Can good taste and good health coexist at Thanksgiving dinner?
Yes. Especially if you bear in mind that diet-over-time is more important than any single eating event. Lighten up on fat and calories for a few days before and after the fabulous feast. Then moderate indulgence on the big day will average out.
For your festival meal, focus fat where it will most affect taste. Eliminate fat where it will go unnoticed.
Start with a fresh fowl, which is naturally more juicy and delicious than a frozen one. Avoid "self-basting" birds that add superfluous saturated fat to your naturally heart-healthy centerpiece.
Streamline your stuffing. Whether you start from scratch or prepare from a package, eliminate all added butter or margarine. Delicious dressing develops from absorbing turkey drippings during cooking, not from added fat.
Degrease your gravy. Pour off all fat from the roaster. Deglaze the pan to get every drop of cooked-on goodness. Thicken with flour or nonfat turkey gravy mix. Extend with broth created by cooking the turkey neck and giblets on the stove top while the turkey roasts in the oven.
Maximize your mashed potatoes. Make them from scratch. Leave out the butter or margarine. For creamy consistency, whip with evaporated skim milk. Allow guests to garnish with gravy, butter or margarine.
Serve heaps of celery mixed with other colorful raw veggies for appetizers or to brighten your dinner plate.
Then relax and enjoy little bits of real fat where they'll do the most good. A pat of butter on your dinner roll, light cream in your coffee, and whipped cream on your pie. That's a delicious kind of balance.
Colleen Pierre, a registered dietitian, is the nutrition consultant to the Union Memorial Sports Medicine Center in Baltimore and director of Eating Together in Baltimore