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On average, a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner can contain more than 2,000
calories. Why not plan our holiday meals to be a little healthier?
Nashville, Ark. – On average, a traditional Thanksgiving or Christmas dinner can contain
more than 2,000 calories. For most people this amount of calories is over the maximum
amount of calories that should be consumed in one day. In fact, cutting calories by
as little as 500 calories in one week can help you lose a pound. No wonder the average
person gains about 10 pounds during the holiday season. While the holidays only come
around once a year, most of us probably won’t lose those extra pounds, we just add
to the ones we already have. Why not plan our holiday meals to be a little healthier?
When we are trying to plan our menu, many times we focus on what traditional
foods we will serve, and how we will fix these foods. If you have a family member
or guest who requires a special diet, you may be panicking, thinking that you cannot
prepare your traditional foods. There are still many nutritional goodies in our traditional
dinner that we should not overlook, and can be prepared for all our guests. Here is
a list of the top holiday foods to include in your menu.
Pumpkins – Pumpkins are low in calories, fat, and sodium and high in fiber. They are good
sources of Vitamin A, Vitamin B, potassium, protein, and iron. Pumpkin is quite low
in calories and is a healthy holiday food. Pumpkin pie, however, becomes a high-calorie
food because it’s made with eggs, sugar, evaporated milk and baked in a high-fat pie
Cranberries – Cranberries are packed with Vitamin C and also provide a fair amount of dietary fiber
and manganese. Cranberries also contain a type of antioxidant that can prevent the
adhesion of bacteria to the urinary tract sometimes causing urinary tract infection.
Sweet Potatoes – Sweet potatoes are a rich source of antioxidants such as Vitamin C and beta-carotene.
Similar to the banana, it is also an excellent source of potassium. If you eat the
skin, you will also reap the health benefits of fiber, making the sweet potato a healthy
Green Beans – Green beans are probably one of the healthiest holiday foods out there. They are an
excellent source of vitamin C, vitamin K and manganese. They also contain a good amount
of vitamin A, dietary fiber, potassium, folate, and iron. Green bean casserole is
a traditional holiday dish that is high in calories due to the cream of mushroom soup,
fried onions and milk. If you must have green bean casserole for your holiday meal,
make it using fat-free cream of mushroom soup. No one will know unless you tell them.
Turkey – In addition to being an excellent source of protein, turkey offers the least amount
of fat per serving, among all other meats, if you pass on the skin. It is low in fat
and is an inexpensive source of iron, zinc, phosphorus, potassium and B vitamins.
A serving of turkey is a 2 to 3-ounce cooked portion, which is equivalent to a new
deck of playing cards.
It is possible to fix your favorite holiday foods and still enjoy them.
Look at how they are prepared and decide if any lower fat or lower calorie changes
can be made. If you would like a copy of a handout on how to make your Thanksgiving
meal for eight healthier, complete with all your favorites, contact me at the Howard
County Extension Service at 870-845-7517 or visit our office located on the second
floor of the courthouse. Happy Thanksgiving!
Here is a healthier version of a traditional favorite, Pumpkin Pie. You
will save about 100 calories per serving over the traditional version. The Apple Salad
recipe is delicious and can be made healthier by substituting lower fat versions of
the peanut butter, dairy cream, and mayonnaise. Use a sugar substitute and only use
about 1/2 the nuts called for in the recipe.
16 pieces of ginger snap cookies
1 (16 oz.) can pumpkin
½ cup egg whites
1/3 cup sugar or sugar substitute
1 ½ cup evaporated skim milk
2 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Grind ginger snaps in food processor or crush
fine. Lightly spray a glass pie pan with cooking spray. Pat cookie crumbs into the
bottom of the pan evenly.
Mix the rest of the ingredients in a medium-sized bowl and pour into the
crust. Bake until knife comes out clean from center, about 45 minutes. Refrigerate
and slice in 8 wedges.
8 apples, diced but not peeled
Juice from ½ lemon (optional)
½ cup chopped celery
½ cup raisins
2 cups walnuts
¼ cup peanut butter
¼ cup sour cream
¼ cup sugar
½ cup mayonnaise
Mix salad ingredients together in a medium bowl. Set aside. Mix dressing
ingredients together in a small bowl. Spoon over salad and toss to evenly distribute
By Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff ChairThe Cooperative Extension ServiceU of A System Division of Agriculture
Media Contact: Jean Ince County Extension Agent - Staff Chair U of A Division of Agriculture Cooperative Extension Service 421 N. Main St, Nashville AR 71852 (870) 845-7517 email@example.com
The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service is an equal opportunity/equal access/affirmative
action institution. If you require a reasonable accommodation to participate or need
materials in another format, please contact your County Extension office (or other
appropriate office) as soon as possible. Dial 711 for Arkansas Relay. The Arkansas Cooperative Extension Service offers its programs to all eligible persons
regardless of race, color, sex, gender identity, sexual orientation, national origin,
religion, age, disability, marital or veteran status, genetic information, or any
other legally protected status, and is an Affirmative Action/Equal Opportunity Employer.