Ten Ways to Be a Kill-joy on Thanksgiving, as reported by NBC

21 Nov

I just skimmed this article on MSNBC’s website.  If you are a freak, these diet tips might be great for you.  But I’m pretty sure stuffing yourself to capacity is pretty much standard on Thanksgiving.  So here is the article with commentary by yours truly.

1. Eat breakfast! Don’t starve all day — you’ll overeat later.
Savings: 550 calories

We think that skipping breakfast will “save” calories that we can use later for the big meal. Not true! Meal skipping leads to overeating later — you start to eat, and then become over-hungry, with less control over your food choices, not more. Most typically, when the appetizers arrive, before the meal, the breakfast skippers grab some combination of a few handfuls of nuts (300 calories), chips and dip (250 calories) and/or a few pigs in blankets (250 calories) or other hot appetizers just to “tide” us over until the main meal.

Translation:  Start early!  Eat breakfast because your mom put out a shitload of scones and bagels and you’re making omelets to eat while you watch the parade.  This will not save you calories, but it’s a damn good way to wake up Thanksgiving!

2.Start with soup — chunky veggie or other clear soup fills you up so you’re not ravenous.
Savings: 250 calories.

A low-calorie hot liquid helps to fill you up, so you have a better sense of contentment on fewer calories. A cup of tomato-vegetable soup or consomme with julienned vegetables is satisfying — and a better choice than a cream soup, or even a salad with full-fat dressing (350 calories). It is the lowest-calorie appetizer choice (about 80 calories a cup), with the added benefit of extra fullness (many studies show that hot soup prior to a meal helps you eat less later on).

If you start with soup in my family, you’re getting Grandma’s creamy mushroom soup.  While this is an elixir of some very bad-ass gods, it really packs on the pounds.  I think the base for this soup is actually heavy cream.  So yeah, I love soup too, but come on–at least I eat a good soup, and I’m honest–it’s fattening!  Oh, and writer–you forgot that the opportunity cost of filling up on watery gruel defeats the purpose of saved calories.

3. Replace the fat in stuffing with low-sodium chicken broth and add a bunch of chopped vegetables to “dilute” the bread.
Savings: 250 calories.

Many recipes have 2 to 3 sticks of butter or margarine as the “liquid” to moisten the bread stuffing. Replace all that fat with equal amounts of low-sodium chicken broth (the boxed variety is fine — no need for organic) for extra flavor without calories. A cup of chicken broth is around 10 calories — compared with an ounce of butter at 100 calories. (A stick of butter/margarine is 800 calories.) Also, rough-chop celery, mushrooms and onions to “bulk up” the volume of your stuffing, without the calories of bread, so the calories per serving are reduced. By replacing the fat and adding more vegetables, you’ll save 250 calories per serving.

Skinny bitch say what?  I’m very sorry, but if you think broth can take butter’s place, you are probably the type who is running on a treadmill as you eat Thanksgiving dinner anyway.  This is a miserable idea.  I am actually thankful for the pure memory I have of a truffle butter loaded stuffing I made a couple years ago.  It’s called stuffing, not un-stuffing!

4. Alternate your alcohol. Have a drink, then a seltzer or diet soda — cut your calories in half.
Savings: 500 calories.

Alcohol contains a whopping 7 calories/gram — almost as much as fat (which is 9 calories per gram; protein and carbs are 4 calories/gram). It’s a long afternoon/evening when people tend to imbibe more than usual. Cutting just two to three mixed drinks from your celebration will cut 500 calories. An average Mai Tai has 350 calories; a martini, 225 calories. Also — no one knows what is in your glass (a common worry among people). Another tip: If you’re a wine drinker, you can alternate as above, or choose to make a “spritzer” through the evening — half wine and half seltzer — that cuts the calories.

Really.  First and foremost, I want to know who makes Mai Tais on Thanksgiving day (besides, maybe, Sandra Lee).  While I understand alternating with water to keep from going into a coma, I want to remind everyone that falling asleep drunk on Thanksgiving commonly gets written off as “attack of the tryptophan,” and is therefore totally acceptable.  Turkey is by far the greatest scapegoat man has ever created. Why don’t they serve turkey at college parties?  Passing out drunk would technically not exist!

5. Use a tablespoon to serve yourself instead of a ladle! Built-in portion control.
Savings: 800 calories.

Compare a tablespoon in serving size to a typical serving spoon — about one-third to one-half cup. With two kinds of creamy potatoes, stuffing, creamed spinach, cranberry sauce and all kinds of other family favorites, like macaroni and cheese, downsizing your serving size with a tablespoon saves you about 150 calories/dish.

No matter what you do, your plate will still be full.  And you will refill it.  Exhibit A:

a little nibble to start!

6. Skip the skin. Cut the calories in half per serving. Eat the meat you like — very little difference in calories of dark and white meat.
Savings: 300 calories.

For a 6-ounce serving of turkey, taking off the skin saves about 300 calories. It doesn’t make much caloric difference whether you eat white or dark meat — what does save the calories is skipping the skin.

This violates everything that is good about food, you crazy health-freak!  I mean, I know it’s your job to report on health, but the skin?!  The skin!?  A turkey dies to feed your skin-and-bones family who apparently doesn’t eat much, and you don’t respect it enough to eat that beautiful skin?  That glorious crispiness we rub with butter and honey and salt, just to make it brown and beautiful…you just throw it away?  This troubling thought makes me question the meaning of life.

7. De-fat your gravy. Even a ladleful can be a calorie-bomb.
Savings: 200 calories.

Fat-free gravy can be full of flavor. Cook your turkey with enough time to cool the pan juices and make your gravy — after dumping the hardened fat that rises to the top. Or, use a gravy separator to get rid of the fat.

Gravy: Thanksgiving::Lube: Sex.  The gravy helps things go down better, OK?  And slippery fat is awfully helpful in the equation.  Besides which, it’s fucking delicious.  Let me tell you what my gravy-making process involves: I make a stock with the neck and aromatics all morning while the turkey roasts and renders deliciousness into the roasting pan.  I then sear and chop up the giblets.  I take the roasting pan and skim off the excess fat and deglaze with sherry or port.  That is the only point fat should be taken away.  Then, I add a bit of flour and the gizzards back to the pan I seared them in and cook the flour.  I scrape the roasting pan into that pan and then add my strained stock and let all this simmer until it reaches perfection.  Then, I ADD BUTTER.  Ha!

8. Lose the crust. Make your favorite pumpkin pie filling, and put in small ramekins. Bake until firm. Top with some chopped walnuts or a swirl of whipped cream.
Savings: 200 calories.

The crust is fat laden, and most people don’t even miss it. This works for apple pie as well — put the apples in a small ramekin, sprinkle with sugar and cinnamon, and bake. Another way to save 200 calories is swap out a slice of pecan pie and have a single-crust apple pie with some walnuts mixed in instead.

Whoa.  Butter, lard, and a little practice, and you can do anything!  Especially make pie crusts…There is nothing better than a crisp, buttery crust holding that hot, meltingly delicious apple filling at the end of your meal.  End of story.

9.  Choose a simple potato. Baked white or sweet — as nature intended — without a casserole filled with extra fat and sugar.
Savings: 250 calories.

Go plain for the potato — and sprinkle with fresh or dried herbs and seasonings, including ground pepper and chives. Skip the butter, cheese and sour-cream mix-ins — and the brown sugar in sweet potato casseroles (brown sugar is not a “health food” and has the same calories as white table sugar). Use some of your de-fatted gravy on top for extra flavor.

Or, you can take some rum, which nature intended sugarcane to be used for, and add it to a puree of sweet potatoes, brown butter, maple syrup, nutmeg, and thyme and put it in a deep casserole covered with hazelnut streusel.  But you know, whatever suits you, dude.  I mean, if that potato still sounds good to you, that’s fine.

10. Take a 30-minute walk after eating, instead of a nap.
Savings: 200 calories.

This might be the hardest part of all. Most people want to go directly from the dinner table to the couch! Avoid that and grab a walking partner to take a 30-minute walk. It will aid digestion as well. It’s initiating the walk that’s the problem. But everyone finds that once they’ve started the walk, they’re very glad they’ve done it.

This plan is probably only viable for those with access to Kryptonite or methamphetamine.  I guess I’d go on a walk if I had a Segway, but I don’t.  And I’m pretty sure if the pilgrims went for a walk, they would have gotten lost or scalped by Squanto.  It just wasn’t meant to be.

If he's gonna sacrifice his life for you, eat him. And do him justice.


2 Responses to “Ten Ways to Be a Kill-joy on Thanksgiving, as reported by NBC”

  1. chefbrian1 November 21, 2010 at 8:27 am #

    Great post.

    I mean, what is the point to freaking out about calories during Thanksgiving?

    Are we supposed to give up our B-day cake too.


  2. Laura November 21, 2010 at 4:24 pm #

    Hahhaha! That is the funniest post! And very true!

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