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10 Tips for Delicious, Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

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10 Tips for Delicious, Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Want all the taste of Thanksgiving with less of the calories? Then you’ll love these 10 tips for healthy Thanksgiving recipes!

 

Thanksgiving is a holiday about gratitude and being conscious of what one has to value in life – awesome health, for example – but we all know there’s more to it than that.

The great American celebration is also about food. Lots of food. Lots and lots of indulgent, gut-busting food.

According to research from the Calorie Control Council, the average American may consume more than 4,500 calories and a whopping 229 grams of fat from snacking and eating a traditional holiday dinner with turkey and all the trimmings. And these figures don’t even include breakfast or the late evening munching on leftovers!

Is it possible to partake in a feast or two without feeling guilty for days after? Of course!

Follow these ten tips for healthy Thanksgiving recipes, and you’ll be able to make a meal that hits all the right traditional notes without hitting heavy on your waistline. Recipes are provided below, or you can use these ideas to adjust your family’s favorites.

1. Roast Turkey

healthy-roast-turkey

The star of the Thanksgiving table is already a good-for-you dish with tons of protein and very little fat.

Don’t worry about adding much to the bird besides a light coat of olive oil and a sprinkle of salt and other seasonings of your choice, like sage, peppercorns, rosemary, dry mustard, or paprika. As long as you don’t overcook it, the meat will be tender and juicy without a slathering of butter or other saturated fats.

2. Leaner Mashed Potatoes

Especially for holidays, innocent mashed potatoes get overloaded with butter and sour cream.

Start with a potato variety that has a naturally rich, buttery flavor like Yukon Gold, and don’t peel the skins before boiling – you’d be leaving out a lot of fiber, vitamin C, and iron if you did. When it comes time to mash, cut your usual amount of butter and sour cream in half, and use a low-fat milk.

If you really can’t enjoy your Thanksgiving potatoes without the added fat, you can always add it at the table, but instead you can add flavor with roasted garlic or fresh chives.

3. Healthy Green Bean Casserole

healthy-green-bean-casserole

Picture courtesy of The Lean Green Bean

This recipe is a great lower-calorie alternative to the traditional fat-laden casserole. You get a lot of the taste, with a lot less of the calories.

If you or your family must have the normal fried onion straws on top, you can serve them as an optional topping on the side.

4. Healthy Pumpkin Bread

healthy-pumpkin-bread

Picture courtesy of A Healthy Life For Me

No one’s saying you have to skip the pie on Thanksgiving, but baking up a fresh loaf of this healthy pumpkin bread will help you say no to a second slice. It also doubles as a satisfying and filling breakfast, helping you to snack less as you prep for dinner in the kitchen.

This recipe replaces some of the oil with non-fat Greek yogurt and uses separated egg whites to avoid the fatty yolk, but you can give it an extra boost of nutrition by mixing in pumpkin and flax seeds.

5. Multi-Grain Dinner Rolls

multi-grain-dinner-roll

Picture courtesy of Bon Appetit

Turkey might be the superstar of Thanksgiving, but butter is a close second. Never is that more obvious than in dinner rolls, which we bake with tons of butter and then slather with more butter.

This recipe uses only 1 tablespoon of vegetable oil, easily replaced with more nutritious coconut, olive, or sunflower oils. And instead of white flour, the rolls use whole wheat flour, old-fashioned oats, cornmeal, and wheat bran.

Each roll is 110 calories with 1.7 grams of fat, 21 grams of carbohydrates, and 4 grams of protein.

Want to know how to build muscle and lose fat eating delicious foods like these?"Dieting" doesn't have to suck. You CAN eat foods you like and have the body you want!

6. Pear and Ginger Cheesecake

pear-ginger-cheesecake

Picture courtesy of Cabin Blendings

Almost every type of pie is loaded with fat; it’s hard to avoid when good crust takes so much butter.

If you’re looking for a low-fat, high-protein dessert, this cheesecake will fit in beautifully in any Thanksgiving dessert spread. It uses low-fat granola for the crust, dried pears and crystallized ginger for flavor, and non-fat cottage and cream cheeses.

Not only is it a relatively guilt-free dessert, but it’s a lot easier to make from scratch than a pie. Plus, your family will be none-the-wiser that it’s a diet-friendly indulgence.

7. Grazing Snacks

No family gathering is complete without a counter full of little dishes of snacks: potato chips, M&Ms, pretzels, you name it. If a snack can be scooped up by the handful, it will be at someone’s Thanksgiving celebration.

While you can’t make everyone watch their portion control, you can ensure your guests aren’t wolfing down empty calories. Treat your loved ones with healthful options like pumpkin seeds, popcorn, veggies and fresh hummus, or a charcuterie and cheese platter.

8. Healthy Homemade Cranberry Sauce

healthy-homemade-cranberry-sauce

Picture courtesy of Crave Health With Jill

If you’re cranberry sauce is shaped like the can it came in, it probably has next to no nutritional value. Instead, use this recipe to make it from scratch, which takes little more than stewing and stirring some fresh cranberries on the stove.

Mix in coconut sugar, orange juice, and chia seeds for added amino acids, vitamins, fiber, omega-3s, and more nutrients.

9. Maple Sweet Potatoes

SONY DSC

Picture courtesy of The Detoxonista

Sweet potatoes are a great addition to any diet because they’re chock full of nutrients: iron, magnesium, potassium, beta carotene, and vitamins B6, C, and D.

So whether you prefer them pureed, steamed, baked, or mashed, this recipe will give you a Thanksgiving dish you can definitely have seconds or thirds of. Skip the marshmallows and add an extra touch of sweetness with all-natural maple syrup.

If you don’t think they’re delicious plain, top with toasted walnuts and a dash of cinnamon.

10. Healthy Stuffing

cranberry-quinoa-stuffing

Picture courtesy of Heidi Powell

One of the worst offenders on the Thanksgiving table is the stuffing. It’s designed to be full of cheap grains, fatty cuts of meat, and to top it all off it soaks up the rendered fat drippings as the turkey roasts in the oven.

Instead ensure the bulk of your stuffing is fresh vegetables and healthy grains, and use healthier, lower-fat meats.

This Sausage, Apple, and Butternut Squash Stuffing is an interest Paleo take on stuffing: it has a full half-pound of meat, and it’s healthiest with a lean sausage like chicken or turkey. This Cranberry Quinoa Stuffing with Pancetta also caught my eye as a healthy, interesting variant on the traditional dish.

 

What did you think of these tips for healthy Thanksgiving recipes? Have any tips of your own to share? Let me know in the comments below!

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I'm Mike and I'm the creator of Muscle for Life and Legion Athletics, and I believe that EVERYONE can achieve the body of their dreams.

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  • Lindsay @ The Lean Green Bean

    Thanks for sharing my green beans!

    • Michael Matthews

      My pleasure! Thanks for creating the recipe! 🙂

  • António Alves

    Hi Mike,

    Speaking of thanksgiving, I was looking for some advice on how to deal with the upcoming christmas/new year. Right now I am in my hometown, however in 2 weeks time I will be traveling, but we have a plave there. Most of my family (and I) will want to do many things during the holidays i.e. not much time at home. My point being, how do I maintain all the work I will produce in these 2 weeks? Do you think that I should workout a maintenance diet (not very difficult I think), and do a bodyweight routine?

    I guess it would be hard to get many meals in, so what I was thinking was to try to eat most of my food at home, or eat less if I know I am going out. There are things that I can avoid, like icecream or popcorn in the cinema. However I can’t just not eat dinner at a restaurant. How should go about it, and what things should I go for when in a restaurant?

    Thanks!

    • Michael Matthews

      Check out this article of mine. It answers your questions!

      https://www.muscleforlife.com /how-to-stay-in-shape-when-youre-traveling/

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