SparkPeople's 500-Calorie Thanksgiving Feast
Nov 12, 2010
Enjoy All the Trimmings--and Still Stay Trim
-- By Chef Meg, World Master Chef and Healthy Cooking Expert
Thanksgiving is a time for family, gratitude, and, of course, food. The typical holiday meal can have more than 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat, according to the Caloric Control Council. That's almost three days worth of food for most of us! Butter, cream and white bread seem to be lurking in almost every dish, and the meal never seems to end.
For those of us who are trying lead healthier lifestyles, moderation and healthy eating are just as important on Thanksgiving. Fortunately, it is possible to eat right and still enjoy yourself on Turkey Day!
To help, I created brand new SparkRecipes for a three-course Thanksgiving meal that clock in around 500 calories! (Dessert, not included in that number, will add 150 calories or fewer, if you have room for it.)
Use the chart below to compare my Thanksgiving feast with a traditional meal. The more recipes you use from this list, the more calories you'll save--without sacrificing taste or tradition!
This SparkPeople meal has 510 fewer calories and 39 fewer grams of fatthan a traditional feast! You'll find all the recipes to make it below! These recipes include a veggie-rich soup to start your meal off right, the juiciest turkey you'll ever taste, several sides, two desserts, plus a cranberry relish that will leave the store-bought jelly quivering in its can.
Chef Meg's Roasted Squash Soup
Studies have shown that starting a meal with a broth-based soup can fill you up, so you eat fewer calories over the course of a meal. This soup gets a boost of flavor from cilantro pesto, but there's very little fat in this version. TIP:Roast the squash ahead of time and freeze it. Your oven will be full on Thanksgiving, and this will save you some valuable time.
Chef Meg's Herb Roasted Turkey
When the fat from the turkey melts during cooking, it falls to the bottom of the roasting pan. When that happens, the bottom quarter of the bird does not roast--it braises in its own juices. To prevent this from happening, try using a V-rack in your roasting pan for perfect results!
Chef Meg's Apple Cider Gravy
Traditional gravy gets a bad rap, but this tasty sauce can be made with almost no fat. The trick is to skim the fat from your pan juices (either put it in the fridge or use cheesecloth to soak up the fat). Depending on their size, turkeys will yield varying amounts of juices. From a 12-pound roasted turkey, you can expect about 1/2 cup defatted jus (juice).
Chef Meg's Cranberry Relish
Toss the canned cranberry jelly and use this homemade version instead. It's ready in no time, has less sugar than the store-bought stuff, and is full of healthy fruit! While you might question why this recipe needs the amount of sugar it contains, you'll understand as soon as you taste fresh cranberries--they're tart!
Chef Meg's Vegetable and Fruit Stuffing
Whole-wheat bread gives this side staying power. The fruits and vegetables bulk up the dish, so a little goes a long way. A bit of turkey bacon adds another layer of flavor without adding many calories.
Chef Meg's Roasted Root Vegetables
This recipe sings of the fall and early winter harvest. Take advantage of your local farmers market and buy whatever root vegetables they have. This side dish is quite affordable, too: about 60 cents per serving!
1/2 cup steamed green vegetables of your choice
The calories are low, the fat is nonexistent, and adding a vegetable to your plate will help prevent you from filling up on empty calories. Try broccoli, spinach, green beans, or any other non-starchy vegetable
There you have it. A full Thanksgiving meal that's trim--but not missing any of the trimmings. Armed with these healthy recipes, no one has to fear Thanksgiving dinner--except for maybe the turkey!
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