It’s almost here! Pumpkin spices are wafting through the air, and soon a giant Snoopy will be floating through the streets of New York. Yes – Thanksgiving will be here before you know it! And so will Turkey Confusion Disorder. It happens to countless numbers of us each year around Thanksgiving. Okay, okay, it’s not an actual disorder, but there are plenty of challenges that come up when trying to cook up a delicious Thanksgiving feast, especially for those of us who are new at this. For instance, how do you figure out just how much turkey you’ll need? What is the best way to thaw the bird? And exactly how long will those leftovers actually last?
This handy website has your Top Ten Turkey Questions (and answers). Hooray! Still don’t have the answers you were looking for? The Butterball Hotline is a great way to ask any other turkey related questions you may have. Give them a gobble at 1-800-BUTTERBALL.
Speaking of turkey, if you’re trying to keep the bird as the only thing stuffed this Thanksgiving, I’ve got good news for you. It is possible! Even though, typically, Thanksgiving is the beginning of my “elastic-waistband-until-next-year” wardrobe phase, it doesn’t have to send our health spiraling down and weight soaring up for the rest of the holidays. The folks at MSN.com have some tips below to help us out:
1. Go for light, white meat. This part is easy. Turkey breast is already super lean: just 44 calories, 1 gram of fat and no saturated fat per skinless ounce. Plus, the big bird is a great source of iron, zinc, potassium and B vitamins. Eliminate drumstick temptation by serving a breast ready for slicing. Or, if you do cook a whole turkey, roast or bake it—don’t even go near a deep fryer.
2. Add gravy that has more flavor than fat. 1. Use low-fat, low-sodium broth rather than drippings from the roasting pan. 2. If drippings are a family requirement, stick them in the freezer for about 15 minutes. Chilling makes it easier to skim off fat before using the juices to make gravy.
3. Stuff your bird with whole grains. Bake the stuffing separately so it doesn’t soak up grease from the bird (safer, too, says the bacteria police—it ensures that the stuff gets cooked all the way through). Instead of boring white bread crumbs, wow your guests with a whole-grain mixture. Try the slightly nutty flavor of quinoa or rice pilaf. You won’t save calories, but you’ll gain oodles of antioxidants plus fiber, iron, magnesium, selenium, B vitamins—and compliments.
4. Add a touch of green. Cut calories in half by shelving the green bean casserole this year and boiling fresh beans until just tender. Then season them with just a touch of olive oil, sea salt and black pepper. Sounds simple, but the flavor’s amazing. And you’ll get fiber, protein, calcium, iron, potassium, magnesium, and vitamins A, C, K and B6.
5. Don’t forget the superberries. Cranberries contain a powerful group of free-radical demolishers. But skip the canned sauces, which are jammed with added sugar (about 44 grams and 170 calories per inch-thick slice). Instead, type “cranberry sauce recipes” into Bing and pick one of the recipes that’s sweetened with fruit—pears, currents, apples, raisins (and maybe walnuts, too). Then use half the sugar called for. You’ll be amazed. So will your guests.
6. Slim the spuds. We learned this trick from our friends at EatingWell: simmer your spuds with some garlic to create robust flavor—then mash them with parsley and buttermilk instead of cream. The flavor’s great and despite its name, buttermilk has almost no fat. If you want to top it with a pat of butter just before serving, no one will ever know that’s all there is. Neither will their waistlines.
7. Oh my, don’t skip the pie. Trim more than 100 calories and 7 grams of fat from a (sane, not supersized) slice of pie just by forgoing the crust.
Whatever your eating habits may be this Thanksgiving, we truly have so much to be grateful for. I’ll be especially thankful for the sounds of football on TV drowning out my snoring as I indulge in a post-meal nap at my in-laws’ 70’s-themed Thanksgiving. Yep, you heard me right. So I hope you, too, have a groovy Thanksgiving holiday!
Psalm 107:1 says “Give thanks to the Lord, for He is good; His love endures forever.” (NIV) So, as you spend time with family, friends, and pie, be sure to do so with a grateful heart and give thanks to God for who He is. Always good, always faithful. May our hearts be always grateful.