Sides for a Fit, Filling Holiday: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

With Thanksgiving only a few days away, you might be completing your shopping, plotting your tablescape, readying your home for guests, and maybe even pulling out your stretchy pants for use during the big meal. Even if you’re on a diet with a specific weight loss goal in mind, you might be planning to use a “cheat day” and pretend that all the calories you consume on Thanksgiving don’t count.

While it’s tempting to take the easy route and just dive into a dish without second thought to its affect on your waistline, we’re here to share some healthy Thanksgiving recipes that prove low-fat side dishes can be as delicious as their counterparts.

Ready to minimize your weight gain this holiday season? Replace your traditional sides with our healthy Thanksgiving recipes!

Healthy Thanksgiving Recipes

Wild Rice Stuffing

The first of our healthy Thanksgiving recipes is simple to make. Skip the carbohydrate-laden bread (which digests quickly and triggers fat storage in your body) and use wild rice in your stuffing instead:

  • Combine 3/4 cup uncooked wild rice and 2 1/2 cups water in a 1 1/2 quart sauce pan, then bring to a boil.
  • Simmer, cover, and cook until water is absorbed, about 30 minutes. Be sure to stir frequently to prevent burning.
  • Healthy Thanksgiving recipes are about packing more nutritional value into the dish, which is why this stuffing recipe calls for vegetables and fruits. Place 1 tbsp light olive oil in a skillet over medium heat. Add 3/4 cup chopped onion, 1 cup sliced mushrooms, 1 cup chopped apple, 1/4 cup dried cranberries, and 2 cups celery, stirring and cooking until tender. Season with 1/2 tsp salt, 1/4 tsp black pepper and 1 tbsp poultry seasoning, stirring and cooking for 10 minutes until fragrant.
  • Mix your fruits & vegetables in a large bowl with the cooked rice, then add 1/2 cup chicken broth. Stuff your turkey with the mixture or bake it for 15 minutes at 350°F. Top with 1/4 cup toasted, slivered almonds. Now one of your healthy Thanksgiving recipes is done! Serves 12.

Healthy Green Bean Casserole

Next on our healthy Thanksgiving recipes list? We tackle green bean casserole. This recipe nixes the high-calorie, sodium-rich canned soup and crunchy onions in favor of more flavorful fresh onions. (Tip: Healthy Thanksgiving recipes are better for you because they use fresh veggies, so don’t go frozen when it comes to these ingredients!)

  • Preheat your oven to 400°F, then prepare your 2 1/2-quart baking dish by coating with non-stick cooking spray.
  • Place 1 tbsp light olive oil in a large saucepan over medium heat. Dice half of 1 medium sweet onion, and slice the other half. Add the dice onion to your saucepan and stir, cooking for 4 minutes until it’s softened and transparent. Add in 8 oz chopped mushrooms, 1 tbsp onion powder, 1 tsp salt, 1/2 tsp dried thyme and 1/2 tsp freshly ground pepper. Continue to cook and stir for about 3 to 5 minutes until the mushroom juices are almost evaporated.
  • Dust 1/3 cup flour over the vegetables, then stir to coat. Add in 1 cup low-fat milk and 3 tbsp dry sherry (not cooking sherry — remember, these healthy Thanksgiving recipes nix high-sodium options), then simmer, stirring often. Add 1 pound fresh French-cut Sides for a Fit, Filling Holiday: Healthy Thanksgiving Recipesgreen beans and return to a simmer. Continue stirring and cooking until beans are heated through, about 1 minute. Add in 1/3 cup reduced-fat sour cream and 3 tbsp buttermilk powder, then move mixture to the prepared baking dish. (Tip: opt for the non-, low- or reduced-fat options when buying ingredients for your healthy Thanksgiving recipes).
  • Healthy Thanksgiving recipes can still be flavorful — so it’s time to add the spice! In a shallow dish, use a whisk to combine 1/3 cup flour, 1 tsp paprika, 1/2 tsp garlic powder and 1/4 teaspoon salt. Toss in sliced onion half to coat.
  • Place 2 tbsp oil in a large nonstick skillet over medium-high heat, then cook your onion and remaining flour mixture for 4-5 minutes. Turn your onion slices once or twice until they’re golden and crisp. Once done, sprinkle onion topping over your casserole.
  • Pop the casserole into the oven for about 15 minutes until it bubbles. Cool for 5 minutes, and then you’ve prepared two healthy Thanksgiving recipes! Serves 6.

Garlic Mashed Potatoes

Our healthy Thanksgiving recipes are all about fresh, flavorful ingredients. Streamline your mashed potatoes — don’t drown them in heavy cream!

  • YCover 3 lbs peeled and cubed potatoes with water in a large stockpot, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 15 minutes until tender. Drain potatoes and return to your pot.
  • Cover 6 cloves of peeled and separated garlic with water in a small saucepan, then bring to a boil. Reduce the heat and simmer for 10 minutes until tender, then drain garlic.
  • Using your food processor or blender, mix the garlic and 1/2 cup fat-free milk, pureeing until smooth. (Tip: before tackling these healthy Thanksgiving recipes, see what appliances — like your blender — you might have to pull out of storage).
  • Add your pureed garlic and milk mixture to your potatoes, then mash to desired consistency with 1 tbsp trans fat-free margarine. Add black pepper to taste, then sprinkle 2 tbsp chopped fresh parsley and serve immediately. Serves 8.

Simplified Sweet Potatoes

Mini marshmallows or preservative-filled fluff? Those fattening ingredients are nowhere to be found in the last of our healthy Thanksgiving recipes.

  • Set your oven to preheat at 375°F, then prepare your 9-by-13 inch baking pan by lightly coating it with cooking spray.
  • Healthy Thanksgiving recipes can still be sweet, like this sauce. Create it by combining 1/4 cup water, 2 tbsp brown sugar, 2 tbsp honey and 1 tbsp olive oil in a small bowl and whisking until smooth.
  • Peel 4 large sweet potatoes and cut into wedges, then place in a single layer on the baking pan. Drizzle the prepared sauce over the sweet potatoes, turning to coat.
  • Cover your dish, then bake for 45 minutes until tender, turning once our twice to keep coating your sweet potatoes. Once tender, take off your cover and bake for 15 more minutes to help the glaze set. Finally, sprinkle with pepper to taste and the chopped herb (rosemary, sage or thyme) of your choice. Serves 8.

With these healthy Thanksgiving recipes in your repertoire, your weight loss goals shouldn’t be hard to attain — even after a filling feast!

What healthy Thanksgiving recipes are you most eager to try? Do you have any healthy Thanksgiving recipes of your own? Let us know in the comments!

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