The food-centered holiday doesn’t have to be unhealthy

Thanksgiving, that quintessential American holiday intended to elicit gratitude in participants, has over the years seemingly become better known as prelude to football watching marked by over-indulging in calories. On the whole, we eat too much … and often too much of the wrong foods. The good news is that there are healthy substitutes for classic Thanksgiving fare.

Turkey Day Tasty Alternatives

The turkey itself isn’t bad, but avoid the skin, which is where most of the unhealthy fat is. A one-pound serving of skinless, boneless turkey breast has a mere 123 calories, is high in protein and very low in fat. Just don’t deep-fry the bird!

Most of us struggle with an abundance of high-calorie, high-carb, high-fat, and high-sugar side dishes. Be sure to avoid altogether the Ambrosia salad, for instance, which – despite the healthy fruit it contains – is loaded down with processed sugars and dairy.

Some side dishes do have healthier-but-still-delicious alternatives, though. Check out this Hasselback Sweet Potatoes recipe, which cuts the calories, carbs and fat when compared to typical mashed potatoes. Even healthier is this Mashed Butternut Squash dish to take the place of potatoes. Another healthy-but-delicious Thanksgiving side is Holiday Roasted Vegetables, which packs much more flavor than a standard salad.

For dessert, shy away from sugary pies topped with globs of whipped cream and instead opt for this creamy and decadent (but light!) Coconut Milk Panna Cotta or these sweet and indulgent (but healthier!) Chickpea-Tahini Blondies. But if you must have pie, try this Pecan-Date Pie, which has less sugar and fat than a traditional pecan pie.

Remember to Exercise Portion Control

Regardless of what is served (and especially when the menu is outside of your control), it is vitally important to remember to exercise restraint and keep portion sizes in mind. Drink a full glass of water to begin your meal, and then focus on lower-calorie options as you fill your plate (but not to overflowing!). The largest portions should be vegetables and whole grains, with smaller portions allotted for fruits and protein.

And if the following day, Black Friday, is a special day for you, know that you won’t feel bloated and lethargic as you make your way out the house in the wee hours of the morning for a day of bargain hunting.

The Pickled Beet works with individuals, couples, and families to find meals that are flavorful, healthy, and best fuel the body no matter what nutritional requirements might be part of the equation. Contact us for a free consultation.

Check out these additional chef-approved recipes to make your turkey day healthyish:

Green Beans and Mushrooms with Shallots Recipe

Serves 4

1 pound green beans (organic)
1/2 pound button mushrooms, sliced
2 large shallots, peeled and thinly sliced
Freshly ground black pepper to taste
Kosher or sea salt
2 tablespoons olive oil
1 large garlic clove, minced

Blanch the green beans in a large pot of boiling salted water for 3 minutes. Drain immediately and immerse in a bowl of ice water. Drain them and set aside.

Heat the oil in a large sauté pan or pot and sauté the mushrooms and shallots on medium heat, tossing occasionally, until browned. Season with salt and pepper. Drain the beans and add to the shallots/mushroom mixture. Add garlic and cook until fragrant and the beans are warmed through. Adjust seasoning for salt and pepper.

Roasted Sweet Potatoes with Almonds and Toasted Coconut Recipe

Serves 4

1 tablespoons olive oil
2 large sweet potatoes, cut into 1/2-inch cubes
2 tablespoons olive oil
Kosher or sea salt, to taste
Fresh ground black pepper, to taste
1/4 cup almonds, slivered
1/4 cup unsweetened coconut flakes (optional)

Preheat oven to 375 degrees.

Spread potatoes on a baking sheet and drizzle with olive oil. Season to taste with salt and pepper. Roast 20-30 minutes until browned, flipping halfway through cooking time.

Add almonds and coconut and heat for another 5-10 minutes, taking care not to scorch coconut.

Serve immediately.

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