Thanksgiving is right around the corner. And with it, many people’s nutritious eating habits often go right out the window. The allure of turkey, gravy, mashed potatoes, and pie is hard to resist. In a previous post, I gave some general guidelines on how to keep from derailing your weight loss efforts at your Thanksgiving feast. Today, I want to give you some “choose this, not that” to help make your Thanksgiving a delicious and nutritious success. Let’s take a look at each of the traditional offerings.
Turkey – low in fat, high in protein, this is a great protein option year round. Fill about a quarter to a third of your plate with turkey. Skip the gravy to reap the naturally low fat benefits. And, if you’re toying with the idea of a deep-fried turkey, I recommend you stick with the traditional oven baked approach to help keep nutrition high and excess calories low.
Green Bean Casserole – this was never a dish at my Thanksgiving table growing up, but has since made an appearance, as it’s one of my husband’s favorites. Traditionally made with canned soup and processed onions, for a vegetable-based side dish, it’s pretty devoid of nutrition. Try the recipe below for a healthy take on an old classic. It’s made of whole, real ingredients, nothing canned or processed, making it an delicious and nutrition-packed alternative.
Mashed Potatoes – It’s tricky to healthify this one without compromising their deliciousness. Try using half potatoes and half parsnips in your mash for extra fiber and nutrition. And, if you can, limit or avoid gravy or adding that extra pat of butter on top.
Cranberry Sauce – instead of that standard jello-ish canned cranberry blob, try a refreshing relish of diced fresh cranberries, green apple, and oranges. No added sugar and a refreshing, juicy accompaniment to your slice of turkey instead of that ladle of gravy.
Pie – and finally, no Thanksgiving is complete without a slice of freshly baked pie. Upgrade your dessert by opting for a slice of pumpkin pie instead of the very rich and highly less nutritious pecan pie.
Eating healthy doesn’t have to mean avoiding yummy food or fancy feasts. Try implementing some of these substitutions to keep your Thanksgiving delicious, but stay on track with your nutrition and weight loss goals.
Aubrey Phelps MS RDN