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Healthy Holiday Cooking Tips

You can almost smell the aroma of warm apple pie and chocolate chip cookies wafting through the air. Thanksgiving is a wonderful opportunity to spend quality time with your family. What better way to bring the family together than a big meal and great conversation? With all of the tasty morsels on the horizon, we’ve compiled some healthy cooking tips to get you through this cooking extravaganza.

Cooking your Bird

Shopping for your holiday turkey can be overwhelming. Did you know that you can pick from a heritage, organic, fresh, or frozen turkey? Once you’ve made the selection on which type of turkey you want, how big should it be? Here are a few descriptions and tips to make turkey shopping and cooking more manageable:

  • Heritage turkey: old-fashioned breed of turkey that is leaner and more flavorful.
  • Organic turkey: raised according to organic standard and fed organic grain.
  • Fresh or frozen turkey: the standard grocery store offering.
  • Size of turkey: plan for 1 to 1 ½ pounds of turkey per person.
  • Instead of slathering the skin with butter, try olive oil instead.
  • Roasting time: plan on approximately 15 mins per pound of turkey.
  • Invest in a good thermometer: food poisoning is a surefire way to dampen any gathering. A fully cooked turkey should read around 165 degrees F at the thigh.
  • Let it rest: construct a tinfoil tent to put over the turkey while it’s resting in order to ensure that the meat is nice and juicy.

While it’s tempting to speed up the cooking process and take your bird outside to deep-fry, it can be a fire hazard. Deep frying also adds unnecessary amounts of fat and unhealthy oils to your meal. If salt is another concern of yours, try using different spices and fresh herbs to enhance the flavor in your main dish.

The Great Swap Out

For every decadent, full-fat side, there are always options to make a healthier version:

  • Instead of mashed potatoes, swap out the potatoes for mashed cauliflower.
  • Mayo can make salads heavy and full of unhealthy fat. Consider using mashed avocado as a mayo substitute.
  • Dips with full-fat sour cream can be a popular appetizer. Exchange sour cream for low-fat or fat-free Greek yogurt for the same rich taste.
  • Substitute pasta with zucchini noodles or carrot spirals for a yummy alternative.
  • Put down that cream of mushroom soup. Rather than make a green bean casserole, try sautéing brussel sprouts for a delicious side dish.

Sugar Substitutes

While there are many different artificial sweeteners available, natural sweeteners are a great way to achieve that sweet flavor profile. In place of white sugar, try using raw honey, apple sauce, maple syrup, or even processed dates to achieve the desired luscious flavor in your desserts. Many of these alternatives are actually sweeter than regular white sugar so you may need to use less in your recipe. As an added bonus, many of these substitutions have additional health benefits.

Practice Makes Perfect

With every recipe, it’s going to take a fair amount of tweaking to get it right. Give yourself extra time to experiment with the different types of sweeteners and herbs in order to perfect your recipe. While reducing your fat and sugar intake is a great way to keep your body and teeth healthy, it’s important to make sure your body gets full, balanced meals every day. Make sure you’re practicing good oral hygiene habits to ensure your teeth remain strong and healthy. This means you are still brushing twice a day for two minutes each time, flossing and visiting your dentist every 6 months, regardless of the busy holiday schedule and late nights. Contact Bassett Creek Dental today at (763) 546-1301 to schedule an exam today. We look forward to seeing you soon.