One of my favorite tools for maintaining a healthy diet is Eat This! Not That. This awesome site/app/set of books allows you to make health-conscious swaps without feeling like you’re being health-conscious. Who knew, for example, that enjoying a double cheeseburger at McDonald’s instead of Sonic could save you around 700 calories? The best place to use this tool is in places where nutritional information is ambiguous - at buffets, for example, or in this case, Thanksgiving. If you’re from the South, you probably already know that your chances of eating anything that wasn’t made with at least a stick of butter and a cup of sugar are slim. However, if you follow these guidelines, you’ll be able to enjoy your grandma’s cooking strategically without missing any of the buttery goodness.
Eat This!: Turkey breast (white meat) with homemade cranberry sauce
Not That!: Dark meat with canned cranberry sauce
This swap will cut your calorie and sugar counts in half - white meat is much leaner than dark, and homemade cranberry sauce is guaranteed to have less sugar and more nutritional dose of fruits and nuts.
Eat This!: Steamed Brussels sprouts, cooked baby carrots, green beans with bacon
Not That!: Anything that starts with “creamed” or ends with “casserole”
The words “cream” and “casserole” generally imply that the vegetables they contain were drowned in butter, whole cream, or whole milk, which means that any nutritional value they may have had fell victim to the extra “love” grandma decided to serve them with.
Eat This!: Roasted squash
Not That!: Candied sweet potatoes
Ordinarily, sweet potatoes are a good go-to: They are full of nutritional value, and are tasty enough to not require many condiments. Unfortunately, like many nice girls on Halloween, this one day a year, sweet potatoes decide to go bad - they are boiled, mixed with sugar, butter, and more sugar, and then topped with fluffy, refined sugar (marshmallows). Any roasted or steamed veggie is sure to be your safer bet.
Eat This!: Roasted potatoes
Not That!: Turkey stuffing/dressing
Another swap that requires some know-how: If one were to read the package of stuffing mix, you would find a reasonable calorie count and fairly low fat. What this doesn’t factor in, however, is the stick or two of butter required to prepare the dish “well”. Stick to roasted potatoes, preferably in a small amount.
Eat This!: Pumpkin pie with whipped cream
Not That!: Pecan pie with ice cream
Surprisingly enough, as far as desserts go, pumpkin pie really isn’t that bad. Its center is made of doctored pumpkin puree. Pecan pie, on the other hand, is made with pecans, sugar, and goo. For those of you who don’t know, goo is that magical ingredient that makes food delicious and terrible for you. The pumpkin pie wins in the categories of calories, sugar, and fat, and adds some Vitamin A, calcium, and iron to make you feel good about your life choices.