Posts Tagged ‘Thanksgiving’

thanksgiving-cornucopiaThanksgiving – it’s a feeding frenzy and a day of guilty pleasures. We eat more than we should – and oh my – the calories! Here’s how to have an epic Thanksgiving dinner with a nutritional boost, and save on the waistline at the same time.

1.  Serve soup as a first course. A vegetable soup would go nicely with the rest of your Thanksgiving meal. The water and fiber in the soup is satisfying, so we will eat fewer calories.

2. Add parsnips to the mashed potatoes. Two or three parsnips would be fine, depending on how much mashed potatoes you make. Parsnips look like a white carrot and can be prepared the same way. Peel the parsnip, cut in chunks and add to the potatoes when cooking. Whip as usual. Parsnips have vitamin C, folate, and manganese and will add a little sweetness to the potatoes. Use soy milk rather than cow’s milk when making mashed potatoes to forgo the antibiotics and hormones found in cow’s milk. Skip the butter – the parsnips add a subtle sweet flavor everyone will enjoy.

3. Add nuts to your vegetable dish to dress it up. Chopped walnuts, slivered almonds, or pine nuts are all good choices. Your dish will look fancy without much effort. Roasting the nuts before adding to the vegetables will add an additional dimension of flavor. These nuts have healthy monounsaturated fats and minerals. Almonds are a good source of vitamin E. Walnuts contain B6 and thiamin. Pine nuts have vitamin K, E, and niacin.

4. Sprinkle pomegranate seeds on the top of your salad. These add a burst of flavor everyone will enjoy. Wear an apron while removing the seeds, as the juice will stain clothing. One way to minimize the squirting juice is to fill a bowl with water. Cut the pomegranate in half. Under water, break open the pomegranate and separate the seeds from the white membrane. The seeds will float to the top of the water. Save time Thanksgiving Day by doing this the day before and refrigerate them. Pomegranates are loaded with vitamins C, K, folate and several minerals.

5. Instead of candied sweet potatoes, serve whipped sweet potatoes. Peel and boil the sweet potatoes in water. Drain and whip them. Since they are sweet, no brown sugar or butter is needed. A sprinkle of cinnamon or nutmeg is all you need. If they are thicker than you like, just add a little soy milk.

6. Desserts can really do us in! This Pumpkin Tofu Pie is a hit with all my family – vegans and carnivores alike. Don’t let the tofu scare you. This contains the same spices and tastes like a traditional pumpkin pie minus the eggs and cream. The pie crust is Mary McDougall’s recipe. The filling I adapted from several recipes. Use organic pumpkin and apple juice concentrate if possible.

Crust – 1 cup Grape Nuts Cereal, 1/4 cup apple juice concentrate. Preheat oven to 350º. Mix the Grape Nuts and apple juice concentrate. Pat into a 9” pie pan. Bake for 10 minutes and cool before filling.

Filling – 1 1/2 packages Mori-Nu Extra Firm silken tofu, 2 cups cooked pumpkin, 2/3 cups real maple syrup, 1 1/2 teaspoons vanilla, 2 teaspoons cinnamon, 1/4 t. ginger, 1/2 t. nutmeg, 1/8 t. cloves. Preheat oven to 350º. Blend the tofu in a food processor or blender until smooth. Add the remaining ingredients and blend. Pour into pie shell and bake for about 1 hour.

7. Finally, spend some good quality time together with family and friends. Thanksgiving is a day of gratitude. After dinner, go for a walk together. (Yes, those of us in the Midwest can bundle up and get outside). Set the DVR before you leave. You can go out for a walk and enjoy each other’s company and not miss one play of the game.


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Remember when we sat down at the table as a family for dinner? When we bought local food?  When we knew the shop keepers?  When food was prepared by a person and didn’t come out of a box? 

Maybe not all of us remember these times from not so long ago.  Somehow we have gotten away from our relationship with our food.  We have almost become alienated with our food and food sources. Often times we don’t know where our food came from or who (or what) made it. 

This is a radical change from just a generation ago. Food today often is many times removed from its source. Ingredient lists on packaged processed food have become a challenge to read and have unrecognizable ingredients listed.  Not only do we not recognize the ingredients, often times neither does our body.  Food now is fast to prepare and fast to consume. Here are some startling statistics from Fast Food Nation by Eric Schlosser.

  • The typical American now consumes three hamburgers and four orders of French fries every week.
  • 30% of adults eat out lunch on the weekdays.
  • The average business lunch is only 36 minutes long.
  • Nearly 10% of all food purchased in restaurants is consumed in the car.

At the same time, over 60% of Americans are overweight or obese, it is estimated one out of three babies born will develop type II diabetes in their  lifetime, 10% of the Medicare budget is spent on stent procedures, and 75% of healthcare spending is for chronic diseases. According to the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention, seven out of 10 deaths are attributed to preventable chronic diseases including obesity, diabetes, heart disease, and certain types of cancer.  Our lifestyle, including what we eat and how much we exercise, play a substantial role in our wellbeing. 

Here’s the challenge – Whether you cook Thanksgiving dinner yourself or family and guests bring a dishes to pass, ask it be made from scratch.  Nothing from a box.  Bake sweet potatoes, make mashed potatoes, cook fresh vegetables, create a salad. Not only will it taste better, it will no doubt have less sodium, fat, and calories and will be free from artificial flavor enhancers and food dyes. By refraining from eating fast food and food from a box on a regular basis, we can experience an overall improvement in our health.


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Did you know the average Thanksgiving Dinner is 3,000-3,500 calories?  That’s nearly two days worth the calories eaten at one meal! You can forget counting calories and enjoy seasonal favorites with these Thanksgiving ideas.

First, look and what you’re serving and see if a lighter version can be made.  Do you add cream cheese and butter to the mashed potatoes?  Forget them and don’t tell anyone.  Instead add a couple of chopped turnips or parsnips to the boiling potatoes and whip with the potatoes for slightly sweet flavor and a nutritional boost. Prepare roasted vegetables by cutting any combination of potatoes, carrots, onions, parsnips, sweet potatoes, and beets in ¾” chunks, drizzle with enough oil to coat, and sprinkle with rosemary and/or thyme and salt. Roast in a 400° oven for 30-35 minutes until tender tossing once.   A low calorie alternative to candied sweet potatoes is whipping cooked sweet potatoes with just a dash of cinnamon added.  

What about the green bean and mushroom soup casserole topped with fried onions? A calorie-reducing idea is to cook green beans in salted boiling water until crisp-tender for about 5 minutes. Drain and rinse with cold water. Meanwhile sauté onion and sliced mushrooms in a little oil. Add the green beans and toss. Put in serving dish and top with sliced almonds.  Carrots will become a favorite by steaming sliced carrots and tossing them in a glaze of 2 tablespoons oil, one teaspoon Dijon mustard, and 2 teaspoons of honey.  A new salad idea everyone will enjoy is mixed greens with walnuts and dried cranberries tossed in a vinaigrette dressing.

Limit the number of desserts offered. In addition to traditional pumpkin pie, try a fruit crisp.

You will keep the waistline in check and still enjoy a feast this Thanksgiving with these guilt-free ideas.

Anyone else have ideas of reducing Thanksgiving meal calories?

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