Do you love holiday food? I do. Pumpkin pie, turkey, cranberry sauce, mmm. I’ll take all of it–even the Brussels sprouts. But, like you, I don’t want to overdo it this year (or any year), and I want to save room for a slice of pie. So, I enlisted the help of a top nutrition expert to help us with a custom eat-this-not-that health plan for this month’s upcoming holiday meals. Read on for your menu …
I recently chatted with MSN fitness and weight loss expert Martica Heaner, M.A., M.Ed., who’s a wealth of knowledge about how to navigate the holiday buffet line (or make your own healthy feast) like a pro. Here are her top tips for choosing wisely this holiday season:
Nuts: They’re your friend, says Martica. Limit yourself to one serving (about a small palmful) before the big meal, and she points to research that says you’ll eat less food later.
Green veggies: They sound healthy, but creamed spinach or a rich green bean casserole? Not so much. Instead, think outside of the box when it comes to green veggies. Focus on simple preparations and maybe even do something unexpected. “One year I brought sauteed artichokes and kale to Thanksgiving,” says Martica.
Turkey: “It’s really healthy,” she says, noting our favorite fall bird’s nutritional rap: low in saturated fat and cholesterol and a good source of folic acid. So don’t be afraid to enjoy some. But keep serving sizes in mind. “One serving of turkey is the size of a deck of cards. And save 50-60 calories by choosing white meat without skin.”
Gravy: Use Martica’s logic for salad when it comes to gravy. “Think of gravy like you would salad dressing,” she says. “Do you need to slather every lettuce leaf with creamy dressing, or can you make due with a tablespoon and just spread it around?”
Cranberry sauce: Time to get culinary, says Martica. “Store-bought, canned kinds of cranberry sauce,” says Martica, “often have lots of calories and corn syrup.” Better bet? “Make it from scratch with less sugar and add fruti juice instead.” Her favorite technique is to reduce the cranberries down over the stove with a little sugar and fruit juice such as pomagrate or orange juice.
Mashed potatoes: They have a bad reputation, says Martica, but they shouldn’t! “Potatoes are high in vitamin C and high in fiber.” But, instead of loading up on cream and butter when you make them, mash them with a little olive oil and salt and pepper instead, and you’ll have a much healthier dish of spuds.
Eggnog: Yes, it’s pretty rich, says Martica. “But it also has a lot of nutrients, like protein and calcium.” So don’t deprive yourself of your (and my!) favorite holiday treat. Just have a half cup, says Martica, which will save you 200 calories. Then, cut with a little skim milk. “It’s always best to dilute it a bit.”
Pie: Put simply, choose apple or pumpkin. Apologies to pecan pie, but it’s a dieter’s death trap, says Martica. And, skip the whipped cream and ice cream. Pie is delicious without the trimmings!
What are the foods you tend to eat, and eat, and eat during the holidays (too much gravy? pie? stuffing?)?
- 32 Thanksgiving Recipes for a Healthier Holiday (greatist.com)