With a little change here and there though classic holiday recipes can be updated to save calories.

Slightly change those traditional recipes

Thanksgiving Dinner Family

We are just a few days away from Thanksgiving. Have you thought about looking over some of your traditional Thanksgiving dinner recipes to see if you can adjust a few ingredients to lighten up the calories or sodium? After all, the average American adult will consume about 2,000 calories at Thanksgiving Day dinner alone!

With a little change here and there though classic recipes can be updated to save calories.

Substitute healthier ingredients to save calories:

  • Mashed potatoes: Replace butter, cream and whole milk with nonfat buttermilk or low-salt broth
  • Yeast rolls: Replace white flour with whole wheat or ground oats
  • Turkey basting: Replace oil or melted butter with low-salt broth or apple cider

Focus meal planning on healthy foods:

  • Serve fish for the entrée, just like the Pilgrims.
  • Feature vegetables for the Thanksgiving meal like oven-roasted Brussel sprouts or green beans, spinach salad with dried cranberries and sliced fresh apples, and mashed acorn or butternut squash.
  • Fill half of your plate with vegetables, one-quarter can be the starch like potatoes and the  other quarter the lean protein.
  • Enjoy fruit-based desserts such as apple crisp and baked pears.

Other tips to stay balanced on Thanksgiving Day:

Be sure to eat breakfast and lunch so that you don’t arrive at the holiday dinner starved. Drink calorie-free beverages for most of the day. Put dessert on hold, and get in a walk after the holiday dinner before having that sweet treat.

Although Thanksgiving Day is well-known for overindulging in food, its purpose is to enjoy our family and friends. The whole food prep process can be fun for the family. Even the children can help out with stirring and mixing or decorating and setting the table. After eating holiday dinner, take a break from the kitchen and enjoy a long walk with the family. Then, everyone can all come back and pitch in with the dishes.

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About the Author

Rita Smith is a Registered Dietitian and Certified Diabetes Educator. She's been working in the field of nutrition and disease prevention for more than 35 years and currently works at Sentara Martha Jefferson Hospital in Charlottesville, Va. Each week, Rita provides nutrition counseling to clients who have a variety of disorders or diseases including high cholesterol, high blood pressure, diabetes, celiac disease, irritable bowel syndrome, gastroparesis and weight management. For these clients, food choices can help them manage their health problems.