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Slash Over 1,000 Calories From Your Thanksgiving Meal

There are a few ways to go when it comes to trimming your intake at Thanksgiving. You can make lighter versions of traditional favorites, keep your favs but use some save calorie tricks, or do a little bit of both.

 

Today I was a guest on the CBS Early Show where I gave Maggie Rodriguez a quiz about which traditionally prepared items pack more calories along with a few tips for eating less without feeling like you’re cutting back. Test your turkey day calorie IQ:

 

Which traditional dish contains FEWER calories?

 

1.

a) 4 pigs in a blanket

b) 5 club crackers with 5 slices sharp cheddar cheese

 

2.

a) Turkey drumstick with skin

b) 6 oz dark meat turkey with skin

 

3.

a) One half cup sweet potato casserole

b) One half cup creamed spinach

 

4.

a) Green bean almondine

b) Roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans

 

ANSWERS:

 

1.

a) 4 pigs in a blanket

b) 5 club crackers with 5 slices sharp cheddar cheese

It’s a) and there’s a big pretty difference. Even though pigs in a blanket sound like complete calorie bombs, 4 minis pack 270 calories vs. 600 in the cheese and crackers! Pigs in a blanket definitely aren’t on my good-for-you list, but 330 calories is a big savings, especially when you consider that watching football on TV only burns about 70 calories an hour.   

Savings: 330

 

2.

a) Turkey drumstick with skin

b) 6 oz dark meat turkey with skin

If you love dark meat going for a) the drumstick will save you a little - 240 calories compared to 270, but because much of what’s in a drumstick is bone, and it takes longer to eat, you may feel like you’re eating more. And you may use less gravy – eating a ladle less (half cup) less saves another 60 calories

Savings: 30, with gravy 90

 

3.

a) One half cup sweet potato casserole

b) One half cup creamed spinach

It’s b. It may be creamed but the spinach has less – 180 instead of 280, so this choice saves a quick 100 calories – may not sound like much but you’d have to take a 25 minute walk after your feast to burn 100 calories. And if you want to trick yourself into cutting more, take smaller forkfuls and put your fork down between bites; studies show it will help you eat less without feeling restricted.

Savings: 100

 

4.

a) Green bean almondine

b) Roasted Brussels sprouts with pecans

It’s b). They’re both made with veggies and nuts but the Brussels sprouts will cost you 165 calories vs. 220 in the green beans. That’s because the standard green bean recipe calls for sautéing the veggies in a skillet with butter. Roasting only requires a light brush or drizzle of olive oil - the oven brings out the natural sweetness and flavor of any veggie. And if you leave 5 pecans on your plate, you slash another 50 calories.

Savings including pecans: 105

 

5.

a) 1 slice pecan pie

b) 1 slice pumpkin pie 

It’s b) 250 calories instead of 500. Another pumpkin advantage: the typical topping is whipped cream rather than ice cream, which is more typical of pecan. A half cup scoop of premium vanilla ice cream tacks on an extra 250 calories vs. just 25 for 2 Tbsp whipped cream. Leave the crust behind and you’ll save an additional 110 calories per slice.

Savings 250

(including whipped cream difference and crust trick: 585)

 

6.

a) 1 cup coffee with 1 shot Bailey’s

b) 1 cup spiked eggnog

It’s a). The eggnog packs 400 calories the coffee with Bailey’s 125. Saving calories on your after dinner drink can be especially important since alcohol can act as an appetite stimulant, causing you to eat more desserts or go back for seconds.

Savings: 275

 

Total calorie savings: grand total 1,150, about half calories in traditional Thanksgiving meal. Come back tomorrow where I’ll share tips for the opposite strategy – lightening up your holiday cuisine. 

 

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