Thanksgiving is a time to celebrate with family and friends and enjoy an array of our favorite foods. For those looking to incorporate healthy options into their feast, here are some ideas that don’t skimp on taste or tradition:
Turkey. Turkey is a fairly lean meat, especially the white variation. Packed with vitamins, a 3-ounce serving has 135 calories, 3.25 grams of fat and 24.7 grams of protein. Add to its nutritional value by stuffing it with quartered onions, apples, citrus fruit, garlic and herbs such as tarragon, sage, thyme and rosemary. If you can’t fit it all inside the bird, just roast what doesn’t fit along with some chicken stock. This also gives you a head start on gravy.
Gravy. After the turkey is roasted, sort out the onion, fruit, herbs or giblets and slowly add a mix of water and cornstarch while stirring with a whisk while it simmers. Remember, it will thicken as it cools, so add more chicken stock if it gets too thick.
Mashed potatoes. It’s not necessary to pile on tons of butter and cream. The key is to add milk slowly while you whip. I recommend an electric hand mixer for the fluffiest potatoes. If you add too much milk too quickly, you’ll end up with soupy potatoes. You can also use nonfat or plant-based milks.
Sweet potatoes. Instead of decadent sweet potato pie, slice sweet potatoes or yams into silver dollars and bake until soft and brown. Sprinkle some cinnamon and/or pumpkin pie spice for a sweet finish. A cup of plain sweet potato chunks is 114 calories with almost no fat, zero cholesterol, 4 grams of fiber and 27 grams of carbohydrates.
Green beans. Pick a simple version of green bean almondine over the high fat and calorie green bean casserole. It’s a classic French recipe that you can boost with sautéed shallots, garlic, freshly grated lemon zest and lemon juice. One serving is 100 calories, 9 grams of carbs, 7 grams of fat and 4 grams of protein.
Cranberry sauce. I love cranberry sauce, but it’s loaded with sugar. Add a couple of bunches of red grapes to your sauce with some orange zest and fresh thyme. Instead of sugar, use erythritol or monk fruit sweetener, which are all-natural, zero-calorie sugar substitutes. As a bonus, spread leftover chilled cranberry sauce on sourdough toast for breakfast or a snack.
Pie. If you’re from the South and can’t live without your pecan pie, I get it. But if you want to save calories, stick to pumpkin pie. Pecan pie is heavy on fat and sugar. The average slice contains 62 grams of carbs, 25 grams of fat and a whopping 490 calories. By comparison, pumpkin pie slices have 46 grams of carbs, 13 grams of fat and 323 calories.
Army veteran Jennifer Campbell is a certified personal trainer with a master’s degree in nutrition education. She is commander of the California American Legion’s 24th District.