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Enjoy a Happy and Healthy Thanksgiving Day

Montefiore's Department of Clinical Nutrition Offers Simple Tips to Help You Savor the Holiday Feast 

NEW YORK CITY, NY (November 24, 2008) -- The turkey is roasted to succulent perfection, the table is set with your best china and linens, and an abundance of colorful side dishes are making their way from the kitchen to the dining room.

It's Thanksgiving, a day to savor the pleasures of good food and the company of family and close friends. While turkey and all the fixings followed by a sumptuous selection of pies and sweets are hard to resist, simple choices you make throughout the day can help you enjoy a healthy holiday feast without overindulging. Try these tips suggested by Miriam Pappo, MS, RD, director of clinical nutrition at Montefiore Medical Center:

Make savvy substitutions when cooking and baking

  • Lose the fat, keep the flavor. When eliminating or reducing fat in side dishes, increase flavor by adding fresh spices, lemon or crunch (vegetables, fruit or whole grains).  Turkey is naturally very lean.
  • When baking desserts, substitute applesauce or pureed fruit for oil, butter or margarine. Generally, you can use a cup of applesauce or fruit for every cup of oil or butter. Overall, you'll save 750 calories and 86 grams of fat using applesauce instead of oil.
  • Choose egg whites instead of eggs in recipes to save calories and fat. To make a lower-fat pumpkin pie, use an egg substitute, light cream or low-fat evaporated milk in your recipe.
  • Go for a piecrust with the lowest amount of transfat possible. Better yet, try a homemade piecrust recipe that is made without shortening.

Build a well balanced plate at the Thanksgiving table

  • The right distribution of the types of foods on your plate will help you manage fat and calorie totals. A good rule of thumb is to fill half your plate with vegetables, one quarter of your plate with protein and the remaining quarter with starchy food.
  • Choose color -- orange, yellow, red and green vegetables and fruits are rich in beta carotene, a powerful antioxidant. Thanksgiving favorites such as butternut squash and pumpkin are both exceptional sources of beta carotene and carotenoids, which are phytonutrients recognized for potential anti-cancer and anti-aging compounds. Sweet potatoes, rich in beta carotene and high in vitamin C, also pack a nutritional punch.
  • Avoid portion distortion. When faced with turkey and all the trimmings it's easy to overindulge, so keep in mind that a portion is not a "serving" but how much food you choose to put on your plate. Before you partake in calorie-rich side dishes like your favorite sausage stuffing, try reducing the amount you serve yourself by one-half or one-third. Enjoy it but choose a smaller amount.
  • Have your second helping later in the day as a snack or over the weekend as another meal.
  • To satisfy your sweet tooth when desserts are being served, eat the inside of a slice of pie and leave the crust.  

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