I don’t know about you, but I am transfixed by all of the books, articles and advice available when it comes to healthy eating – especially the ones that give you healthier alternatives to your favorite foods. With America’s feasting holiday upon us (Thanksgiving), there is no better time than to put together a list of Eat This, Not That, the Thanksgiving Edition. I’ve compiled a short list of a few very tasty, yet more healthy, alternatives to the main dishes that will laden your table this Thanksgiving.
The Main Event: TURKEY
Americans, as a whole, look to this tasty bird as the main dish every Thanksgiving Holiday. It takes a million hours to make, but it’s worth it because you end up with leftovers that feed lingering company for days. When it comes to your main dish, here are a few ideas to make it as healthy as possible.
Dark meat – Just a little added fat content, but do you really need that?
Butter & Gravy – If you can avoid them, your meal will be a bit healthier. If not, limit to 1 serving size which is no more than 2 Tbsp.
The Topper: Gravy
I will give you this, eating the white meat of turkey without gravy is like trying to swallow chalk. It just doesn’t go down that easily. But, gravy is essentially made of the fat drippings and butter that didn’t sink into the bird. Still sound tasty? If so, give this a try…
If possible, eat gravy made with fatless turkey drippings
Let your gravy sit for a bit on the counter and then take off the top layer of fat.
Dish Filler: Bread and Rolls
This is a tough one…just the smell of baking bread and stuffing alone makes many people salivate with anticipation. But, you’re on a mission for health, so do your best to avoid these tasty dish fillers. If your carb cravings are overwhelming, try to make a stuffing using whole grain bread and low butter content. Load it up with onions and celery for flavor so you can get a taste of the good stuff without going overboard on filling calories you just don’t need.
Refined, white bread rolls. Especially with butter. Darn!
Stuffing made with mostly bread and no added veggies, or smothered in butter.
White Elephant in the room: Mashed Potatoes
Turkey and mashed potatoes are such an American classic for Thanksgiving, but they do not contain nearly the amount of nutrients of their healthier cousins, the sweet potato and yams. If you leave off the butter and sauces, these are a great alternative to white potatoes.
Sweet potato fries
On the Side: Cranberries
Cranberry sauce…yeah, a lot of people just skip right past it, especially when it comes out of a can (seriously, who eats that?!), but eating a spoonful or two of actual cranberries is not only a viable alternative, but it happens to be part of a superfood group that can help lower blood pressure, protect the urinary tract and stomach lining, lower bad cholesterol (LDL) while increasing good cholesterol (HDL) and play a part in good heart health. Plus, they taste really good with turkey, so why not throw some on your plate? Bon Appetit!