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Beacon Senior News

How to make healthier Thanksgiving traditions

Nov 03, 2016 05:49PM ● By Wendell Fowler

When the festively adorned Thanksgiving buffet table creaks and moans from the abundance of family dishes, Americans put on the feedbag and commence a-gobbling.

Aunt Tiffany's canned sweet potato casserole oozes with bubbly marshmallow and butter, Cousin Hazel’s cherry delight is topped with Cool Whip, Anna Faye's artery-detonating potato casserole is drenched in sour cream, and Grandma's green beans were cooked for 12 hours in lip-smackin' bacon grease.

I'm not suggesting abandoning tradition. Hell, no! What I'm proposing, under the specter of proliferating epidemics of chronic disease, is substituting certain risky ingredients for sane, healthier versions. It’s easier than ever to do it.

In place of a salty hunk of ham or bacon for the green beans, substitute turkey or Canadian bacon, or none at all, using liquid smoke to impart that familiar flavor. Mashed potatoes? Substitute whole milk with evaporated skim milk, almond milk, plain yogurt or defatted turkey stock.

When a recipe calls for breadcrumbs, try rolled oats or crushed bran cereal for a fiber bonanza. Use fibrous whole wheat in place of processed all-purpose flour. Instead of wimpy iceberg lettuce, weak in nutrients, be a good pilgrim and use a blend of arugula, spinach, watercress or baby kale and toss with low-fat dressing and cranberries.

Switch out white rice for brown rice or fibrous quinoa. Using canned pumpkin or cherries? Opt for what's fresh and seasonal. Instead of table salt containing dextrose, offer mineral-rich pink Himalayan salt.

Need to thicken a soup or sauce? Try blending in mashed sweet potato, bean or pumpkin puree. And for goodness’ sake, drop the can of sugar-filled jellied cranberry. Pull out the food processor and make your own fresh. Cranberries are incredibly healthy.

Creamy, cheesy broccoli casserole was one of my favorites, but the canned, salty cream of mushroom soup was a deal breaker and the cheese added too many fat calories. Then I discovered boxed, low-salt versions of the soup and vegan Daiya cheese on the grocery shelves. Just go lightly on the fried onion topping.

Finally, if you use whipped topping—a delicious blend of sugar, wax and condom lube, rather than real whipped cream—on the pumpkin or pecan pie, stop! "Cruel Whip" topping is an insanely gross, disgusting chemical crap storm of ill health. It's much better whipping up your own and bragging about it.

Put ground flax seed on everything you eat to reduce the time dinner loiters in your colon. Add three to four tablespoons to stuffing, for example.

And by all means, before you strap on the fat pants, prepare a decent selection of lightly cooked vegetables with a little crunch left in them—no need to asphyxiate them in cheese sauce. Heat kills, so undercooking will help preserve their heavenly vitamins.

There is, however, no substitute for the delicious love shared over a family dinner. The recipe for love should never, ever be altered. Happy holidays!