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Ever wonder how many calories get racked up at the Thanksgiving table? On average, Americans consume 4,500 calories the day of the feast, and that’s not including breakfast, appetizers or a midnight turkey sandwich. But a little nutritional knowledge is power.
Below are the calorie counts for traditional Thanksgiving dishes, and while there’s no need to deny yourself on one of the best food holidays there is, it may be worth pacing yourself. If you’re trying to stay on track, maybe grab a half-cup of stuffing instead of a whole one. Or enjoy a sliver of pie rather than a giant wedge. (And remember to take a nice walk on Friday.)
Topping the list, at 420 calories a serving (more than a slice of apple pie!), are candied yams. For a lighter version of the side dish with the same decadent flavor as the original, check out the recipe below, which uses sweetened Greek yogurt in place of the traditional marshmallows.
Thanksgiving Calorie Counts (Highest to Lowest)
Candied yams/sweet potatoes (6 ounces): 420 calories
Apple pie (1 slice from 9-inch pie): 411 calories
Cornbread stuffing (1 cup): 358 calories
Bread stuffing, without meat (1 cup): 354 calories
Pumpkin pie (1 slice from 9-inch pie): 316 calories
Mashed potatoes (1 cup): 237 calories
Vanilla ice cream (1/2 cup): 137 calories
Turkey leg (3 ounces): 135 calories
Turkey breast (3 ounces): 115 calories
Cranberry sauce (1/2-inch thick slice from can): 57 calories
Whipped cream (1 tablespoon): 26 calories
Gravy (1/4 cup): 25 calories
Whipped Candied Yams with Maple Cream
2 large orange-fleshed yams (about 2 pounds total), peeled and cut into 2-inch pieces
6 ounces plain nonfat Greek yogurt
2 tablespoons pure maple syrup
3 tablespoons light brown sugar
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1/4 teaspoon ground cinnamon
Salt and freshly ground black pepper
1. Place the sweet potatoes in a large saucepan and pour over enough water to cover by about 2 inches. Set the pan over high heat and bring to a boil. Boil for 10 minutes, until the potatoes are fork-tender.
2. In a small bowl, combine the yogurt and maple syrup. Mix until blended and smooth.
3. Drain the potatoes and return them to the pan or a food processor. Add all but 2 tablespoons of the maple-yogurt mixture, brown sugar, butter, and cinnamon and mash with a fork or process in the food processor until smooth. Season to taste with salt and pepper if desired. Transfer the sweet potatoes to a serving bowl and top with remaining maple-yogurt mixture.
Nutrition Info Per Serving (1/2 cup; 6.4 ounces)
Total Fat: 2 grams
Saturated Fat: 1 gram
Total Carbohydrate: 42 grams
Sugars: 21 grams
Protein: 4 grams
Sodium: 69 milligrams
Cholesterol: 6 milligrams
Fiber: 5 grams
Robin Miller is host of Quick Fix Meals, a nutritionist and author of 10 cookbooks, including “Robin Takes 5” and “Robin Takes 5 for Busy Families.” She is the busy mom of two active boys. Her boys and great food are her passion. Check her out at www.robinmillercooks.com.
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