Your Thanksgiving Tips To Calorie and Portion Control…and a Few Recipes Too! | Carson Tahoe Health

Your Thanksgiving Tips To Calorie and Portion Control…and a Few Recipes Too!

The holiday season has officially commenced! So, let’s eat drink and be merry… right? Well, not so fast. While the holidays do call for extra celebration and maybe even a little indulgence, it is important to not lose total sight of your health and wellness goals. Our friends from Carson Tahoe Health Nutritional Services explain:

“When it comes to big meal holidays like Thanksgiving, we don’t advocate completely turning down holiday foods, but we do think it’s important to have some healthy options mixed in,” says Kim Mason, former Registered Dietician at Carson Tahoe Health. “Portion control is one of the easiest ways to control your caloric intake without feeling deprived of the foods you love.”

Here’s a couple tips on conquering your portion to make this an “oh so happy” – AND healthy – holiday!!!!!

  1. Before eating, divide the plate. Save the rest for leftovers to enjoy throughout the week. Many times, we fill our plates, when in reality we can be satisfied with about half the amount.
  2. Pre-portion tempting snacks. Depriving yourself- well that’s just no fun! Instead, eat a smaller portion so you can enjoy the flavor without all the calories. Savor a bite of pumpkin pie and maybe consider supplementing a spiced tea to sip along to keep your taste buds busy without the high levels of sugar, calories and fat found in most desserts.
  3. Downsize the dishes– Even though leftovers are great, it can often lead to overeating and can even be wasteful. Since most holiday meals have an abundance of sides, a smaller baking or serving dish may be just the right amount to ensure everyone gets a taste… and not an overabundance of food.
  4. On that note… edit your choices. Instead of making ten sides, make four or so. Everyone will enjoy a varied menu and won’t feel pressured to keep eating or try everything.
  5. Serve healthy foods family style. Passing around healthier dishes like a big salad or a dish of roasted veggies encourages everyone to fill up their plate with healthy foods.

Now, on to some recipes!

If you are seeking some inspiration for a healthful and flavorful Thanksgiving dish, look no further!  These are a few of our favorite ‘go-to-recipes’ for ‘Turkey Day.’

Start with a Salad:

Salad greens with pears, fennel and walnuts

Serves 6

You’ll need:

6 cups mixed salad greens

1 medium fennel bulb, trimmed and thinly sliced

2 medium pears, cored, quartered and thinly sliced

2 tablespoons Parmesan cheese, grated

¼ cup toasted walnuts, coarsely chopped

3 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil

2 tablespoons balsamic vinegar

Freshly ground black pepper, to taste


Here’s what to do!

Divide the salad greens onto 6 plates. Scatter the fennel and pear slices over the greens. Sprinkle with Parmesan cheese and walnuts. Drizzle with olive oil and vinegar. Add black pepper to taste, and serve immediately.

Calories: 157/serving

A switch up on cooking your bird:

Herb Rubbed Turkey Au jus

Serves 10

What you’ll need

For the rub:

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

1 whole turkey (about 15 pounds), thawed

1 tablespoon olive oil

½ cup water


For the au jus:

2 teaspoons dried sage

1 tablespoon dried thyme

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley

2 tablespoons honey

½ cup apple juice

1 cup defatted pan drippings



Preheat the oven to 325 F. In a small bowl, combine the sage, thyme and parsley to make the rub. Mix well and set aside.

Remove the neck and giblets from the turkey and discard. Rinse the turkey inside and out with cool water and pat dry with paper towels.

Starting at the neck area, insert fingers or a spoon between the layer of skin and meat to gently loosen the skin. Place the turkey breast-side up on a rack in a roasting pan. Add about 1 tablespoon of the herb mixture under the skin of each breast. Rub the outside of the turkey with the olive oil. Rub the remaining herb mixture over the outside of the bird.

Loosely tie the legs together. Place into the middle of the oven.

After about 1 1/2 hours, cover the turkey with a tent of foil to prevent overcooking. Check the doneness after the bird has roasted about 3 to 3 1/2 hours. The turkey is done when the thigh is pierced deeply and juices run clear (180 to 185 F) or when the breast muscle reaches 170 to 175 F.

Remove the turkey from the oven. Let it stand about 20 minutes to allow juices to settle in the meat. Deglaze the pan by adding ½ cup water. Stir to scrape up the browned bits. Pour pan drippings into a gravy separator. Reserve 1 cup of defatted pan drippings for the au jus.

To make the au jus, combine the sage, thyme, parsley, honey and apple juice in a saucepan. Simmer over medium heat until reduced by half. Add the defatted pan drippings and bring to a low boil, stirring often.

Carve the turkey and drizzle turkey slices with the herbed au jus and serve immediately.


Serving size: 4 ounces of light and dark meat.


Calories: 215/serving


A simple, healthy side:

Cauliflower mashed ‘potatoes’

Serves 4

What you’ll need

1 head cauliflower

1 clove garlic

1 leek, white only, split in 4 pieces

1 tablespoon olive oil

Pepper to taste


What to do:

Break cauliflower into small pieces. In a good-sized saucepan, steam cauliflower, garlic and leeks in water until completely tender, about 20 to 30 minutes. While cauliflower is hot, puree until the vegetables resemble mashed potatoes. (Use a food processor, of if you prefer a smoother texture, use a blender. Process only a small portion at a time, holding the blender lid on firmly with a tea towel.) Add a little hot water if vegetables seem dry. Stir in olive oil and pepper to taste.


Calories: 67/serving


Have a wonderful Thanksgiving! From all of us at “Toast!”



Recipes adapted via: Here and Here