Weatherford Democrat

November 24, 2013

EXTENSION NEWS: Eat right and have a healthy Thanksgiving

Weatherford Democrat


Thanksgiving is usually one of those holidays where second helpings are a must. Some Thanksgiving meals can equal the amount of calories and fat we need in an entire day or two.

Here are some ways to make your Thanksgiving meal healthier. Plan ahead and search online for healthy Thanksgiving recipes. You will find many healthier versions of traditional dishes in which the fat is reduced but the flavor is retaining.

• Enjoy turkey. With the skin removed, turkey has a good amount of protein and little fat . Dark meat has more fat than white meat. Roast or bake instead of frying.

• Eat sweet potatoes. Sweet potatoes are rich in potassium, Vitamin A, beta carotene, and Vitamin C, and fiber. They can help lower blood pressure, help eyesight, and promote a healthy digestive system.  Use seasoning such as cinnamon, ginger or orange rind for flavor.

• Instead of pumpkin pie, try pumpkin other ways such as in a custard or pudding with cinnamon or pumpkin pie spice added. 

• Use evaporated skim milk instead of regular evaporated milk in recipes. This applies to many dessert recipes.

• Make your own cranberry sauce. Buy fresh or frozen cranberries and you will have a tastier and less sugary version that what comes in a can. Cranberries are full of antioxidants, which help protect against many different diseases.

• If you make bread, rolls, muffins or other homemade breads, replace all or at least half with whole wheat flour for extra fiber. If you don’t bake, purchase whole wheat or whole grain rolls instead of white. Limit the amount of rolls you eat, as well as the amount of butter you use.

• Steam vegetables and eat them plain instead of with lots of butter or creamy sauces.

• Remember food safety – thaw the turkey correctly in either the refrigerator or under cool running water. Cook all foods to the proper temperature, turkey and stuffing needs to be cooked to 165 degrees. Put leftovers in the refrigerator or freezer within 2 hours, and reheat  leftovers to 165 degrees.

• Don’t skip meals before the big meal. This may make you more likely to overeat. If your main meal isn’t until the middle afternoon. Eat something light at a time that you normally eat a meal, then you might not over eat.

• Watch your portion sizes. You can enjoy many different foods at Thanksgiving, but moderate portion sizes are the key. Also, you might skip foods that you would normally have so you can eat foods that are special at Thanksgiving.

• Go for a walk before or a few hours after the meal. Moderate exercise can help accelerate calorie and fat burning and is a great way to socialize with family or friends. A walk will also help increase energy levels if you are feeling sluggish or tired.

Moderation, not deprivation is the key to a happy and healthy Thanksgiving.