Dine: A Thinner Turkey Day

Usually my Thanksgiving has a few requirements. Stretchy pants, pumpkin pie, and a nap. So of course when I was talking about my love for those three things to our fitness girl Shellie, she was not having it. She is here today to give us some tips for not over doing it on Thanksgiving AND ways to make your favorite dishes just a little more healthy! 

Thanksgiving is a favorite holiday for many people, including myself.  Who doesn’t love an entire day devoted to great food, football, and spending time with family and friends?  Unfortunately, Thanksgiving has also turned into a national day of overeating.

Life is too short not to enjoy the Thanksgiving meal, especially considering it is a very food-centered holiday.  However, I dread the way I feel after eating entirely too much of my favorite foods.  To counter that feeling I have figured out ways to no longer let Thanksgiving Day sabotage my healthy lifestyle and hard work in the gym.  By making a few adjustments to cooking preparations and following the healthy guidelines listed below, you can enjoy your favorite Thanksgiving dishes and will still be able to button your jeans afterwards!

  1.  Exercise: Try to incorporate some type of exercise into your Thanksgiving Day. Go for a bike ride, a walk, attend an exercise class, or participate in an organized Thanksgiving run.   Burning off some extra calories will help you feel better about eating a piece of pie later.
  2. Eat Breakfast: One of the biggest mistakes you can make is showing up for a Thanksgiving meal hungry.  Skipping breakfast to save calories for later will only cause you to be hungrier at dinner, leading to overeating! One of my favorite breakfast meals includes a slice of turkey bacon, a slice of whole-grain toast with almond butter, ¼ cup of fruit, and 2 scrambled eggs.
  3. Skip the Usual: Don’t waste your calories on the food you can have all year long!  If you are going to treat yourself, at least choose foods that you don’t get to enjoy very often. Pumpkin pie always tops my list of must eats!
  4. Slow Down: Take time to savor the food you eat and its flavor.  It takes your brain about 20 minutes to realize you are full, so slow down to prevent overeating.
  5. Portion Control: Serve food from smaller dishes and use smaller plates and bowls on the table.  Fill half of your plate with vegetables and salad, and the other half with 1/4 protein, and 1/4 starch.
  6. Drink lots of water! Staying hydrated will make you feel more full and eat less.
  7. Go Lighter: If you are cooking or bringing a dish, try to opt for some lighter options. 

For some ideas, check out the recipes below:

Apple-Shallot Roasted Turkey with Cider Gravy

Thinner Turkey Day | Handley breaux Designs | Lifestyle Blog



1 10- to12- pound turkey

2 tablespoons canola oil

2 tablespoons chopped fresh parsley, plus 3 sprigs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh sage, plus 3 sprigs

1 tablespoon chopped fresh thyme, plus 3 sprigs

1 teaspoon kosher salt

1 teaspoon freshly ground pepper

1 1/2 pounds shallots, peeled and halved lengthwise, divided

1 tart green apple, quartered

3 cups water, plus more as needed


6 cups water, 1 medium onion, peeled and quartered, 1 medium carrot, chopped, 1 stalk celery, chopped, 1 teaspoon whole black peppercorns, 1 bay leaf , 1 sprig fresh thyme


3 tablespoons all-purpose flour

1 1/4 cups apple cider

2 tablespoons cider vinegar

1/4 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper to taste


1. To prepare turkey: Position rack in lower third of oven; preheat to 475°F.

2. Remove giblets and neck from turkey cavities and reserve to make stock.Place the turkey, breast-side up, on a rack in a large roasting pan; pat dry withpaper towels.

3. Combine oil, chopped herbs, salt and pepper in a small bowl. Rub the herbmixture all over the turkey, under the skin and onto the breast meat. Place herb sprigs, 6 shallot halves and apple in the cavity. Tuck the wing tips under the turkey. Tie the legs together with kitchen string. Add 3 cups water to the pan.

4. Roast the turkey until the skin is golden brown, 45 minutes. Remove from the oven. If using a remote digital thermometer, insert it into the deepest part of the thigh, close to the joint. Cover just the breast with a double layer of foil, cutting as necessary to fit. Scatter the remaining shallots in the pan around the turkey.

5. Reduce oven temperature to 350°. Return the turkey to the oven and continue roasting until the thermometer (or an instant-read thermometer inserted into the thickest part of the thigh without touching bone) registers 165°F, 1 to 1 3/4 hours more. If the pan dries out, add 1 cup water and tilt the turkey to let juices run out of the cavity into the pan.

6. Meanwhile, prepare stock: Combine neck and giblets (except liver), 6 cups water, onion, carrot and celery in a large saucepan; bring to a boil. Add peppercorns, bay leaf and thyme. Reduce heat and simmer, skimming and discarding any foam, for 1 hour.

7. Strain stock through a fine-mesh sieve into a medium bowl and let cool. Discard solids.

8. When the turkey is done, transfer to a serving platter (reserve pan juices and shallots), tent with foil and let rest for 20 minutes.

9. Meanwhile, prepare gravy: Whisk 1/2 cup of the cooled stock with flour in a small bowl until smooth.

10. Set the roasting pan over two burners on medium-high heat. Add cider and vinegar; bring to a boil and cook, scraping up the browned bits from the pan, until the liquid is reduced by about half, 6 to 8 minutes. Add 3 1/2 cups of the stock. Increase heat to high; return to a boil, whisking often. Boil until the liquid is reduced by about half, 8 to 12 minutes.

11. Whisk the flour mixture into the pan. Boil, whisking constantly, until the gravy is thickened, 1 to 3 minutes. Remove from the heat and pour the gravy through a fine sieve into a large measuring cup. (Discard the solids.) Season with salt and pepper.

12. Remove the string from the turkey and carve. Serve with the gravy.

Maple Roasted Sweet Potatoes

roasted sweet potatoes | handley breaux designs | lifestyle blog


2-1/2 pounds sweet potatoes and yams, peeled and cut into 1-1/2-    

 inch pieces (about 8 cups)

1/3 cup pure maple syrup

1 tablespoon butter, melted

1 tablespoon lemon juice

1/2 teaspoon salt

Freshly ground pepper, to taste

1/8 cup pecans, chopped


Preheat oven to 400°F. Arrange sweet potatoes and yams in an even layer in a 9-by-13-inch glass baking dish. Combine maple syrup, butter, lemon juice, and salt and pepper in small bowl. Pour the mixture over the sweet potatoes; toss to coat. Cover and bake the sweet potatoes for 15 minutes. Uncover, stir, and cook, stirring every 15 minutes, until tender and starting to brown, 45 to 50 minutes more. Top with chopped pecans. (serves 8)

Green Beans with Bacon and Hazelnuts

green beans | handley breaux designs lifestyle | lifestyle blog


1 teaspoon canola oil

1 large shallot, minced

1 pound green beans, trimmed

1/2 cup water

2 slices bacon, cooked and crumbled

2 tablespoons chopped toasted hazelnuts

1/4 teaspoon salt


Heat oil in a large skillet over medium-high heat. Add shallot and cook, stirring, until starting to brown, 30 seconds to 1 minute. Add green beans and cook, stirring often, until seared in spots, 2 to 3 minutes. Add water; cover, reduce heat to medium and cook, stirring occasionally, about 3 minutes for tender-crisp or 6 minutes for tender. Remove from heat and stir in bacon, hazelnuts and salt.

Thank you Shellie for sharing how to have a healthier Thanksgiving! I can't wait to use these recipes for my Friendsgiving in a couple of weeks!