Thanksgiving is one of the most popular holidays of the year. It sets the tone for the rest of the season.
Unfortunately, for many people, Thanksgiving is a time when sensible eating habits seem to take a holiday, too.
If that includes you, remember that much of the weight you put on during these hectic weeks will stay on your body long after the celebrations are over.
Luckily, you don’t have to deprive yourself until spring. With a little planning, you can enjoy the holidays while eating healthy and delicious meals.
4 suggestions for making and serving healthy holiday dishes
1. Offer fresh appetizers
Avoid buttery, fattening, or fried foods. Instead, try roasted butternut squash soup, stuffed mushrooms, veggies with hummus, and seasonal fruit like apples dipped in honey.
2. Serve nonalcoholic or low-alcohol beverages
Drinking too much alcohol stimulates your appetite and increases the risk you’ll overeat. Instead of drinking full glasses of wine, mix half red or white wine and half seltzer in a glass.
3. Cook up a healthy, hearty breakfast
You might want to skip breakfast because of the big feast coming up. However, that increases the chance of being hungry later and eating too much at dinner. Instead, try a nutrient-rich breakfast with lean protein and plenty of fiber.
4. Reduce calories in your family recipes
Slightly tweak your favorite holiday dishes with some of the following suggestions:
- Use whole milk instead of cream.
- Cut sugar by 10- to 25 percent.
- Substitute 25 to 50 percent of whole-wheat flour in recipes calling for all-purpose flour. Also, use whole wheat bread, breadcrumbs, or panko.
- Use low-sodium broth in your stuffing.
- Try adding seasonal spices such as sage, thyme and rosemary. This will cut down on the need for salt.
6 tasty barbecue recipes you need to try
Delicious main dishes
- 1 12- to 15-pound turkey
- 2 cups low-sodium barbecue sauce
- 1 cup apple cider vinegar
- 1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes
- Rinse the cavity of the turkey and pat dry. Place it breast-side down in a deep bowl.
- In a medium bowl, combine barbecue sauce, vinegar, and red-pepper flakes; pour over the turkey. Refrigerate for eight hours.
- Light a charcoal fire and burn until the coals become ash.
- Brush the turkey with the marinade. Place turkey on the grill, breast-side up, near the coals, or the side of an electric grill that is not turned on.
- Cook turkey with the lid closed until the temperature of the leg and breast is 180°F.
- Coat with marinade every 30 to 45 minutes.
- Turn it a quarter each time.
- When cooked, remove from the grill.
- Wait 15 minutes before carving and serve with gravy or sauce.
- 1 whole turkey, thawed
- 4 quarts water
- 1 cup (or less) kosher salt
- Combine the water and salt in a large container until the salt dissolves.
- Remove giblets from the turkey.
- Place the turkey inside and submerge.
- Leave in refrigerator overnight.
- Start the pellet grill.
- Remove the turkey from the brine and pat it down with paper towels.
- Transfer the turkey to the grill and cook at 180°F for two hours.
- Raise heat to 325°F.
- Ensure the internal temperature has reached at least 165°F (the U.S. Department of Agriculture’s safe cooking temperature for poultry)
- Remove the turkey and let it sit for 10 to 15 minutes.
Enjoy these 2 savory side dishes
- 3 cups reduced-sodium chicken broth
- 1/2 cup cornmeal
- 1/2 teaspoon salt
- 1/2 teaspoon white pepper
- 1/2 pound Italian turkey sausage links, without casings
- 1 large onion, diced
- 1 large fennel bulb, diced
- 1 garlic clove, minced
- 1 large egg yolk, beaten
- 4 cups soft whole-wheat breadcrumbs
- 3/4 cup dried cranberries
- 2 tablespoons minced fresh parsley
- 1 tablespoon balsamic vinegar
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh sage
- 1 teaspoon minced fresh savory
- 1/4 teaspoon ground nutmeg
- Whisk one cup broth, cornmeal, salt and pepper.
- In a large pan, bring the rest of the broth to a boil. Add cornmeal mixture and stir.
- Return to a boil. Cook and stir for three minutes.
- Remove from heat.
- Crumble sausage into a large skillet; add onion and fennel.
- Cook at medium until the sausage is brown.
- Add garlic; cook for one minute. Drain.
- Add egg yolk and cornmeal mixture. Stir.
- Add breadcrumbs, cranberries, parsley, vinegar, sage, savory, and nutmeg. Stir.
- Move to a 1 1/2-quart baking dish.
- Cover and bake at 350°F for 40 to 45 minutes.
- 2 ½ pounds of green beans
- ½ cup whole-wheat breadcrumbs.
- 1/2 medium onion, chopped
- 8 ounces cremini mushrooms
- 3 tablespoons whole-wheat flour
- 2 cups 2% milk
- 7 ounces Greek yogurt
- ¼ cup parmesan cheese
- 2 tablespoons parsley
- 4 tablespoons olive oil
- Stir the breadcrumbs, parmesan, parsley, and olive oil together for the topping.
- Wash the green beans and pat dry.
- Saute the onions and mushrooms in olive oil.
- Add flour and stir.
- Pour in the milk slowly, stirring constantly.
- Add any spices you might like.
- Stir, then let the sauce reduce.
- Remove from heat.
- Add yogurt.
- Spread half of the green beans into a baking dish, then layer half the sauce on top. Finish with the remaining green beans and sauce. Top with breadcrumbs.
- Broil for one to three minutes until just browned.
2 delightful desserts to finish the meal
- Baked Apples with Oatmeal
- 4 apples, halved and cored
- ½ cup pecans, roughly chopped
- ½ cup dry oatmeal
- ½ cup brown sugar (or less!)
- ¼ cup olive oil
- 1 teaspoon cinnamon
- ½ teaspoon cardamom
- ½ teaspoon (or less) kosher salt
- ¾ cup water
- 2 teaspoons cornstarch
- 1 teaspoon lemon juice
- Preheat the oven to 350°F.
- Place the apples in a 9-by-13 baking dish.
- Combine pecans, oats, sugar, oil, cinnamon, cardamom, and salt in a bowl.
- Stir until thoroughly combined.
- Put an equal portion of the filling in each apple.
- Mix water, cornstarch, and lemon juice together.
- Pour over the apples.
- Bake for 20 to 25 minutes.
- ½ cup dark chocolate chips or chunks
- 10 fresh figs, halved
- ½ teaspoon pink Himalayan sea salt
- Melt the dark chocolate for 30 seconds to a minute in the microwave.
- Stir until creamy.
- Dip half of each fig in the chocolate.
- Place them on parchment paper.
- Sprinkle it with a pinch of sea salt.
- Wait for one to two hours for it to harden.
Hopefully, these tips and recipes will make your Thanksgiving more enjoyable.