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Seven Ways to Cut Stress and Calories at Thanksgiving

By Constance Weygandt

From Thanksgiving to Christmas, increased stress and overeating are a part of life in our society. Due to increased stress levels, we are more likely to eat for emotional reasons. The smells in our homes, on Thanksgiving day, stir up childhood memories of happy times spent with family and friends. This can be a wonderful time of the year and with a few tips, we can manage both emotional needs and caloric intake.

Have soup as a first course. There are many soups which you can prepare, days in advance, and heat through just before Thanksgiving dinner. One of my favorites is a pumpkin soup. I use pumpkin puree as a base. I substitute condensed milk for cream and flavor it with allspice and ginger. You can add a little nonfat sour cream and some sliced almonds for garnish, if you like.

Have an extra slice of turkey. Turkey is packed with nutrition and lower in calories than most other meats. Just don't eat the skin. Instead of having one portion each of yams, potatoes and stuffing - have an extra slice of turkey. Allocate your yams, potatoes and stuffing so that together they equal one portion.

Try a simpler yam recipe. Instead of the yam casserole with marshmallows, pineapple and all of the extra calories, try a baked yam this year. If you cannot do without the extra sweet, slice yams in a casserole dish. Add a little water and sprinkle with real maple syrup. They are sweet and delicious but less calories.

Try a green bean salad. Instead of the traditional green bean casserole, (You all know the one I'm talking about.),try a green bean salad. A simple one uses drained, canned green beans, a little olive oil, red wine vinegar, and a few slices of fresh garlic. It adds a nice, tart touch to the dinner and is less calories.

Try to reduce sugar amounts in recipes. Cut the amount of sugar, called for, in fruit pie recipes by one third to one half. I've always done this and prefer the taste. Start with one third less and see if it is to your taste. I get compliments on my pies, regularly. The sugar will not be missed.

Try alternatives to heavy fats in recipes. For a pumpkin pie recipe, use an egg substitute and condensed milk instead of eggs and milk. Try using nonfat sour cream and one half the butter normally used in your mashed potatoes. In your stuffing recipe, add a little less butter and a little more chicken broth.

Cook only your favorite foods. Do you really need to prepare all of the dishes you made, last year? Decide which traditional dishes you really can't do without and make them. For me, it is the stuffing that my dad made, before me, and my grandmother made, before him.

Follow as many of these tips as you like. If you choose only a few, you will be decreasing your caloric intake and stress. Balance the more traditional, higher calorie, dishes with some of the simpler, lower calorie, dishes. By choosing not to make every dish that your mother or grandmother used to make, you will be creating less stress for yourself. Involve the whole family in the decision making of what is to be served and the preparation of the meal. Reduce the calories and the stress. You will be thankful for it.

About The Author

Constance Weygandt is an author, speaker and balance mentor. For more information on Thanksgiving or reducing stress, visit her website at


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