has been shown to stabilize blood sugar levels.

A little goes a long way:

  • Stuffing – believe it or not, the boxed variety offers fewer calories than breaded ones made from scratch.  Either way, a serving size of no more than ½ cup is recommended.  Looking for a healthier alternative?  Try a recipe that calls for healthy grains such as bulgur or quinoa, omega-rich nuts and antioxidant filled dried fruit, like cranberries.

Just a dab will do ya:

  • Cranberry Sauce – it’s laden with sugar.  So, either take just a spoonful, or instead opt for unsweetened applesauce.  It satisfies that need for something cool and fruity with less than half the sugar.
  • Bread, Rolls and Biscuits – we know you want something to absorb all the gravy on your plate.  But choose carefully here.  Look for a small roll made with whole grains.  Avoid buttermilk biscuits and cornbread, which come at a whopping 200 calories each.

Skip entirely:

  • Green Bean Casserole – canned green beans, a can of creamy soup and French fried onions seems harmless enough, right?  Wrong!  One cup packs on the same amount of fat as a small hamburger.  Instead, use fresh green beans, steamed with a squeeze of lemon juice and some sliced almonds.  The lemon juice is excellent for digestion and the almonds help lower the rise in blood sugar after meals.

It is possible to enjoy Thanksgiving dinner without feeling like you’ve overeaten or indulged in a year’s worth of fat and calories in one meal.  Remember, “everything in moderation” is a good motto.  If you really can’t say no to the green bean casserole, trade that choice for a healthier choice when it comes to something else.  The holidays are a time for enjoyment, not stress and guilt over food.  And if you’ve eaten a healthy dinner, there’s always room for dessert!