Healthy Thanksgiving AlternativesNovember 17th, 2011
Getting stuffed on Turkey day is easy as most of the foods found on a traditional Thanksgiving dinner table are very high in sugars, fats, and carbohydrates. While eating healthy on Turkey day seems impossible, there are some alternatives. These options offer the same great Thanksgiving tastes, but with a few adjustments can allow for a much healthier late November feast.
Appetizers will quickly fill you up come the day of Thanksgiving. If you are hosting Thanksgiving try to first control the appetizer portions. If you plan to have a wide variety of different pre-dinner treats be sure to serve them all in very small portions. This allows every person to have a chance to taste each hors d’ouvres without filling up prior to the big dinner. Also, when it comes to making appetizers be sure to limit the number of heavily breaded, dairy rich options. Foods rich in carbs and cheese will fill guests up rather quickly and offer less than ideal nutritional value. A healthier and simpler alternative would be fresh fruit, a light pumpkin soup, whole-grain crackers with a light spread, or even roasted vegetables. If you are planning to attend a Thanksgiving Day celebration, be sure to pick and choose carefully before dinner. Fill up on light snacks so your appetite does not diminish by the time the bird hits the table!
Many Thanksgiving side dishes are built with enough ingredients to be a main meal by themselves. This is half of the fun; however, it can be very unhealthy. Developing some scaled back side dishes can promote a much healthier menu. For example, if you normally make your stuffing with some form of meat inside of it, try your recipe with a leaner cut of that meat, or use an alternative such as turkey if you normally use pork. After all, the main Turkey provides plenty of protein for the meal, so leaning out the meat portions in the side dishes can result in healthier plates. Additionally, you can cut back on the sodium in the string-bean casserole by making your own cream of mushroom soup or by buying low sodium soup in place of what the standard recipe calls for. Sweet potatoes seem to get sweeter and sweeter each year as more sugar is added. While a topping of brown sugar over some already sweetened potatoes is delicious, try making the sweet potatoes with less added sugar. You might be surprised at how sweet they are naturally.
After a long delicious afternoon meal, there is dessert! Saving room for dessert is nearly impossible and by this point in the meal most families and friends are too stuffed to fit in another bite. This makes choosing a dessert difficult. A traditional pumpkin pie is a good option as it does not have a top crust. If you make a fluffier pie by adding more eggs to the recipe you can turn it into a more custard like consistency which may settle better for those who already have overstuffed bellies. You can also just cut the crust out entirely and make a pumpkin spiced mousse instead. Other dessert options may include basic sugar cookies, ginger snaps, spice cake, fluffy Bundt cake, and bread pudding.
Remember the most important part of staying healthy at a Thanksgiving celebration is portion control regardless of what is served. Still, keeping the calorie count down on what goes into the food will benefit everyone involved. We hope these ideas may help you make your Thanksgiving celebration healthier this year.