6 Dietitian Tips for a Healthier Thanksgiving

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Thanksgiving Feast

During the holidays, we tend to consume more calories than normal, as well as forgo our normal exercise routine. In fact, on average, indulging during Thanksgiving dinner can total 4,000-4,500 calories alone, with 200-230 grams of fat. With holiday celebrations quickly approaching, UnityPoint Health dietitian, Michelle Miller, shares tips on how to prepare and enjoy a holiday meal without depriving yourself.

  1. Turkey. Stick to 3-4 ounces of white meat turkey (size of a deck of cards).
  2. Gravy. Opt for only 1/3 cup of gravy, or just enough to cover your turkey.
  3. Mashed potatoes. Take only ½ cup OR to really make it healthy, try mashed cauliflower. The calorie content in the cauliflower is extremely low, but it can have other flavors added without the extra fat content from butter. This recipe includes adding garlic and herbs and a little Parmesan cheese can save on calories without costing any flavor.
  4. Dessert. Pumpkin pie with no crust is one of the best options. However, the recipe below for pumpkin fluff is even better and tasty. It only contains 40 calories, 0 grams of fat and 2 grams of sugar for ½ of a cup. If you add other goodies on it, such as graham crackers or apples, that will change the nutrition.
  5. Sides. Other sides can be tempting. Try having a small portion to get the taste of a dish, instead of a heaping spoonful.
  6. Drinks. To avoid extra calories from beverages, try infused water instead of a cocktail. A mixed alcoholic drink is roughly 120 calories, depending on the drink. Infused water doesn’t cost you any calories, and it is refreshing at the same time. Try infusing water with cucumbers, mint or citrus.

Mashed Cauliflower

  • 1-2 head of fresh cauliflower, or 1-2 bags of frozen
  • 4 TBSP butter
  • 2 T Light sour cream (optional)
  • 2 T or more Parmesan cheese (optional)
  • Salt, pepper to taste
  • Fresh garlic to taste
  • Fresh or dried chives

In a large pan, boil a couple quarts of water, and add cauliflower. Cook until tender and can easily be pierced with a fork. When tender, put into large bowl and add butter, sour cream, Parmesan cheese, salt/pepper and fresh garlic. Use immersion blender or hand mixer to blend until smooth and creamy. Sprinkle with extra cheese and chives, if desired, and serve warm.

Pumpkin Fluff

  • 15 ounces pumpkin
  • 1 (3 1/2 ounce) packages vanilla instant pudding mix, fat free, sugar-free
  • 1/2 cup skim milk
  • 8 ounces Cool Whip Free, thawed
  • 2 teaspoons pumpkin spice, cinnamon, nutmeg

Using a mixer, blend pumpkin and spices with milk and pudding mix. Fold in Cool Whip. Chill. Serve with ginger snaps or vanilla wafers or graham crackers.