Small ways to make your Thanksgiving feast less guilt-inducing

This Oct. 14, 2013 photo shows multigrain and wild rice stuffing with apples and herbs in Concord, N.H. (AP Photo/Matthew Mead)

(MCT) Holiday eating and healthy eating have never been synonymous.

There’s the butter and the carbs and the sugar and the second helpings — all part of the average Thanksgiving meal, which has an estimated 3,000 to 5,000 calories, by the way, and that’s not even counting the leftovers.

While few people are looking to completely make over their holiday feasts, there are ways to bring in a little nutrition without ditching the dishes you love.

Chef Jen Welpers of Hilton Head Health, a weight-loss spa in South Carolina, gives us suggestions on cutting back the fat, getting full faster and sneaking in vegetables to holiday meals.

“It’s about trimming things down,” Welpers said, “not eliminating what you love about these meals.”

1. Butter only your portion.

“If you want butter, you’re better off putting a small amount of it directly on your portion of potatoes so you directly taste it” rather than including it in your recipe for mashed potatoes. “You can control the amount. Otherwise, you cream the butter with the potatoes and you sometimes lose that butteriness you’re wanting.

“Same goes for salt. You can get away with less because you don’t notice there wasn’t any in it to begin with.”

2. Leave the skins on the potatoes.

“The skin is where the fiber is … it’s going to be more filling.”

3. Three parts potatoes, one part cauliflower.

“Guests always ask, ‘Was there really cauliflower in there?’ It’s not noticeable at all, but the nutritional value is significantly higher.

“Puree the cauliflower, either using a food processor or a masher, and mix it in with the mashed potatoes.”

4. Substitute fat-free cream cheese for butter.

“For pies, the easiest way to cut calories is to make the crust with half butter and half fat-free or reduced-fat cream cheese. It’s not going to be as flakey, but it works.

“That’s the easiest way to cut without feeling like you’re missing out on something. You don’t want to take all the sugar out or all the fat out. It’s not even dessert at that point.

“Fat-free cream cheese can also be used to add creaminess to mashed potatoes.”

5. Make desserts rich and make them small.

“I always compare it to feta cheese. You probably couldn’t sit and eat a whole cup of feta cheese. You probably could with a cup of mild cheddar cheese. By making desserts stronger (in flavor), you’re apt to eat less because it is so strong and flavorful.”



Makes: 3 crusts

4 ounces butter, unsalted, cold

4 ounces fat free cream cheese, cold

1/4 cup sugar

1/8 teaspoon salt

1/4 teaspoon baking powder

1 tablespoon apple cider vinegar

4 tablespoon cold water

2 cups flour

1/4 cup flour, for rolling out pie crusts

In mixing bowl, with paddle attachment, mix all ingredients. Sprinkle clean counter with a small amount of flour. Roll dough out on counter, large enough for a 9-inch pie pan. This dough recipe should make enough for three pies. Make sure the dough is not too thick. Once you have rolled out the dough, it will more than likely be a 14-x-14-inch circle. There will be lots of extra dough. Then place the large, rolled-out dough over the pie pan. Press dough down into pie pan, to make a good fit. Cut off excess dough that drapes below the edge of the pie pan. Leave enough dough around the edges so that you can crinkle around the edge of the pan. Once you have cut off the extra dough, roll that dough back into another ball and repeat if you are making multiple pies. Otherwise freeze. Crinkle the edges of the pie dough around the edges of the pan to make a nice design for your pie. Then place in refrigerator to chill for about 15 minutes.



Makes: 8 servings

6 pieces whole-wheat bread, diced (day old is preferred)

1 tablespoon butter, unsalted

1/4 cup onion, diced

1/4 cup carrot, diced

1/4 cup celery, diced

1 cup Granny Smith apples, peeled and diced

1 cup low-sodium chicken broth

1/4 cup apple juice

1 tablespoon rosemary

2 teaspoon thyme, fresh, chopped

1/4 teaspoon sea salt

½ teaspoon black pepper

Preheat oven to 400 degrees. Arrange bread in a single layer on a baking sheet and toast for 10 to 15 minutes or until golden brown. In a large skillet over medium high heat, add butter and then saute onion, celery and carrots. Saute for 3 to 5 minutes or until translucent and tender. Add apples and herbs to pan. In a large bowl, combine toasted bread, chicken broth, apple juice, vegetable mixture, salt and pepper. Arrange in a 13-x-9-inch baking dish. Bake in oven for 30 to 40 minutes covered, then uncovered for about 5 to 10 minutes, or until most of the liquid has been absorbed and the top is golden brown.


©2013 The Island Packet (Hilton Head, S.C.)

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