How Nutrient-Dense Are Your Go-To Thanksgiving Dishes?

How Nutrient-Dense Are Your Go-To Thanksgiving Dishes?

The calories, not the turkey, are what makes you feel tired. Here's how to maximize your meal's nutritional value.

Many people overindulge during the Thanksgiving meal with the intention of eating, drinking, and having a good time; the drawback is that a gluttonous feeling soon follows. But it's not because the meals are bad by nature. Contrarily, many are stuffed with nutrients that are good for your health. The addition of fat, sugar, salt, and cream pushes foods into the unhealthier category. In fact, taking too much of these nutrients can block the arteries, increase blood pressure, and cause blood sugar to skyrocket.

There are several ways to increase the meal's nutritious content and enjoyment while avoiding feeling stuffed at the end of the day. Here's a guide to navigating the meal's staples.

TURKEY

Protein is abundant in roasted turkey, along with minerals including potassium, selenium, choline, niacin, phosphorus, and magnesium. These essential elements support strong bones, healthy muscles and nerves, a regular heartbeat, decent circulation, cognitive function, metabolism, and cell protection.

Compared to the same-sized portion of dark meat (sans skin), which has 142 calories and five grams of fat but higher iron and zinc, light meat has 120 calories and less than two grams of fat. Have whichever you like because experts think the tradeoff isn't significant. But remember that the skin is high in saturated fat.

 

STUFFING

Stuffing is primarily a source of starchy carbs but it also serves as a vehicle for fatty additions like sausage and butter. One cup of stuffing has about 400 calories, 20 grams of fat, and about 1,000 milligrams of sodium, which is partially the reason for this. If you can't fathom Thanksgiving dinner without stuffing, we suggest preparing it from scratch with whole-grain bread, croutons, or even wild rice. For added flavor and nutrition, we also suggest adding chopped celery, onions, mushrooms, dried fruits, nuts, and herbs. Alternatively to using butter, add moisture by using chicken or vegetable broth.

Health-wise, the cooking of the stuffing inside the turkey is a bigger worry. Why? since a stuffed turkey  can’t heat up to a safe internal temperature—165 degrees Fahrenheit - This makes it a potential source of foodborne illnesses like Salmonella. Instead, prepare the filling in a casserole dish on its own. An additional advantage of this strategy is that an unstuffed turkey can roast more quickly

CRANBERRY SAUCE/RELISH

Although canned jellied cranberry sauce is practically lacking of nutrition, a quarter cup has 24 grams of added sugar and 110 calories, making it a sugar and calorie bomb.

However, homemade cranberry sauce or relish that uses fresh cranberries, chopped pear or orange, some walnuts, and spices (like ginger) is packed with antioxidants (which shield cells against free radical damage), vitamin C, and fiber. In place of gravy, it makes a healthful addition to the turkey.

GREEN BEANS

Green beans have few calories and are high in fiber, calcium, potassium, vitamin A, C, and K, as well as niacin. The problem is that they are frequently added to casseroles together with butter, cream or cream of mushroom soup, fried onions, and a generous sprinkle of salt, which results in a dish that is less healthful.
We advise using olive oil to roast, stir-fry, or sauté green beans while adding chopped walnuts or almonds for an umami flavor for a healthier alternative.

 

SWEET POTATOES

Sweet potatoes are nutrient powerhouses, packed with beta carotene, vitamin C, potassium, and fiber. A medium sweet potato only has 114 calories. Eat the skin for an added nutritional boost because it is rich in fiber, antioxidants, and health-promoting phytochemicals like anthocyanins and flavonols that help prevent diseases including hypertension, diabetes, cardiovascular disease, and neurological disorders.

Unfortunately, the traditional sweet potato casserole is cooked with butter and covered in marshmallows, which increases the amount of calories, fat, and sugar in a dish that is already naturally sweet. Sweet potatoes don't need much because their flavor is already strong. So instead of making a casserole, just roast the potatoes in a little cinnamon and cut them into chunks.

 

MASHED POTATO

Protein, fiber, iron, magnesium, potassium, vitamin C, folate, niacin, and other healthy components are all present in moderate amounts in a basic baked potato. What drives calories up is what people add to them, such as butter and cream.

If you can't fathom Thanksgiving without mashed potatoes, we suggest substituting buttermilk or skim milk for cream or whole milk while mashing the potatoes. You may also use herbs, garlic, or chicken broth to enhance flavor rather than just butter and salt. When mashing the baked potatoes, add the skins for an extra fiber boost.

 

PUMPKIN PIE

This traditional Thanksgiving dish contains calcium, iron, potassium, vitamins A, C, and K, niacin, as well as fiber, making it fairly nutrient-dense.

The crust is where the calories are concentrated. We advise skipping the crust and only consuming the filling, along with any additional toppings (such as whipped cream). Can't help but go all out? Reduce the size of your slice of pie and use only a teaspoon of whipped cream. To regulate the sugar and add your own spices while making homemade pumpkin pie, it's best to purchase canned puréed pumpkin rather than pumpkin pie filling.

 

ALCOHOL

People frequently don't consider how much alcohol they're consuming at Thanksgiving dinner, but the calories can mount up. A disinhibitor, alcohol also impairs judgment while making food choices and can increase hunger, causing you to eat more than you wanted to. Wine is preferable to mixed drinks, which have more calories, according to nutritionists. Therefore, if you like to drink, enjoy a glass or two of wine with your dinner. Cheers!

And if you do find yourself overindulging, just keep in mind that it's only one day. "You don't typically eat this way," So the following day, get back on course.

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