The whole point of Thanksgiving is to overindulge in food. And, you know, spend time with your loved ones. Thanksgiving has endured as a holiday because it’s fun to celebrate with excess. But what if, say, you really aren’t looking forward to that post-feast food coma from loads of excess sugar, fat, and carbs? Thankfully, there are tons of healthy Thanksgiving hacks you can use to lighten up the turkey and trimmings, so you can save your calories for that indulgent food you just can’t go without. Consider it strategic overindulgence.
If you lighten up a few dishes along the way, you and your family might make it through Thanksgiving feeling pretty good. Now, I’m not advocating you throw out the classic dishes for a round of anemic salads or something. But with most of these recipes, you won’t even miss the substituted ingredients. These healthier dishes are still flavorful and feast-worthy, and they allow you extra room for a giant dollop of whipped cream on that perfect pumpkin pie. Sounds like a win-win situation to me.
1Keep It Fresh
Canned goods have their place in cooking, but going the extra step and making your entire dish from scratch means you have more control over what goes in (and more importantly, what is left out). For instance, test out this vegan green bean casserole from Hello Natural. You may never want the canned version again.
Eating seasonally means getting access to fresh foods when they are at the peak of their season and flavor — and it's often cheaper too! To make excellent use of seasonal fare, try Love and Lemons' butternut squash soup & sage crostini.
Stuffing is a must-have on Thanksgiving, but you can adjust the recipe a little to make it healthier. The gluten-free cornbread sausage stuffing from Ari's Menu is filled with veggies and cooked in truffle oil to give this dish an out-of-this-world flavor.
4Opt For Sweet Potatoes
Sweet potatoes provide more nutrients and fiber — as well as fewer calories and carbs — than white potatoes, according to the Cleveland Clinic. Swap out regular mashed potatoes for these brown butter mashed sweet potatoes from Back to Her Roots and chances are your family will never look back.
5Lighten The Turkey
Salty brine and tons of butter certainly make turkey delicious, but there is definitely a lighter way to cook up the main bird. The Healthy Foodie's roasted turkey in light orange and apple brine uses fruit and a host of seasonal spices to flavor the turkey without loads of added sodium.
6Add Lots Of Veggies
By adding lots of veggies to side dishes, you can round out your meal with healthy ingredients. This roasted zucchini rice salad from Fo Reals Life is made with ingredients such as brown rice, zucchini, and miso — all things tasty and healthy.
Dessert doesn't have to include a bakery's worth of sugar. These 20-minute pumpkin pie cheesecake parfaits from The Scrumptious Pumpkin are quick, easy, and perfectly portioned for guests who just want "a taste" of dessert.