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Friday

Save 1,000 Calories This Thanksgiving

by By Kim Droze
eDiets Contributor

Oven-roasted turkey... butter-saturated mashed potatoes... creamy green bean casserole... savory stuffing...

Thanksgiving comes just once a year. That in itself is somewhat of a blessing, considering the typical turkey-based feast can cost you between 2,000 to 5,000 calories!

Take heart. The Thanksgiving holiday doesn’t have to be a diet disaster. Not when you have renowned wellness coach Pam Smith planning your festive menu.

The author of Healthy Living Cookbook (Siloam Press) stresses it’s not the traditional foods that make Thanksgiving so fattening. No, it’s more what we do to those foods from the moment we begin the basting and baking ritual. Between the butter, the cream and the oils, we turn the meal into a fattening free-for-all chock-full of undiet-like ingredients we avoid the rest of the year. From the turkey to the green beans, Smith says we’re too often adding fat and calories while subtracting the nutritional value.

Thanks to Smith there are plenty of ways to work makeover magic on your meal this Thanksgiving. The staples you've grown to love will still grace your table. Only this year, you’ll grow a little less while loving them! In fact you and your loved ones can save thousands of calories and steer clear of the five pounds the average person packs on over the holidays. It starts with a few simple steps.

"Dressing calories and fat can be reduced by using defatted chicken or turkey stock, cornbread dressing cubes instead of higher fat cornbread, egg substitute in place of whole eggs and cooking spray instead of oil and butter,” Smith notes. “Sweet potato casseroles can be ‘lightened’ by using egg whites instead of whole eggs, by lowering the amount of sugar and using cinnamon instead; by lowering the amount of butter and adding flour to thicken; by using fewer nuts and cooking spray instead of butter.”

Smith advises placing a thin layer of celery leaves, herbs and onion slices between the skin and the breast meat of the turkey before roasting. This will add rich flavor to the meat and absorb much of the fat from the skin. Also, baste with defatted chicken or turkey stock instead of butter -- it will thicken with cornstarch and seasoning for a healthier gravy.

How much will these steps save you? A six-ounce serving of turkey that’s been basted in butter and is covered in gravy will set you back about 600 calories. By consuming three ounces of turkey cooked Smith’s way and topped with a healthy gravy, you’ll be getting around 178 calories per serving.

Smith has blessed us with a Thanksgiving menu. Take a moment and weigh out the differences between the same old fattening favorites and the new and improved dishes.

DRESSING
The average serving: 225 calories, 13 grams fat
The healthy weigh serving: 135 calories, 1 gram fat

Cornbread Dressing
1 cup finely chopped celery
1/2 cup chopped onions
2 Tbsp. snipped fresh parsley (2 tsp. dried)
1 tsp. ground sage
1 1/2 tsp. poultry seasoning
1/2 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt
2 packages (12 oz. each) unseasoned cornbread stuffing cubes
3 cups chicken stock (fat-free/low salt)
1/2 cup egg substitute (or 4 egg whites)

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray a medium nonstick skillet with cooking spray. Add the celery and onions. Cook over medium heat until tender. Stir in herbs, seasoning and spices. Lightly spray a large casserole dish with cooking spray. Place the cornbread cubes in casserole. Add onion and celery mixture, 2 cups of broth and egg substitute. Gently toss. Drizzle with remaining broth to moisten bread thoroughly; gently toss again to mix well. Bake uncovered for 30 to 40 minutes or until heated through. Makes 10 servings.

SWEET POTATO CASSEROLE
The average serving: 737 calories, 36 grams fat
The healthy weigh serving: 178 calories, 3.5 gram fat

Sweet Potato Casserole
3 cups cooked and cubed sweet potatoes
1/4 cup sugar
4 egg whites
1 tsp vanilla
1 tsp. cinnamon
Topping:
1/2 cup brown sugar
3 Tbsp. flour
1 Tbsp. melted butter
1/4 cup chopped pecans

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Spray a 1 1/4-quart casserole dish with cooking spray. Set aside until ready to use. In a food processor or with electric mixer, mix potatoes, sugar, egg whites, vanilla and cinnamon. Spoon into prepared casserole dish. Make topping by rubbing together, with your fingers, the brown sugar, flour and butter until crumbly. Stir in pecans. Sprinkle the mixture on top of sweet potatoes. Bake approximately 30 minutes until golden brown. Makes 8 servings.

GREEN BEAN CASSEROLE
The average serving: 259 calories
The healthy weigh serving: 53 calories, 2 grams fat

Green Beans and Mushrooms
2 lbs. green beans
2 tsp. olive oil
2 cloves garlic, minced
2 Tbsp. minced shallots
1/2 tsp. dried basil
1/2 tsp. dried rosemary
1/2 tsp. Mrs. Dash seasoning
2 Tbsp. chopped fresh parsley
1/2 tsp. Creole seasoning
1/2 lb. (8 oz.) fresh mushrooms, trimmed
2 Tbsp. Lea and Perrins Worcestershire for Chicken

Trim ends from green beans; break into smaller pieces if desired. Steam in chicken stock until crisp and tender. Spray a nonstick skillet with cooking spray; add olive oil and heat over medium-high heat. Add herbs and seasonings, and sauté another 30 seconds; then add mushrooms and Worcestershire sauce. Continue to sauté for about three to four minutes, then add steamed green beans. Toss together and serve. Makes 8 servings.

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