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Making the Best of a Distanced Thanksgiving 2020 Style

We invited Kim Concra, LDN from Cape Cod Cooperative Extension to talk with us about keeping our nutrition on track during the Holidays because, let's face it, under normal circumstances we overeat at this time of the year!

Can you believe Thanksgiving is this week? I cannot believe how quickly this holiday happened! It feels as if we went from zero to 100 this fall! This has been a tumultuous year for all of us, and the main hope for the holiday season is to consider those around our table and those from a distance - how they teach, inspire and enrich our lives; and how thankful we are for them to be a part of our existence. These tips, tricks and swaps, however clever, aren’t necessary to enjoy a holiday meal. Wether or not you decide to implement some of Kim’s substitutions or not, guilt should never have a seat at the table.


Appetizers & Snacks

When it comes to appetizers and snacks to hold us over while the main course cooks, a good rule of thumb is to go for the rainbow! Use the social moments before the sit-down to get your vitamins in! Pair vegetables with cruit d’ete; lighter cheese options and beans can make great dips; and some Cape Cod classics like shrimp cocktail or oysters are both low in calories and fat, while rich in protein and minerals! Bean Dips can be as easy as pureeing a can of rinsed beans and adding salsa, prepared pesto, or even pureed cooked beet!

Kim’s light cheese dip option

  • ½ c. fat-free sour cream

  • 8 ounces fat-free/reduced fat cream cheese

  • garlic clove

  • 1T. Dried herbs (try dill, oregano, basil, thyme, chervil)



Arguably the favorite part of the meal for so many of us, a few quick switches can ward off that “food coma” feeling:

Lower fat gravy

Skim the fat and thicken with a water and cornstarch mix.

  • If your home is like ours and can never get enough gravy, try adding low fat canned broth to help it go further!


  • Add lots of diced vegetables cooked in a touch of oil

  • Add broth to moisten in place of butter.

  • Add chopped apple, dried cranberries and a handful of chopped nuts for a rich, fall - inspired holiday taste.


  • Serve at least two steamed, baked or roasted vegetables to balance the fat and add fiber to your meal


The Main Course

Whether you’re a turkey purist or your family prefers an alternate protein, there are a couple of tips for turkey or ham to ensure the delicious main is the star of the meal,

The turkey

  • Watch out for turkeys pumped up with high fat, high sodium solutions

  • The thaw law: never thaw the turney on the counter! Insead, allow it to thaw in the fridge a couple of days prior to the big dinner! In a pinch, you can also place the bird in a large, deep bowl in the sink and run cold water over it

  • Cook turkey until at least 165 degrees F - this means a stuffed bird needs to be that temp inside, too! Be aware if you’re planning on cooking your stuffing within the turkey.

The ham

  • Buy 98% lean spiral hams and rinse before cooking to remove additional sodium

  • Keep to a 3 ounce portion and fill up on lower sodium side dishes



Another bright spot that so many of us look forward to! Making substitutions on desserts might feel heartbreaking for some, but Kim’s favorites won’t have you missing out and you'll be ready enough for a family walk once the cleanup is finished!

Pro Tips

  • Substitute a lowfat graham cracker crust for a traditional pie crust.

  • Pie Filling: use evaporated skim milk instead of regular evaporated milk and remove 70 calories per ½ cup.

  • Use 2 egg whites instead of a whole egg and save 50 calories and 5 grams of fat.

Kim’s Go-To Thanksgiving Desserts:

Baked fruit- great to make with pears or apples

  • Core fruit, stuff with dried fruits, season with spices such as cinnamon, cardamom, cloves and nutmeg

  • Pour fruit juice/nectar over them and bake at 350 degrees F. until tender, about 20-25 minutes

  • Top with lowfat yogurt and a sprinkling of chopped nuts

Sensational Pumpkin Dip - Dip gingersnap cookies, graham crackers, apples, etc.

  • ½ cup of canned pure pumpkin

  • 1 cup of vanilla yogurt

  • 1/2-3/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice

  • Mix all ingredients together

  • No pumpkin spice? Use:

    • ½ tsp cinnamon

  • 1/8 tsp cloves

  • 1/8 tsp nutmeg



Arguably the best part of the meal! Who doesn't look forward to turkey soup, split pea soup, ham and turkey sandwiches, oh my!! Just remember that leftovers need to be refrigerated within 2 hours. Hot food should be stored in shallow containers to cool quickly and make sure to freeze (or discard) leftovers within a couple of days. Consider breaking out those frozen goodies in the weeks to come to prepare some of the following meals:

  • Soups

  • Shepherd’s pie

  • Casseroles

  • Quick skillet dishes

  • Quesadillas

  • Sandwiches

  • Stir-fry

  • Salads for lunch


Socialization & Inclusion

Of course, this wouldn’t be the 2020 Thanksgiving if we didn’t remind one another to always be respectful of the boundaries of others and that we must all do our part to keep our communities safe and healthy! If you are down because you won't be gathering with all of your loved ones maybe try one of the following:

  • Consider a group zoom or facebook live dinner or dessert sharing. A great way to include family members from separate households. Exchange recipes beforehand so that all households can have a taste of some signature dishes!

  • Look up some ‘conversation starters’ to share across the miles for some laughs. Or, go for a game of charades - Why not??

  • The virtual dance party - whether you believe Thanksgiving is an event for christmas music or not, the dance party is a great way to burn those extra calories!

The holidays can be a challenging time. To stay healthy and manage stress, engage in your favorite physical activity whenever you can. No need to go to the gym—walking the dog, doing chores around the house, playing outside, dancing, and doing gentle stretches all count! If you'd like to watch Our workshop, please follow this link to our YouTube Channel.

All of us at Cape Cod Healthy Connections would like to wish you and yours the best Thanksgiving ever. We are working hard to get more activies and workshops for you! Please subscribe to our site and follow us on Facebook and Instagram.

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