The key is to lose the fat and calories without getting rid of flavors!
Who doesn’t love the smell of turkey roasting in the oven? It’s a sign of the season that gets our mouths watering every time. Traditionally, along with that excellent lean meat, comes a lot of side dishes that are full of fat, sodium, simple carbs and empty calories that we don’t need.
Cut salt and add flavor in other ways
A lot of traditional recipes call for a heavy dose of salt but too much salt can raise your blood pressure and contribute to heart disease, among other things. Look at your recipes and cut the salt but add flavor by increasing other herbs and spices, such as rosemary or oregano. Whether in your rub for the turkey or as part of the stuffing, you’ll notice the flavor but not the lack of salt!
You can also baste your bird with low sodium chicken broth and lovely herbs such as parsley, sage and thyme, rather than butter. It will help drop the fat and calorie count overall and still result in a crispy skin for those who have to have it!
Stick to a turkey breast for a small crowd
If you’re not hosting the whole extended family this year, opt for a turkey breast to roast, instead of the whole bird. The lower fat and calorie breast meat is just a juicy and flavorful, but you avoid the skin and the less healthy dark meat.
Cut the butter and use olive oil instead
The butter that’s required in many recipes can be replaced with a high-quality olive oil; with less saturated fat and some of healthy fats your body actually craves, you’re doing yourself a favor without compromising the flavor. Use a 1:2 ratio—2 tablespoons of olive oil where 1 tablespoon of butter is noted.
Speaking of stuffing
For many of us, stuffing should really be a course on its own. It’s the part of the dinner that so many of us look forward to but here again, the key is moderation and choices! While often made with white bread, it’s just as good made with whole grain and prepared that way, you’re getting a nice dose of fiber with it too.
The Mayo Clinic has a great baked cranberry stuffing recipe that will give you all of the flavor you’re craving but cuts way back on the fat, carbs and sodium!
Skip the mashed potatoes and opt for a cauliflower mash instead
Standard potatoes are full of starch and carbs that you can definitely do without. Cauliflower mash is one of those substitutions that’s really as good as the original! If you add flavor with some roasted garlic mixed in, all the better!
Add skim milk (instead of whole milk or cream) and if you want to add cheese, opt for low fat. If you really can’t forego the traditional mash, substitute half the potatoes for cauliflower to cut the carbs.
Green bean casserole, with a little effort
The traditional dish is made with canned mushroom soup and fried onions. You can recreate this with homemade mushroom soup, oven baked onions and fresh green beans. Yes, it’s more effort but the calorie and fat savings are worth it! You can make this version ahead of time and just reheat it before dinner!
Is there any way make your Mom’s candied yam recipe healthier?
Absolutely! Everyone loves mini-marshmallows, brown sugar and gingersnaps but the amount of sugar and fat that you’re adding to an already laden plate isn’t worth it! Use ground ginger instead of the cookies and add some cinnamon or allspice to up the flavor value to freshly cooked (not canned) yams.
Easy ways to trim on the trimmings, as a guest
If you’re not cooking Thanksgiving dinner this year, it’s hard to be sure of exactly what you’re eating, in terms of fat and calories, but there are several things you can do to cut down.
- Control your portions by using a salad plate instead of the dinner plate in front of you. It’s tempting to fill up the bigger plate but you’re better off getting seconds of the healthy proteins and veggies than topping up a huge plate the first time around.
- Skip the crispy skin. Sure, that’s a tasty part of the turkey but it also turns up your calorie and fat count! Also, the dark meat has a much higher calorie count than white, so choose wisely!
- Avoid the biscuits and other carb heavy options and stick with the crudites and veggies on offer. Just beware of anything candied, like maple carrots!
- Make sure you drink plenty of water and less of the wine!
Working on your fitness isn’t just about how you treat your body on the outside but what you put into too. Don’t let the holiday season sabotage all your FIT36 efforts! You can still have your yams and eat them too: just in moderation!