Have a ‘healthy’ holiday

By Bari Auerbach….
Thanksgiving and holiday dinners are all about feasting and family, but it doesn’t have to weigh you down. Preparing a traditional meal that’s lower in fat and calories but still pleases the whole household requires a little planning, a few ingredient substitutions, and some clever fatbusting techniques.

The Big Turkey
If you’re hosting a small gathering, buy a turkey breast rather than the whole bird, as breast meat is lower in calories than dark meat. If you do buy a whole turkey, avoid “self-basting” turkeys, as they often contain added fat.. Stuff the turkey cavity with whole or halved onions, halved lemons or apples, and sprigs of fresh herbs such as sage, marjoram, thyme, and/or rosemary. Rather than rubbing the skin with butter or oil, spray it with an oil spray and season it with salt and pepper.

Good Gravy
Use vegetable oil rather than turkey drippings when making the gravy – it’s still fat, but oil is lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol-free. If you use turkey drippings to add flavor, use a gravy separator. Pour the gravy into a separator and allow it to sit for a few minutes. Some of the fat in the gravy will rise to the top of the glass where you can skim it off easily. Better yet, make a lowfat broth-based gravy or a vegetarian gravy instead.

Smart Substitutes
Instead of using butter and cream to mash potatoes, save the cooking water when you boil of the potatoes. The starchy water will give the potatoes a creamier texture than plain water would. You can also add turkey or chicken broth, evaporated skim milk, or fat-free sour cream. For extra flavor, stir in roasted garlic and herbs – and for added nutrition, add pureed cooked cauliflower, parsnips or turnips to the potatoes. Here’s a recipe for “faux mashed potatoes” made with pureed cauliflower so it tastes like the real thing!

Mashed Cauliflower (Serves 2) Ingredients
2 cups cauliflower florets 1/2 ounce butter-flavored spray 1/2 ounce fat-free half-and-half Pinch salt & freshly ground black pepper

Steam or microwave the cauliflower until soft. Puree in a food processor, adding the butter spray and the half-and-half to taste. Season with salt and pepper.

Dressing – Not Stuffing
Bake the dressing in a casserole dish rather than in the turkey, where it absorbs fat from the turkey as it bakes. It’s hard to slim down a stuffing recipe, so take a small serving if it’s your Thanksgiving favorite. Avoid recipes using sausage or bacon – wild rice and grains are more nutritious than bread stuffings.

 Slimmed-down Sides
Scrap the traditional dessert-style candied sweet potato casseroles in favor of a low-fat, naturally-sweetened dish. Try a cranberry relish or cut down on the amount of sugar in your cranberry sauce by adding fruit juices or apple sauce.

‘Don’t Deny Pie’
Most of the fat in a pie comes from the crust – so try a reduced-fat graham cracker crust and enjoy your piece of the pie!

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