Here’s a little something to make you feel better about all the eating that comes along with the Thanksgiving meal! A whole bunch of those holiday staples have serious health benefits.
Packed with hunger-fighting and muscle-building protein — even the dark meat is good for you!. Turkey a great centerpiece for a healthy Thanksgiving table, as long as you pass on the fatty skin.
Low in calories, yet bursting with natural sweetness and powerful antioxidants like lycopene. And there are so many ways to eat sweet potatoes: baked, stuffed, mashed, roasted or whipped into sweet potato pie.
Fresh or dried, cranberries are packed with fiber, cell-protecting anthocyanins and vitamin C. Add some to stuffing, grain salads, desserts or good old cranberry sauce.
Thanksgiving is famous for belly-busting dinners and pant-splitting desserts. We’ll give you some tips so you can eat to your heart’s content and still save some calories.
Crunching the Numbers
We built two Thanksgiving plates, loaded with all the usual suspects. A few small tweaks can save more than 1,000 calories!
Meal #1: Belly Buster
6 ounces roasted turkey (white meat and dark meat with skin) = 360 calories
1 cup sausage stuffing = 380 calories
½ cup gravy = 70 calories
¼ cup cranberry sauce = 100 calories
1 cup green bean casserole = 175 calories
1 cup mashed potatoes = 250 calories
1 slice apple pie a la mode = 500 calories
The beauty of this autumn soup is its adaptability; you can easily use pears instead of apples if you prefer. This recipe makes enough to serve four people when served as an appetizer or a side dish. If you are serving a large group of people for Thanksgiving, you can scale up the recipe accordingly; try adding in a pinch of allspice for an extra kick. Making your own soup is a tasty and healthy way to blend your favorite fall fruits and veggies into your holiday meal. In this recipe, which uses fresh pumpkin, you can feel good about getting the extra dose of vitamin A and fiber in every bite. Serve this soup with gluten-free croutons or ladle it over a baked sweet potato. If you’re in the mood for some more seasonal accompaniments, sip on my Homemade Maca Apple Cider.
Light bites are your best bet before a big holiday meal. Use fresh, seasonal ingredients to make something small but fabulous for your guests to enjoy before turkey time.
Turkey or chicken sausage makes tasty finger food – add some pantry staples and viola! An elegant app for only 35 calories per piece. Recipe: Antipasto Sausage Skewers (pictured above)
So easy and delicious – who doesn’t like warm cheese? Each ounce portion has 90 calories, 6 grams of protein and 5 percent of your daily calcium needs. Serve with apples, whole-grain pretzels and lots of veggies for dipping. Recipe: Baked Brie
Food Network Magazine staged a Thanksgiving face-off and asked a registered dietitian to name the better choices. Study up before the big meal: Here’s how some staples compare.
Apple Cider vs. Sparkling Cider WINNER: Apple cider. Sparkling cider is usually sparkling apple juice, which doesn’t contain the same amount of fiber that unfiltered ciders do (the real stuff is a little cloudy). Plus, the spices that make cider so delicious, like cinnamon, nutmeg and cloves, give you an antioxidant boost.
Dark Meat vs. White Meat WINNER: It’s a draw. White meat contains half the fat of drumsticks and thighs and fewer calories, but dark meat has more iron and twice as much zinc. And a new study suggests that the taurine in dark meat might help prevent heart disease.
Rolled Piecrust vs. Graham Cracker Piecrust WINNER: Graham cracker piecrust. Recipes for rolled piecrusts typically call for a lot of butter and sometimes lard, so they are high in saturated fat. Graham cracker crusts are lower in fat and calories, and they contain some extra fiber.
What would Thanksgiving be without stuffing? If you’re looking for an allergen-friendly recipe or just a delicious new take on this holiday staple, you’ve found it here! I’ve created a sweet stuffing that is perfect for kids and adults alike. It’s gluten-free, dairy-free, vegetarian and vegan so you can easily serve this to your entire Thanksgiving table without having to worry about food preferences. If nut-allergies are a problem, you can easily substitute in ground flax seeds for a similar crunch and nutty flavor.
These Thanksgiving sides all have fewer than 250 calories per serving and will get the attention and admiration of everyone at your table because they’re so unbelievably delicious. Don’t say I didn’t warn you!
Yummy slices of winter squash topped with maple syrup and a touch of lemon juice.
Make a homeade stock out of your Thanksgiving leftovers and turn it into 3 easy soups.
You can only heat up a plate of gravy-drenched turkey dinner leftovers so many times! Go a little lighter with your Thanksgiving memories by making any of these 3 easy and tasty soups. They all start out with a fresh pot of stock made with stuff you’ve got lying around the kitchen.
Don’t toss out the remnants of your turkey! Go the extra mile and turn it into an amazingly delicious stock. A large pot, some water and vegetable scraps (you’ve definitely got those around) and you’re set. Let it simmer away while the family settles into a cozy food coma.
Basic Turkey Stock
Makes 2 quarts
1 roasted turkey carcass (from a 10-pound turkey)
2 pounds raw vegetable scraps (carrots, celery, onions, leeks and garlic recommended)
1 tablespoon kosher salt
2 teaspoons black peppercorns
2 bay leaves
Combine ingredients in a large stockpot and add enough cold water to cover. Bring to a slow boil, reduce to a simmer and cook uncovered for 2 to 3 hours. Strain and transfer to quart containers. Store in the refrigerator for up to 1 week or in the freezer for up to 6 months.