The season of eating is upon us. But, despite fantasies of feasting, no one is hankering to go up a pants size, or indulge in what could turn out to be an extra 3,500 calories (or a one pound gain), according to Matt Goulding, chef and co-author of the Eat This, Not That series. Here’s his advice.
Cooks can help control the calorie count from by adding flavor before the turkey goes into the oven. “Brining a turkey overnight in a mixture of water, salt, and sugar helps impart a ton of flavor and moisture all the way down to the bone,” Goulding said. “That means you can skip the river of gravy most of us turn to when confronted with dry turkey.”
Don’t fast all morning, which can lead to overeating. Goulding recommends eating a light lunch around noon, such as salad with avocado and tuna. He also recommends drinking a lot of water during the day.
Plan for at least 45 minutes of physical activity. “Walking, riding a bike, or playing touch football before or after the dinner should be an essential part of the Thanksgiving tradition,” Goulding said.
At the table:
White meat without the skin over dark meat
It may seem obvious, but Goulding reminded us: “White meat turkey without the skin has about 40 percent fewer calories than dark meat turkey with the skin.”
Mashed potatoes over stuffing
“Consider your sides wisely,” Goulding said. Mashed potatoes are a safer bet than stuffing, especially if the stuffing was cooked inside the bird.
Roasted vegetables over green bean casserole
Goulding recommends adding roasted root vegetables, like parsnips or turnips, to the table to help people avoid other high-calorie sides. “Brussels sprouts roasted with olive oil and tossed with almonds work as a great substitute for gloppy green bean casserole,” he said.
“Sweet potato casserole has the dubious honor of being the worst traditional side on the Thanksgiving table. Green bean casserole, unfortunately, isn’t that far behind,” he added.
Fresh cranberries over canned
Limit the sugar in the homemade version and add flavor with fresh orange juice or orange zest.
Pumpkin pie over pecan pie
“Stick to the classic: pumpkin pie with a bit of light whipped cream,” Goulding said. “This will cost you about half the calories as a similar slice of pecan pie or apple pie a la mode.”
For the rest of the holiday season...
The Thanksgiving feast is just the start of what often turns into a month of indulgences – all of which can tip the scales. Here are Carla Wolper of the Obesity Research Center at St. Luke’s Hospital, tips for staying in control at your office party.
1. Ask “Is it good enough for me?” Faced with an array of decadent hors d’oeuvres, anyone’s willpower can buckle. Think of the things you really like and can only eat around the holidays, Wolper suggests. Think about the quality of the dish. Is it worth it?
2. Watch out for the drinks. “Don’t mix alcohol with juice or other sweet things,” Wolper said. “You can add thousands of calories in drinks alone.” Stick with seltzer or diet soda. Also, if you tend to eat more when you drink, skip the cocktail hour and have a glass of wine with your meal. “You have dinner coming up very shortly,” Wolper said. “So, you don’t have to postpone the joy too much.”
3. Talk to people. “Try to find the funniest, smartest or best-looking person at the party,” Wolper said. “The real theme of the party is talking to people, not eating.”