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Thanksgiving is a time to be thankful for all kinds of things in your life–– great friends, a supportive family, a rewarding job or a clean bill of health. The latter seems a bit ironic if it’s said while seated at a table full of rich, heavy holiday foods. A lot of people forget their heart-healthy golden rules when they’re seated at the Thanksgiving table.
If you’re hosting the holidays this year or have been asked to bring a dish to an event, it is still possible to prepare a crowd-pleaser that pays mind to healthy eating.
Starters and Sides
Slim down your sides by packing them full of non-starchy veggies like Brussels sprouts, carrots, green beans and bell peppers. Get creative by modifying your favorite Thanksgiving comfort foods. Instead of a full green bean casserole, try grilling those beans and flavoring them with fresh garlic.
Turkey day hallmarks like mashed potatoes, stuffing and yams are packed with starch and often call for lots of butter. You don’t have to give up grandma’s famous stuffing but do practice portion control when putting together your plate—limit each side to about one half cup.
On its own, that centerpiece turkey is a healthy meat, but the gravy that goes with it is one of the biggest red flags on the table. Instead of using store-bought gravy, find a recipe for a low-fat gravy you can easily make yourself, so you have more control over what goes in it. Using vegetable oil instead of turkey drippings or choosing unsalted turkey stock can still make you some delicious and guilt-free gravy.
It wouldn’t be Thanksgiving without at least three different treats to choose from. Practice portion control and stick to one slice. When it comes to add-ons like ice cream or whipped toppings, remember that those are not, contrary to popular belief, mandatory.
Making your favorite desserts healthier is all about making substitutions and slashing those sugars and fats where you can. A lot of fall-time sweets are already built on some heart-healthy ingredients like walnuts, pecans and apples. Look for recipes that are low-sugar and experiment with substitutions like swapping out some oil for applesauce, or egg whites instead of whole eggs.