Thanksgiving is the time of year for feasting, football, family, and friends. I fully encourage you to enjoy and even indulge, but don’t hesitate to put a healthier spin on some of your traditional recipes so that you can feel good about enjoying the leftovers long after the Black Friday Deals are done.
First up, turkey. Turkey is actually a nice, lean protein source. Opt for the traditional roasting method over the crazy deep fried version to keep it nutritious and still delicious.
For stuffing, consider a veggie-based one. Mushrooms are a great base to create that delicious umami flavor. Either one of the ones below would be a fantastic addition to your Thanksgiving table.
Mashed potatoes…this one’s tricky, as getting that rich, creamy potato goodness and still making it “healthy” is nearly impossible. Subbing in half mashed cauliflower and half potatoes is a great option to increase veggies, decreases carbs, and still give you that traditional side-dish we all know and love.
Cranberry Sauce – the standard cranberry sauce is about as much “fruit” as a fruit roll-up (in case you’re still unsure, there’s about zero fruit in a fruit roll-up!). Instead, consider a fresh cranberry relish. I LOVE this simple cranberry apple mix. It goes amazing with turkey and is just as good on its own as a leftover. Finely dice up 1 bag of fresh cranberries, 1-2 granny smith apples, and one orange (try to reserve as much of the orange juice for the relish, too). Mix and enjoy.
Green Bean Casserole…while not one of my personal favorites, is often gracing the table of tables around the country on Thanksgiving Day. Consider doing sautéed fresh green beans with some caramelized onions and even a sprinkling of finely diced almonds for some crunch.
Finally, dessert! If you don’t already, try to opt for a pumpkin pie. Pecan pies are pretty nearly impossible to “improve”. Pumpkin pie at least has some fiber and micronutrients! Consider using a recipe like one of these 2, which use maple syrup in place of processed sugar and keep a good low sugar to other ingredient ratio. These recipes happen to be vegan, but you don’t have to go that direction! Most pumpkin pie recipes will work just great; just lower the sugar, often by half!
And above all, remember to be thankful for your friends, your family, and this body that has taken you this far already.
Aubrey Phelps, MS, RDN, LDN