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9 Thanksgiving dishes


November 16, 2015 Facebook Twitter LinkedIn Google+ Health Tip



 

Thanksgiving is coming. If you groan at the prospect of a calorie-heavy, nutrient-scarce meal, there’s good news in sight. You can take family recipes for your favorite holiday foods and swap them out for healthier, lighter, and (dare we say?) tastier versions. Use a little imagination and a lot of love to create celebratory fare that even the staunchest traditionalists will enjoy. Best of all, you’ll leave the table pleasantly satisfied, not stuffed. Here are some guidelines for healthy-ing up popular festive dishes.

1. Turkey

Sliced turkey on a platter

Trim the skin and go for white meat servings to get the healthiest parts of the main dish. (Photo: Mike DelGaudio/flickr)

Help yourself to a portion of guilt-free turkey breast. White meat offers plenty of protein and folic acid, as well as B vitamins, potassium and zinc. It’s impractical to skin before roasting if you’re cooking a whole bird (the meat would turn out incredibly dry). However, you have the option to trim your own serving to lower the saturated fat content. Or rub a skinless turkey tenderloin with olive oil, pour a cup of reduced-sodium broth over and bake.

2. Gravy

Fried piece of meat with a fruit salsa

A fruit salsa can give a fresh and healthy spin on Thanksgiving. (Photo: Anna Kurzaeva/Shutterstock)

Sorry, old school gravy made with greasy pan drippings and mucho salt has got to go. Instead moisten the meat with chicken broth, or try a zingy mango salsa for moisture plus an unexpected pop of flavor.

3. Stuffing

A bowl of cornbread stuffing with celery and sage

Cornbread stuffing with a vegetables like celery and mushrooms makes this favored side healthy. (Photo: Brent Hofacker/Shutterstock)

There’s stuffing, and then there’s stuffing. Make sure yours is the kind that doesn’t make you feel — and look — stuffed. Replacing tried ‘n’ true white bread with whole grain slices or cornbread is a no-brainer. Mix in plenty of nutrient-rich celery, parsley and chopped mushrooms. Skip the butter in favor of broth, but this time make it vegetable-based. Bake the stuffing outside the bird for food safety, lower salt and a side that doubles as a vegetarian entree.

4. Sweet potatoes

Sweet potatoes and raisins

Ditch the marshmallows for raisins in your sweet potato casserole this year. (Photo: Gavin St. Ours/flickr)

Not being big marshmallow fans, we fail to understand their appeal as a casserole topper. What’s the point? Sweet potatoes are already…well…sweet. Just bake and serve and you’re good to go. If you must gussy them up, mash the pulp, add a little orange juice, and heap in a pretty bowl. Garnish with a few toasted almonds, pecans, raisins or cranberries.

5. Mashed potatoes

Bowl of mashed potatoes

Ease up on the butter and cream in your mashed potatoes and use water instead. After mashing and mixing, dressed with herbs and olive oil. (Photo: Oksana Shufrych/Shutterstock)

Potatoes are often thought of as a diet-busting food, but the real culprits are the butter and cream that adorn them. For improved health-friendliness, whip your spuds and incorporate some of the water you just cooked them in. Season with garlic powder plus minced fresh or dried herbs; dill works particularly well. Drizzle with olive oil.

8. Latkes

Latkes

Bake latkes instead of frying them to cut down on the calories. (Photo: Timolina/Shutterstock

Luscious latkes usually contain a zillion calories. Try baking instead of frying, or experiment with nouveau, nutrition-packed ingredients like grated beets, zucchini or celery root.

7. Cranberries

Cranberries in a pot, ready to become cranberry sauce

Cranberries can be overloaded with sugar. Consider a different sweetener, or cutting the sugar out all together. (Photo: liz west/flickr)

In and of themselves, cranberries are very well behaved, with remarkable antioxidant and anti-inflammatory properties. However, traditional cooks drown these brilliant red beauties in a torrent of sugar. You can do better. Temper the tang by simmering cranberries with mild apples or pears, and you can slash the amount of sweetening you’d normally use in your sauce.

8. Green bean casserole

Heap of green beans in a strainer

Use fresh green beans instead of canned ones for your casserole, and cover them with Greek yogurt instead of condensed creamed soups. (Photo: SaraJane/flickr)

Green beans — aren’t they a vegetable? Well, yes and no. When they come out of a can and are coated with concentrated cream soup, green beans morph into a rather frightening were-veggie. Tame the beast with garlic, together with luscious Greek yogurt or reduced-fat sour cream.

9. Pie

A large slice of pumpkin pie

There are plenty of ways to pumpkin pie a healthier treat. (Photo: Matt Antonino/Shutterstock)

Mmm … pie, loaded with a kajillion calories per piece. Lower the calorie count without lessening the “mmm,” by making your pastry with whole wheat, spelt or rice flour and oil rather than lard. Dumping either the top or bottom crust will lower carbs and fat. Fill with additive-free prepared pumpkin puree (or put on your grown-up chef’s hat and concoct your own), made creamier with silken tofu and sweetened sparingly. If fruit pie’s your thing, shun canned fillings. Buy or grow organic berries or apples (sweet varieties like Gala rather than sour ol’ Granny Smiths mean you’ll need less sugar), for a depth of flavor that will sate you quicker.

This story was originally written by Laura Firszt for Networx

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