As you prepare for arguably one of the biggest meals of the year, it’s worth taking a moment to size up the health factor of your Thanksgiving meal. Whether you are hosting all your friends or simply bringing one dish to a traditional family gathering, it is important to take stock before you regret any unhealthy decisions. The Thanksgiving meal is a favorite for many, but it can often be full of necessarily unhealthy foods making it diet-ruiner. However, it doesn’t have to be that way! We also love Thanksgiving, but want to eat foods that are both satisfying and nutritious. So as you search for recipes and gather ingredients for the big day, take note of these 8 tasty food swaps that will help your Thanksgiving be healthy AND amazing.
- Swap white rice or bread for quinoa. Quinoa is gluten-free, high in protein, and easy to cook. You can cook it as a flavorful side dish or add it to casseroles and stuffing for additional nutrition.
- Swap butter for cooking spray and vinegar. It may sound like a strange combination, but it works. For your Thanksgiving roasted vegetables, coat them lightly with cooking spray and toss in balsamic vinegar before putting in the oven. You’ll get flavorful vegetables with that extra crisp without the added calories of butter.
- Replace gravy with pesto or homemade cranberry sauce. You can have a delicious Thanksgiving dinner without gravy, trust us. Make a fresh pesto to drizzle on the turkey or make a homemade cranberry sauce for a seasonal favorite. Your body and your tastebuds will thank you.
- Skip heavy cocktails and go for wine or sparkling water with juice. Around the holidays, cocktails can be heavy and full of empty calories. Skip the sugary cocktails for refreshing sparkling water with a splash of juice or some sparkling wine.
- Swap granola out for oats in apple crisp. Apple crisp is a seasonal favorite and a great alternative to heavy pies. Take it a step further and swap sugary granola for simple oats. You can mix the oats with cinnamon, vanilla, and a little bit of butter for a tasty and crispy topping for the crisp.
- Stuffing swaps. If you must have stuffing, make a couple swaps for a healthier option. Use whole grain bread instead of white bread or pre-dried croutons, and low-sodium vegetable broth instead of meat broths which are often higher in sodium. You can also add some chopped vegetables and a small amount of your favorite nut for nutritious flavor and texture.
- Swap dark meat for white meat. Stick with white meat turkey to cut out the extra fat that is in dark meat.
- Swap casseroles for fresh vegetables. Casseroles are a Thanksgiving staple for many families, but they are often laden with high sodium, saturated fat, and empty calories. Steam, roast, or sauté fresh vegetables to make the meal complete. Flavor the veggies with your favorite herbs and fresh ground pepper for a flavorful side dish.