All posts tagged “thanksgiving

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Four tips to a healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving is almost here! This means it is time to bring on the turkey, mashed potatoes, stuffing and don’t forget the pies! We have four tips that will help you stay healthy throughout your thanksgiving feast.

The first tip is to…eat breakfast! This may seem like a shocker because most people save themselves for the big thanksgiving feast but this can have negative effects on your body. You become more tired and you tend to eat more than what your body actually wants. Eating breakfast gives you more energy throughout the day and allows your stomach to have a capability of letting you know when you are full.

Our second tip is listening to yourself. You know yourself better than anyone. Listen to yourself when you think you are full. There is no shame if you do not participate in 3rd or 5th servings.

Our third tip is to savor every bite. The more you enjoy your individual bites, the slower you will eat which will allow your stomach to catch up to your mind. This can help you establish the full feeling better.

Our fourth tip is stay active. Take your family and friends on a walk before and the meal. Play a game of football in the backyard or enjoy a game of tag. Stay active throughout the day will help you digest your food better, especially the slightly heavier foods such as your mom’s favorite stuffing recipe. Not only will this help you but it will also keep the little ones active and out of the kitchen!

The most important tip though is to enjoy yourself. No one loves counting calories or worrying about dieting on a big holiday. Listening to yourself and including a few more physical activities throughout the day are the two most important tips that you can add into your holiday routine. Enjoy the day and the time you spend with your loved ones!

caption-arrow  Feature photo by kristin :: thekitchensink

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Healthy substitutions to add to your Thanksgiving meal

It is not difficult to make a tasty Thanksgiving meal while having it semi-healthy. Thanksgiving meals are often high in fats, sodium and sugars.  A few substitutions here and there can help provide a healthier alternative to a Thanksgiving meal as well as give you and your guests all your favorite food items!

Let’s start with the biggest part of the meal, the turkey. Buying a turkey breast instead of the whole bird can help cut down on calories as the breast has more white meat. However, the turkey is the center piece to the whole meal. If you want the whole bird, try sticking to the white meat or if you want the dark meat, make it half the portion you normally would have. This way cuts down on some of the sodium and calories that come from the darker parts of the meat. Keep the seasoning simple with salt and pepper and use olive oil or spray oil instead of butter.

Everyone loves stuffing! Try stuffing the bird with:

  • onions
  • lemon or apples
  • thyme, rosemary, sage and other fresh herbs

Then bake the rest of the stuffing (i.e. the bread pieces, sausage and celery) in the oven. This way the stuffing doesn’t absorb the extra fats from the turkey and you can make a slightly smaller serving.

Gravy is a must a have! But instead of using the turkey drippings, use vegetable oil. This will cut down on the saturated fats and make the gravy cholesterol free. You can also look for low-fat broth based gravy or even vegetarian gravy. All these taste great and are slightly healthier options to the original gravy.

Don’t forget the mashed potatoes. Instead of using butter or cream to add to make a creamy texture to the potatoes, save the boiled water from boiling the potatoes or add chicken brother or fat-free sour cream. These substitutions can help cut down on fats and calories and still make the mashed potatoes taste great.

Now time for arguably the best part of the whole day, dessert. Pies are a huge part of the Thanksgiving. Most of the fat and sugar in pie come from the crust. Try a reduced fat graham cracker crust or go crust free. These are delicious alternatives to our traditional and loved pies.

These are just some of the substitutions that you can use in your Thanksgiving Day meal preparation. Check here for full recipes and more ideas on how to put a creative and healthy spin on your Thanksgiving Day meal.

caption-arrow  Feature photo by David McSpadden

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How to have a happy and healthy Thanksgiving

Untold thousands of turkeys will be prepared for Thanksgiving dinner this year. Safe turkey preparation requires special knowledge since it is a large item that is typically frozen prior to cooking and, with the exception of holidays, is not commonly prepared. Here are some helpful tips:

What’s the best way to thaw frozen turkey? There are three ways to thaw turkey safely – in the refrigerator, in cold water, or in the microwave oven. In order to get your turkey out of the freezer in time to thaw in the refrigerator, you should allow approximately 24 hours for every 4 to 5 pounds. For example, a 12 to 16 pound turkey would take 3 to 4 days to thaw and a 20 to 24 pound turkey would take 5 to 6 days to thaw. Keep the refrigerator at 40 degrees or lower while thawing with a pan or tray under the turkey to catch any leaking juices. If thawing the turkey in cold water, you should allow approximately 30 minutes per pound. This can shorten thawing times considerably with a 12 to 16 pound turkey requiring only 6 to 8 hours and a 20 to 24 pound turkey requiring 10-12 hours. A turkey thawed in cold water should be wrapped securely so that water is not able to leak through the wrapping and be kept completely submerged. Change the water every 30 minutes while thawing. Thawing in a microwave may be limited by the size of the oven. Since energy levels of various microwave ovens vary, it is best to check the owner’s manual for the minutes per pound and power level to use for thawing. Remove all outside wrapping prior to thawing in a microwave. Once thawed, the turkey should be cooked immediately and not refrigerated or refrozen. Always wash hands, utensils, the sink, and anything else that comes in contact with raw turkey or its juices with soap and water.

How do you know when a turkey is thoroughly cooked? Most cookbooks offer a guide for time required to roast turkeys of various weights. You can also find this information in the Consumer Guide to Safely Roasting a Turkey from the U.S. Department of Agriculture. At an oven temperature of 325 degrees, the lowest safe level for roasting, an unstuffed 18 to 20 pound bird will take from 4 ¼ hours to 4 ½ hours to cook thoroughly. A whole turkey is safe when cooked to a minimum internal temperature of 165 °F. It is always best to use a meat thermometer to confirm this. Check the temperature in the innermost portion of the thigh and at the thickest part of the breast. You should not depend on a “pop-up” temperature indicator alone since these are not as accurate as food thermometers. The turkey will carve more easily if allowed to stand for 20 minutes after roasting.

What about leftovers? There is nothing better than turkey sandwiches made from leftover turkey. However, numerous cases of food poisoning have resulted from improper handling of leftovers. Avoid leaving turkey dinner on the counter for family or guests for “grazing” after dinner. Discard any turkey, stuffing, or gravy left out at room temperature longer than 2 hours. Even refrigerated, these items should be eaten within 3 to 4 days after the Thanksgiving meal.