Count bless­ings, not calo­ries, on Thanks­giv­ing Day

Milwaukee Journal Sentinel - - FOOD & DINING - Kelsey Kem­pen

With the hol­i­day sea­son upon us, it’s not un­usual if you al­ready feel your waist­band tight­en­ing. Just think­ing about all the tur­key, sweet pota­toes, stuff­ing, mashed pota­toes and pie you'll con­sume next Thurs­day can make you sing for joy but also cause your diet to run scared.

Ac­cord­ing to the Mayo Clinic, Amer­i­cans can con­sume more than 4,500 calo­ries through­out the Thanks­giv­ing Day cel­e­bra­tion. Be­tween Thanks­giv­ing and New Year’s, Amer­i­cans on av­er­age gain 6 pounds, ac­cord­ing to U.S. Health News. No won­der the top New Year’s res­o­lu­tion is los­ing weight and work­ing out more.

Don’t go run­ning scared! There are sim­ple swaps and switches you can make that will help you stay trim with­out feel­ing stuffed like a tur­key. Your hol­i­day sea­son should be fo­cused on fam­ily, friends, mem­o­ries and tra­di­tions.

Fol­low­ing the tips be­low can help al­le­vi­ate the stress from fac­ing a heavy Thanks­giv­ing meal.

Talkin’ tur­key: When the tur­key plat­ter comes around, opt for white meat in­stead of dark. White meat typ­i­cally con­tains less fat and fewer calo­ries than dark. Also, leave the skin be­hind. A 3-ounce por­tion of skin­less tur­key breast has only 160 calo­ries.

So yes, the cen­ter­piece of your Thanks­giv­ing meal is good for you. Tur­key is packed with a va­ri­ety of B vi­ta­mins along with se­le­nium and potas­sium. It also is very rich in pro­tein, which al­lows it to sta­bi­lize in­sulin lev­els af­ter a meal.

We like it mashed: This year, jump on the cau­li­flower band­wagon and try mashed cau­li­flower in­stead of mashed pota­toes.

When blend­ing the cooked cau­li­flower, add non­fat Greek yo­gurt, chicken stock, grated Parme­san cheese and gar­lic, so it will seem sim­i­lar to your fa­vorite com­fort food but health­ier. One cup of mashed cau­li­flower has just 60 calo­ries.

If this idea is sim­ply too weird for you, try re­duc­ing the amount of butter and salt added to your mashed pota­toes. Also, switch to skim milk to make the pota­toes creamy with less fat.

Can the calo­ries: Canned cran­berry sauce is of­ten found on the Thanks­giv­ing ta­ble. It's tart and fruity — but sugar-packed. A 1⁄4-cup serv­ing con­tains 120 calo­ries and 29 grams of sugar. That’s equiv­a­lent to 7 tea­spoons of sugar.

A bet­ter op­tion is to make your own cran­berry sauce. Us­ing less sugar, or even a non-nu­tri­tive sweet­ener such as ste­via, can help cut sugar and calo­ries by more than 50%.

Get stuffed: Rein­vent your stuff­ing recipe. Cut out the bread (or cut down on it) and bring in col­or­ful veg­eta­bles such as cau­li­flower, sweet pota­toes, corn, onion and cel­ery in­stead. To add more fla­vor, in­cor­po­rate fresh herbs; if meat is de­sired, use tur­key sausage, which is lower in fat. This ver­sion of stuff­ing can con­tain less than half the calo­ries. By ad­ding herbs and spices, the stuff­ing will still be de­li­cious and savory but with­out the ex­tra salt.

Stay hy­drated: With food and al­co­holic bev­er­ages

hol­i­day sta­ples, wa­ter is es­sen­tial for mak­ing sure you feel your best through­out the day. Al­ter­nat­ing a glass of wa­ter with each al­co­holic bev­er­age will help you stay hy­drated while aid­ing in di­ges­tion and help­ing keep you from overeat­ing. Drink­ing wa­ter also will al­le­vi­ate the dreaded morn­ing-af­ter hang­over.

Get trot­ting: Whether it’s be­fore the big meal or af­ter, be­ing ac­tive can make any­one feel bet­ter and pro­mote fam­ily bond­ing as well. Many cities spon­sor 5K runs on Thanks­giv­ing morn­ing, such as the Mil­wau­kee Tur­key Trot 8K and 5K runs. Or just go on a long walk.

Be­ing ac­tive also will aid di­ges­tion and help fight that typ­i­cal post-meal sleepi­ness.

Kelsey Kem­pen is a di­etet­ics stu­dent in her se­nior year at the Univer­sity of Wis­con­sin-Stout.

KELSEY KEM­PEN

Mashed cau­li­flower, en­hanced with a bit of cream cheese, Parme­san and herbs, de­li­ciously re­places carb-heavy pota­toes for Thanks­giv­ing.

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