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Healthy Thanksgiving Trades

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November 6, 2012

The check-out stands at your local grocery store are groaning from the weight of the all the Thanksgiving cooking magazines.  Full of gorgeous photos of succulent sides, decadent desserts and a golden brown bird just waiting for you to dive into and devour.  Those food photos can beckon you to add one more dessert or butter-topped plate of potatoes to the menu.  Moderation is important and you can change up the traditional fare for healthier options.


Fall’s bounty is full of beautiful squashes and gourds that offer up many possibilities for starters. Ones that taste great and are good for your family too.  The Mayo clinic offers many recipes like Pumpkin Soup or Wild Rice Mushroom Soup. Create a salad with wild field greens, pears,  fennel and walnuts for lots of flavor.  An apple salad with figs and almonds is another tasty way to start the meal.

Turkey & Stuffing

Turkey is a healthy meat, but throw in certain types of stuffing and gravy and the caloric count expands fast.  One way to reduce the calories is to use an herb rub on the turkey.  It creates a flavorful bird and a succulent au jus sauce on the side.   Pan drippings made from roasted vegetables and herbs are an excellent way to make healthy gravy versus a more fattening version.  Shape magazine has some fantastic multigrain stuffing loaded with apples and currants.  Adding fennel, ginger and turmeric with celery, apple and currants this stuffing only lacks fat not taste.


Some of the most traditional crowd pleasers at Thanksgiving are the side dishes.  Green bean casserole is one of those family favorites.  Go ahead and make this 90 calorie (per ¾ cup serving) classic with Bella mushrooms and fresh green beans.  Or try this recipe for Maple Sweet Potatoes that uses maple syrup and butter for flavor while still being healthy.  Need some starch with your meal?  Try Food and Wine’s Healthy Potato Gratin with Herbs that not only looks gorgeous on the table but tastes terrific on the plate. It is a dish that is creamy without the cream.


No one likes to skimp on treats when it comes to holiday meals.  You don’t have to with some of these fantastic desserts that will become family favorites.  The Delish website has over ten dessert options like crowd-pleasing pumpkin pie made with low-fat sweetened condensed milk.  Looking for a more seasonal take on dessert then try this Pear & Apple Tarte Tatin that utilizes all that fall has to offer.

You don’t have to overhaul your whole Thanksgiving meal to make it healthy.  Incorporating a few of these ideas can make a real difference while still preserving classic holiday taste and family favorites.


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