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Thanksgiving Favorites With a Healthy Twist

Healthy and delicious options for Thanksgiving.

Thanksgiving is a wonderful holiday. Filled with family and friends, it brings with it wonderful memories, laughter and joy. It can also be a holiday that packs on the unwanted pounds. On average, people consume 3,000 calories at their Thanksgiving meal alone.

Here are a few modifications of Thanksgiving favorites made a bit lighter to help not lose sight of your healthy goals this season.

Candied Sweet Potatoes

Candied sweet potatoes are topped with marshmallows and brown sugar making this dish more of a sweet treat than a vegetable side. Roasted sweet potato rounds topped with cinnamon sugar allow you to indulge, guilt free. To prepare, slice sweet potatoes into thin slices, lay out on sheet pan and drizzle with olive oil. Roast potato rounds in a 450-degree oven for approximately 20 to 25 minutes, or until crisp. Finish off this side dish with a shake of cinnamon sugar.

Green Bean Casserole

When we think vegetables at Thanksgiving, green bean casserole is often as close as we get. Although 1 cup of green beans is only 34 calories, when tossed in a creamy sauce and topped with fried onions the calorie content can easily increase to 200 calories per 1 cup serving. Skip the casserole and let the green beans shine on their own. Sauté trimmed green beans in olive oil. When tender, remove from heat and sprinkle of parmesan cheese.


Some call it stuffing, others call it dressing. Whatever name you prefer, this dish does not bode well on a list of the healthier Thanksgiving options. Traditionally stuffing is made with white bread, butter and bits of vegetables thrown into the mix. To boost the nutrition, try swapping out white bread for whole wheat. For additional flavor and nutrition, incorporate a variety of vegetables into your stuffing this holiday. Both roasted mushrooms and butternut squash will add a savory and sweet component to the stuffing.

Cranberry Sauce

A popular and easy way to cut corners for Thanksgiving is using canned cranberry sauce which needs no preparation. The only problem is 1/4 cup can have a whopping 24 grams of sugar. This year, try making cranberry sauce from scratch. Not only is it simple, but it allows you to control the sugar content. Frozen cranberries work well as a base and contain no added sugar. Pineapple and orange can also be added to the sauce for sweetness.

Kristen Bourque, RD, LD has been writing health-related articles since 2000. Her nutrition articles and recipes have been featured in Today's Dietitian as well as the Canadian magazine Glow. Kristen combines her love of nutrition with cooking on her personal blog, Swanky Dietitian.

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