Who doesn’t look forward to the Thanksgiving spread with a perfectly roasted turkey, classic side dishes, and tempting desserts? Recipes that have been handed down in your family for generations.
But there’s often a downside to Grandma’s sweet potato casserole and your aunt’s apple pie. They tend to come with lots of calories and saturated fat, and can leave you feeling more stuffed than the turkey. If you’re hoping to eat a little healthier on Turkey Day, it might be worth trying something different this season.
Cooking lighter is a great way to make your home healthier for the holidays. For inspiration, consider these quick and easy ideas from Amy Anderson, Senior Registered Dietitian Nutritionist with Aramark Lifeworks; and Jennifer Stringfellow, Aramark K-12 Registered Dietitian.
Who knows? Maybe these ideas will even become new traditions.
Instead of: Traditional Green Bean Casserole
Try: Lighter Green Bean Casserole
Amy says: Don’t forget to fill up on veggies this Thanksgiving! This Lighter Green Bean Casserole is a great way to enjoy one of your favorite holiday dishes while also reaping the health benefits of produce. Plus, fresh green beans add color and bright flavor.
This version contains half the calories and sodium compared to a standard Green Bean Casserole. Lightly top it with fried onions, instead of mixing them fully into the dish, to save on calories, fat, and sodium.
Instead of: Buttery Regular Mashed Potatoes
Try: Skinny Mashed Potatoes
Amy says: Potatoes may get a bad rap, but the humble spud actually boasts a variety of health benefits! They pack vitamin C and potassium, and one cup provides roughly 25 percent of your daily needs of both nutrients. And, if you use the peel, you’ll get added fiber, texture, and flavor.
This Skinny Mashed Potatoes recipe is a yummy twist on a classic.
Instead of: Fruit Pie
Try: Fruit Crisp
Jennifer says: What would the holidays be without pie? While tasty, traditional pies pack quite a few extra calories. Fruit crisps are a delicious alternative.
This recipe calls for brown sugar; with its depth of flavor, you can use less. Replace the double crust with a topping of oatmeal. Finally, the natural antioxidant cinnamon provides the signature taste and aroma of the holidays.
If you enjoy pie à la mode, keep the ice cream portion in check – about a quarter of a cup at most.
Ready to lighten your own recipes? Keep these tips in mind. Every little bit helps!
- Take a good look at the recipe, even if you know it by heart. Examine each ingredient and instruction to identify where you can substitute, add, or subtract.
- Swap out heavy cream for regular or low-fat milk.
- When simmering or sautéing, replace butter with a healthy oil such as olive or canola.
- Use lower-sodium and no-salt-added products (such as broth, canned tomatoes, and soy sauce) to reduce your sodium intake.
- Skip the gravy and top your meat with fruit chutney.
- Remember, you can’t go wrong with non-starchy vegetables—as long as they are prepared with healthier fats and less sugar and salt.
- If you just can’t give up a special dish, serve a half-portion to savor.
Hungry for more? We’ll share additional healthy holiday tips on the blog this November and December, so stay tuned!
Note: Since everyone’s health history and nutritional needs are so different, please make sure that you talk with your doctor and a registered dietitian to get advice about the diet and exercise plan that‘s right for you.