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National Restaurant Association - Ask the Nutritionist: Tweak your recipes to make Thanksgiving meals more healthful

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Ask the Nutritionist: Tweak your recipes to make Thanksgiving meals more healthful

In her latest Ask the Nutritionist commentary, the National Restaurant Association’s Director of Food & Healthy Living Joy Dubost, Ph.D., R.D., shares how chefs, restaurateurs and consumers alike can adjust recipes for traditional Thanksgiving dishes to pack a bigger nutritional punch.

A traditional Thanksgiving meal can quickly add up to a day’s worth of calories, but there are some simple ways to adjust recipes to reduce calories, saturated fat, and sodium.

Similarly, by making small changes to your recipes, you can also increase the nutritional value by increasing essential nutrients, such as vitamins A and C, and fiber.

When preparing Thanksgiving meals this year, consider these recipe tips:

• Of all the traditional Thanksgiving dishes, gravy typically contains the greatest amount of total and saturated fat. When making gravy, remove the visible fat from meat and poultry juices. To make it easier, place the pan drippings in the refrigerator, which will allow the fat to harden for easier removal.

• If your recipe requires several whole eggs, use two egg whites for every 1 egg, or use egg substitutes in place of whole eggs.

• Use low-fat milk, such as 1%, skim or evaporated skim milk, instead of whole milk.

• Use low-sodium, fat-free chicken broth instead of milk or cream in mashed potatoes to add flavor and save on calories and fat.

• Top dishes with nuts to incorporate protein, essential nutrients and an added crunch. Apples, cranberries, and pears can also make a wonderful toppings that provide essential vitamins and minerals for little calories.

• Use whole-grain bread for stuffing, and substitute crescent and other white-bread rolls with whole-grain rolls tableside.

• Instead of loading up on white and dark meat with skin, serve about 3 ounces of meat (the size of a deck of cards).

• Don’t forget about all the wonderful fall vegetables that are available, such as sweet potatoes, winter squash, carrots and green beans. Filling the plate up with these vegetables can save on calories.

• In place of traditional desserts, try peach or apple cobbler and top with low-fat ice cream or yogurt.

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