There is no avoiding the temptation of holiday foods. While it may seem that everything is loaded with calories, unhealthy fat, and sugar, even a small effort to pick something more nutritious can make a big difference. Use these tips to help you navigate the food table and make healthier choices at Thanksgiving.
Roasted Turkey vs. Fried Turkey
Choosing roasted turkey saves both calories and fat. When making roasted turkey, healthier fats, such as olive oil, and fresh herbs are used to give the meat flavor. In fried turkey, additional flavors come from the fat used during frying. Frying foods uses refined oils and, because the bird is left in contact with the oil, there is more fat per serving. Whichever turkey you choose, stick with the white meat for a leaner source of protein.
Vegetables vs. Casseroles
Casseroles are notorious for unhealthy ingredients such as high-sodium canned soups and high-fat processed cheeses. Choosing roasted or sauteed vegetables that have not been doused with butter or cream sauces will save you calories and saturated fat.
Mashed Potatoes vs. Sweet Potatoes
While sweet potatoes are more nutritious than white potatoes, the large amount of butter in sweet potato casserole makes it not much better for you than mashed white potatoes. Traditional holiday preparations of sweet potatoes are also plagued with added sugar in the form of brown sugar, syrup, or marshmallows. Make sweet potatoes your dessert or skip them altogether. If you are preparing the sweet potatoes, make them healthier by blending the potatoes with low-sodium chicken or vegetable stock in place of the excess butter and cream.
Fresh Cranberry Relish vs. Cranberry Sauce
Fresh cranberries can be chopped in a food processor with ingredients like orange juice, orange zest, herbs, and unsalted nuts for an easy relish or cranberry salsa. A sprinkle of sugar will tame the tartness and allow you to consume much less than what is found in a traditional cranberry sauce.
Rolls vs. Biscuits and Muffins
Most rolls are simply made with yeast, water, flour, and salt. They don’t become high in fat or sugar until butter or honey is added at the table. Whole grain rolls can even provide a little fiber to your meal. Similar offerings, such as cheese biscuits and corn muffins, have extra fat due to butter and eggs. If you don’t want to skip this side altogether, choose a whole grain roll over other options.
Pumpkin Pie vs. Pecan Pie
The nuts, syrup, and butter in pecan pie causes both the calories and fat content to soar. While pumpkin pie still contains fat and sugar, it is a lower calorie choice. You can save even more calories by choosing a crustless pumpkin pie or stick with a simple pumpkin pudding.
Spritzers vs. Cocktails
Spritzers are made by adding club soda to an ounce or two of 100% fruit juice. It makes a festive drink without excess calories from alcohol. If you do choose to have an alcoholic drink, use club sodas and flavored, unsweetened sparkling waters to your advantage. Make a white wine spritzer, or use sparkling beverages to top off your drink instead of using high-sugar, pre-made cocktail mixers.