Though Easter may have originated as a Christian holiday, it has been thought of as a time for family gatherings and feasting. Feasting on chocolate, feasting on candy, feasting on ham, feasting on macaroni and cheese and sweet potato casserole, feasting on…OK, we get the point. The typical Thanksgiving meal is around 4,500 calories per person: nearly twice the daily recommended allowance. The New York Times’ Tara Parker-Pope wanted to test this theory so she created a virtual Thanksgiving feast that would sit with even the most insatiable eater.
- 6 oz. of turkey, with skin: 299 calories
- sausage stuffing: 310 calories
- dinner roll and butter: 310 calories
- sweet-potato casserole: 300 calories
- mashed potatoes and gravy: 140 calories
- green-bean casserole: 110 calories
- cranberry sauce: 15 calories
- brussels sprouts: 83 calories
- pumpkin pie: 316 calories
- pecan pie: 503 calories
- whipped cream: 100 calories
total: 2,486 calories
Your family probably makes a ham for Easter and substitutes banana cream pie for pumpkin pie but the point is that the meals are very similar and probably have the same caloric value. Parker-Pope says you could push your calorie count higher by downing a few glasses of wine or pre-dinner snacks (or, adds NewsFeed, by using a Paula Deen cookbook). But at some point, the body just says no: “After about 1,500 calories in one sitting, the gut releases a hormone that causes nausea.” Still, it may be possible to overcome your gut reflexes and stuff like a champ. ‘You can stretch your stomach’s capacity (normally about 8 cups) by regularly overeating over time,’ according to Lawrence Kosinski, committee chairman of the American Gastroenterological Association.
Replace your Heavenly Ham with lean meat choices in the form of pork, lamb, veal, poultry or game at 3 g of fat and 55 calories per ounce; just make sure you don’t exceed six ounces or there will be no point in choosing a leaner meat. These meat choices are also recommended for diabetics in the family who will appreciate the fact that you kept them in mind while cooking. As disappointing as it might be, serve bowls of mixed fruit topped with light whipped cream to your guests instead of pie: you won’t feel as guilty the next morning when you step on the scale. Limit the amount of chocolate/candy the ‘Easter Bunny’ puts in each basket and hold a challenging ‘post-dinner Easter Egg Hunt’ outside to walk off calories as you race each other to find eggs. The use of incentives such as money or gift cards in random eggs is helpful in motivating just about everyone to get off the couch and join the hunt.
HAPPY EASTER, HEALTHY EASTER!