Take Time to Savor the Turkey

On behalf of the physicians and staff at MacArthur OB/GYN, we would like to wish each and everyone a Happy Thanksgiving and safe traveling for those that will be on the road. Throughout this weekend of celebrating try to remember these tips:

  • Be respectful to those who are cooking- eat slowly and savor every bite (make sure you tell the cooks that the food is delicious)
  • Don’t increase the belt notches- try to make fat substitutions by using low-fat or fat-free products
  • Limit wall climbing and hyperactivity by lowering sugar consumption
  • Limit falling asleep in front of the football games after eating by taking a brisk walk
  • Keep your cells from shrinking and drink plenty of water
  • Sneak in healthier snack choices with traditional ones so as not to put people in a sugar coma

I would like to challenge everyone this holiday weekend and see how many of us can keep the number that shows up on the scale the same. Let me know how your scale held up over this holiday weekend. Please feel free to share your healthier recipes with us on Facebook or in the comment section in the blog. We would love to hear about your holiday successes, and failures, what worked and what did not. All comments, challenge results, successes, failures or recipes can be posted on Facebook or the comment section in the blog. As promised, here are a couple of awesome dessert substitutions. Dr. Livingston sampled the pumpkin soufflé and loved it. I make the apples frequently as a side dish and the kids love it. Enjoy!

Pumpkin Soufflé

2 whole eggs
2 egg whites
1 ¼ cups canned pumpkin
¼ cup sugar substitute
1 tsp ground cinnamon
¼ tsp ground allspice
½ tsp ground nutmeg
1/14 cup fat free evaporated milk
½ tsp vanilla extract
Fat-free whipped topping

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly spray 8 4 ounce ramekins or custard dishes with nonstick cooking spray. In a medium bowl, lightly beat eggs and egg whites. Add the pumpkin and mix well. Blend in the sugar substitute, cinnamon, allspice, nutmeg, evaporated milk and vanilla. Fill each custard dish with ½ cup of the mixture. Place the custard dishes in a baking dish. Add enough warm water to pan to cover 2/3 of custard dishes. Bake at least 40 minutes or until knife inserted in the center of the custard comes out clean. Remove from over. Serve warm and top with a dollop of the fat-free whipped topping if desired. Serves 8.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
66 Calories
2 grams fat
7 grams carbohydrate
5 grams protein

Adapted from www.southbeachdiet.com.

Microwave Cinnamon Apple Slices

8 tart apples (Granny Smith, Rome, Winesap) peeled, cored and sliced
4 tbsp water
3 packets sugar-free apple cider flavored drink mix
1 tsp ground cinnamon
Artificial sugar to taste

Combine all ingredients and place in a casserole lightly coated with nonfat cooking spray. Toss. Cover with waxed paper and microwave on high until tender. Stir every minute or so. Let stand for about 2 minutes before serving. Can be served hot or cold.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
80 Calories
19 grams carbohydrate

Adapted from www.southbeachdiet.com.

Slothful Savoring

When you sit down at the dinner table, remember to eat slowly and savor every bite. I tell patients it takes about 20-30 minutes after you put food in your stomach for your brain to know that you put something there.

I also like to have a “snack” before lunch and dinner for this very reason. I’m usually starving before these meals. Sometimes my lunch is a whole 5 minutes long. If I’m really hungry I can put away a lot of food in that short period of time. I try to eat yogurt or a piece of fruit on the way home for the same reason. Otherwise I have the potential to empty out my pantry as I’m fixing the evening meal. Our stomach has the capacity to hold only about 1 quart. Our stomach can be stretched to around twice that size when we over stuff it. When we eat slowly the tendency is to not over stuff the stomach.

Think about the last time you went to a nice restaurant (the kind you don’t take your kids). The kind of restaurant where staff escorts you to your table and they are not running. Where you have to review the menu for a few minutes before ordering because you don’t know it by heart. Where you order your favorite beverage and actually get to sip it out of the glass instead of a straw. You order an appetizer, then about 20 minutes later your salad or soup arrives, then 20 minutes later your entrée. About half way through your entrée you are nicely full, not stuffed, and are asking for the all too popular…doggie bag. You have not even thought about the dessert yet!

Your holiday meal, or any meal, should be approached with the same respect. Besides, if you do any of the meal preparation for the holidays, you spend a lot of time organizing and preparing that meal. You serve all the wonderful food then step out of the way, so as not to get run over or lose a hand. You watch from a safe distance as this meal is devoured in a matter of seconds then it is time to clean it up. Meanwhile everyone else is reclined somewhere complaining how miserably full they are. Take your time and savor the flavor from each bite, chewing thoroughly, not simply swallowing. This will at least show the cooks how much you appreciate their time and effort.

Try these recipe substitutions to make your dish healthier:

Recipe Substitution
1 whole egg 2 egg whites
¼ cup liquid egg product
Sour Cream Low-fat or fat-free sour cream
Low-fat or fat free plain yogurt
Milk Skim milk
Heavy cream (not for whipping) 2 tbsp. flour whisked into 2 cups skim milk
Whipped cream Non-fat whipped products
Cheese Low-fat or fat-free varieties
Granulated sugar Sugar substitutes
Mayonnaise Low-fat or non-fat varieties
Creamed soups Low-fat or fat-free
Gravy with flour or corn starch Substitute flour/cornstarch with a little arrowroot
Cooking oil Equivalent measurements then add a little extra applesauce

Here are a couple of side recipes to try. Both are really good. I really love these sweet potatoes. Watch for next blog coming out shortly. I will have a couple of desserts for you.

Maple-Roasted Sweet Potatoes

2 ½ pounds sweet potatoes cut into chunks
1/3 cup sugar-free maple syrup
2 tbsp light butter
1 tbsp lemon juice

Preheat oven to 400°F. Place potatoes in a single layer in a 9×13 inch glass baking dish. In a small bowl, combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, Pour mixture over the sweet potatoes and toss to coat. Cover and bake for about 15 minutes. Uncover, stir, and continue cooking for about 45 minutes more until potatoes are tender; stirring about every 15 minutes until they start to brown. Serves 12.

Nutritional Information per Serving:
Calories 96
Saturated fat 1 gram
Total fat 2 grams
Carbohydrates 19 grams

Adapted from www.everydayhealth.com

Quick Creamed Spinach

1 bag (1 pound) frozen spinach leaves, thawed
4 ounces fat-free cream cheese
¾ cup skim milk
Nonstick cooking spray
1 small onion, finely chopped
Pinch ground nutmeg
¼ cup shredded or grated Parmesan cheese

Salt and pepper to taste. After thawing spinach, drain reserving 2 tablespoons of juice. In medium saucepan over low heat, combine the cream cheese, milk, and spinach juice. Simmer and stir, breaking up the cheese. The mixture will not be smooth. Remove from heat and add the nutmeg. In medium saucepan, sprayed with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion until soft over medium heat. Add spinach, salt and pepper and mix. Add milk mixture and stir to mix. Transfer to small casserole coated with nonstick cooking spray. Top with Parmesan cheese. Cook in over at 350 degrees until warmed through. Serves 4.

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories 145
Total fat 7 grams
Carbohydrates 7 grams
11 grams protein

Adapted from www.southbeachdiet.com.

Turkeys Are Made For Stuffing – People Are Not

The holiday season is jammed packed with many opportunities to enjoy great food, family and friends. We also tend to break out all those wonderful food items from fundraisers our kids, neighbor’s kids and work-place kids sold at the start of the school year. My freezer has several various kinds of cookie dough, apple strudel and cinnamon braids bought from various fundraisers. Not to mention all the wonderful items I bake during this season; breads, cookies, candies, etc.

So, with all these wonderful items within easy reach or nagging at us from the dark depths of the freezer, how can we enjoy this holiday season without gaining the proverbial 7-10 pounds? Approximately 2/3 of Americans are overweight or obese. Studies show that those whose weight, or body mass index (BMI), is in the normal range gain less during the holiday season than those whose weight or BMI is greater than normal. Regardless, we do not work to lose those gained pounds which tend to accumulate over the years putting us at risk for being overweight or obese in the future.

My family tends to congregate at my house and leaves their left-over goodies there as well, filling my available refrigerator space with items that are just screaming to be consumed. We do have a standing rule: the hostess plans the menu. This gives me some control over what is served. We each, of course, have our special dishes that we like to prepare. I know what each person will bring and I fill in the blanks ensuring the meal is balanced, provides some healthy alternatives as well and making sure there is something for everyone.

Here are some menu planning tips:

  • Make a conscious effort to limit high fat items. Fat and calories are easily hidden in foods such as:
      • [pullquote]

      • Fried foods
      • Cream-based soups
      • Casseroles
      • Cheese-filled items
      • Gravy
      • Baked good
      • Pastries
      • Pies
      • Processed meats such as salami or sausages


  • Add steamed vegetables to the menu
  • Serve low-fat deli meats
  • Serve sweet potatoes instead of white potatoes
  • Try a wild rice stuffing instead of cornbread or bread stuffing or the boxed variety
  • Serve 100% whole grain rolls in place of the traditional white rolls.
  • Watch sugar consumption. When you binge on items high in sugar you crave more sugar and your body slows down.
  • Take a walk as exercise burns calories.

I will give you some recipe substitutions in the next posting so watch the website closely. I will also post some recipes for some of our traditional favorites. If you have a favorite recipe, and want to know how to make it healthier, feel free to post it on Facebook. You may wish to ask for a specific recipe as well. Here is a recipe for the traditional green bean casserole. I was pleasantly surprised at how good this was. I used fresh green beans but canned or frozen should work fine as well.

Fresh Green Bean Casserole

1 ½ pounds green beans
2 tbsp. light butter
3 tbsp. flour
1 tbsp. dry ranch salad dressing mix
¼ tsp. white pepper
1 ½ cups skim milk
1 cup chopped onion
2 cloves minced garlic
1 ½ cups sliced mushrooms
1 cup whole wheat bread crumbs (1 1/3 slices)

Preheat oven to 375° F. Cook green beans until tender-crisp, drain, set aside. White sauce: In saucepan melt butter. Stir in flour and dry ranch dressing mix, and pepper. Stir in milk. Cook and stir with a wire whisk over medium heat until thickened and bubbly. Remove from heat. In saucepan, that is heated and coated with nonstick cooking spray, cook onion and garlic until onion is tender. Remove half the onion mixture and set aside. Add the mushrooms and cook until tender. In a 2 quart casserole combine the green beans, mushroom mixture and white sauce. In small bowl add the bread crumbs to the reserved onions. Sprinkle over the green bean mixture. Bake uncovered for about 25-30 minutes. Serves 10

Nutritional Information Per Serving:
Calories 107
Total fat 3 grams
Carbohydrate 14 grams

Taken from www.diabeticlivingonline.com.