WebMD, November 26, 2009  —  The biggest event of Thanksgiving is preparing the turkey, though competing with watching parades and football games on TV all day, is the preparation of the Thanksgiving meal. Thanksgiving Day is a time-honored American tradition, a time for family gatherings and a holiday meal that encourages over-the-top decadence, according to WebMD.com. And for many (some 97% of us), the thought of a Thanksgiving without turkey is heresy. Americans gobble up roughly 45 million turkeys to celebrate the annual holiday.

Do you know that the average Thanksgiving dinner has over 2000 calories? It can be a real challenge if you are watching your waistline, according to HealthCastle.com. The following are some eating tips so that you can still look good and be healthy after the Thanksgiving dinner without having to deprive yourself. Here are some healthy tips for the day. If you are a guest of a Thanksgiving dinner:
1.) Don’t go to the Thanksgiving dinner hungry: we often eat faster and more when we are hungry – therefore eat a wholesome breakfast and lunch on the day to avoid overeating at dinner time.
2.) Thanksgiving dinner is not an all-you-can-eat buffet: Fill your plate half with vegetables, one quarter with a lean meat and the rest with a starch of your choice. Eat slowly and stop when you are full.
3.) Turkey – go skinless: choose your 4-oz turkey portion skinless to slash away some fat and cholesterol. Save your appetite for the side dishes and desserts.
4.) Side Dishes – watch your portion size: go for smaller portions. This way you can sample all the different foods. Moderation is always the key.
5.) Make a conscious choice to limit high fat items: high fat food items can be found in fried and creamy dishes as well as cheese-filled casseroles in a traditional Thanksgiving meal . For instance, mashed potatoes are usually made with butter and milk; green bean casseroles are often prepared with cream of mushroom soup, cheese and milk and topped with fried onions; candied yams are loaded with cream, sugar and marshmallows. If you cannot control the ingredients that go in to a dish, simply limit yourself to a smaller helping size. Again moderation is the key.
6.) Drink plenty of water: alcohol and coffee can dehydrate your body. Drink calorie-free water to help fill up your stomach and keep you hydrated.

If you are the honorable chef of a Thanksgiving dinner:
1.) Substitute high fat ingredients with lower-fat or fat-free ingredients.
2.) Leftover Turkey? Instead of turkey sandwiches, use the leftover turkey to make a pot of soup with fresh chunky vegetables.
3.) Experiment with new recipes: Do a search on Google for numerous delicious yet healthy low-fat contemporary Thanksgiving recipes. Experiment!

According to WebMD.com, it’s always important to follow safe food handling practices to reduce the risk of food-borne illness. This year, consumers may also be worried about the potential for bird flu in their turkeys. But the U.S. Department of Agriculture (USDA) Food Safety and Inspection Service reassures us that bird flu (avian influenza) is not transmissible by eating poultry. The real concern, as always, is viruses and bacterial contamination. The Mississippi Department of Health (MDH) encourages all holiday cooks to add food safety to their list of necessary kitchen ingredients. In the home or in a restaurant, preparing food involves both health and safety, so please observe the following advice:
1.  Remember to cook turkey to the proper internal temperature of 165 degrees Fahrenheit (°F). –Cook roast, pork, and fish to at least 145 degrees Fahrenheit, ground beef to at least 155 degrees Fahrenheit. Sauces, soups and gravy must come to a boil when reheating.
2.  Do not cross-contaminate, and be sure to cool foods properly. Never place cooked food on a plate which previously held raw meat, poultry or seafood.
3.  Always cook dressing separately from the turkey. Place the dressing in the turkey after both are cooked.
4.  Always wash your hands before and after handling food. Wash your hands with hot soapy water after using the bathroom, changing diapers and handling pets.
5.  Wash surfaces often. Those preparing the meal should wash cutting boards, dishes, utensils and counter tops with hot soapy water after preparing each food item.
6.  Refrigerate or freeze prepared food and leftovers within two hours.
7.  Do not overload your refrigerator: space items loosely so that cool air can circulate.
8.  Divide large amounts of leftovers into small, shallow containers for quick cooling.
9.  Thaw food in the refrigerator, under cold running water, or in the microwave – never defrost food at room temperature.

The National Turkey Federation and USDA suggest following these guidelines — along with using a meat thermometer — when roasting an unstuffed bird:
8-12 pounds: 2 3/4 to 3 hours
12-14 pounds: 3 to 3 3/4 hours
14-18 pounds: 3 3/4 to 4 1/4 hours
18-20 pounds: 4 1/4 to 4 1/2 hours
20-24 pounds: 4 1/2 to 5 hours
As you prepare for your upcoming celebration, keep these safety and preparation tips in mind to make sure you enjoy a happy and healthy holiday.


Super Healthy Foods Are On the List!We expect to see leafy greens, tomatoes and power fruits like berries on the list of “super healthy” foods we should be eating more of…but we are not expecting to see them on the list of the 10 riskiest foods regulated by the U.S. Food And Drug Administration (FDA).

The Center for Science in the Public Interest (CSPI) authored this just-released report and identified which FDA regulated foods are responsible for the most food-borne outbreaks (using data from the Centers for Disease Control and Prevention and elsewhere). The FDA is responsible for regulating 80% of the food supply including produce, seafood, egg & dairy and typical packaged foods such as peanut butter and cookie dough.

Here’s the list with the top three being the heaviest hitters:

  1. Leafy greens, involved in 363 outbreaks and 13,568 reported cases of illness.
  2. Eggs, involved in 352 outbreaks and 11,163 reported cases of illness.
  3. Tuna, involved in 268 outbreaks and 2,341 reported cases of illness.
  4. Oysters, involved in 132 outbreaks and 3,409 reported cases of illness.
  5. Potatoes, involved in 108 outbreaks and 3,659 reported cases of illness.
  6. Cheese, involved in 83 outbreaks and 2,761 reported cases of illness.
  7. Ice cream, involved in 74 outbreaks and 2,594 reported cases of illness.
  8. Tomatoes, involved in 31 outbreaks and 3,292 reported cases of illness.
  9. Sprouts, involved in 31 outbreaks and 2,022 reported cases of illness.
  10. Berries, involved in 25 outbreaks and 3,397 reported cases of illness.
  11. Tell me more about the top 3#1 Leafy greens
    The majority of the outbreaks were linked to the norovirus, spread by unwashed hands of an ill food handler or consumer. The rest were mostly caused by E. coli and salmonella.

    What can you do about it?
    Well, since most of the outbreaks occurred in restaurants, we need to choose our restaurants carefully as always. Chlorine washes and other post-harvest treatments can reduce cross contamination but they don’t completely eliminate risk. According to CSPI, most of the leafy greens sold have already been through washing and treatment tanks that are more high tech than we could achieve washing them in our own sink. Although this doesn’t help you when eating a salad, cooking the greens will reduce the risk of contamination because the heat kills the bacteria.

    Does organic increase or decrease the risk of food poisoning? The Center for Disease Control doesn’t break out their data on outbreaks based on regular or organic produce, but CSPI is assuming that the risk is similar.

    #2 Eggs
    The majority of illnesses from eggs can be traced to the “S” word – salmonella. The 1970s saw a big reduction in risk of salmonella from eggs thanks to new regulations for cleaning and inspecting eggs (most types of salmonella live in the intestinal tracts of the birds and when the egg is contaminated with the feces, it can be passed to humans.) But unfortunately it isn’t that simple. Today the most common type of salmonella (salmonella enteriditis) contaminates the eggs before the shells are even formed because this type of Salmonella infects the ovaries of the hens.What can you do about it?
    Luckily the future looks brighter for egg lovers. New regulations aimed at minimizing salmonella enteriditis in egg production become effective in 2010 or 2012, depending on the size of the egg producer). As always though, cooking eggs thoroughly destroys most pathogens and serving eggs raw or “runny” or leaving egg dishes near room temperature for too long can encourage bacteria to multiply.

    #3 Tuna
    Much of the risk here has to do with fresh tuna, not canned, and tuna eaten in restaurants, not at home. The main culprit is a toxin called scombrotoxin that is released when fresh fish is stored above 60 degrees Fahrenheit and begins to decay. Symptoms of scombroid poisoning can include skin flushing, headaches, abdominal cramps, nausea, diarrhea, palpitations and loss of vision. There have been some outbreaks from tuna salad consumption so canned tuna is not completely off the hook (so to speak).What can you do about it?
    Adequate refrigeration and handling can slow the process of fish spoiling, according to CSPI, but surprisingly the toxin cannot be destroyed (once released) by cooking, freezing or canning. Eating tuna raw or cooked in restaurants doesn’t seem to make a difference in risk. If buying tuna is your aim (in restaurants or in grocery stores or fish markets) make every effort to choose seafood suppliers that are known for having high standards for their fish and handling practices.

    For more information, read the entire report: The 10 Riskiest Foods Regulated By The U.S. Food And Drug Administration.