Healthy Thanksgiving recipes? For real? For many of us, just thinking about the holidays makes our stomach start to rumble, getting ready for all the delicious food we plan to eat. Holiday parties, family dinners and sweet treats—all that goodness adds up and before you know it, you’ll be carrying more than just memories with you after the holidays are over. Holiday weight gain is a real struggle for a lot of people. As Forbes reports, a according to a recent report from the Calorie Control Council, “the true average weight gain is 1 to 3 pounds, which doesn’t sound like that much until you realize that we’re talking about a four-week period, which means many people are packing on almost a pound a week.” A typical Thanksgiving dinner alone can cost you over 3,000 calories, which is way more than the recommended daily caloric intake for most women. And while it might taste good, it’s no surprise that a meal with that many calories is not good for your waistline.
If you’re worried about packing on holiday pounds, there’s good news and bad news. The bad news is that you’ll have to adjust your menu slightly if you want to manage your calorie intake and you want to maintain a balanced diet. The good news is that you can do it without completely sacrificing your favorite foods and your traditional holiday treats. After all, the holidays are a time to gather with loved ones, celebrate life and love, and enjoy yourself. The trick is you need to find ways to do all of that without completely abandoning the healthy habits you work hard to practice all year long. Here are some healthy Thanksgiving recipes dishes that you can whip up for your healthier gathering this year.
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Roasted Brussels Sprouts
Every healthy table requires some greens, and fall is the perfect season to break out the Brussels sprouts and roast them up until they are crispy, hot, crunchy, and oh-so-good. A little olive oil goes a long way when roasting veggies, and it’s really the salt and pepper plus the 40+ minutes in the oven that gives the veggies their memorable texture and flavor.
No Thanksgiving table would be complete without this tart relish, which goes well with everything from the turkey to the veggies. The good news is that cranberries are loaded with health benefits—they are high in Vitamin C, manganese and fiber, and loaded with antioxidants. This relish recipe is easy and brings out the naturally tart flavor of the berries by pairing them with orange juice, lemon juice and ginger. Yes, there is some sugar in this dish, but it’s not overly sweet; and remember: it’s just a relish to be paired with your other dishes, not inhaled by the cupful.
Sautéed Carrots with Lemon and Marjoram
This nutritious and tasty recipe is loaded with flavor thanks to the lemon juice and herbs, and it doesn’t require very much oil at all (and zero butter). It’s super simple, which is part of what makes it such a perfect addition to any holiday table. You’ll feel better about eating it than heavy candied carrots or anything made with cream, but it tastes so good you’ll barely miss the fatty foods.
Sweet Potato Casserole
If your Thanksgiving meal wouldn’t be complete without an ooey gooey piping hot dish of something sweet and smothered in marshmallows, then we hear you 100%. A traditional sweet potato casserole is a staple and many holiday tables, but it also happens to be loaded with butter, sugar and a candied topping (which is probably why it tastes so good). Luckily, this lightened up version of a casserole recipe is equally delicious and creamy with way less fat and calories thanks to the fat free milk and egg substitute ingredients.
Herb-Roasted Turkey Breast
The star of the Thanksgiving table is typically the turkey, and when it’s done right, it deserves every second in the spotlight. If you want your protein-packed entree to be a little healthier than traditional preparations, try this dish which is all about the fresh herbs. The dish is simple and uses minimal fatty ingredients (only 2 tablespoons of olive oil for the entire dish which serves 6 people—not bad at all!) but offers maximum flavor.
Healthy Apple Crisp
Apples just scream fall, and apple pie is no stranger to a Thanksgiving table, so this dessert will fit right in with your holiday meal. This healthier twist on an apple pie is delicious, perfectly sweet and a little bit tart. And did we mention it’s easy to make? Sure, there is some sugar and a little butter, but the proportion of sugar and butter compared to apples and nuts is definitely on the healthy end of the spectrum.
Photos 2 & 4 courtesy of Food Network.com