Tips for not feeling stuffed like the bird on Turkey Day….

Here is a great article from JJ Virgin’s Leanzine….

Smart Gobbling for Thanksgiving

Think back for a second to those plucky Pilgrims. I find it hard to imagine that they were in those cold little wooden houses opening big bags of mini-marshmallows, so they could make a sweet potato casseroles covered in melted candy.

We’ve created Thanksgivings that have enough food choices for five holidays. I don’t want you to go into a food coma on this day and the great news is you can indulge and be quite satisfied while still eating healthy. Here are some of my favorite tips and recipes that will provide you with an abundance of delicious foods. Remember that the biggest treat is spending time with family and friends.

Tips for not feeling stuffed like the bird on Turkey Day:

  • Make sure you eat a good breakfast and lunch and don’t go into this meal hungry. In fact, a recent study indicates that people who ate a 600-calorie breakfast lost five times more than people who took their same 1,200 calories and spread it throughout the day. If you don’t eat all day, then hit a big dinner and have a drink…. well, you’re doomed to overeat because starving plus a little buzz equals extra poundage.
  • Cool it on the appetizers. Ask yourself: Why am I eating before I eat? If you’re having company, then offer shrimp or grilled scallops on a platter. I love a cold or grilled veggie platter with salsa and balsamic vinaigrette instead of some creamy dip. That’s it for the appetizers if I’m making the meal. Now, let’s say you’re at someone else’s house. If an appetizer is wrapped in dough (like a mushroom or crab puff) or deep fried, then just skip it. You can make these nuts (and bring them as a gift), which are a crowd pleaser: Soak mixed nuts overnight in sea salt and spring water. Drain and place on cookie sheet. Sprinkle with cinnamon and then coat with a bit of vanilla extract. Bake until crunchy at 250 degrees.
  • Start the meal with a wonderful salad made out of butter lettuce, roasted walnuts, red onion, cranberries and apples. Toss in some pomegranate seeds. Use olive oil and vinegar as your dressing.
  • Thanksgiving is usually about the big bird, which can be a very healthy protein. Just makes sure to remove the skin before eating your turkey. Of course white meat is a better choice, but a little bit of dark meat is okay because it’s richer in iron. Skip the white flour gravy because the turkey is delicious all by itself and gravy is usually a gloppy mess with zero nutritional value.
  • Why not avoid the stuffing because you don’t want to stuff yourself with soggy bread coated in butter. I prefer a wonderful wild rice with chestnuts, apples, onions, mushrooms and red peppers in it. Use this as an opportunity to shift into new traditions.
  • Try a new veggie dish such as stuffed squash. Take a medium butternut squash, cut in half and remove the seeds. Place the halves with the cut side facing up on a cookie sheet. Cover with foil and bake for 40 to 50 minutes at 375 degrees. Remove from oven and scoop out the squashy flesh. Mix it with equal parts cooked brown rice. Add half a cup of chopped onions browned in extra virgin olive oil, a teaspoon of parsley and a half-cup of chopped pecans or walnuts.
  • Avoid that jellied cranberry glob that comes out of a can. Make a great cranberry dish from fresh cranberries and orange rind with a dash of cinnamon and pecans. If you need a little sweetener with it, add xylitol. Also see my Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce recipe below.
  • Eat only ONE of the bad carbs, i.e. mac and cheese, potato salad, taters. Remember my three-bite rule on these and then you’re done. Pick the ONE that’s your favorite, so you feel satisfied.
  • Love sweet potatoes? Just serve plain baked ones with no marshmallows. Add a pinch of cinnamon to the potato. Delicious and nutritious!
  • Another easy side dish is your favorite fall vegetables that are cut, placed on a baking pan, covered in a bit of extra virgin olive oil, chopped garlic cloves, various herbs of your choice such as Italian herbs and then toss on a dash of sea salt. Roast zucchini, portobello mushrooms, yellow squash, onions and other favorites. Try to find vegetables that are local to your region, so they will be fresh and tasty.
  • Choose one dessert and have your three bites. Don’t choose the dessert you feel will be healthy because they’re all about the same unless you’re eating fruit. Just choose your heart’s desire and, again, feel good about yourself. I also love my pumpkin cheesecake recipe that is sure to be a crowd pleaser.


Thanksgiving Recipes


Pumpkin Cheesecake Recipe

Serves 16

3/4 cup crushed graham crackers
3/4 cup ground raw almonds
1 tsp cinnamon
1 tbsp butter

In a food processor, grind almonds (still slightly chunky — not into a fine meal), add all the other ingredients and process together. Pat this mixture in the bottom of a 10″ springform pan. Bake at 375 degrees for 12-15 minutes. Watch for burning! Allow to cool completely.

2-8 oz Neufchatel cheese (low-fat cream cheese)
3-8 oz cream cheese
1/2 cup plus
2 tbsp xylitol
3 eggs
1 cup canned pumpkin
1 tsp pumpkin pie spice

In a mixer, blend Neufchatel, cream cheese and xylitol until creamy, then add eggs one at a time (blending well after each addition). Add the canned pumpkin and pumpkin pie spice and blend thoroughly. It should be light and creamy. Add a bit of milk if it’s too thick. Spread over cooled crust and bake at 350 degrees for 20 minutes. Then lower the temperature to 300 degrees and bake for an additional 25-30 minutes. Cool, refrigerate overnight.

Quick Note: Pumpkin is an amazing high fiber starchy vegetable and one of my favorites. It’s also rich in beta-carotene.

Cranberry Pomegranate Sauce

Serves 10 (makes 2 ½ cups)

1 bag (12 oz) cranberries, thawed if frozen
1/4 cup packed light brown sugar
1/4 cup organic cane sugar
1 tsp. grated orange peel
1/4 cup pomegranate molasses*
1 cup pomegranate seeds

In a medium saucepan, bring cranberries, sugars, grated orange peel and molasses to a boil over medium-high heat, stirring frequently. Boil, stirring often, until most cranberries pop, about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in pomegranate seeds.

*You can find pomegranate molasses at well-stocked supermarkets and Middle Eastern specialty stores.

Make ahead: You can make the sauce up to 3 days ahead and keep in refrigerator; bring to room temperature and mix in pomegranate seeds just before serving.

Quick Note: Cranberries and pomegranates are both excellent sources of antioxidants. Don’t overdo it on the sauce, however, because it’s essentially a preserve! Just a small portion will do.

© 2009 JJ Virgin & Associates, Inc. JJ Virgin, PHD, CNS is a celebrity wellness expert, author, public speaker and media personality.

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