Turkey, pumpkin pie or corn bread, which thanksgiving food suits your personality? Take our quiz to find out. In the spirit of Thanksgiving, we’re also sharing some expert tips to help you enjoy your holiday meals healthily (without saying no to dessert).
We asked our wellness team to share some tips to make your favourite Thanksgiving staples a little bit healthier - without removing them from the menu.
Turkey is a lean protein (yay!), however the skin does contain some saturated fats. Removing the skin before eating won’t remove the saturated fat completely, but it will lower it. Keep in mind there are some more saturated fats to come in the form of gravy!
Trying not to over eat is tricky but being mindful of the portion size helps. Keep your serving of turkey to 1-2 servings maximum. An easy way to measure, without bringing out the scale, is to use your hand as a guide. One serving would be roughly the size of the palm of your hand and the thickness of your hand
Gravy is all the tasty (or fatty) bits that have been left behind from cooking. Since gravy is so high in saturated fats, instead of pouring straight from the gravy boat, keep a teaspoon handy. One teaspoon of gravy is one fat serving, this would be the same as adding a 5g cube of butter to your meal. Try to keep your serving to three teaspoons maximum. If you’ve left off the turkey skin, you could sneak in a 4th teaspoon. If you don’t have a teaspoon close by, the tip of the thumb indicates one serving.
Depending on the preparation method for the gravy, try to avoid adding any additional fats like butter, ghee, lard, coconut oil or palm kernel oil. If you feel you feel the need to add to the mixture rather use an unsaturated fat (eg: olive oil) or mix in some water to create more liquid.
Thickening the gravy is usually done with cornstarch, for every tablespoon of cornstarch you add, also add some oat bran. Oat bran won’t mix in as smoothly as the corn-starch but it will lower the GI and increase the fibre content of the meal.
While stuffing contains some tasty herbs and spices, it is also predominantly bread based. Choose your bread crumbs wisely… rather make your crumbs yourself from a low GI, high fibre bread, multigrain or even a rye bread could work quite well.
Try to not over do it with the stuffing, even if you substituted the bread crumbs for a healthier alternative. It is still a carbohydrate. You can also use your hands to judge the serving size here, half a handful or half a fist size (about ¼ cup) serving will amount to half a carbohydrate serving. Keeping this serving small means you can include a dessert or a fair serving of cornbread.
Cornbread, it’s in the name, is a bread - and that means it’s a carbohydrate. Increasing the fibre content helps make it healthier by lowering the GI. Bring on the oat bran – substitute ¼ of the all-purpose flour with oat bran. This will add the much needed fibre. Sugar can always be replaced with a sugar alternative like xylitol or stevia, these are quite a bit sweeter than sugar so always halve the quantity.
One serving of cornbread is the same as eating two slices of bread. Rather cut the slice in half or share with a loved one. If the slice is really thick, try to only eat a quarter.
Pumpkin pie is always more-ish, but try resist the urges. One fairly generous slice of pie is the same as eating close to four slices of bread or 12 teaspoons of sugar! If you are baking the pie yourself, there are a few substitutions you can make.
Halve the quantity of condensed milk added and replace the difference with some milk (low fat preferably) and always choose fresh pumpkin over canned pumpkin. In the case of not being involved in the preparation process, portion control is the next best thing. The thinner the slice the better! And if you are adding some whipped cream, keep it to a teaspoon serving.
As with the pumpkin pie (and almost all desserts) they are very rich in sugar. A large slice of apple pie is also close of 12 sugar servings – don’t be fooled by the apples. Try to replace all added sugars in the recipe with an alternative, remember xylitol and stevia great! There is also a fair amount of fat in the pie swap out some of the butter for an oil like olive oil or sunflower oil. Serving size is also important - having a thin slice compared to a thick slice makes a huge difference.
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