A Thanksgiving feast with fewer calories

Published 8:13 am Sunday, November 16, 2014

With Thanksgiving right around the corner, the holiday season has officially begun, and for many of us so has the preparation for what has become a November tradition, a Thanksgiving feast.

Although the word feast implies a ton of food, the great thing about fall is that the large variety of seasonal fruits and vegetables can help create a feast without a ton of fat or calories. By loading up your plate (and shopping carts) with fruits and vegetables, there is simply less room for other options that offer less nutrition with more calories.  So before you head to the grocery store this year, take some time to plan out a menu that will allow your family and guests to find both nutritious and delicious options at this year’s Thanksgiving celebrations.

During your feast this year, consider these guidelines to satisfy both your taste buds and waistline:

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Before filling your plate, scope out the selection of foods you have to pick from and focus on following the USDA dietary guidelines by making half your plate festive with colorful fruits and vegetables. This will allow you to control portions on other items that are higher in calories.  Don’t look at it as “depriving” yourself of certain items; focus on options that you love and practice portion control while being thankful for healthy choices that you are able to make.

Turkey: This is a lean protein and is likely to be a great addition to your Thanksgiving plate. When purchasing a turkey, avoid self-basted options that are injected with butter or oil, and baste the bird yourself with fat-free broth.  Cook with the skin on, but remove before eating.  Also, although there is a calorie difference between dark and white meat in turkey, it is very minimal (about 20 calories per 4-ounce serving), so simply enjoy whichever you prefer.

Mashed potatoes:  Make using skim milk or no-fat evaporated milk.  Save yourself some work and boost fiber and vitamin content by leaving the skin on your potatoes — or go an entirely different route and try using sweet potatoes.  To increase flavor without adding calories, add fresh garlic.

Green bean casserole: Use no-salt-added canned or frozen green beans and choose reduced-fat versions of cream of mushroom soup. Top your casserole with cornflakes cereal or crushed whole wheat crackers instead of French-fried onions.  Try adding mushrooms to your casserole to expand the dish without adding a lot of calories.

Stuffing:  Add a variety of vegetables and fruit such as celery, carrots, mushrooms, dried raisins or apples to add fiber and nutrients.  Substitute whole grain for white bread and use no- or low-sodium broth to moisten.

Pie: Remember portion control and cut slices into reasonable sizes, or ask to split a piece with someone if already pre-cut.   Pumpkin pie is much lower in calories than pecan pie and is rich in Vitamin A and fiber.  Use non-fat evaporated milk instead of heavy cream and use just a dab of whipped topping.

If you are interested in specific recipes to help keep calories down at your feast this Thanksgiving, contact me by emailing jpape@hy-vee.com or try recipes like Green bean casserole with portabella mushroom sauce from www.hy-vee.com under the meal solutions tab.

 Green Bean Casserole with Portabella Mushroom Sauce

Makes: 12 servings


•1 (18 oz) can Progresso Recipe Starters creamy portabella mushroom cooking sauce

•3 (14.5 oz each) cans Green Giant cut green beans, drained

•1/4 cup real bacon bits, if desired

•1 cup Progresso Italian style or plain panko crispy bread crumbs

•3 tbsp butter, melted

 All you do

1. Heat oven to 350 degrees. In ungreased 1-1/2-quart casserole, mix cooking sauce, green beans and bacon bits, if desired.

2. In small bowl, mix bread crumbs with melted butter; sprinkle bread crumbs over top of green bean mixture. Bake 30 to 35 minutes or until hot and bubbly and bread crumbs are golden brown. Let stand 5 minutes before serving.


Source: Campbell’s