Blue Cross Blue Shield of Mississippi

Maintain Don't Gain This Holiday Season

Kathy Graves, MS, RD, LD

Are you already dreading all the food you will consume during the holidays?  The stores had us thinking about Thanksgiving and Christmas months ago when decorations went on display in late summer!  There will likely be so many yummy casseroles, sides, breads and desserts to consume at many gatherings.  Did you know the traditional holiday plate has about 2,400 calories on it! Whoa, that is more than the average person needs in a day. Don’t worry though, you can escape the holidays without added weight and even aim to lose weight. 

Tip #1: Have a game plan even for the holidays.  Planning your meals helps reduce the amount of calories, fat and sugar consumed.  Choose 3-4 dishes that are absolute favorites and forgo the rest.  Also, swap high-calorie ingredients for low-calorie ingredients.  Low-fat cheese, Greek yogurt instead of sour cream, Splenda vs. sugar, etc.

Tip #2: Portion control.  This can really help during the holidays if you are mindful of how much is going on your plate.  Instead of going for two scoops of the sweet potato casserole, have only one scoop.  Smaller portions of each food will help you not be over-stuffed and not feel deprived. 

Tip #3:  Remove excess fat.  Eliminating the skin from the turkey will reduce the amount of fat you eat.  Throw in some fresh vegetable dishes instead of casseroles to cut down the amount of fat consumed.

Tip #4:  Cut sodium.  Ease up on the amount of gravy so you are consuming less sodium.  Also, turkey has less sodium than ham. 

Tip #5:  Skip the calorie and sugar filled drinks.  Instead of grabbing a glass of sweet tea or soda, grab a cold glass of water.  This is a simple way to cut extra calories from a holiday meal.  If you want to drink something with flavor, choose a sugar-free option.

Don’t wait until the New Year to start eating healthy or trying to lose weight.  Get a head start by being mindful of your holiday plate!

Maple Syrup-Glazed Sweet Potato Casserole

6 servings; 1 cup per serving


40 oz. canned, chopped sweet potatoes in light syrup, drained or 1 1/2 pounds cooked sweet potatoes
1 1/4 tsp. pumpkin pie spice, divided
1/4 tsp. salt
1 tsp. vanilla extract
2 large egg whites
1/4 cup unsalted pumpkin seeds
1 Tbsp. olive oil
2 Tbsp. maple syrup
2 Tbsp. all-purpose flour

  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Drain the sweet potatoes and add to large bowl. Using a potato masher or fork, mash well. Stir in 1 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice, salt, and extract.
  3. Add egg whites into mixer bowl. Using a whisk attachment (or hand mixer) whip the egg whites on high speed until firm peaks form, about 3 to 4 minutes. Use a spatula to gently fold egg whites into the sweet potato mixture.
  4. Coat 1.5-quart baking dish with cooking spray. Transfer the sweet potato mixture into the baking dish.
  5. In a small bowl, stir together pumpkin seeds, oil, maple syrup, flour and remaining 1/4 teaspoon pumpkin pie spice. Sprinkle over the sweet potatoes.
  6. Bake in preheated oven until sweet potatoes are fluffy and topping is golden-brown, about 20-25 minutes.
Nutrition Facts (per serving):
Calories 249
Total Fat 5.5g
Cholesterol 0g
Sodium 176mg
Carbohydrates 46g
Protein 5g
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