Friday, November 18, 2011

Forget Counting The Calories This Thanksgiving

by guest blogger Jody Perrecone

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 at 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 a 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 and sprinkle with rosemary and/or thyme and salt. Roast in a 425° oven for 30-35 minutes until tender tossing occasionally. 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 alternative 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 vegetable broth. Add the green beans and toss. Put in serving dish and top with sliced almonds. Carrots will become a favorite by cooking sliced carrots in a little orange juice and finish with some chopped dill. A new salad idea everyone will enjoy is mixed greens with walnuts and dried cranberries tossed in a dressing of pureed raspberries with 1-2 teaspoons of balsamic vinegar.

Limit the number of desserts offered. A welcomed dessert after a big meal is tossing some toasted coconut in a variety of diced fruits of your choice such as pineapple, bananas, apples and berries.

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

Jody Perrecone is a corporate manager for the Coronary Health Improvement Project (CHIP). CHIP is an international wellness program focusing on lifestyle interventions to create a healthier workforce and reduce overall health care costs. Jody works with hospitals, corporations, and communities to offer CHIP programs throughout the U.S.

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