Don’t let the title misguide you. This isn’t a post about cooking low-sodium turkey, sugar-free cranberry sauce, or gluten-free apple pie for your feast. We’re talking about a healthier Thanksgiving that’s fun, fit, and won’t wreck your waistline.
Thanksgiving kick starts the most festive (and sometimes chaotic) six weeks of the year. Every weekend is filled with parties, family, and more likely than not, shopping. It’s a time of gratitude, generosity, love and good food. But it’s important not to sacrifice your routine and fitness goals to lose yourself for the sake of the holiday.
One of the most important tips to enjoying holiday foods and not overindulge is to exercise portion control.
According to the Calorie Control Council, the average American consumes 4,500 calories worth of turkey, and stuffing at Thanksgiving dinner. The American Council On Exercise and The New York Times say the number is really around 3,000 calories. Either way, all sources estimate that we eat more in one sitting on Thanksgiving than we’re normally advised to eat in an entire day.
The moral of this story? It’s possible to cut down a teeny, tiny bit on Thanksgiving without feeling deprived. The graphic below gives you a breakdown of servings on a healthy Thanksgiving plate.
But you can go further in your effort to stay healthy this Holiday then just portion control. It’s easier to stay on track if you are eating cleaner foods. A way to safeguard yourself at parties and family meals is to bring clean options with you.
Keep your willpower and wits about you at the Holiday parties with the following recipes. Perfect to make-ahead to take to a party or serve at your own Thanksgiving Table.
Salad and Starters
Kale is the perfect hearty fall green to use as a base for any seasonal salad. Try this easy option with freshly grated pecorino cheese and red pepper flakes as a side dish or starter with a little kick.
With eight simple ingredients and less than 10 minutes of prep time, this spinach and sprouts dish brings a little California sunshine to any dinner table.
On a day when nearly every dish is an indulgence, it’s smart to start with something a little greener to fit in those important nutrients and antioxidants. This combo of arugula with crisp and refreshing fennel and apple is the perfect solution.
The addition of pancetta and maple make these healthy little guys just the right amount of decadent (without going overboard on the unhealthy stuff).
Looking for the perfect turkey pairing? Try these roasted Brussels sprouts for a sweet and savory option that is a delicious addition to any Thanksgiving table.
Instead of heavy cream, this version of the classic uses coconut milk to achieve a luscious texture. But it doesn’t taste tropical thanks to all the amazing spices.
Repeat after us: No. Canned. Cranberries. For those who prefer an herbal twist on the side, here is the answer. Plus, there’s no added sugar; the sauce is sweetened with apple juice.
This classic side dish is typically anything but healthy. However, this version takes out all the bad stuff by swapping in, well, less-than-bad stuff.
Whether you call it stuffing or dressing, no Thanksgiving would be complete without the holiday staple. And this recipe takes an unexpected twist on the traditional for a delicious replacement that will please a carb-hungry crowd.
It’s dessert and a main dish in one! Fill your plate with this fiber-rich dish that will keep you fuller longer.
Just three ingredients and less than 20 minutes from start to finish, this roasted asparagus recipe makes one simple, crowd-pleasing dish.
Greens aren’t a “traditional” Thanksgiving dish. But take a chance this year, and pick your favorite leaves to toss with a hearty dose of garlic.
This new take on a potato substitute uses apples and parsnips to make a similarly colored dish.
These carrots are a refreshing change, and because they’re roasted, they take little effort so you can spend less time in the kitchen.
Try pork this Thanksgiving. It’s a delicious white meat alternative if you arent a fan of turkey.
Taking your first stab at cooking the big bird this year? Don’t even try to enter the kitchen without this simple guide.
These sweet potato and quinoa stuffed mushroom caps are just as filling as turkey and can be enjoyed by anyone around the dinner table.
Cookies may never be a health food, but whole-wheat flour, flaxseeds, and pumpkin add more fiber, omega-3s, and antioxidants. Which still tastes great with chocolate chips.
With only five ingredients and no oven required, this dessert is a stress-free dream.
With a quinoa and apple base, this snack cake is filling enough to kill that dessert craving. And since it’s Thanksgiving, go ahead and serve it à la mode!
Looking for a way to use up all that fall fruit? Try this simple compote for an all-natural sugar fix. Serve with ice cream, fresh whipped cream, or angel food cake for some extra decadence.