Thursday is the big day, and if you're not done preparing just yet, consider making some of these healthy edits to your menu.
It'll leave you more time to ponder the big questions, like "What time will Great Uncle Hank break out the flask?" and "Do I even own a turkey baster?" instead of the usual: "Has anyone seen my fat pants?"
At the table
Pile on the veggies. “Try making at least 50 percent of your plate vegetables. Challenge yourself to eat all your veggies so you are filling up on healthier, lower-calorie foods. This way, you will still have room to indulge but it will be easier to not go overboard.” — Keri Glassman, MS,RD, CDN, founder and president of Keri Glassman Nutritious Life and Nutritious Life Meals
Don’t drink your cals. “Keep all liquids calorie-free unless it is an alcoholic beverage (which would be considered a carb). Go with carbonated water or unsweetened iced tea.” — Robert Ferguson, MS, CN, certified nutritionist and fitness expert @dietfreelife
Watch your serving size. “With any starchy side you need to practice portion control. Choose one starchy side and aim to have 1/2 cup.” — Keri Glassman
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Sneak whole grains into your desserts. “Many of the recipes you make for the holidays can be adapted to incorporate whole grains, which are higher in fiber than refined grains. This will make some of the holiday dishes a bit healthier and help fill you up so you won’t be as likely to go up for round two.” — Keri Glassman
Pump up the powder. “You can easily bake in a powder psyllium fiber supplement, such as Konsyl, into your banana bread recipe or other family favorites. This will help fill you up on less of these treats.” — Keri Glassman
Send guests home with the leftovers. “Take my wife’s advice: Make your desserts and give them away with love.” — Dr. Gary Epler, author of “Food: You’re the Boss”
How to lighten up
“Boil about 2½ pounds sweet potatoes, mash, add warming spices (cinnamon, nutmeg) and about 1 tablespoon vanilla, 1 tablespoon butter and about ¼ cup milk. It gives great flavor without sickeningly sweet sugar and excess greasy butter.” — Nicolette M. Pace, MS, RD, CDE, CDN, CFCS, founder of NutriSource Inc. (www.nutrisource.org), a community-based private practice in Great Neck, N.Y.
“Most recipes for mashed potatoes include some form of thickener, like butter or cream cheese. When cooking your recipe, use the light versions of these to lower the calorie and fat content. Also, try fresh herbs and spices, such as fresh garlic, chives, basil or parsley for a stronger aroma and taste.” – Rachel Berman, RD, CSR, CDN, director of Nutrition for CalorieCount.com
“Instead of usual butter and whole milk mashed potatoes, I mash new potatoes with skin with skim milk, low-fat or nonfat plain yogurt and parmesan, with salt and pepper to taste. You can also mash them with chicken broth or, for the vegan, vegetable broth.” — Keri Gans, MS, RD, CDN, nutrition consultant and author of “The Small Change Diet”
Green bean casserole
"Choose light butter and use less of it, and go for low-fat milk. Instead of deep-frying your onions or buying fried onions, consider sauteing your own in a small amount of olive oil, or adding slivered almonds for a dose of heart-healthy fats. You can also cook up your own cream of mushroom soup to avoid all the sodium in the canned version, or choose a low-fat version to cut down on the saturated fat. Whole wheat panko bread crumbs can replace the norm, or skip them all together. For additional flavor, get creative with dried fruit like cranberries.” — Rachel Berman
“Make a stuffing with quinoa that you cook in chicken or veggie broth in a rice cooker. Add dried cranberries and walnuts at the last minute. Put it in a pie tin and keep it warm in the oven.” — Keri Gans
“Use light butter or olive oil and a small amount of a natural sweetener, like honey. — Rachel Berman
Dark meat is OK, says Gans, as long as you steer clear of the skin. A serving size is 3 ounces — the size of a deck of cards.
Try a healthier side
Roasted brussell sprouts: "I put them on a baking sheet, spritz with olive oil and roast for about 45 minutes or until lightly browned and easy to pierce with a fork." — Keri Gans
Savory Coleslaw: "This has a nice balance of protein, carbs, fat and fiber. Quick to make and delicious to the taste, this recipe is an asset to any feast." — Robert Ferguson
• 1 tablespoon Dijon mustard
• 1/2 cup 0% fat Greek yogurt
• 1/2 lemon squeezed
• 1/2 teaspoon balsamic vinegar
• 2 teaspoons extra virgin olive oil
• 4 cups savory cabbage, shredded (or package coleslaw mix with shredded cabbage with carrots)
• Ground black pepper to taste
In a small bowl, mix mustard with sour cream, lemon, vinegar, oil and two teaspoons water until blended. Toss with coleslaw mix in a serving bowl. Season to taste with pepper.
Recipe: Healthier pumpkin pie
Cap: One slice of this decadent pumpkin pie packs 6 grams of protein.
Tossing in wheat germ and using whole wheat pastry flour boosts the nutrients and adds another tasty dimension to the crust. Reduce the saturated fat by using canola oil for some of the butter.
½ cup all-purpose flour
½ cup Kretschmer Honey Crunch Wheat Germ
½ cup whole wheat pastry flour
1/8 teaspoon salt
3 tablespoons very cold unsalted butter, cut into small pieces
¼ cup canola oil
1 to 3 tablespoons water
2 large eggs
1 15-ounce can puree pumpkin
3/4 cup 2% evaporated milk
5 tablespoons pure maple syrup
1 3/4 teaspoons pumpkin pie spice
1/4 teaspoon salt
1. In a medium bowl add flour, wheat germ, whole wheat pastry flour and salt. Stir to combine. Cut-in the butter using your finger tips until the mixture is crumbly and no big lumps of butter remain. Stir in the canola oil and add water as needed so dough can be formed into a ball.
2. Wrap dough in plastic wrap and freeze for 15 minutes.
3. Meanwhile prepare filling. Preheat oven to 425° F. Beat eggs in large bowl. Stir in pumpkin, milk, maple syrup, pumpkin pie spice and salt. Set aside.
4. Remove dough from freezer. Roll dough between two pieces of parchment paper into a 12-inch circle. If dough cracks, just push it together.
5. Remove top sheet of parchment. Turn 9-inch glass pie plate on top of dough and flip over. Peel back parchment and push dough into pie plate. If it cracks just seal the cracks or patch with other pieces of dough.
6. Fold over the overhanging dough to create an even rim around the pie. Using the tines of the fork, go around the pie rim to make a design. Poke bottom of crust with fork, 4 or 5 times.
7. Pour filling into crust. Bake in preheated 425° F oven for 15 minutes. After 5 minutes at that high temperature, place foil around the edge of the pie to keep it from getting too brown before the center is set. Reduce temperature to 350° F; bake for 30 minutes or until knife inserted near center comes out clean. Cool on wire rack for 2 hours. Serve immediately or refrigerate.