Thanksgiving can be a difficult time for people who strive to be health conscious. Year after year, many of us seem to fall into the pattern of overeating the many rich foods and often unhealthy foods that frequently play a part in this holiday tradition.
However, enjoying lighter versions of your favorite foods in moderation will allow you not only to savor the meal, but also enable you to leave the table without feeling uncomfortably stuffed. Instead, you can feel light and clear and far better able to enjoy the day and connect with those you love. Best of all, you’ll have a wonderful celebration without embarking on the holiday weight gain roller coaster that so many of us struggle with each year.
Keep it simple
Simple modifications can go a long way to saving numerous calories that you will scarcely miss.
For starters, skip the high-fat appetizers and save your appetite for the main course, or put out a colorful crudité (fresh vegetable) platter with an array of low-fat dips.
With regard to the main course, why not try something different than turkey this year for a refreshing, healthy change? You may wish to start a new tradition altogether, experimenting with other entrées such as a gorgeous vegetable lasagna, a Spanish paella or lavish vegetable Shepherd’s pie.
Another fun and delicious vegetarian spin on the turkey theme is the wonderful UnTurkey from San Francisco-based Now and Zen. A succulent feast made from wheat gluten covered with a skin made from soy and including a delicious gravy, the UnTurkey is your answer for a convenient, compassionate Thanksgiving centerpiece. Its succulent flavor has received accolades from vegetarians and non-vegetarians alike and has drawn rave reviews from publications such as the The Wall Street Journal, Vegetarian Times and The Washington Post, as well as television and radio shows such as ABC’s World News Tonight.
The UnTurkey is available in the frozen food section of most natural food stores and many supermarkets, including Trader Joe’s, throughout the country during the holiday season. It can also be ordered directly from Now and Zen or call 1-800-335-1959.
On the side
If you usually make gravy at home, consider skipping the white flour and saturated fat-laden version this year and trying a light but luscious onion, herb or mushroom “gravy” instead.
Including a cornucopia of vegetable dishes will add color and variety to the meal, and create a bountiful feeling. Try an array of roasted vegetables and slow-baked garlic, corn on the cob with a whisper of pesto or chili-oil, baked beets with a honey-balsamic glaze, yams drizzled with orange juice and nutmeg, or grilled asparagus.
Refresh the palate with a large salad of mixed baby greens, diced green apples and pecans topped with a light raspberry vinaigrette.
The possibilities are endless! Your guests will think it all very lavish, and you’ll feel great about your healthy offerings.
Of course, dessert is the undoing of many of us — but it needn’t be, especially if you’re willing to broaden your culinary horizons a bit. Instead of the usual pumpkin and pecan pies this year, consider a fresh fruit tart, carrot cake, gingerbread, low-fat cookies with a lovely fruit platter, sherry-poached pears, fresh berries drizzled with liqueur over vanilla soy ice cream (available at Trader Joe’s, Whole Foods Markets, etc.) or chocolate-dipped strawberries. Astound your friends and family with your delightful innovations and start a new trend. If you choose to serve the typical pies, opt for those with one crust instead of two for major fat and calorie savings. For a delicious alternative to high-fat, high-calorie, high-cholesterol whipped cream, top pie with vanilla soy ice cream.
More flavor, more enjoyment
The main idea is to recognize that adding more nutritious fare and trimming back on fat doesn’t have to diminish your enjoyment. On the contrary, these clever modifications will help you feel better in mind, body and spirit while falling right in line with a luscious feast and festive revelry for all.
Kiki Powers, M.S., is director of Natural Health Solutions and a national health writer and lecturer. With a background in health science, research and clinical nutrition, she specializes in health promotion and disease prevention through diet and lifestyle changes and advocates natural alternatives to traditional medications and treatment where appropriate. See her web site at Natural Health Solutions.