Top 10 Tricks to Slim Down Your Thanksgiving Feast

Thanksgiving is a time to reflect and give thanks for our family, friends and blessings in our lives. But, of course, it’s also about the food! What’s a Thanksgiving without the feast?

If you are trying to watch your waistline this holiday season, be aware that a typical Thanksgiving feast could add up to more than 3,000-4,000 high fat calories according to Christina Rollins, MS, RD, LDN, a registered dietitian for Memorial Medical Center and spokesperson for the Illinois Dietetic Association. Does this mean that you need to skip the stuffing or grandmas pumpkin pie? “Of course not,” states Rollins. “Holidays are meant to be enjoyed, but no need to combine two days’ worth of calories and fat into one meal! Moderation is key.”

Rollins gives these 10 tricks on how to whittle down those calories without skimping on taste this Thanksgiving season.

  • Turkey time
  • Turkey is naturally low in fat (think the white breast meat) but try and skip the high fat skins.
  • Baste your turkey with white wine or low sodium broth instead of butter to save on fat calories.
  • Stuffing
  • Swap low-sodium chicken broth for most of the butter in your stuffing. Saves at least 50 calories per serving and cuts the fat in half.
  • Add more vegetables to your stuffing! Onions, carrots, mushrooms and celery are all tasty additions
  • Casseroles
  • Use low-sodium or reduced-fat varieties of cream of mushroom (or cream of celery) soup. Per can of condensed soup, you’ll save 120 calories and 16 grams of fat by going with educed-fat version.
  • Potatoes
  • Switch out the high-fat whole milk for skim or 2% milk and replace the butter with a heart healthier substitute such as Smart Balance or Brummel and Brown.
  • If making candied sweet potatoes, cut the sugar in half or use a low-calorie sweetener instead.
  • Breads
  • Instead of high-fat croissants or biscuits, aim for mini whole-grain rolls from your local bakery to increase your fiber intake.
  • Gravy
  • What’s Thanksgiving dinner without gravy? Significantly cut calories by skimming the fat from your pan juices before making the gravy.
  • Pie
  • Skip the top crust if you can and aim for fruit-based pies such as apple or pumpkin. A typical slice of pie can pack in as many as 400 calories so portion size and moderation are key!

Holiday Recipe: Stuffing with Cranberries
Serves 6

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth
1 cup chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onion
10 slices whole-wheat bread, toasted and cut into cubes
1/4 cup chopped parsley
1 teaspoon dried tarragon
1/2 teaspoon paprika
1/8 teaspoon ground nutmeg
1/2 cup chopped fresh cranberries
1 cup whole water chestnuts
1 cup chopped apple

Preheat the oven to 350 F. Lightly coat a 2-quart baking dish with cooking spray.

In a large skillet, heat the chicken broth over medium heat. Add the celery and onion and sauté until the vegetables are tender, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat.

In a large bowl, combine the bread cubes, parsley, tarragon, paprika, nutmeg, cranberries, water chestnuts and chopped apples. Add the onion and celery mixture. Stir to mix evenly.

Spoon stuffing into the prepared baking dish. Cover with aluminum foil and bake for 20 minutes. Uncover and bake 10 more minutes. Serve immediately

Nutrition Facts
120 calories, 2 grams of fat, 5 grams of fiber.
Credit: Mayo Clinic Staff, Nutrition and Healthy Eating