I usually leave all the advice around Thanksgiving to my bariatric cousins over the pond and concentrate more on Christmas or the December/January holiday season food fest. However, this year (with so many new followers from the US), I have made an exception and dipped my finger, if not my toe, into the rivers of advice coming your way this week and joined the throng!
First and foremost can I say, that just like my Christmas advice, it’s there to be helpful rather than be some kind of rigid diktat! No one seriously expects you to saunter through this joyous feast without succumbing to some temptation and it is a celebration after all, but I think the secret is to control it. I hope some of my tips below will help keep the lid on your excesses and that you sail through Thursday and into Friday without a great weight on your mind nor an upturn on the scales that can’t be managed with just a little adjustment. It is, as one of my bariatric friends has kindly reminded me, Thankgiving Day (yes, just the one) not Week!
I’ve adjusted my stance over the last 4 years of supplying recipes for these special occasions – steering clear from too much detailed information on a special Bariatric Feast. My research and feedback tells me that you want to eat (and do eat!) pretty much the same as everyone else on these feast or festival days (within the confines of your re-plumbed system) so the turkey, ham and pumpkin pie are sacrosanct. That said, it’s the ‘extras’ or side dishes that vex you the most – they’re the ones you miss out on if they’re not there and you really hanker after them if they’re not around you say. One of my wls friends claims that the sweet potato dish she can’t ignore has her personal name on it!
I know it isn’t easy but I do believe that with a bit of bariatric tinkering these dishes can still stay on the menu. By tinkering I don’t mean necessarily preparing a special side dish just for you (although go ahead if that’s the case) but a slight adjustment of a traditional or family favourite which makes it healthier, bariatric-friendly but still delicious and feted by all your family and friends (in fact they shouldn’t really notice the difference!). These I believe are the real Holiday Winners and hopefully will become new traditions and favourites in your repertoire.
For some of the dishes there are no hard and fast recipes, just a suggestion to replace this with that; for others cut-out or cut-down on something and you won’t miss it; and for others just a carefully judged change in cooking method for lighter results.
So let’s look at the typical Thanksgiving Plate and see what I mean:
What’s on it? And moreover what can we change for the better?
Well luckily turkey is a good lean protein, served without skin, with no saturated fat. The calories tend to creep in from its preparation. So the secret here is to avoid adding excess butter, oil and any sugary substance like maple syrup, honey or fruit glaze for basting. Simply use a low-fat, low-sodium broth, herbs and citrus fruit juice and zest to impart flavour and moisture during cooking without adding extra fat. Removing the skin for serving cuts down drastically on fat and calories too.
Stuffing can seriously pack the calories on the plate if prepared with white breadcrumbs, butter and high fat meats like sausage meat and bacon. Switch to a wholewheat breadcrumb, brown rice, couscous or quinoa based stuffing for extra fibre and protein. Pep up with herbs, spices, vegetables and a few dried fruits for additional flavour. Dried cranberries, grated apple , diced celery and toasted nuts all can make a welcome entrance.
Mashed Potatoes or Baked in their Skins
Whether you’re preparing basic potato mash or a sweet potato one, forego the urge to add tons of butter, salt and cream. A little fat-free yogurt with herbs tastes just as sublime. Why not try an upgrade this year and make a mixed potato or root mash? Roast or boil then mash vegetables like carrots, rutabaga, beets, parsnips and celeriac as well as potatoes and then mash together or separately to serve. They will add great colour and flavour too if mashed with roasted garlic. Likewise jacket bake potatoes in their skins then split to serve but hold back on the soured cream, butter or sweet marshmallow topping. A little yogurt, low-fat spread or fat-free soft cheese can be used if you really can’t face them plain.
Traditional green bean casserole made with green beans tossed in the classic cream of mushroom soup and fried onions can be fat laden. Why not ring the changes this year by preparing a simple green saute or stir fry instead? Use a flavoured oil like sesame and added lemon zest and garlic for flavour. Or have a real turn-around and served steamed green vegetables like asparagus, broccoli or Brussels sprouts dressed with the same.
Unless you’re spending quite some time skimming your turkey pan juices and reducing to a thin glaze then you might be better using low-fat broth based gravy for moisture. Using pan juices (high in fat) that are thickened with flour or cornstarch can add tons of calories without more flavour. This is one staple that I think is easy to skip on without feeling deprived.
This is such an easy sauce to make yourself from scratch and, if you’re dumping-prone, replace the sugar with artificial sweetener. Simply place 2 x 225 g/8 oz packages fresh cranberries in a pan with the grated zest and juice of 1 small orange, 1/2 cup granulated Splenda sweetener and 1 cinnamon stick. Bring to the boil, reduce the heat and simmer for 15-20 minutes, stirring occasionally, until the berries have burst and produced a thick sauce. Allow to cool slightly to serve or cool then chill until required. Serves 6 (Calories per serving: 28).
So in the end your plate should look rather more like this:
Just as appetising don’t you agree? And could weigh in at 30-50% less calories (with much less fat, starch and sugar) than the original.
And then there’s the pie!!!!!
Fruit and Pumpkin Pies
Well there are all sorts of ways in which you can reduce the calories in these so that they become more of a moreish mouthful rather than a monster one. Replace some of the sugar for sweetener; have a single (rather than double) or no-crust offering; top with spiced yogurt, low-fat cream, skinny ice cream or custard instead of the artery-clogging full-fat real cream thing. At the very least make sure you don’t have a whopper of a wedge but do by all means have a sliver (moderation is the name of the game here not deprivation).
Here is my crustless pumpkin pie recipe – feel free to adapt it!
CRUSTLESS PUMPKIN PIE
425 g/15 oz can pure pumpkin
1/2 cup Splenda granulated sweetener
1 tsp ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp ground ginger
1/4 tsp ground cloves
dash of salt
300 g/12 oz can light evaporated milk
sugar-free, low-fat whipped cream to serve (optional)
1. Preheat the oven to 150 C/300 F/gas mark 2.
2. Mix the pumpkin with the Splenda sweetener, cinnamon, ginger, cloves and salt. Beat in the eggs, one at a time, until well blended. Stir in the evaporated milk and mix well.
3. Pour into a deep 23-cm/9-inch glass pie plate and bake for 30-35 minutes, until set but still a little wobbly in the centre.
4. Remove from the oven and allow to cool to room temperature. Serve warm, or coll and then chill. Cut into wedges to serve, topped with a little sugar-free whipped low-fat cream if liked.
WLS PORTION: 1/2
V suitable for Vegetarians
CALORIES PER PORTION: 132
TIP: The uncooked pumpkin mixture can be poured into a pre-made pastry or digestive biscuit/graham cracker cookie crumb case or shell and then baked. Bake in a preheated 180 C/350 F/gas mark 4 oven for 30-35 minutes.
ALL THAT REMAINS IS FOR ME TO WISH YOU A HAPPY, HEALTHY AND JOYOUS THANKSGIVING! CAROL X