Happy & Healthy Thanksgiving

Thanksgiving typically includes some of our favorite traditional foods such as turkey, mashed potatoes, gravy, stuffing, green bean casserole, or pumpkin pie as we celebrate with family and friends. As Americans, we often tend to splurge on extra calories during the holidays which leads to the typical American gaining 1-2 pounds each year during the holidays. In fact, the average American consumes about 4,500 calories and 229 grams of fat from the traditional Thanksgiving meal. This means to burn off your Thanksgiving meal you would have to run for 7.5 hours or walk for 15 hours! It is important for us to remember that just because Thanksgiving only comes around once a year doesn’t mean we have to throw our healthy habits to the curb. Try the tips below to keep your healthy habits in check during Thanksgiving celebrations.

1. Make sure to eat breakfast in the morning before any celebrations, this will prevent you from overeating at other meals during the day.
2. Continue your current exercise routine, try adding a new exercise or increasing the amount of time you exercise to burn extra calories.
3. Monitor your portion sizes closely and avoid going back for seconds.
4. Evaluate the table of food before choosing what you would like to eat, try to pick foods you don’t have all of the time instead of those that you can have all year.
5. Lighten up your traditional Thanksgiving foods by using fat-free and low sodium broth, sugar substitutes, fruit purees to replace oil in baked goods, and plain Greek yogurt in place of sour cream in creamy dips, mashed potatoes, or casseroles.
6. Eat slowly to allow time for your stomach to signal your brain when you are full.
7. Limit alcohol, holiday alcoholic drinks can add up in calories quickly, try having a glass of red wine in place of other higher calorie alcoholic drinks.
8. Limit sugar sweetened beverages, as an alternative try bottled flavored water or create your own flavored water by adding fresh fruit, cucumbers, or mint.
9. Use whole grain bread and flour in recipes, whole grains provide more fiber that will help fill you up and keep you full.
10. Remember the main reason for Thanksgiving is to spend time with family and friends.

Try this lighter version of a traditional Thanksgiving recipe:

Light Green Bean Casserole

3 tbsp. canola oil
1 medium sweet onion (half diced, half thinly sliced)
8 oz. mushrooms, chopped
1 tbsp. onion powder
½ tsp salt
½ tsp dried thyme
½ tsp freshly ground pepper
2/3 c whole wheat flour
1 c low-fat milk
3 tbsp. dry sherry
1 lb. frozen green beans
1/3 c plain Greek yogurt
1 tsp paprika
½ tsp garlic powder

Serving Size: ¾ c, makes 6 servings

1. Preheat oven to 400 F. Coat a 2 ½ -quart baking dish with cooking spray.
2. Heat 1 Tbsp. oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Add diced onion and cook, stirring often, until softened and slightly translucent, about 4 minutes. Stir in mushrooms, onion powder, ¼ tsp salt, thyme, and pepper. Cook, stirring often, until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated, 3-5 minutes. Sprinkle 1/3 c flour over the vegetables; stir to coat. Add milk and sherry and bring to a simmer, stirring often. Stir in green beans and return to a simmer. Cook, stirring, until heated through, about 1 minute. Stir in Greek yogurt. Transfer to the prepared baking dish.
3. Whisk the remaining 1/3 c flour, paprika, garlic powder, and the remaining ¼ tsp salt in a shallow dish. Add sliced onion; toss to coat. Heat the remaining 2 Tbsp. oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat. Add the onion along with any remaining flour mixture and cook, turning once or twice until golden and crispy, 4-5 minutes. Spread the onion tipping over the casserole.
4. Bake the casserole until bubbling, about 15 minutes. Let sit for 5 minutes before serving.

Recipe Adapted From: http://www.eatingwell.com

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