Tips for Having a Healthy,
Delicious Thanksgiving By Steve Edwards
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Ah, Thanksgiving. The togetherness. The family. The
friendship. The overeating.
As much as
we all love the holidays, now is when months of hard work and healthy eating
start to dissolve into a pool of gravy and mashed potatoes. In a matter of days
you go from health food nut to couch potato, top button of your trousers
undone, bloated, sickly, and teetering on the edge of a food coma.
Was it worth it? Probably
So make this holiday
season different! It's entirely possible to have a delicious Thanksgiving meal
and walk away unashamed.
For starters, don't skip breakfast
and lunch, "saving space" for the big meal. It won't work. If you eat
healthfully throughout the day, the food will be digested by dinnertime anyway.
Also, if you hit the dinner table starving, you'll be much more prone to eat
fastnot enjoying the foodand eat too much. The body can only
process so much food at a time and what it can't use, it just stores as
Next, when you're ready
for that second plateful, hold off for 10 minutes. That first plate is still
making its way into your stomach. It may seem like you have more room, but you
probably don't. Have a sip of wine and enjoy the conversation for a bit. See
When you're filling up
your plate, dish on the veggies first. You know how it isthe first things
always get the hardy-spoonful treatment while the last foods get shoved between
the turkey and the yams. Make the majority of your plate healthful.
Finally, no rolls. You
just don't need them. Thanksgiving meals are loaded with complex carbs. Losing
the bread is an easy way to take off at least one sin.
If you're lucky enough to be the
person laying out this crazy feast, there are a few things you can do to bring
down the calorie, fat, and carb count for the pigs, I mean, your family sitting
in the next room.
First off, no self-basting
turkey. You know, the Butterball variety with fat added. Gobblers are fat
enough as is. When doing your own basting, think olive oil instead of butter,
and garlic instead of salt. And how about a free-range bird? That way, you cut
down on the hormone convention turkeys are packed with.
I probably shouldn't have
to say this next thing, but I will anyway. Roast your turkey; don't fry it.
Frying is always, always bad. 'Nuff said.
For your gravy, steer
clear of fat. One of the best substitutes is to basically make a broth soup and
thicken it with flour. (Flour's not great either, but it's better than animal
fat!) Take six cups of chicken broth with several veggies, such as carrots,
onions, and mushrooms. Simmer for at least an hour and then let it sit
overnight so the flavors infuse.
On turkey day, strain out
the solids. Heat about ¼ cup of the liquid in a nonstick pan. Slowly add
in 5 tablespoons of flour, stirring constantly to make a thick roux. After
that, slowly add the rest of the liquid, stirring constantly to avoid lumps.
When it's done, add a teaspoon or so of your favorite herbs, such as rosemary
As for the mashed
potatoes, try a new taste sensationhalf normal spuds and half sweet
potatoes. Or better still, all sweet potatoes. That way, you get a big dose of
fiber to help digest those starches. Again, think olive oil (if you must add
fat) and not butter.
For your veggies, steam or
grill them. As boring as this sounds at first, I've seen many an asparagus
spear or sliced bell pepper grilled to perfection and stunningly served up at a
holiday meal. The vibrant greens, reds, and yellows accented by black grill
marks please the eyeand the mouth.
Finally, the stuffing. The
first step is to bake it in a casserole dish instead of stuffing it in the
bird. Not only do you avoid health concerns in the event that the turkey isn't
cooked through and through (which happens far more often than you'd think), but
you don't subject that delicious blend of veggies and bread to the fattening
meat drippings that will soak into it in the carcass of your bird. Use
whole-grain bread instead of white. Lean more towards veggies than bread.
Mushrooms go a long way in a stuffing.
Here are examples of what
I'm talking about.
whole-grain bread crumbs
1 cup onion, diced
4 cloves garlic, minced
1 cup celery, diced
1 ½ cups bell pepper, diced (your choice of
1 cup zucchini, sliced
1 cup yellow squash, sliced
button mushrooms, sliced
½ cup fresh parsley, chopped
cup shallots, diced
½ cup raisins
3 cups chicken broth
Tbsp. white wine
Sauté onion, garlic, and celery in white wine until
pale golden. Mix the rest of the ingredients together and bake at 350° F
for 30 minutes.
Turkey and Gravy
With Denis' tips in mind, our own
Beachbody employee and cooking whiz Dulce B. whipped up the seemingly
impossiblea healthful and tasty version of traditional Thanksgiving turkey and
gravy. Dulce's maple syrup, ginger, and fresh herb glaze makes a zesty
substitute for the standard butter baste. She skims the fat off the cooled
turkey drippings, mixing them with arrowroot instead of flour and olive oil
instead of butter to greatly reduce the fat content. So go ahead and enjoy
these comfort food favorites with a clear consciencenow that's something to be
2 cups apple cider
½ cup Grade B or C maple syrup
½ cup extra virgin olive oil
1 bunch minced fresh thyme
1 bunch minced fresh sage
minced fresh oregano
1 bunch minced fresh basil
2 small garlic cloves,
2 Tbsp. coarsely ground pepper
2 Tbsp. coarse salt
Tbsp. fresh lemon juice
2 ½ tsp. grated lemon zest
whole gingerroot, cut in small chunks for a garlic press
Salt and ground
black pepper to taste
(Note: Syrup can be made
up to two days in advance.)
Boil apple cider
and maple syrup in a heavy saucepan over medium-high heat until reduced to
½ cup (about 20 minutes). Remove from heat and mix in the rest of the
ingredients (squeeze the ginger chunks through the garlic press and add to the
mixture). Whisk till well incorporated. Add salt and ground black pepper to
taste. Cover and refrigerate. It will yield 1 cup of syrup.
1 (18-pound) whole
2 Tbsp. coarsely ground black pepper
1 ½ quarts chicken
or turkey stock
1 ½ Tbsp. dried thyme
1 ½ Tbsp. ground
1 ½ Tbsp. dried oregano
1 ½ Tbsp. dried basil
Tbsp. minced fresh marjoram
2 Tbsp. minced fresh parsley
onions, cut into ¼-inch slices
1 whole garlic head, halved
2 small garlic cloves, finely chopped
2 carrots, cut into
¼-inch thick rounds
2 celery stalks, cut into ¼-inch thick
2 leeks, cut into ¼-inch thick rounds
Preheat oven to 450º F.
Place rack in the lowest position in the oven. Remove the turkey neck and
giblets, rinse the turkey, and pat dry with paper towels.
Mix all of the dried herbs
(thyme, sage, oregano, ground pepper and basil) in a small bowl. Slide your
hand under the skin of the turkey breast to loosen. Rub the herb mixture all
over the turkeyinside the cavity, and under and on the skin. Then rub
¼ cup of the basting syrup into the turkey cavity.
Now rub ½ cup of
the basting syrup and chopped garlic under and on top of the turkey breast
skin. Pack prepared marjoram, parsley, onions, carrots, celery, leeks, and
halved garlic head into the cavity.
Tie turkey legs with
string. Place turkey breast-side up on a cooking rack set in a heavy large
roasting pan. Pour 2 cups of stock into the bottom of the roasting pan. Place
an aluminum foil tent over the turkey and sides of the pan. Roast for 30
minutes. Reduce heat to 325º F. Remove aluminum foil after 2 ½
hours, while occasionally basting with accumulated pan juices every 20 minutes
until done. Roast until a meat thermometer inserted in the meaty part of the
thigh reads 180º F
(80º C), about 4 hours.
Strained, cooled, and
separated turkey roasting pan drippings
Enough chicken or turkey stock
added to drippings to yield three cups
½ whole gingerroot, cut in
small chunks for a garlic press
¼ cup of reserved basting syrup
2 Tbsp. arrowroot
2 cups chopped button mushrooms
1 tsp. chopped fresh
1 bay leaf
Strain roasting pan juices
into a measuring cup, and let cool till liquid separates. Spoon off the top
layer of fat from the roasting pan juices. Add enough chicken or turkey stock
to make 3 cups. Transfer liquid to a heavy saucepan, add button mushrooms, and
bring to a boil. In a small bowl, mix ¼ cup of the reserved basting
syrup with 2 tablespoons of arrowroot to form a paste. If paste is thin then
add a little more arrowroot till paste thinkens, and whisk into the broth. Stir
in thyme, bay leaf, and the other half of the squeezed gingerroot. Boil until
reduced and slightly thickened. Season with salt and pepper to
Enjoy your low-fat,
low-carb, healthy feast. Have a great Thanksgiving!
If you have a recipe you
think is both healthy and delicious, send it on over to us at
If we publish your recipe, we'll send you a free Beachbody T-shirt!
Thanksgiving Tip By Steve Edwards
as a Post-Exercise Snack?
stack the odds in your favor this Thanksgiving by earning your dinner. This
idea has probably been suggested before, but you can take it one step further
by timing your workout to turn your Thanksgiving feast into a post-exercise,
Since most people eat
dinner early, it should not be a problem to schedule your daily exercise
session just before dinner. And don't let a family get-together ruin your plan.
Instead, invite them all to join in a game of football, basketball, softball,
or any team activity. Depending upon where you live, perhaps hiking or skiing
are more appropriate. But it doesn't so much matter what you do. The bottom
line is that a good old-fashioned active family exercise session is not only
great fun, but also a fantastic way to work up an appetite.
Plus, if you time this
right, you'll get an added benefit. Finish just in time to shower, gussy up,
and get to dinner. Your body will then better utilize those calories. Not only
that, but after exercising, when your body is tired, it's less apt to overeat
since it naturally wants enough calories to recover, but not too many so it has
to spend extra energy digesting.