Tips for eating healthy on Thanksgiving Day and my go-to gravy recipe by Lisa Dart, Registered Dietitian.

1. Go for a Hike

Getting active first thing in the morning is a great way to start your metabolism for the day, and that is for any day, not just Thanksgiving Day. My favorite is a hike at the mountain park and packing a breakfast picnic for afterwards. A bike ride or neighborhood walk getting the whole family to join is good too. Thanksgiving is about being thankful for your many blessings and one of those is family so start the day together.

Boy taking photos in the woods with camera phone
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2. Eat breakfast

Eating breakfast may seem counterintuitive because you have a big meal coming later in the day but once we have gotten outside and exercised and gotten out blood flowing our metabolism has fired up and the best way to keep the metabolism going is to eat small meals throughout the day. Select a healthy option to set the theme for the day like yogurt & granola or fruit kabob skewers. If you want to get fancy, French toast with a whole grain bread and substitute a small amount of jam and honey for your syrup or an egg white crustless quiche loaded with veggies is a good option.

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3. Drink water

If you are not drinking water, I need you to start drinking water on Thanksgiving Day if not before. We are thankful this season and especially so for our healthy bodies. Our body is made up of 50-70% water and every cell in our body needs water to work properly. According to the Mayo Clinic the daily recommended intake for men is 3.7L and women is 2.7L. Water intake need can increase depending on climate and physical activity.

Sip on Top, Stash on Bottom - Bindle Bottle | Stay Hydrated, organized, & discreet.
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4. Alcohol

Wine and cocktails are usually flowing on Thanksgiving Day, don’t deprive yourself! Intersperse 1 8oz glass of water between cocktails. By doing this you are more likely to get your water intake for the day, aid your body in the metabolism of the alcohol sugar and you will most definitely avoid that hangover.

Vintage crystal glass of bourbon whiskey by an outdoor campfire
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5. Use 1 plate or a small plate

A common occurrence at Thanksgiving is the desire to have a second helping. You can avoid this by using the 1 plate method and just fill your plate one time. Our dish size has increased since the size our ancestors used. You can also try a small plate such as a salad or dessert plate. Remember we have already had breakfast today and we are having water with our cocktails so 1 plate is doable.

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6. Vegetables

Vegetables naturally contain vitamins and are low in fat and calories, they are also high in fiber and give us the feeling of fullness sooner so plan your plate with plenty of vegetables.

Fresh From the Market
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7. Eat slow

How does our brain tell us that we are full? According to Joanne V. Lichten, PhD., author of the book “Dining lean-how to eat healthy when you are not at home” it takes 20 minutes after you start eating for the message to stop eating to reach our brain. Eating slower also allows us to savor our meal more and engage with family conversation; remember this is a family day.

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8. Select 1 dessert

Thanksgiving is a large family gathering and there could be multiple desserts. Let’s be honest, a lot of us like to make desserts and love to eat them. I use the same rule for dessert as I do for alcohol; do not deprive yourself select one dessert and you can also split a dessert with someone else that wants a smaller portion. Remember we ate breakfast, are consuming water, eating slower, and using only one plate for dessert for everyone is acceptable at my house.

Coffee and cake is all you need
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9. Low fat heart healthy ingredients

For those of you doing the cooking on Thanksgiving Day our meal can be healthier by just adjusting the fat in our recipes. Choosing low-fat dairy and low-fat cooking oil is a good starting point. There are several dairy producers that will advertise on the front of the container that their product is low fat. I usually select two or three and look at the nutrition label on the back of the container to see how much lower. Oils lower in saturated fat are not always advertised on the front of the label. I obtained a list of Canola, Corn, Olive, Peanut, Safflower, Soybean, and Sunflower from the American Heart Association.

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10.Ingredient swap

Here are some other healthy ingredient swap ideas for you. A recipe that calls for 1 egg, use 2 egg whites instead. It lowers the cholesterol and the calories. Use coconut milk instead of heavy cream and yogurt instead of buttermilk. For your baked goods swap applesauce for the oil ingredient. A lot of recipes say “salt to taste” because salt enhances flavors. Did you know a small squeeze of a lemon, lime, or ½ teaspoon of your favorite vinegar enhances flavors like adding salt? And we already have lemons and limes on our grocery list for the cocktails, right?

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We always have leftovers from Thanksgiving Day and some of us prefer and look forward to the leftovers from Thanksgiving Day. We can use all these same tips for the leftovers, use low fat ingredients, whole grains, get active, drink water, and eat slower. Who loves the leftover turkey sandwich? Well try heart healthy avocado instead of mayonnaise. Some of my favorite leftover recipes are to make a casserole with turkey and leftover vegetables. Use the gravy recipe below for your casserole. I also like to make a big salad or pasta dish with leftover turkey and vegetables. I am trying a new one this year top acorn squash or a baked sweet potato with the leftover stuffing and gravy.

Low carb BLT sandwich
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Groovy Onion Vegan Gravy Recipe

· 2/3 Cup whole wheat flour or flour of your choice even gluten free will work

· 1 Cup onion diced

· 1 Tablespoon olive oil

· 1 Tablespoon fresh garlic minced

· 4 cups water

· 1/2 Cup nutritional yeast powder or flakes

· 1 Tablespoon tamari, shoyu, or Bragg liquid aminos

· 1 teaspoon dried sage

· 1 teaspoon dried thyme

· 1 teaspoon sea salt

· 1/2 teaspoon ground black pepper

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In a medium saucepan add flour and cook over low heat while stirring constantly until lightly browned and fragrant about 2 minutes, transfer browned flour to a small bowl and set aside. In the same saucepan sauté the onion in the olive oil over low heat for 3-5 minutes or until soft. Add the garlic and sauté an additional 2 minutes. Add the water, nutritional yeast, tamari, sage, thyme, salt and pepper to browned flour and whisk until well combined. Add wet ingredients to sautéed onion mixture whisk and continue to cook mixture whisking constantly until thickened. Taste and adjust seasonings as desired. Serve over mashed potatoes or any of your favorite vegetables, biscuits, or use to make as a sauce for a casserole.

TIP: for those who like their gravy smooth you can puree the finished gravy, adding 3/4 Cup non-dairy milk will result in a creamier gravy but will alter the nutrition content. This recipe does freeze well.

NUTRITION CONTENT: recipe serves 4 to 6 people, per serving there are 156 calories, total fat 3.9g, saturated fat .6g, cholesterol 0mg, sodium 572mg, carbohydrate 23.4g, fiber 5.2g, sugar 1.1g, protein 9.7g, Calcium 37g, iron 4mg, potassium 457mg. I used nutrition calculator to obtain the nutrition content for this unsourced recipe it is a very useful tool for homemade foods and old family recipes.



I Love You
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