The holidays are approaching quickly! This is often a time for reflecting on the year that’s passed and “giving thanks” for a variety of things, including good health, a comfortable home, great friends, and close family. One of the most common ways we commemorate this in the US is by preparing a magnificent, delicious Thanksgiving dinner with customary dishes, such as a massive turkey, sweet potato casserole with marshmallows on top, buttery mashed potatoes, and more.
But how can you still enjoy these food-filled gatherings if you (and/or members of your family) are attempting to eat healthier? There’s no need for anyone feel excluded or deprived this year on Thanksgiving, it’s entirely possible to cook a meal where everyone feels noticed and valued through thoughtful cuisine choices and healthy holiday recipes. Here are some tips to keep in mind this year for cooking a delicious, health-conscious meal, and some ideas of what to serve with turkey.
Are you stuffed just thinking of all the stuffing you’ll consume within the next month? Well, this is likely due to the fact that most stuffing recipes are high in calories, fat, sodium, refined carbohydrates, etc. With some recipes calling for additional ingredients, such as bacon, it is no wonder that many of these recipes yield small portions with over 500 calories. If you’re looking for a way to get your fix of stuffing without throwing off your current nutritional goals, there are healthier ways to accomplish this. Try opting for wholegrain recipes that feature fresh ingredients such as herbs, onions, celery, squash, etc. like my guilt free Thanksgiving stuffing.
Green Bean Casserole
When people hear that it’s full of green beans, they often assume this is a healthy option to serve for guests. The name of this dish, however, is deceiving. While it’s true that green beans are high in fiber, protein, and vitamins A and C, much of those benefits are lost in the making of this casserole. There are high levels of sodium, fat, and calories once we include fried onions, soy sauce, and canned creamy soup. In order to make this dish more health-conscious, consider trading the fried onion topping for homemade, whole-wheat bread crumbs, the canned green beans for fresh ones, and the canned mushroom soup for fresh mushrooms. Green bean casserole is a great side dish for smoked turkey.
This dish is another tricky one. When people think of mashed potatoes, they think it must be better than other options since potatoes are a vegetable. When you consider the mass amounts of butter, salt, and milk added to the concoction, you can see how the health benefits of a potato are quickly outweighed. In order to tweak this dish for your own Thanksgiving, I recommend exchanging cream for skim or 1% milk for lower fat and to decrease the calories in this dish. Take it easy on the salt, as well, to avoid a sodium overload.
Sweet Potato Casserole
We all know this is a fan favorite for Thanksgiving treats. Sweet potatoes are often regarded as a rather healthy food option due to their high levels of fiber, vitamin B6, vitamin A, vitamin C, potassium, and manganese, as well as their low amounts of saturated fat and sodium. However, as we’ve seen, these health benefits often don’t stand a chance when combined with an array of unhealthy ingredients. If you still need your sweet potato fix this Thanksgiving but don’t want to deal with the guilty aftermath, try a new preparation method, such as roasted sweet potatoes drizzled with honey and cinnamon to satisfy your sweet tooth.
Do you have a favorite Thanksgiving dish that you’d like to tweak for your health goals this year? Let’s talk! There’s always a way to get your Thanksgiving favorites without throwing your health goals out the door, and I’m happy to help you each step of the way. Especially during these trying holiday months!