Healthy Thanksgiving Tips

By Thomas Cazneau

Have you started your holiday grocery shopping yet? I have my shopping list all ready to go. Thanksgiving Turkey… Check. Mashed potatoes and gravy… Check. Cranberry sauce… Check. Ooh, and let’s not forget dessert… Double Check!

With Thanksgiving around the corner, you may already know which foods you would like to prepare for your guests around the dinner table. Below are some healthy meal ideas you may wish to add to your traditional holiday plate.

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips: The Turkey
Here are some healthy meal ideas you may wish to implement when preparing a Thanksgiving turkey

    • One common way of flavoring a turkey is using loads of butter, cream and salt. For a healthier alternative, use fresh herbs, spices and seasonal fruits and veggies instead. This will give your Thanksgiving turkey the flavor you want without also adding the calories you don’t want.
    • Avoid self-basting turkeys, since they often contain additional fat.
    • Opt to roast or smoke your turkey instead of deep frying it.

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips: The Sides
Below are some healthy meal ideas you may wish to implement for some common Thanksgiving side dishes.

    • Mashed Potatoes
    a. Rather than using butter and cream while mashing potatoes, save the water you used to boil the potatoes. This will provide a creamier texture than normal water will. In additional to this saved water, you may also wish to throw in turkey broth or evaporated skim milk before using it to mash the potatoes.
    b. To enhance the flavor of your mashed potatoes, stir in roasted garlic and herbs.
    c. For added nutrition, add pureed cooked cauliflower, parsnips or turnips.
    • Gravy
    a. While making gravy, use vegetable oil instead of turkey drippings. Vegetable oil is lower in saturated fat and is cholesterol free.
    b. If you prefer to use turkey drippings as a flavor boost, then using a gravy separator is recommended. Some of the fat from the gravy will rise to the top of the separator glass, where you can take it off easily.
    • Stuffing
    Instead of baking the stuffing inside of the turkey, cook it in a casserole dish. Stuffing absorbs the fat from the turkey when baked inside, so cooking it in a dish will avoid this.

Healthy Thanksgiving Tips: The Dessert
The most common dessert served at Thanksgiving dinners is a pumpkin or sweet potato pie. One way to make a pie healthier would be to go crust free. Most of the fat in a pie actually comes from the crust, so it’s recommended to either select a reduced-fat graham cracker crust or to go crust-free. These are only some of many healthy meal ideas you can implement for your Thanksgiving feast. What are some of your favorite ways to make a Thanksgiving feast healthier? Post your own health tips below in a comment.

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