Thanksgiving is so close and it’s time to start planning it. This is a holiday filled with lots of family and heavy (albeit yummy) food. Before you go out shopping it’s worthwhile to take a minute and ask yourself: is there anything you can do to make Thanksgiving dinner a little more healthy? With this in mind let’s take a look at some of the traditional Thanksgiving side dishes and see how to improve the quality without losing flavor.
- Sweet potato casserole – Sweet potatoes are a wonderful, flavorful and nutritious vegetable. Instead of drowning them in sugar, butter and marshmallows, consider peeling, slicing and baking them with just a little butter, brown sugar and vanilla. Because of their sweet nature you don’t need to add a whole lot to them to get some great tasting food.
- Mashed potatoes – There are a couple different things that would work well here. One thing you can do is make mashed cauliflower instead of potatoes. While this won’t necessarily cut back on the butter and salt that you would use it will cut back on the starch. Bear in mind if you choose this option – it will taste good but it will not be the same as mashed potatoes; the flavor and texture will be a lot lighter. Another option, if you really want to have potatoes, is to consider roasting them. This will still get you that starchy consistency but it doesn’t need nearly as much fat. Roasting also has the added benefit of enhancing the flavor of the potato.
- Green beans – Instead of the casserole consider getting a bunch of fresh green beans and steaming or roasting them, with a little butter and salt if you want them to be a little move savory.
- Stuffing – This one I have to admit I never really cared for and so I have not put much effort into finding healthy alternatives. A quick web search revealed tons of options on bread-less stuffing ranging from rice to garbanzo bean bases. If you’re looking to lighten up your stuffing without cutting it out all together a quick search will reveal a lot of options.
- Pie – This is my favorite part of a traditional Thanksgiving dinner! It’s also surprisingly easy to make a little healthier. The best thing to do is to make it yourself. It may be easier to buy a crust and filling or a ready made pie but it is far better to know exactly what is going into it. This way you can use whole wheat flour in the crust and organic fruit and sugar and adjust the spices to make it just the way you like it.
I hope this helps you to have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving!