Tuesday, November 13, 2012

Upgrade Your Family's Thanksgiving to Slim Down

Turkey, creamy mashed potatoes, sugary cranberry sauce, buttery stuffing and pie, lots of pie! This is what comes to mind when we thing of celebrating Thanksgiving with our families. We give in to the idea that we will spend hours indulging in some of the most calorie filled foods, only to vow to "be good" for the weeks that follow before we do it all over again around Christmas. 

From the cheese ball and crackers before to the pumpkin pie after, Thanksgiving meals can weigh in at more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat, according to the Caloric Control Council. That's more than twice the number of calories most of us should eat in an entire day, and enough dietary fat for more than three days!

But Turkey Day needn't leave you feeling so stuffed that you need to loosen your belt at the end of the day. If you're cooking this Thanksgiving, then you're in control of your own destiny because you can decide how much butter, cream and sugar goes into each and every dish. By making some smart substitutions for each recipe, you can easily save calories and fat without sacrificing flavor. A few years ago I began to experiment with upgrading my favorite family holiday dishes into less guilty versions, that were just as tasty. The responses I received from my friends and loved ones were the confirmation I needed to continue to find more ways to indulge guilt free and pain free. These recipes have now become our family traditions for years to come. Be sure to scroll down to the bottom of this article to try some of my favorite recipes!  

Juliet's 3 Tips and Tricks to a Better Thanksgiving Dinner. Cheers to no longer feeling disgusting!

  • Make your side dishes gluten free. Gluten is the protein found in what products (stuffing, breads, crackers etc.). Gluten acts like a glue in our belly (it literally is used as a glue to make things like envelopes stick together) You can imagine how it makes everything stick together in our digestive tract. Want to feel like there's a big boulder sitting in your belly? Want the feeling like you have to hunch forward after your meal, because it hurts to stand? Then keep enjoying your gluten. I on the other hand decided about 3 years ago to try a different path, as I realized gluten wasn't making me feel my best. I brought home a gluten free stuffing and as I reached for my second helping to my great surprise there was none left. My family had eaten every last bit. They were so impressed that my stuffing tasted just like theirs, "even better" they said. As I left my relatives home that evening they requested that for now on we only have gluten free stuffing. SCORE!!!

  • Make your side dishes mostly vegan. This is a great trick to decrease your calories. Substituting heavy creams for lower fat milks or even better for veggie/chicken stock. Using olive oil instead of butter can decrease your calories and fat significantly and you'd be surprised at how little of a taste difference it makes. I began to make all of my desserts vegan and to be honest I think they taste better! There is also a psychological difference when you know that what your eating isn't as bad for your health. You tend to enjoy yourself more and can really be in the moment with your food.

  • Decrease your sugar. Go ahead blame the bird for making you want to fall asleep at the table, but just know that you are pointing the finger at the wrong culprit. It is a total myth that turkey makes us sleepy. Over dosing on sugar and carbohydrates is really what contributes to this state of comatose. Decreasing my gluten definitely helped me with this feeling, but what really does the trick is substituting refined sweeteners like white and brown sugar for lower glycemic sweeteners. My favorite is Coconut Palm SugarClick here for some other great alternatives. Making your cranberry sauce or baking with these sweeteners are so much better for your health and your waistline. My gluten free, vegan, pie made with coconut palm sugar is the biggest hit of our thanksgiving!

Click the links below to get some awesome recipes for your staples sides this Thanksgiving:

Gluten free/vegan apple, walnut stuffing
Vegan/gluten free /sugar free pies
"Mashed Potatoes" - Made from cauliflower. You won't believe how real this tastes!
Sugarless cranberry sauce

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