Celebrity trainer and PEOPLE.com blogger Harley Pasternak give his top 5 tips for a healthy, happy Thanksgiving. Plus, he shares some holiday recipes from some of his star clients like Jessica Simpson and Megan Fox.
Turkey, stuffing, corn bread, cranberry sauce, apple pie, sweet potatoes with marshmallow topping: Thanksgiving has gone from being a day when we give thanks for everything we have, to a day when we EAT everything we have!
Studies show that people can eat between 3,000 to 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving alone, which is, of course, a lot more than necessary on a generally sedentary day.
While I completely support treating yourself on Thanksgiving, I encourage you to be at least somewhat mindful about what you consume. Studies show that people tend to gain 5 to 7 lbs. between Thanksgiving and Christmas. And I don’t want your health and fitness goals to be set back because of what’s supposed to be a joyous holiday.
Let this Thanksgiving be the first one in which the turkey – and not you – is the thing getting stuffed!
5 Tips for Making Thanksgiving Healthier
1. Walk it out!
The morning of Thanksgiving, go for a brisk walk. If you’re traveling to Thanksgiving dinner, park your car a few blocks away and walk the extra distance. After dinner, get some fresh air and walk around the block. Before you know it, you will have taken a few extra thousand steps, burned off your dessert and helped your digestion!
2. Eat a healthy breakfast and lunch
Filling up on “good calories” on Thanksgiving is key in controlling your appetite come dinnertime. Showing up ravenous to Thanksgiving dinner is never a good idea.
3. Exercise portion control
I know some think this is Thanksgiving sacrilege, but honestly portion control is the name of the game. First, start with a smaller plate. Smaller plates equal smaller portions. Next, follow the 3:2:1 rule: 3 parts veggies, 2 parts protein, 1 part whole grains.
4. Lose the booze!
Not only is alcohol almost twice as calorically dense as carbohydrates and protein, but your body stops burning fat as efficiently when you drink!
5. Take your time
I always say, life’s too short not to enjoy yourself on special days, and Thanksgiving dinner is definitely one of them! So go ahead and cut yourself a piece of mom’s pecan pie – but instead of shoveling it in your mouth, slow down and enjoy each bite.
Try Some of My Clients’ Thanksgiving Recipes
Jessica Simpson’s Broccoli Rice Casserole
The truth is that my client Jessica Simpson – who is looking amazing these days! – loves using Cheese Whiz. But I modified her recipe and substituted real light cheddar cheese to make this holiday casserole more healthy.
• 2 (10 ounce) boxes frozen chopped broccoli, thawed
• 2 cups cooked rice
• 8 ounces shredded lite cheddar cheese
• 2 (10¾ ounce) cans cream of chicken soup. Or you use 1 can each of cream of chicken and cream of mushroom soup
• 1 small onion, chopped
• 2 tablespoons of olive oil
• Cook onion in oil in a large skillet until soft.
• Add remaining ingredients and cook just until cheese is melted.
• Put in 2 quart casserole dish.
• Bake at 350 (uncovered) for 1 hour.
To make ahead and freeze: Mix all ingredients together (start with your rice cooked, not raw) and spoon into two or even three smaller casserole dishes, cover, label and freeze. If you thaw overnight, just cook for one hour. If cooking from frozen state, add 10 minutes or so, check for doneness.
Megan Fox’s ‘Healthy’ Pumpkin Pie
• 1 (15 ounce) can of pumpkin
• 8 ounces of skim milk or 8 ounces low-fat soymilk
• 3 egg whites
• ½ reduced fat graham cracker crust (Take off the sides of the crust and discard)
• 1 cup agave
• pumpkin pie spice
• 2 egg whites, for the crust
• Preheat oven to 425 F.
• Mix pumpkin, milk and egg whites until smooth.
• Gradually stir in agave.
• Add the pumpkin pie spice; taste and add more if needed.
• Pour into crust and spread evenly.
• Bake in the oven for 15 minutes then reduce the temperature to 350 F and bake for another 45 minutes (may vary depending on ovens).
• Let cool and serve
Makes 8 servings
Jordana Brewster’s Healthy Stuffing
• 1 tablespoon of olive oil
• 14 ounces of stuffing bread (such as Pepperidge Farm or Mrs. Cubbisons)
• ½ cup chopped onion
• ½ cup diced celery
• ½ cup diced carrots
• ½ cup diced mushroom
• 2-3 cloves of garlic
• 2- 2½ cup chicken broth
• Poultry seasoning to taste (I usually use 1-2 tsp)
• Pepper to taste around 1 tsp
• Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
• Heat a large sauté pan. Once heated, add oil and spray with cooking spray.
• Add carrots and saute. Add celery, onion, garlic and mushroom add additional cooking spray. If needed, continue cooking until veggies are tender.
• Remove from heat, transfer to bowl and allow to cool slightly.
• In a large bowl add bread stuffing and veggies. Toss together and season with pepper and poultry seasoning.
• Add chicken broth and mix until moist, but not soaking. Taste and adjust seasoning as necessary.
• Spray casserole dish with cooking spray and add stuffing mix.
• Cover with foil and bake 20-25 minutes. Uncover and cook additional 10 minutes or until slightly crispy on top.
Makes around 16 servings
Have a healthy Thanksgiving recipe? Tweet me at @harleypasternak or leave a comment below!
Check back every Wednesday for more insider tips from celebrity trainer Harley Pasternak on Hollywood’s hottest bodies – and learn how to get one yourself! Plus: follow Harley on Twitter at @harleypasternak