Keep these tips in mind when you are preparing a turkey for your holiday meals. If using a frozen turkey, you need to store it in the refrigerator under 40F to stay safe. For 4-12lbs it may take 1-3 days, 12-16lbs 3-4 days, 16-20lbs 4-5 days, 20-24lbs 5-6 days. A thawed turkey can be kept in the refrigerator safely for 1-2 days before cooking. Use a food thermometer (throw away the little plastic one that comes in the turkey as it is useless) and make sure that the turkey reaches an internal temperature in the thickest portion of the meat (the innermost part of the thigh and wing and the thickest part of the breast) of 165F. Be careful with the stuffing, as this needs to be cooked to 165F as well in order to prevent any food borne illnesses. You may want to cook the stuffing separately in order to ensure it reaches safe temperatures and to prevent over cooking the turkey in the process, otherwise the whole turkey with stuffing needs to be cooked longer to reach safe temperatures.

Refrigerate your leftover turkey within 2 hours of it being cooked. It will stay safe if refrigerated under 40F for 3-4 days. It can be kept safely frozen under 0F from 4 months and upto 6 months if it is mixed with other sides.

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The holidays should be a joyous time of year; time for celebrating various traditions and events with your family and friends. These traditions are embedded deep within our distinct cultures as well as the foods that we tend to eat during this time of year. These foods can be enriching, spiritual, healing and comforting, but they also tend to be rich and hearty, especially as we enter the colder seasons. Not to worry, our Registered Dietitian Nutritionists are here to help! We have asked some of our RDNs what their favorite tips are to manage good health and help you to stay on track. With these small suggestions from our fellow RD’s, you can still reach and maintain your health and nutrition goals! Take a look at what they had to say! 

One thing I like to suggest is to schedule a Turkey Trot/Run on Thanksgiving to gather the whole family together and burn some calories before the meal. Also. have a goal to reach during the holiday season.  – Elizabeth May, RDN, LDN

If you are attending a holiday party where you can offer to bring something (a side dish, appetizer), then make a ‘safe dish’ such as a veggie tray, lettuce wraps, a green salad (one with avocado and pomegranate is great for the holidays with the red and green), a barley salad with grilled chicken, etc. That way if there are a ton of tempting sweets or high calorie items, you can rely on the healthy dish to fill their plate with and then have small bites of the other stuff. – Jennifer Laurence, RD, LDN 

I like to find ways to slightly modify traditional recipes, desserts or even alcoholic beverages. Around the holidays I find that people stick to comfort foods and home traditions; therefore, if you can begin to modify these “favorite” recipes or alcoholic beverages that may be a simple target. Let’s be honest, most folks are not going to “give up” their favorite foods since they only get it once a year! I also think about getting extra exercise since most likely we are going to consume additional calories via food/drinks. Incorporating family walks, hikes or fundraising walks around the holiday are good ways to add in some exercise while giving us time to chat and bond as a family. – Kristen Hicks  MS, RD, LD

Don’t show up at the party when you’re famished…get a few healthy bites in prior to the event. Pre-plan/visualize yourself eating healthfully at the holiday meal. This works well for alcohol, too. Will you have 1 drink? 2? None? Pick a number (a low number!) and stick to it. – Krista Ulatowski, MPH, RDN

I try to remind people that the actual holidays are just a few days out of the season, and that they don’t need to indulge throughout the entire season in order to enjoy their holiday meals. If we try to keep all healthy habits the same during your normal everyday routine, then there’s no reason to feel guilty or stress over the one or 2 holiday meals we may have, especially if we go right back to their normal routine the next day. I think the holiday season is all about mindset! People who tend to feel guilty end up just giving up all together and think “I’ll just start over when the holidays are through”, so I feel it’s important to take the guilt out of the equation as much as possible and to just focus on our normal healthy routines. – Amanda Sajczuk, MS, RD, LDN

If you find yourself at a holiday party, grab a small plate and place a few pieces of food on the plate and sit down away from the buffet/serving table. Be sure to always put food on plate before eating in order to visually see it. Keep in mind that our brain is usually satisfied with just a few small tastes of something (you can always go back for more!) Allow yourself to try a few things, but listen to hunger cues and do not feel guilty about discarding food if you are truly not hungry and of course, load up on veggies! – Anthony Tassoni, RD, LDN

Don’t forget to keep your pantry stocked on healthy staples during the holidays, think before you drink, plan ahead if you are traveling, try some healthy sides, have something healthy before the big meal and perhaps add a pinch of cinnamon to your dishes. Remember to have fun, enjoy yourself, but most importantly, just relax

Trying to brighten up your holiday meals? Why not try some Brussels sprouts! These little cruciferous vegetables belong to the cabbage family. Chock full of B vitamins, vitamin C, vitamin K (caution if you take warfarin (coumadin) or any other blood thinners) and fiber, they are very nutritious and full of great phytochemical which may be beneficial in warding off some diseases! Brussels sprouts are great this time of year as their harvest season ranges from September through March. You may have some not so fond memories of mushy steamed Brussels sprouts when you were a kid. Try this simple recipe for a whole new take on this nutritious vegetable and you will be a Brussels sprout believer!

Roasted Brussels Sprouts 


1 ½ pounds Brussels sprouts

3 tablespoons good olive oil

¾ teaspoon kosher salt

½ teaspoon freshly ground black pepper


Preheat oven to 400 degrees F.

Cut off the brown ends of the Brussels sprouts and pull off any yellow outer leaves. Mix them in a bowl with the olive oil, salt and pepper. Pour them on a sheet pan and roast for 35 to 40 minutes, until crisp on the outside and tender on the inside. Shake the pan from time to time to brown the sprouts evenly. Serve immediately.

1999, The Barefoot Contessa Cookbook, All Rights Reserved

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Shiftwork is associated with sleep disturbances, gastrointestinal disorders, psychological stress, substance use, and changes in eating behavior. One study shows night shift workers tend to eat higher amounts of fat and consume significantly greater amounts of energy from alcohol than their day and evening shift counterparts, which may put these people at risk for poor nutritional status. Another study among shiftwork nurses reveals that shiftwork negatively affects health satisfaction, maintenance of health and possibly the participation in activities that impact behaviors supporting good health.  

As you can see, there are some reasons for concern. Some of these concerns can be addressed with your diet, exercise and lifestyle. Here are some ways to protect your health if you are a shiftworker.

Consume smaller meals spaced throughout your shift. Having a balanced meal or snack every 3-4 hours may be beneficial. This will help you to keep your energy levels constant and prevent you from feeling too tired. Try pairing a lean protein source with a small portion of a carbohydrate such as:

  • low fat cheese and grapes
  • plain instant oatmeal topped with walnuts and dried fruit
  • greek yogurt or cottage cheese with chopped fruit
  • tuna with whole wheat crackers
  • turkey and low fat cheese on 100% whole grain bread
  • raw vegetables with hummus
  • peanut butter and apple
  • chicken and vegetable stir fry

Choose your carbohydrates carefully. Avoid consuming too many refined carbohydrates during your shift, especially in the form of processed foods and added sugars such as pretzels, white breads, snack chips, sodas and energy drinks. These foods can make you feel more tired and may even contribute to adverse health effects such as high cholesterol and diabetes.

Stock up. Be sure to bring food from home in order to keep your meals and snacks healthy and also to save some money! Keep some “go to” snacks on hand at work such as a bag of low fat string cheese sticks, a large container of yogurt, a few cans of tuna, a box of instant plain oatmeal packets, a container of all natural peanut butter and unsalted mixed nuts.

Be mindful of caffeine intake. Though caffeine can give you a boost, your body does build up a tolerance to it. Try limiting yourself to just a cup or two of coffee in the beginning of the shift and saving an additional cup for times when you really need the extra kick. Avoid caffeinated beverages before going to sleep. Limit your use of energy drinks as these contain very high amounts of added sugars and caffeine which may perk you up for a bit, but cause you to crash hard afterwards.

Make time for exercise. Try working out before your shift in order to give yourself a natural energy boost. Take a short break at work and go for a 15 minute brisk walk or do little things such as walking the stairs in place of taking the elevator, printing documents out at a printer on another floor or relaying a message in person rather than sending an email.


Differences in dietary intake and health perspective among nurses on shiftwork

V.J Wall, M.H Gravely 

Journal of the American Dietetic Association – September 1994 (Vol. 94, Issue 9, Supplement, Page A13)

Relationships Among Meal Patterns, Dietary Intake, and Work Schedule in Women.

J. Benedict, M. Harrington, M. Dodds, C. Leontos, K. Lewis, G. Charles 

Journal of the American Dietetic Association – September 1996 (Vol. 96, Issue 9, Supplement, Page A58, DOI: 10.1016/S0002-8223(96)00507-X)