The big day approaches - one that has people putting on their stretchy pants, and taking L-tryptophan naps on the couch after gorging on several servings of fat-laden foods. A little indulging is a given on the day of giving thanks, but it doesn’t have to be a calorie mass casualty.
While Thanksgiving does tend to be a day that is premeditated overeating, a lot of food on the menu can be considered healthy if prepared right and consumed within reasonable portions. In general, limiting butter, sauces, and toppings in exchange for roasting and seasoning with spices will yield healthier results for the big T-Day.
Not only do the ingredients you use to prep the turkey affect the healthiness of your meal but the way you cook your bird may too. Some chefs like to rub their turkey with butter or oil for a more flavorful chicken. Healthier options are to use lemons, apples, cloves of garlic, herbs, or other spices inside the cavity of the bird.
When choosing the size of a turkey, Men’s Health suggests estimating one and a half pounds per person coming to dinner. If you are wondering how much each portion of protein is going to affect your waistline, the skinny on turkey breaks down like this: a 4 oz serving of white meat with skin has 200 calories, 33 grams of protein, and 6 grams of fat, dark meat contains 233 calories, 31 grams of protein, and 11 grams of fat. Each is relatively similar enough that both can be enjoyed. Of course, when considering a better option while purchasing a bird, spending a bit more on an organic turkey means eating one that wasn’t raised eating GMO tainted grains.
Need help with your timing? We’ve got you covered. According to The Kitchn, you should cook the turkey approximately 13 minutes for each pound it weighs at 350 degrees. Looking for a better, quicker, healthier method to your Thanksgiving madness? For an evenly browned bird, try the spatchcocking cooking technique. This isn’t for the faint of heart or weak of hands. It entails removing the backbone and flattening the bird (or butterflying it), but will make sure both the white meat and dark meat cook evenly with a faster cooking time overall. If you are the type who can’t be bothered, then maybe slow cooker turkey is the process for you. Simply stuff the turkey, baste with some olive oil, salt, and pepper and then leave it on low overnight.
Needing some nutritious side dishes to accompany that well-cooked main event? There are many ways to cut down on extra calories and fat when gilding your table with a delicious dinner on Thanksgiving Day. Here are some healthy choices:
For a starter, think of a hearty soup that isn’t loaded with cream or dairy. This Butternut Squash Soup recipe from The Food Network fits the bill.
A sensible salad is also always a good starter. This one gets fancy with flavor by adding Pear, Fennel, and Walnuts, per The Mayo Clinic.
Roasted veggies are the way to keep it green and clean. Here is a guide to delicious Crispy Brussies from Ina Garten herself.
If you just can’t do without the quintessential Green Bean Casserole, here is a vegan gluten-free version that is paleo as well from Eat The Love.
If you are looking for something a bit heartier and tangier, look no further: Mustard Parmesan Roasted Cauliflower.
Saving your sugar calories for dessert? Sweet potato casserole can quickly add up the calories with brown sugar and marshmallows. This Roasted Sweet potatoes with Honey and Cinnamon from Tyler Florence is a safer bet.
Store-bought box stuffing is filled with preservatives. Making your own is not only healthier but will make your taste buds happy. Here are instructions from Kitchen Treaty for their Herb Rice and Quinoa Stuffing.
If you definitely want bread in the bird, try whole wheat or gluten-free like this gluten-free Herb and Apple Stuffing from the Food Network.
That cranberry sauce from a can does look pretty spooky the way it shakes on the plate. Mix up a batch of your own from scratch with this Tart Cranberry Dipping Sauce recipe.
Potatoes are delicious. This is not up for debate. However, they are a very filling starch on top of all the rich food you will be consuming. Try this healthier version of Cauliflower “Mashed Potatoes” via The Mayo Clinic.
The gravy on top of the meal is, well, gravy. But it adds a lot of excess calories. Cut way back on that with this more nutritious version of Low Fat Turkey Gravy.
More into the vegetable version of gravy? This Wild Mushroom Gravy from Oh My Veggies might be more your bag.
Dessert shouldn’t be skipped on the holidays but gaining extra pounds from it should. These Paleo Pumpkin Pie Cupcakes from My Whole Food Life give you the flavor of the season without all the fat and sugar.
Pecan Pie is a Thanksgiving favorite and guilty of being one of the highest calorie dishes. Splurge on points with this delicious sweet treat with this gluten-free Paleo Pecan Pie version from Lexi’s Clean Kitchen.
Apple dishes on the big holidays are as American as, well, apple pie. This Apple Crisp version from the Food Network cuts back on the things that make it heavy and delivers on the (red) delicious.