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Cutting Calories in Thanksgiving Dinner

If you plan ahead, you can cut loads of fat and close to 400 calories from your holiday meal and still make it seem like a feast.

For those struggling to maintain a healthy weight, Thanksgiving dinner can be one of the toughest meals of the year.

In many families, it's considered almost rude not to gorge yourself on huge platters of turkey, stuffing and sweet potatoes, never mind the pies and other desserts. Is it even possible to make it through Thanksgiving without a huge overdose of fat and calories?

In fact, if you plan ahead, you can cut loads of fat and close to 400 calories from your holiday meal and still make it seem like a feast.

Gloria Tsang offers these simple strategies to help make it happen:

  • Potatoes: Mashed potatoes are usually made with heavy cream and butter. Try using buttermilk instead of cream, and use half the butter you normally use. You'll be surprised how similar they taste. Calories saved: about 90.
  • Cakes and pies: Yes, you can still serve dessert. Try substituting unsweetened applesauce or pureed prunes for half the sugar in your baking recipes. To make your cake even leaner, try substituting egg whites or egg substitute for the eggs in recipes. If the eggs are used as an emulsifier, it’s best to use egg substitute (1/4 cup = 1 egg). Calories saved per 1/8 cake or pie piece: 96.
  • Whipped cream: Cutting whipped cream from a holiday meal seems a bit cruel, but this tasty topping is loaded with fat. Try making your own whipped cream using evaporated milk instead. It offers a similar taste and texture without the fat and guilt. Calories saved per 2 tbsp serving: 60.
  • Turkey: It's not a holiday meal without the turkey, and believe it or not, turkey is actually a healthy item on your holiday menu. It’s an excellent source of protein and has the least amount of fat per serving among all meats, if you pass on the skin. Calories saved per serving by skipping the skin: 45–63.
  • Celebratory alcohol: Instead of eggnog, serve champagne or sparkling wine. Calories saved per serving: 100.

In her book Go UnDiet, Tsang advises reader to "un-fat-free," that is to stay away from fat-free diet products. Fat-free products often bear little resemblance to real food and are filled with additives.

More simple, small achievable actions to reclaim health are available in Go UnDiet, available at Amazon.com, , Kindle and iBooks.

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