Healthy Thanksgiving Dinner

Thanksgiving Dinner: Traditional, Healthy and Delicious

Thanksgiving is a time to spend with your loved ones and be thankful for good family, good food and good healthy. However, oftentimes we lose focus of this and turn it into a day where we simply try to over-stuff ourselves and put any positive dietary habits we have on hold until the New Year. It doesn’t have to be that way. Most traditional Thanksgiving dishes are actually quite good for you if you make a few substitutions. Follow these tips to enjoy your Thanksgiving feast and take care of your body at the same time!

Thanksgiving Dinner: Mashed Potatoes

I’m starting with mashed potatoes because this is my absolute favorite! Oftentimes we try to lighten up this dish by switching the heavy cream and butter for non-fat versions. This is an effective way to cut a significant amount of calories, but if you ask me it also cuts out a significant amount of flavor, which is a tragic thing to do to my favorite dish! Instead, I like to use the full-fat versions of cream and butter, but I cut the amount in half. If you want creamier mashed potatoes, gradually add low-sodium chicken or vegetable broth until the potatoes reach the desired consistency.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Stuffing

Did you know that you can cut the calories in half by simply baking your stuffing outside of the bird rather than inside? The reason is the drippings from the bird add a significant amount of fat and calories. Moreover, in order to make sure that any harmful bacteria from those drippings are destroyed you need to get the stuffing above 165 degrees Fahrenheit. This usually means overcooking the turkey, which is a Thanksgiving tragedy! Instead bake the stuffing in its own baking pan. You can even use a muffin tin for instant portion control and an adorable presentation.

Thanksgiving Dinner: Gravy

The key to delicious, healthy gravy is to use all the drippings from the roasting pan, but skim off the fat. Typically fat equals flavor, but in this case you are getting so much natural flavor from the drippings that the fat simply adds more calories and little taste. In addition, I like to make my own broth for the gravy by simmering the giblets in water for about an hour and a half. Again, you are maximizing the wonderful natural flavor of the turkey so you don’t have to turn to extra salt and butter.

Remember: Thanksgiving Dinner isn’t a race. Slow down and enjoy every bite, and the time that you have with your family. When you are satisfied, don’t force extra food in simply because it’s Thanksgiving! Every bite that you don’t eat at Thanksgiving dinner is an extra bite you can have when you enjoy the leftovers – and that’s really the best part!

Wishing you and your loved ones a happy and healthy Thanksgiving!

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Tara Coleman

Tara Coleman is a Clinical Nutritionist with a private practice in San Diego, CA. She speaks nationally on the topics of health and nutrition and has been cited as a nutrition expert by media such as NBC, FOX, SELF, Cosmopolitan and Dr. Oz The Good Life. Download her FREE 4 Step Nutrition Quick Start Guide and start feeling better today!

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