With Thanksgiving just around the corner, I can’t help but get excited thinking about celebrating this holiday surrounded by my closest friends and family. I love this season of giving and thanks-giving, but there is one thing I truly hope does NOT give—my waistline (at least not too much!). I think we are all a little guilty of getting off track of our healthy lifestyles during the holidays, and when the New Year rolls around, we make our health resolutions with more dedication than ever before. I’m all about letting myself indulge a little bit when celebrating an occasion with family and friends, but this year I’m hoping to stay far away from the post-feast regret that we have all experienced at least once during the holiday season.
Luckily, I’ve found that fully enjoying Thanksgiving with a hearty meal (and without the bloat) is completely doable, thanks to a few healthy Thanksgiving food swaps that taste just as good as the traditional feast, without all the calories. I can’t wait to share them with you all today… Enjoy!
In most cases, before a heaping turkey is tossed in the oven, it is usually basted with butter and other fatty ingredients to keep it moist in cooking. However, those ingredients can also take a toll on your diet. For a lighter twist on your traditional turkey, make sure to stick to eating the light cuts of meat, rather than dark meat, and do one better by removing the skin of your portion of turkey before eating. By skipping the dark meat and turkey skin, you’ll cut out unnecessary calories and saturated fats, while still getting all the goodness of a classic Thanksgiving turkey.
To me, it’s just not Thanksgiving without a heaping side of mashed potatoes and gravy. But I recently tried these cauliflower “mashed potatoes” and I have to say, I was shocked at how creamy and similar they are to regular mashed potatoes. Plus, the cauliflower alternative has about 100 calories less than traditional mashed potatoes, making it a win-win! Get the recipe for some delicious Rosemary & Garlic Mashed Cauliflower here, and if you want an even lower calorie option, try this one that uses Greek yogurt instead of cream cheese.
You obviously can’t have a turkey without stuffing on Thanksgiving, but when a recipe consists mostly of diced white bread, it’s sure to catch up to you. Instead, try using quinoa in place of the bread, for a mixture that is just as delicious, and significantly fewer carbs and calories. Not only is quinoa naturally gluten-free, but it is also packed full of protein. Basically, you can’t go wrong. Get the recipe for Quinoa Stuffing here.
Whether your traditional Thanksgiving consists of a sweet potato casserole topped with brown sugar and pecans, or candied yams blanketed in a layer of toasted marshmallows, it’s no secret that these dishes aren’t exactly “healthy”. Instead, try Honey Glazed Sweet Potatoes—a much better alternative to these sugary sides. Between the sweet potatoes, honey, and a pinch of cinnamon, this alternative is just as sweet and satisfying. Get the recipe here.
Green bean casserole is one of those dishes that just reminds you of home. It’s definitely comfort food, and while it is a nostalgic dish, it is also filled with fattening ingredients like heavy cream, butter, cheese, bread crumbs, and fried toppings. This year, try switching things up with something like these Crispy Baked Green Beans. They’ve still got the crunch of your classic casserole, without all the calories. Or, if you can’t stay away from your home baked casserole, try this recipe that uses Greek yogurt, unsalted butter, almond flour, and wheat bread crumbs to lighten it up a bit. Get the recipes here and here. Then of course, finish your meal off with a *reasonably sized* piece of pumpkin pie. All things in moderation, right? I hope you enjoy these healthy and delicious food swaps, and have a happy Thanksgiving surrounded by those you love!
If you're looking for a fun holiday drink, check out this delicious signature cocktail.
Photos: Be Well By Kelly