Thanksgiving is the holiday where family, fun, and a lot of food come together. Classic dishes and traditions are enjoyed, and full bellies and lots of leftovers are the result. While known by most to be one of the most delicious holidays of the year, it’s definitely not known for being the healthiest!
Some researchers and health professionals suggest that an average Thanksgiving meal can pack between upwards of 2400 calories– and for some Americans, even more.
You definitely don’t have to give up your favorite Thanksgiving eats if you want this year’s dinner to be healthier for you and your family; it’s easy to choose simple swaps to make your favorite classics a bit better for you. Check out these suggestions on how you can make your Thanksgiving a little more nourishing, while keeping your meal just as delicious.
Substitute olive oil instead of butter in your mashed potatoes
Swap saturated for unsaturated fat in your mashed potatoes, and give your heart a healthy boost. You can do a 1 to 1 substitution of olive oil to butter to keep them creamy and delicious. Add some rosemary and garlic for the perfect flavor combination. If your recipe uses milk, and you want to make these completely dairy free due to any dietary sensitivities, you can even sub nut milk for regular milk — just go for unsweetened.
Ditch the dairy in the sweet potato casserole
Sweet potatoes are one of the healthiest veggies you can eat, but the classic sweet potato casserole is often laden with unnecessary fat and sugar. Check out this recipe, which ditches milk, cream, and butter — but stays just as creamy and delicious. The method of cooking the sweet potatoes brings out even more of their natural sugars, so you also don’t have to add a bunch of extra sugar, which makes it an even healthier choice for you meal.
Make your own cranberry sauce
Canned cranberry sauce is often loaded with sugar and/or high fructose corn syrup. When you opt to make your own, you have the flexibility to decrease the amount of sugar you add, and can even choose the type of sweetener you want. You can add extra flavor without the sugar by adding spices such as cinnamon, cloves, and nutmeg, for a festive take on this classic garnish.
Use whole grain bread and more broth in your stuffing recipe
No one wants dry stuffing, but you don’t need loads of butter to keep it moist and flavorful. Cut down on the fat by subbing some of the butter with equal parts more broth. Using dried whole grain bread instead of white bread is a simple healthy swap that enhances the flavor of your stuffing, and also allows you to get some added fiber.
Swap a green bean casserole for these delicious roasted veggies
Ditch the cream and fried onions, and opt for a wider variety of crispy, delicious vegetables that will be much more nourishing for your body. Spice up your classic green beans by buying fresh ones, coating them lightly with olive oil, salt, pepper, and your choice of spices, and popping them in the oven. Add roasted Brussels sprouts, onions, and carrots for the perfect fall veggie medley.
Eat slowly and mindfully
The most important healthy Thanksgiving tip of all may seem too simple: take your time to enjoy the meal! Sit down and savor each bite of your dinner, and be conscious of all the quality time you’re sharing with your loved ones while you eat. Not only will you enjoy the entire experience of the meal a lot more, but your body will also recognize when you’re full and satisfied- making you a lot less likely to go back for that second plate that you don’t actually need.
We here at HealthTap wish you and your loved ones the happiest of Thanksgivings!
Author: Maggie Harriman