10 Ways To Make Traditional Thanksgiving Dishes Healthier

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Thanksgiving, and the holiday season in general, are all about feasts. The holiday table is filled with traditional and comfort food recipes that most of us have come to love since we were little. In as much as you want to honor those traditions by serving your loved ones traditional Thanksgiving dishes, it’s possible to make your family and friends happy by incorporating a healthier twist when preparing those dishes. Follow these tips to indulge without guilt during the holiday season.

1. Swap The Whole Turkey For A Turkey Breast

A finished Herb-Infused Mediterranean Turkey Breast laying on a cutting board with two slices laying at the front of the breast.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Are you hosting a small gathering or spending Thanksgiving by yourself? Buy and roast a turkey breast instead of the whole bird. The breast meat is lower in calories, so if you’re counting those, this swap will help.

2. Make Your Stuffing Healthier

Clean Eating Crouton Stuffing Recipe
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Unsurprisingly, the stuffing is one of the unhealthiest parts of your Thanksgiving menu, especially if it has lots of butter and sausage. You should be especially wary of the boxed stuffing mix. Instead, make your own to incorporate a satisfying taste.

3. Re-Think Your Turkey Cooking Method

A whole, roasted turkey on a white platter.
Photo Credit: Bochkarev Photography/Shutterstock.

Consider how you cook your turkey. Brining the turkey is a common practice that infuses as much flavor as possible into the meat before roasting. But here’s the catch: the brining process can increase the sodium content in the turkey. It’s something to watch out for if your diet restricts excessive sodium intake. Roasting your turkey tends to be a healthier method overall.

4. Healthier Gravy

Giblet Gravy in a silver gravy boat.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

The gravy is another staple on the Thanksgiving holiday table, but it’s notorious for its high-calorie content. You can make gravy using giblets instead of buying boxed gravy. While it’s still going to be a bit high in fat, you’ll at least get a bit more nutritional value out of it while also making sure you use the whole bird.

5. Choose Healthier Sides

A spoon lifts a scoop of Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole towards the camera.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

The Thanksgiving side dishes are one of the biggest ways we add calories to our holiday dinner. Mashed potatoes, in particular, are a go-to side during the holidays. Instead, opt for a healthier version of a sweet potato casserole. You get the extra vitamins and minerals and way less fat and calories.

6. Choose Your Pie Crust Wisely

A horizontal shot of the finished Oat Flour Pie Crust in a white pie pan on a dark gray background.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

The crust is where the pie gets most of its fat content. You can have a guilt-free pie crust for Thanksgiving by making it at home, where you have more control over what goes into it. Also, keep the pie open-faced. Adding another layer of crust on the top adds to the fat content of the pie. While a lattice Apple pie looks pretty on the holiday table, it’s not the healthiest option.

7. Serve More Vegetable-Based Sides

Maple Roasted Brussels Sprouts laying on a parchment-lined baking sheet with pomegranate arils sprinkled over them.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Lighten up your Thanksgiving meal by serving more veggie-based side dishes. Nobody blinks twice at it for Thanksgiving anyway. Serving a side such as maple-roasted Brussels sprouts won’t upset anybody, but it sure will be a lot healthier.

8. Watch Out for the Sugar in Cranberry Sauce

Homemade Cranberry Sauce in a serving dish.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Cranberry sauce and relish are a must on your Thanksgiving holiday table. Cranberries are naturally healthy because they are a good source of fiber and vitamin C. However, the natural tart flavor of cranberry requires adding a lot of sugar to balance out the tartness of the berries. This is true of the canned cranberry sauces, too. The best way to avoid consuming too much processed sugar is to swap it with honey since it is a natural sweetener.

9. Make Your Salads Healthier

Clean Eating Balsamic Garlic Cashew Dressing
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Think that serving salad means you’re having a healthy Thanksgiving feast? Your salad can be deceivingly unhealthy depending on what you add to it. It starts with the dressing. Choose a dressing made with healthy oil and natural ingredients.

10. Use Natural Sweeteners for Your Sweet Treats

A slice of fresh cranberry pie sits on a white plate.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Pies and cakes are another must-add to your Thanksgiving menu. But instead of using refined sugars, swap them with natural sweeteners. Maple syrup and honey are great examples of natural sweeteners.

Planning Thanksgiving?

Thanksgiving Dinner Planner
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

It’s never too early to start planning for the big meal this year. Thanksgiving takes careful planning, especially if you are the one cooking. Here is an entire outline of dishes you can make for the big day.

20 Clean Eating Thanksgiving Side Dishes

The topping sprinkled over the top of the Healthy Sweet Potato Casserole, in a white casserole dish.
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Want to keep it healthy this Thanksgiving? Tired of feeling like you have a brick in your tummy after Thanksgiving dinner? Try one of these 20 healthy side dishes. Nobody will know the difference.

Recipes For Turkey Leftovers That You Won’t Get Tired Of Eating!

Traditional Leftover Turkey Sandwich
Photo Credit: The Gracious Pantry.

Do you always have leftovers that go bad after Thanksgiving dinner? Don’t let that happen this year. Use some of these recipes to make sure nothing goes to waste.

This originally appeared on The Gracious Pantry.

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