The Register-Herald, Beckley, West Virginia


November 17, 2013

Sneaking HEALTH into Thanksgiving

Healthy eating can be measured in terms not only of what you eat, but how much you eat. At holiday get-togethers, it’s difficult (and a bit snobby) not to partake of Aunt Sue’s sweet potato casserole. Generally, the rule of thumb is having one of whatever will fit onto a tiny plate where appetizers are the bill of fare, or one serving (ideally what might fit onto the palm of your hand, sweet potato towers not included) of entrees and sides for sit-down meals.

When you are the master chef in control of your dining domain, portion and ingredients are key to keeping it skinny. Two tools that can help bring nutrition to your holiday meal planning are rather obscure, ones you probably haven’t adopted into the pantry, but should: won ton wrappers (at about 100 calories each) and wheat germ.

Won ton wrappers are frequently guilty by association— to being stuffed with MSG-laced meat or cream cheese and crab, then deep-fried. But their nutrition value lies more in the area of packaging. When stuffed with the right ingredients, won ton wrappers can be a clever way to control portions and streamline calorie-laden, bready components. In fact, steamed dumplings using won ton wrappers are among the healthiest (and tastiest) choices on a Chinese menu. Won ton wrappers are generally found in the refrigerated produce section at the grocery store.

Wheat germ is the healthy ingredient with the unfortunate name. Especially when kissed with honey, wheat germ tastes good and adds texture. The “germ” refers to germination, indicating the part of the wheat kernel that would turn into a plant if sown. Wheat germ is the most nutrient-packed component to the wheat kernel. It is sold as an ingredient to heighten the nutritional value of dishes, being high in protein, Vitamin E and potassium. It can also add a bit of flavor and crunch. Wheat germ is typically found in the grocery store near the baking essentials or breadcrumbs; depending on the store, it may also be found near the cereal in the breakfast aisle.

Now that you have the basics on a couple of healthy ingredients you may not have used before, here are a few accompaniments using them to try alongside your traditional Thanksgiving dishes.

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