Your favorite Thanksgiving dishes can be delicious and healthy! Here are some easy tips that will help transform your holiday table into a healthier feast! Remember though, portion control still applies :)
Turkey (the main attraction!): turkey is an excellent source of protein, but what part of the bird you choose counts! Stick with the white meat and skip the skin. Also, roast your bird instead of frying. An olive oil, garlic and herb mixture makes a nice run instead of basting the turkey in butter.
Stuffing (the bird’s best friend!): stuffing can contain healthy additions, such as vegetables, fruit, nuts and herbs, but it can also come with white bread, high fat meats or butter. Try replacing white bread with whole wheat bread, using broth for flavor instead of butter or oil and adding interesting fruits and vegetables.
Cranberry Sauce: these tart berries are an excellent source of antioxidants that help protect your heart, immune system and prevent cancer. They also help fight urinary tract infections. Try making your own at home; you can get away with using much less sugar. Orange zest and chopped oranges also help add natural sugar.
Sweet Potatoes: these tubers are nutritional superstars! Their orange flesh is full of vitamins A & C, potassium and fiber (keep the skin on!). Don’t drown your potatoes in butter, sugar and marshmallows. Instead, try sweetening them with 100% orange or apple juice and add chopped pecans on top for a dose of heart healthy fats.
Mashed Potatoes: low-carb diets sure didn’t help potatoes reputation! However, they are a healthy, complex carb and can easily fit into your diet. Make mashed potatoes with a little broth instead of butter or try non-fat source cream and a smidge of butter. Roasted garlic, black pepper and fresh rosemary also make a nice flavorful addition.
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Green Bean Casserole (my favorite!): this creamy dish can be quite high in fat and sodium. Make it healthier by using lower-fat, lower-sodium cream of mushroom, 1% or non-fat milk and ½ the amount of fried onions. I also like to add fresh chopped mushrooms.
Pumpkin Pie & Pecan Pie: both pies have some healthy attributes – pumpkin pie is rich in vitamin A and pecans are a rich source of vitamins and minerals as well as heart healthy fats. Moderation still counts here though as both pies have a lot of added sugar and store bought crust may contain unhealthy trans fats. Make your own homemade crust at home using whole wheat flour and a little butter instead of shortening (aka trans fat). You can also try a crustless version or try a lower-fat gingersnap crust. You can get away with using less sugar than called for in the filling, egg whites or egg substitute and evaporated skim milk to help lower fat.