Healthy Thanksgiving meal doesn't mean sacrificing your favorite foods


by JIM BERGAMO / KVUE News, Photojournalist SCOTT GUEST and Editor ROB DIAZ

Bio | Email | Follow: @JimB_KVUE

Posted on November 27, 2013 at 7:22 PM

Updated Wednesday, Nov 27 at 7:40 PM

AUSTIN -- Turkey and stuffing. Mashed potatoes and gravy. Sweet potato casserole. Pies of all kinds. Even a little bite of everything can take you way overboard. Thankfully there are a few easy ways to make a traditional thanksgiving dinner a little healthier.

At Westgate Central Market shoppers had Thanksgiving meals on their minds.

"We grew up with the marshmallow yams and the big turkey and pumpkin pie," said Julie Joyce, an Austin resident.

But Joyce's family, including her three-year-old twins Kira and Liam will have some healthier items on the table as well this Thanksgiving.

"We've become so much more health conscious as a society, and you just don't feel good," said Joyce.

That could be because nutritionists say an average Thanksgiving day meal contains 2,000 calories.

"Unfortunately it is really, really hard to burn 2,000 calories," said Valerie Shurley, a nutritionist with St. David's Georgetown.

So hard in fact, Shurley says it can take some people two weeks just to burn off the calories from that one meal. She says if you want to eat healthier, you don't have to make wholesale changes to the menu -- just a few alterations -- starting with potatoes.

"These are going to be lower in calorie if fixed with like a margarine or low fat milk than something like candied sweet potatoes where we add the brown sugar, the marshmallows and the nuts," said Shurley.

She says products such as Eggbeaters, Splenda and applesauce can be used as substitutes while baking to help reduce calories, fat and sugar.

Joyce says her family will enjoy turkey breast, roasted cauliflower instead of mashed potatoes and bar cookies instead of pies.

"So trying to find the traditional foods with a different spin," said Joyce. "You have the flavors and the tradition without having all the fat and the sugar and sweets."

Shurley says forget the food pyramid we all learned in school. Nutritionists now preach the four quarters, just like Thanksgiving day football. A quarter of your plate should be vegetables, a quarter fruit, another quarter starch and the remaining  quarter protein.

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