Photo: Baked Cauliflower and Squash

by Tandis Bishop, RD

We all love the traditional dishes served at Thanksgiving, but they can be distressing if you’re trying to manage your weight or eat healthier. The key is to aim for fewer calories and create healthier Thanksgiving recipes by making small, simple changes while keeping the flavors and textures you love.

Here are some ways to make your holiday recipes into healthy, easy, and tasty Thanksgiving favorites!

Vegetables and Side Dishes

Flavor vegetables with herbs, spices, vinaigrettes, and drizzles of olive oil. There are many ways to steam, sauté or bake side dishes without slathering them with butter or cheese sauces. Some fun holiday side recipes are below:

Mains

Plant-based versions of traditional holiday fare are a great way to trim the calories and cholesterol while adding more disease-fighting plant nutrients! Try these recipes that are a win for everyone:

Potatoes

Substitute butter with unsweetened almond or hemp milk, low fat or skim milk, light cream or coconut milk. Add garlic and herbs to enhance flavor. Try sweet potatoes instead -- they are high in vitamins, fiber and antioxidants! Here are some easy, tasty alternatives:

Desserts

Cut the calories by cutting smaller slices! Sweeten desserts with natural sugars such as organic raw cane sugar, raw honey, agave, coconut sugar, or even real fruit. Use phyllo dough, whole grain flours, or ground nuts and seeds for a healthier crust! Below are some traditional -- as well as raw, vegan, and even gluten-free -- versions of yummy holiday treats:

Meal Time

Have a well-balanced, high fiber breakfast to keep you satiated hours before the Thanksgiving meal. Include a healthy protein like peanut or almond butter or Greek yogurt.  Add a whole grain such as oatmeal or whole grain toast, and some fresh fruit. 

Eat a light snack in between, such as a small salad, veggies with hummus, or a handful of trail mix so you don’t overeat at dinner time.

Enjoy a little of everything! Have sensible portions of all the foods you love, including the dessert, so you don’t feel like you overindulged. Have fun and have a healthy and happy Thanksgiving! 

And Love Life!