Thanksgiving dinner can be a calorie disaster. Knowledge is power, so be aware of the calories you are consuming in typical Thanksgiving foods. Use the following tips to choose wisely:
*White Means Light
4 ounces of turkey breast has 180 calories; 4 ounces of dark meat has 323
*Go Easy on the Gravy
When the drippings from turkey are used to make gravy, it is high in fat. Gravy made this way can have 60-70 calories per tablespoon! Another big problem with gravy is that it is often poured over several different food items served at a traditional Thanksgiving meal, including the turkey, stuffing and mashed potatoes. This overuse of an already unhealthy food item results in the consumption of a lot of unnecessary calories.
*Think Outside the Bird
Homemade stuffing frequently contains sausage, bacon, white bread, butter and drippings, all high calorie ingredients. Adding them together makes for a high calorie side dish. A half cup serving of stuffing can have as much as 200 calories. To cut calories, moisten the stuffing with chicken broth and omit the butter. Include healthy ingredients like vegetables, fresh herbs, apples, and cranberries. Bake stuffing in a casserole dish instead of inside the bird. If baked inside the turkey, the dressing soaks up drippings and fat from the turkey which increases calories in the dressing.
*Baked Instead of Mashed, Candied, or Casseroled
When prepared plainly, potatoes, sweet potatoes, beets, parsnips and other root vegetables are very nutritious. However, in many Thanksgiving dishes they tend to be mixed with a lot of unhealthy ingredients. For example, ¾ cup of a sweet potato casserole has 625 calories; a large baked sweet potato has 163 calories. Calories skyrocket when sour cream, cheese, bacon, gravy and other items are added into mashed potatoes. To keep calories down, think plain not fancy.
*Caution on Cranberry Sauce
Canned or jarred cranberry sauce contains a significant amount of sugar. A ¼ cup serving has 110 calories. Consider making your own sauce from fresh cranberries. Just add water and Splenda and cook until thickened.
*Choose your Pie Wisely
A slice of pumpkin pie that is 1/8th of a 9-inch pie has 316 calories. Crust contributes a significant amount of calories to a slice of pie. To cut back on calories, try to eat the filling and leave the crust. A slice of pecan pie the same size has 500 calories.