Healthy Substitutes for Thanksgiving Favorites

healthy thanksgiving dinner

A Healthy Thanksgiving

The basic staples of a Thanksgiving dinner are actually quite healthy; lean protein, in season vegetables and whole grains. However, this holiday meal has evolved over the years and now the average Thanksgiving dinner plate consists of 3,000 calories! While it is okay to indulge every now and then, this holiday often sets us up for excessive indulgence that leaves everyone feeling overly full and fatigued.

Luckily, there are some simple ways make Thanksgiving dinner a little lighter and healthier. Not only will your family feel more energized and satisfied after a healthy feast, but it also ensures everyone is better able to enjoy their time together. Keep reading to learn all out best tips!

Cut Back on Salt

Turkey is a great source of lean protein, but instead of using salt, try seasoning it with rosemary, oregano and parsley. In fact, many Thanksgiving dishes call for too much salt. Try mixing it up with fresh herbs instead!

Go Easy on the Cream

Dishes like mashed potatoes, casseroles, and pie fillings are already flavorful, and they get some milk fat from butter. You’ll barely notice a difference by swapping out heavy cream for regular milk, but you’ll be cutting the calorie count in half. An even healthier option that still packs in the flavor is to use chicken or beef stock instead of cream or milk. It does make a dish lighter, but the flavor is amazing.

Be Mindful of Butter

Butter can be substituted with olive oil in recipes such as stuffing ( 1 Tbsp of butter equals 2 Tsp of olive oil)! You can even swap out some of the butter for Greek yogurt to increase protein. Typically in cooking, you can swap out as much as you want but for baking stick to ½ cup of Greek yogurt for every cup of butter required.

Embrace Whole Grains

Exchange white bread for 100% whole-wheat or whole-grain bread. You can also swap out white rolls for whole grain rolls to increase everyone’s fiber intake.

Fresh is Best!

Candied yams are often a crowd favorite, but are packed with unnecessary sugars from the marshmallows and gingersnaps. Instead, use fresh yams, ground ginger and cinnamon for a healthy and satisfying twist. In addition, let fresh veggies such as Brussels sprouts, sweet potatoes, pumpkins and squash take center stage. Bake, roast or sauté these nutrient packed vegetables with garlic, olive oil and herbs for delicious and healthy side dishes.

When it comes to fruit, there are so many delicious fruits in season right now that make great bases for healthy desserts! Pomegranate, apples, pears, grapefruit, cranberries and dates are just a few of our favorites.

Try New Recipes

Consider replacing potatoes with cauliflower for a lighter, less starchy side. We recommend trying this mashed cauliflower recipe, it is delicious. Also, since canned cranberry sauce has more sugar than most candy bars, try out this healthy, naturally sweet cranberry sauce recipe! Some of our other favorites include cauliflower casserole, curried butternut squash soup, coconut creamed greens and sweet potato tian!

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