But there are plenty of ways to make your holiday more healthful. You just have to have a plan of attack.
This year, start by eating a healthful breakfast and sensible snacks throughout the day to avoid overeating during dinner. And when you do get to the big event, remember that Thanksgiving’s main star, the turkey, can be enjoyed healthfully. Stick to the leaner white meat, and remove the skin. If you do use gravy, make sure to skim the fat off the top. Removing just one tablespoon of fat from gravy or pan drippings eliminates 120 calories and 13 grams of fat.
As for those dangerous sides and desserts, I recommend sampling all of the dishes you want (Thanksgiving is all about food, after all), but practice portion control. Avoid the tendency to overeat: The leftovers will still be great the next day.
And once you’ve digested the meal (or before it), encourage your family to be active together. For spending quality time together is what this holiday is really all about.
Three guilt-free sides
This year, take the opportunity to whip up these three healthful sides and offer your loved ones some nutritious options to couple with that juicy (and lean) turkey.
Dairy-free butternut squash soup
4 to 6 servings
Start your meal with this easy, elegant and satisfying soup, which features the sweet and nutty butternut squash. This winter squash is a good source of fiber, potassium and magnesium. It is also an excellent source of vitamins A and C.
Nutmeg and allspice provide an incredibly savory flavor that will leave you wanting seconds — which you can have without the guilt. This soup is creamy without the cream (or butter).
1 medium butternut squash (about 21/2 pounds)
1 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil, plus more for oiling the squash
1 large shallot, diced
1/2 teaspoon sea salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 cups homemade or no-salt-added chicken or vegetable broth
1/2 cup unsweetened plain almond, soy or rice milk (optional, for added creaminess)
2 cloves garlic, put through a garlic press
1/8 teaspoon allspice
1/8 teaspoon nutmeg
Preheat the oven to 400 degrees. Oil a 9-by-13-inch glass or ceramic baking dish with nonstick cooking oil spray.
Cut the squash in half lengthwise and brush the cut sides lightly with oil. Place the squash skin side down in the prepared baking dish and bake for 1 hour, until the flesh can be easily scooped out with a spoon.
Heat the 1 tablespoon of oil in a large pot over medium heat. Add the shallot, salt and pepper, and cook for a few minutes, stirring frequently, until the shallot softens.
Scoop out and discard the seeds from the squash. Use a large spoon to scoop out the squash flesh and add it to the pot, along with the broth and the almond, soy or rice milk, if using. Bring to a boil and cook for 5 minutes. Add the garlic, allspice and nutmeg. Remove the pot from the heat and allow the soup to cool.