Ah, Thanksgiving — that time of year when we gather with family and friends to revel in each other’s company and indulge in some of our favorite foods. It’s also the time of year when healthy eating can become quite a challenge. Fortunately, there are simple ways to make your Thanksgiving meal healthier, so you can enjoy some of your favorite seasonal foods, guilt-free.
Read on to learn some healthy Thanksgiving swaps that are sure to please everyone at the table and help you prevent post-feast regret.
The Main Course
Swap Traditional Turkey for Lean-Roasted Turkey
Turkey is the must-have staple at everyone’s Thanksgiving dinner table. So, how do you make it healthier? Most of the time, turkey is basted with butter and other fat-laden ingredients to keep it moist. But those ingredients can add unnecessary calories. Roast your turkey in its own juices, and don’t add butter under the skin. To further reduce your caloric intake, remove the skin from your portion of the turkey before eating and stick with eating light meat rather than dark. You’ll still get all of the yummy goodness, without unhealthy saturated fats.
Swap Mashed Potatoes for Mashed Cauliflower
What’s not to love about a heaping pile of mashed potatoes and gravy? Well, extra calories, for one. If you’re looking to replace this high-calorie side dish, try swapping potatoes for cauliflower. Mashed cauliflower is just as creamy and tasty as mashed potatoes, but has about 100 fewer calories per serving. Most recipes of mashed cauliflower call for cream cheese. For a lower calorie option, try substituting Greek yogurt in the recipe in lieu of cream cheese.
Swap Sweet Potato Casserole for Mashed Sweet Potatoes with Goat Cheese
The traditional sweet potato casserole is typically made using canned sweet potatoes, heavy calorie-rich syrup, and loads of marshmallow topping. In other words, it’s full of unnecessary sugars that aren’t part of a healthy diet. Instead, mash fresh sweet potatoes. Loaded with essential nutrients like beta-carotene, vitamin C, fiber and potassium, these are not only tasty but good for your health. Add goat cheese, fresh chives and parsley for flavoring.
Swap Green Bean Casserole for Brussels Sprouts
While green-bean casserole is a well-loved dish around the country, this dish is loaded with sodium and MSG, and garnished with fried onions. In other words, it’s not the healthiest option at the table. This year, try roasted brussels sprouts. Crispy on the outside and tender on the inside, this dish tastes sweet and nutty and is chock-full of nutrients like protein and vitamins K and C. You can get creative when choosing your seasonings — garlic, salt, pepper and parmesan are all yummy options to make these delicious vegetables a hit with people of all ages (yes, even the grandkids!).
Ready for dessert? After diving in and dining on the turkey, stuffing and all of the fixings associated with this beloved holiday, you may feel a little wary of indulging in dessert. But don’t pass on saying ‘pass the pie’ just yet! These healthier Thanksgiving dessert options can give you the opportunity to enjoy a sweet treat, guilt-free.
Mini Chocolate Pumpkin Seed Candy Peanut Butter Cups
Not much room left for a big dessert? Reach for these bite-sized mini chocolate pumpkin seed candy peanut butter cups. A healthier — and tastier! — version of peanut butter cups, these delicious drops will melt in your mouth. Not only that but they’re loaded with important nutrients — protein in peanut butter will help keep your body strong, and pumpkin seeds are rich in vitamins and minerals like zinc (an immunity-booster) and vitamin K.
Paleo Pumpkin Pie
What is Thanksgiving without pumpkin pie? Thanks to this nutritious, delicious, gluten-free recipe, you can enjoy pumpkin pie without the added sugars. This paleo option is made with coconut milk, almond butter and maple syrup, which means it’s dairy-free, refined-sugar-free, and dairy-free. Coconut milk contains antioxidants, and it’s known to balance electrolytes, give a boost to your immune system, and even help keep your skin and hair healthy and glowing.