Thanksgiving Food is not usually thought of as healthy. With all the butter, gravies and sauces, health usually goes right out the door, but it doesn’t need to. You can make your Thanksgiving food more healthy. Here are some traditional Thanksgiving foods and how to might lose some of the fat and calories they contain.
No Thanksgiving dinner is complete without turkey. The healthiest way to prepare a turkey is simply to bake it – no butter rubs and no frying it in oil. Once you’ve baked your turkey, the healthiest meat on the bird is the white meat. A 3 oz serving of white turkey meat contains 133 calories and 2.7 g of fat, while a similar size serving of dark meat will set you back 159 calories and 6.1 fat grams. Whichever type of meat you choose to enjoy, you will want to remove the skin, as that is the part that contains most of the fat.
Dressing, or stuffing, is traditionally a high-fat dish because most recipes use a lot of butter. Try making your stuffing healthier by using whole grain bread crumbs and by substituting fat-free broth for some or all of the butter. Fill your dressing with flavor by adding various veggies and leaving out meat.
Potatoes are another Thanksgiving must-have. They don’t have to be unhealthy; simply boil your potatoes in salted water, then add a bit of skim milk and mash. If you like, you can also add chicken broth, fat-free sour cream or Smart Balance spread to add more flavors. What you want to avoid using are regular butter and cream. Your healthy potatoes will be a delicious source of vitamins and minerals.
For some people, mashed potatoes without gravy is like cornflakes without milk. You can keep your meal healthier by avoiding gravy altogether, but if you must have it, strain the fat from the turkey drippings you use to make it (a fat separator is a handy tool to have for this purpose). Leave butter out altogether and use flour or cornstarch as a thickening agent.
Various vegetables are usually found on the Thanksgiving table. Keep in mind that the healthiest state for vegetables is the most natural. It’s healthier to serve steamed green beans seasoned with herbs than a rich and creamy green bean casserole. If you must make the casserole, consider steps like using reduced-fat cream soups in your recipe and topping the dish with sliced almonds, rather than the french fried onions.
You may also want to consider having a full-fat dish or two for some guests and a couple of healthier veggie options for those choosing to eat more healthy. Thankfully, vegetable dishes are easier to prepare in a healthy way than their more calorie- and fat-laden counterparts!
Cranberries are a great source of antioxidant vitamin C, and you likely won’t need to tweak your cranberry recipe much. For added health benefits, add diced oranges or apples to your favorite cranberry sauce recipe.
Thanksgiving food has the potential to be quite healthy, as long as you prepare it wisely. Here’s to a healthy Thanksgiving dinner!